Friday, August 1, 2014

AVCon - The early years

7:12 AM Posted by Grant 1 comment
With AVCon 2014 having ended a few weeks ago I wanted to make my first real blog post about something that has consumed the better part of the last 12 years of my life. This year marks a dramatic scaling back in my role in AVCon, something I have long since promised myself but never honestly delivered on.

First lets start a retrospective before we dive into my history of AVCon, over the years I have attempted to split my time into different hobbies outside of AVCon but with lackluster commitment to a work schedule AVCon always pushed everything else into the background.

Leaving AVCon has taken a lot of focus to identify what I wanted from my involvement, what I had achieved thus far and most importantly what I could stand to leave less than perfect. I'm not one to compromise easily so this was easier said than done but also meant I had finally arrived at a point of self-reflection where I could see what the last 12 years had cost me.

Where did it all go so horribly right

I guess the best place to start is how I got involved in anime, like many people I was first exposed watching Robotech and other anime on TV before school. Robotech is the only thing I can remember for which I would willingly set an alarm before midday for and it was the only joy in a day for I would otherwise be going to school for.

Having parents who were uninvolved my upbringing I was free to grab Akira from the Video Store when it was still a release, this was one of a number of points which further steered me towards more anime. In addition to getting the internet at a relatively young age I was free to do as I pleased, searching out in these early days I found's web-chat and Internet Relay chat (IRC).

On IRC I found #animeheaven on EFNet which became my home for the next 5 or so years, this is where I met Jared who as a fellow Otaku also happened to life in my area. I met him offline as I did many people during these years and it was at this point I discovered my first anime club.

Anime Addicts of Adelaide (AAA) was an anime club precursor to AJAS (Adelaide Japanese Animation Society) hosted at a small family house in Adelaide's North Eastern suburbs, Jared knew it's found through their earlier meetings via the Bulletin Board System (BBS). I still remember the train ride to the meeting, only just in my early teenage years I met people who would go on to found AVCon.

This was the beginning of something that would be truly epic in scale for my life, that said a lot of details are lost to time and the rarity of digital camera's during this time.

Conventions and pizza

After a few AAA meetings I had lost contact with Neil, however through Jared I had heard of a new anime club by the name of AJAS (Adelaide Japanese Animation Society) at the university, I started to attend screenings but more than that this is how I found out about AVCon.

Before AJAS screenings would finish a number of people were leaving from the screening, already knowing Neil and seeing them leave I let curiosity get the better of me and decided to see where they were going, I ended up at Australia's Pizza my first AVCon meeting.

The meeting were so much more laid back, a group of scarcely 8 people at times! Although I can't recall the meetings from this long ago I did manage to find a video of one recorded by AVCons first screenings Coordinator Nick however I have since handed over the majority of my old AVCon content to the current Elect and as such don't have a copy to host.

Fast forward to July 2002 it was time for my first convention, it was like the existing hobbies I had (Videogames and anime) and some I was about to discover (DDR, art and volunteering) and they were distilled into a form where all the meaningless things in between were gone.

To this day I don't remember why but as I was with a friend who had a camera I decided to interview cosplayers with a coke bottle, this is literally the first person I interviewed.

This is the first time I met Mitchell, he would go on to join the committee and end up just as trapped as I was.

It's Kimi who ended up AVCons Events Coordinator and cosplay host! I still remember her answer to question about her cosplay 'I'm never working with PVC again'

Drew (AKA the bloodthirsty businessman) in his role as a cat, he would go onto create AVCon sponsorship and exhibitors, that may have been his role in 2002, not sure.

What passed for a screening room, it was simpler times really, just put down some chairs and projector/screen.

The quiz night! Probably the most amount of people at AVCon 2002 that you would see in one place.

At the conclusion of AVCon 2002 I was hooked, it's from here things went from a completely passive role to the active role I have played over the last 12 years, although I'd love nothing more than to chronicle each year I don't remember enough to make for a good story so instead I'll give you the highlights.


Fresh from AVCon with an addiction to anime as strong as ever I had heard about a contention in Melbourne named Manifest, James I and travelled by train to check it out and the first time I had ever left South Australia.

With an 8 hour train ride ahead of us we left our seats to head to the dining car, it was here I again met Mitchell, Andrew and Emily who were also on their way to same convention. While I know there are only so many trains to Melbourne via the overland it still surprises me that I happened to meet someone I had happened to meet a month or so earlier at AVCon.

Staying in Melbourne was great, the chance to be away from everything familiar surrounded by more Japanese culture was like AVCon but with it's own distinct aspects that AVCon didn't have in the form of Japanese culture.

Once I was over the initial sensory overload of anime, cosplay and merchandise on the first day I found it was the people that I found the ongoing thing that drew me back, as you can tell things may have gotten out of hand...

The whirlpool

To be honest I was already a sucker, I just didn't know it yet but the next few years were another turning point towards full on dedication to the AVCon cause, that's how it gets you...little by little and before you know it you're vice-convenor.

In 2004 I took over gopher handling for which Mark had been responsible, a job that become known as Volunteer Coordinator when we formalised it in this year.

This is Mark, he's dutch. In the background you have David who I would letter get to know, behind Mark is Shane who came up with the idea for AVCon and finally Jared.

I'm not a so-called people person but I like to think I learned a huge amount on my feet before I even enter AVCon for another year developing schedules, organising volunteer meetings, making endless phone calls and finally speaking in front of a group of 60 or so people.

I'm not quite sure what spurred me into action but it was a push that snowballed into many years of work for AVCon that although not content was I still think had left a positive mark, this has also affected my professional life but that's another story in itself.

To make my own deadline I'm cutting it all short now, to be continued at a later time. There is so much content but it's both elusive from my memory and scattered around both time and Hard Disks (you thought I was going to say space didn't you). Reading over this I'm not really happy with the content as it seems far too boring to bother posting, especially considering some of the other content from AVCon people...but it's a start.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Grant, cool post, and I think also pretty important, as many forget where AVCon started and how far it has come!

    Also a huge thanks for your many years of service. I think you're right, AVCon is a better place for having had you involved.

    Thanks for joining us for Blaugust. Looking forward to more posts from you :)