A convention programme is usually filled with events and activities, and often the bulk of these will be panels about a variety of subjects around the convention's theme.  Panels are often an interesting way to find out about aspects of anime fandom and Japanese culture you may not be aware of, or to learn more about your particular interests and discuss them with fellow fans.  The subjects covered at Alcon were particularly eclectic, ranging from Japanese music to pornographic anime (aka. hentai)!  There was even a panel about running and maintaining an anime fansite, hosted by our very own webmasters Tom and Rich.  Check out page three for an in-depth report on our panel, including an insight into being on the other side of the table!

But first, we'll give a roundup of some of the panels and workshops we attended throughout the weekend.  Please note that these aren't in any particular order!

First up was the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series Panel, at which one of the creators of the hilarious parody series was due to host a talk and several episodes were to be screened.  However, the creator couldn't make it so instead we were treated to a Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series marathon!  For those unaware of it, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series is an online parody of the popular card game tie-in Yu-Gi-Oh!.  Created by Little Kuribo, the Abridged Series takes the original anime and with some brilliant editing, excellent voice acting and a killer script, turning it into one of the funniest series Animetion has seen in ages!  Liberally but affectionately making fun of

Yu-Gi-Oh!, particularly the edited version produced and screened by 4Kids in the UK and America, The Abridged Series has spawned a host of quotable lines and has managed the seemingly impossible by making Pegasus even camper than he was already!

After the genius of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Webmasters Rich and Tom decided to have a look at something a bit more practical.  This came in the form of the Gundam Modelling Panel, which was of particular interest as we at Animetion have recently entered the complex world of Gundam modelling.  We were always aware that the models can be made to look better but, aside from using a craft knife and Gundam Markers, we were uncertain how else we could obtain the ultimate model.  The panel was presented by Gurinder & Paul of model kit retailer GundamNation, and at first it did seem a little daunting as there were four expertly painted models on display.  Once it began though all element of doubt was taken away as the panel catered to both experts and beginners.  The hosts spoke through many common and unusual techniques, from using tools to minimise marking caused by cutting, to recommending the best paints to use.  Other techniques covered included sanding your model, using primers and spray paint and an interesting tip on using hairspray to lacquer the model.  Apparently the cheaper the hairspray the better and it will give a long lasting finish to you model - handy to know if you need to save money!  It was also interesting to learn some simple but effective painting techniques, as well as the correct way to apply dry transfers - the bane of our model-making life!  All in all it was one of the most informative and easy-to-follow workshops we have attended, and the techniques we have taken away have already improved our approach to Gundam modelling.

Keeping the art theme going, next up for Tom & Rich was Sonia Leong's art class, in which the talented Sweatdrop affiliated artist presented a step-by-step guide to drawing manga-style art and creating comics.  Sonia started from the basics and worked up, showing how to draw faces and hair, before moving onto body and pose and rounding off with tips on page layout and composition.  She proved to be a perfect teacher, presenting in an easy to follow way and encouraging those watching to draw along with her.  We were impressed at her focus on proportion as an essential part of drawing a good character, and also liked the fact she gave tips on how to

Sonia Leong presents her panel with gusto

proportion a 'chibi' character too.  The class was probably one of the most informative and fun things we have attended at a convention, and Sonia was a brilliant and engaging host.  We really hope a similar workshop is included in next year's programme!

The art class was followed by the Iron Artist competition, where attendees could put their art skills and imaginations to use in a variety of competitive art challenges.  The participants were given art materials and a theme, and had to come up with a picture based on the theme which was then presented to a panel of judges.  The competition was great fun and led to some very bizarre images, especially during the final challenge when tea leaves had to be used as a drawing material!  Our friend Cameron Rose took part in the competition, coming second overall and receiving a mighty bag of goodies provided by the various retailers in the dealers room - not bad!