The best comic convention you've never attended
The floor at last year's HeroesCon.
June 22nd, 2012
04:50 PM ET

The best comic convention you've never attended

Editor's note: When he's not teaching the Internet how to fist-fight, why being weird is awesome or how to self-publish your own books, Joe Peacock tours the world, showing his extensive "Akira" art collection. He's on his way to HeroesCon right now.

This weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, there is a comic book convention. It's called HeroesCon, and it's unlike any modern con you've ever been to.

There are no massive halls filled with video game companies hawking their latest wares. There are no movie studios promoting the latest summer and fall releases. There aren't any barely clad booth babes, and the volume of bandwagon cosplayers who don't actually read the material they draw their costumes from is kept to a minimum - and what cosplayers you do find there are high-class, high quality actual real life comic book fans.

Oh, and just about every single artist, writer and editor in the comics industry will be there.

I first heard of HeroesCon in 1994, during Dragon*Con in Atlanta.

It was my senior year in high school, and I was told by an artist in artist alley that if I loved comics, I needed to see HeroesCon. My convention buddies, Mike and Jay, hopped in a car with me that summer and we made the four-hour trek to the con. Once we got there, I was in heaven. HeroesCon was everything it was promised to be.

"HeroesCon is like the comics industry's family reunion," says Dexter Vines, inker for Marvel comics and a fellow member of Studio Revolver in Atlanta. "Heroes is a perfect storm of comic book convention and hanging out with friends. Every pro I know goes every year. You have editors from Marvel and DC driving and flying down on their own dime just to hang out. No other show I know has that."

A quick search on Twitter for #heroesCon finds hundreds of this year's attendees counting down the minutes until the con starts, and several dozen who can't make it this year lamenting that fact. FULL POST

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The jump from J-drama to K-drama
Lee Min Yung, left and Gong Yoo, right, star in the Korean romcom, "Big." The show is based on Tom Hanks' hit 1988 movie.
June 22nd, 2012
02:29 PM ET

The jump from J-drama to K-drama

When I became a hardcore fan of Japanese dramas, I thought I'd discovered the alpha and omega of Asian entertainment.

Crammed with manga-esque storylines, good looking pop stars, and dream romances, J-drama was perfect. When friends mentioned Korean drama, I turned my nose up at them, uninterested in anything that didn't stoke my Japan-centric obsession.

Older, wiser and having developed an insatiable appetite for Asian idol culture, I've now warmed up to Korean media.

Korean pop music was my gateway drug - I couldn't resist the catchy songs. Google reinforced my new interest not long after that, promoting an all-Korean concert at their headquarters and pushing the trend called "Korean Wave" (also called Hallyu) to a whole new audience of potential fans. By that time, I was completely converted when it came to the music, even finding indie Korean acts such as Guckkasten and Glen Check to fall in love with. Fully enticed by these Korean stars, I was ready to find out why Korean dramas inspired equally devoted fans.

"The Korean entertainment industry has grown immensely over the last few decades, and dramas are now being produced with enormous budgets,  aimed for export more so than ever before," said Girlfriday, writer for the highly active drama community Dramabeans.

"They're produced slickly, enough to compete with American entertainment, and tend to be romance-centric. They also tell a complete story in 16 to 20 episodes, so its just long enough to get you addicted to something and just short enough that you don't feel burdened by picking up a show," Girlfriday said.

Like the Japanese dramas I'm used to, K-dramas are broken into subcategories by genre. The most popular shows are referred to as "trendies" in fan circles, and usually feature popular casts with young protagonists. There's also "ajumma" drama, which feature older or divorced female characters who find new love, "sageuk" drama, which plays out fictionalized versions of Korean history, and "makjang" drama, which is the closest thing to the American soap opera, traditionally taking a sensational approach with lots of absurd twists and turns. Korean dramas also include thrillers, action/intrigue and procedural genres.

But for all their similarities, K-drama has some major differences from J-drama. For instance, Korean shows air two episodes a week, whereas Japanese shows only air one. The biggest difference of all, however, is a key one: availability. While Japanese shows are rarely licensed for the American market, Korean shows are readily available through American-based services such as Hulu and Dramafever. Therefore, audiences outside of Korea can get their hands on them sooner. FULL POST

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