[Interview @ Anime Weekend Atlanta 2008 Day 1 (Friday)]
Zippy: I have the esteemed pleasure to talk to Patrick Macias here at Anime Weekend Atlanta 14. How are you doing Patrick?
Patrick: Doing ok. It’s Friday night…just a lot going on. I’m waiting for Anime Hell to start in the Grand Ballroom. There are a lot of cosplayers walking in and out of here, a few of the naughty ones smoking cigarettes. There’s some police here tonight; I don’t know what’s going on. There was a fire alarm earlier. It’s another crazy con I guess.
Zippy: How much of that [craziness] would you say you’ve caused so far?
Patrick: Not much. I only did one panel today “Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno” and just as we were about to go on that’s when the fire alarm went off because of the heat generated by those crazy girls in Harajuku and what not. But no…we have been off site having intellectual discussions about anime at Abdullah the Butcher’s House of Ribs and Chinese food over on the wrong side of the tracks. I guess tomorrow is going to be when most of the action is. Saturday is always the most racous day at a con usually.
Zippy: I guess being the editor of Otaku USA is that kind of the big focus now for the panels that you’re doing?
Patrick: We have the Otaku USA panel tomorrow at 10AM, and all decent people will be hungover and cranky. There’s a “Writing on Anime” panel after that that I think I’ll sit in on, and then a “Message from Space” panel which is all about this obscure Star Wars rip-off made by the Japanese in 1978 that no one has heard of or seen but for those who have it’s probably their favorite movie of all time. There will probably be two other people besides myself. So that’s it really. We haven’t really put out the big guns for Otaku USA, because this is more of a con by the fans for the fans. You know what I mean? I wouldn’t feel really good here shoving copies of the magazines in everyone’s face. That’s something you do at Anime Expo (A.X.) in L.A. or New York Anime Fest next week, which I won’t be at. Those are a bit more…I don’t want to say corporate, because that’s a dirty word, but…you know people really try to promote what they’re doing. This one I’m just kind of hanging out. This one really does feel like a fan kind of thing where you kick back and watch crazy anime stuff with your friends.
Zippy: How many American conventions would you say you go to normally? I don’t often see you on the guest list, so [seeing you as a guest here] was pretty exciting for me I know.
Patrick: I’ve kind of spent the last couple years in Japan, but before that I used to be at Viz and Animerica, so I used to always go to the local cons in the Bay area and of course Anime Expo in Southern California. This year I was here in the states a little bit more, and within a year I went to New York Anime Fest, A.X., this show, and I think that’s about it. I don’t know maybe just 3, or 2, or 1 a year. I’m not that kind of guy that walks around with all the badges dangling. I mean that’s cool but I don’t get a chance to do that.
Zippy: Now how do you balance out writing your blog, writing the books you write, and Otaku USA and your publishing? How do you keep all that together in one life?
Patrick: Lots of Xbox. Call of Duty: 4 usually, as much as I can. To try to reward myself by playing more games I will do five minutes of work here, five minutes of work there, and you add that up twelve hours a day you actually do manage to get things done. But there’s a lot of procrastination involved in getting work done. That’s mainly what it is I think; the art of not working, trying to make that create work if that makes any sense.
Zippy: How many of your staff…I know several of the podcasters from Anime World Order [are at AWA]…how many of them are “not working” right now?
Patrick: I don’t know? They’re all getting ready for their panels tomorrow as well. They all have day jobs and stuff like that, but that’s why I’m the editor in chief and they’re not. But no…It’s a wonderful operation where everyone’s…We don’t have an office. Everyone’s working out of whatever weird pocket of reality that they dwell in, myself included. I just come in every couple of weeks and crack the whip and say I need new text by the end of next week, or by tomorrow. They do it, and they don’t complain, at least to my face, so there’s very little conflict involved.
Zippy: How does it feel with you…Instead of the pressure and timelines writing books, [and] publishers kind of breathing down your neck, how does it feel being on the other side?
Patrick: I still have to answer to my publisher. I spent the last couple hours just tonight uploading images to an FTP, so…I don’t complain. The reality is that I have to get this thing together in time for it to go to print in order for it to go on sale. So we all have to work together. It’s not a dictatorship.
Zippy: Is there anything kind of exciting you may take away [from this weekend?] Maybe to the magazine, or bring back to the Japanese, because I know you like to write about our otaku culture as much as theirs.
Patrick: Yeah there are a lot of horror stories. Con staff hear all kinds of stuff that the average con goer doesn’t know about. Just weird stuff that goes on: assault, battery, stalking, all that good stuff. So I’m trying to collect those stories and do kind of an anime con confidential story for Japan just to show them how really decadent and depraved it can really get out there. Without making any stuff up; by protecting the innocent. That’s something that I really want to do. Getting a lot of inspiration from this con as a matter of fact. I bought a Speed Racer coloring book that I want to get Peter Fernandez and Corinne Orr to sign for my friend who works at Tatsunoko in Japan who made Speed Racer. I think that’s something I want to bring back. That’s the only thing I bought today at the dealer’s room, and just meeting…Atlanta has kind of a weird deep fandom here for Japanese animation. The Corn Pone Flicks guys, I don’t know if you know anything about them, but like Matt Murray and Dave Merrill, the guys who helped put on this con, used to make amateur videos in the days before YouTube and that kind of thing. Basically if they were making the stuff [now] they were making then they’d be doing like Chocolate Rain style internet memes that everyone would know about, but back then it was just…They would put on their own weird homemmade shorts at the end of anime that they were trading on VHS tapes. You’d have that extra 10, 15, 20 minutes so they would make their own original crazy fan produced videos. They’re fantastic! You can probably see them now on the Corn Pone Flicks webpage (www.cornponeflicks.org). There’s one film they’ve been making called Ozone Commandos for like literally the last twenty years; they’ve never finished it. It’s kind of an amazing story I want to do more reporting on. That’s something I’m interested in — “what is real southern style anime fandom like?” Because I think fans like myself who grew up on the west coast were kind of spoiled because we had Japantown, and we had a lot of places we could physically go and buy manga and access this culture very easily; whereas, I think the fans here had a harder time but were also making their own stuff or [were] together more as a fandom, rather than just a weird guy who was just into superheroes and never communicated with the person who just liked the Gundam and stuff like that.
Zippy: I know you don’t have much more time, so I just want to ask one [final] question. Speaking of production and your own things, is there anything that you’re really doing now that’s kind of the next big task for you? You always seem to be keeping busy.
Patrick: Well there’s the book for Japan, American Otaku People Retsuden, and that’s a collection of life stories of fans both heroic and tragic that I think people in Japan should know about. They’re curious about who are these weird people in America that are consuming our products and our pop culture, and I really want to show them. The winners, the losers, the heroes, the villians, the power, the pity. All that kind of stuff. So that’s what I’m working on now, but it’s really slow. That’s the one that’s really hard to find the time for because I probably play too much Call of Duty, but it’s the one I need to finish because I need a new book in Japan because it’s been a few years over there. Over here well we’ve got the magazine holding it down pretty good. I reckon that’s about it actually.