The Voice of Monica Rial at Hub City Comic Con

Bianca Montoya

img_20170827_170433.jpgBianca Montoya holds her BA in Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media from the University of New Mexico where she directed, wrote, and produced student film; Capturing Life. Her film career so far includes Art Department Assistant on the Limited Television Series, Waco, and Feature Film, Woman Walks Ahead, which will be coming to theaters in 2018. Bianca draws inspiration from the films Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. She is an avid convention goer and beginning cosplayer. Her cosplays so far include Bulbasaur and Katara, but she looks forward to learning more about sewing. Bianca loves almost any anime you send her way, some of her favorite included: Inuyasha, Death Note and Sailor Moon.

 

It all started with a trip to see a Red Raiders football game accented by a rather confusing tradition of throwing tortillas in the air when the opposite team scores. This event was meant to be the highlight of my first trip to Lubbock, Texas. However, out of the blue, it was challenged by the Hub City Comic Con. To be completely honest I had no idea the Hub City Comic Con was even descending on the Lubbock community (for its third year in a row I might add, according to their Facebook page) until the very aware MaeBerry Cosplay members told me the event would be happening the weekend I just happened to be there. They clearly continue to be on top of their convention game, which warrants huge props.

Convention

It was the second day of Hub City Comic Con, September 16th, and there were only a few short hours to experience the con to the fullest before being pulled away by the Red Raider football craze. I played my cards carefully and was able to rope in both a ride and two fellow attendees: my younger, geek cultured aficionado brother; and my carefree cousin who was simply pulled in with the promise of video games and random entertainment. (His exact words were something like; “Eh, why not”). Super exciting success! We set out for the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center and, right before parking in a passing glance, observed the opposing football team preparing in all their athlete driven glory in the parking lot of the Hotel Elegante (right next door to the Civic Center). With that, we were both reminded of our tight schedule and unyielding excitement to get the day started. I had one goal: to meet Monica Rial. A fantastically talented woman who happens to be one of the leading dub voice actresses in the world.

It was around 10 AM when we made our way to the front doors and took our first steps into the arena. The first thing we saw was the welcome desk before looking down an ever-expanding hall. To the left were large closed doors leading to the Exhibit Hall. To the right was an expanded space with only a few booths and a few doors leading to the game room and panel rooms. So, with little option, we purchased our one-day wrist bands and went through the large doors that led to the main space filled aplenty with both vendors and guests. The guests were lined on the far left of the room, while the vendors mainly took up the rest of the space– lining up and down in six rows. Basically, you had to get used to the idea of being close to other people. If you’re used to cons though, this is kind of a given to be in a tight space with: clowns, cosplayers, nerds, fandom enthusiasts and awesome people alike. It’s part of the fun. I mean, where else could you see these sights?

A few cosplayers wandered the aisles that early morning, including a notable gender bent Sailor Moon and a set of clowns. Did I mention the clowns? The clowns moved so closely behind us for a time that it freaked out my cousin with their intricate costumes. This was the best way to start the morning. IMG_20170916_1126551Speaking of sights, there was a full size R2-D2 wandering around the aisles followed by a fascinating full-sized minion version of R2-D2. Checking out the scene we saw some local illustrators, traveling vendors and found ourselves being absorbed by the exciting atmosphere you can only find at a Comic Con. It was filled with people who are devoted to: fantastic fandoms, love geek culture, illustrations; Funko pops; plushies, special guests, and are fully willing to lose themselves in a cornucopia of it all for a couple hours.

Guests included: the original voice actress for Frieza from the Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Z, the voice actor for Trunks from Dragon Ball Z, and Monica Rial from multiple anime dubs. My male companions, of course, were most interested to see the Dragon Ball Z actors because it’s the epitome of epic Kamehameha blasts– ripped men fighting aliens while also being revealed as aliens with just the right hint of humor and ruthless martial arts tinged ferocity. That proved to be a huge selling point reigning the both of them in. Personally though, I was totally captivated by the wonderful Monica Real whose voice can totally fool me with her vast range, even though she has been integral to some of my favorite anime. I caught a glance of her at her booth beyond a line of fans, her hair an electric shade of violet pink. At that moment I realized we needed to find a schedule for the panels. After trying to subtly dance around the growing lines looking for a print schedule I finally proclaimed the search was futile as there was no print schedule. We pulled our wits together, (or rather I did while being observed by two young teenagers) looked online and found a schedule for the panels and events at the con. Reinforced with the panel schedule, we made our way back into the vendor room. Our first panel was going to be Eric Vale’s, the original voice actor for purple haired defying Trunks.

34CB7A63-5B3F-429C-B62C-E532D66B4BE5 - CopyIn the meantime, however, I found a familiar face. I ran into the wonderful author, Julia Joseph, whom I had met at a previous convention in Las Cruces, NM where I bought her fantastic book there, The Broken. It is the first in a fantasy series and I proceeded to finish it in one evening. As any avid reader who becomes completely immersed in an author’s world, (enough to feel compelled to only stop reading when there simply were no more words to read about Rose and her Warrior Ouriel) I decided to take advantage of this unforeseen opportunity. I had so many compliments to shower and inquiries, just trying to get an even more depth look into this brilliant author’s mind. In the process, I was abandoned by my companions who left me to my absurdity for a time. Julia Joseph took my colossal devouring of her time in stride and, un-wearying; answered my inquiries, explored themes of characters and the process of building a main heroine that is faced with having to confront what true faith is, revealed bits of her own experience and how it influenced her work. It was an experience you don’t happen upon every day. I cannot recommend her work enough if you are a fan of: dry humor, great imagination, young adult fiction (with none of the Twilight nonsense), strong characters, consequences, and thought-provoking situations and adventures. This experience accented one of my favorite parts of visiting Comic Conventions. You can come face to face with people involved in creating something you ultimately fell in love with and have a conversation about it. How wonderful is that? Slowly, we wrapped up our conversation as my companions wandered back and we took a final picture to solidify the exchange. And just like that, we were late for Eric Vale’s panel and had to rush off.

Panels

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Walking into the panel we were about ten minutes late. This panel was interesting because, though the character is well known, the actor did not seem to have much to say about the character. He mostly talked about how the character caused him vocal strain because of the yelling. If you’ve ever seen Dragon Ball Z it’s understandable. He also talked about his experience doing voice overs for commercials and on other entertainment platforms. After the panel ended we made our way to Monica Rial’s booth. I had already met her at Albuquerque Comic Con, where I recorded a message from her to a friend as Konoka from Negima. Realizing how incredible she is, I secretly hoped to record my own message this time around. I built up the courage and asked. Unfortunately, Monica explained she was not allowed to record anything at her table but suggested, as all hope was passing by, that maybe something could be worked out after her panel. It was a lost battle though, we were going to be pulled away before the panel and so, it was over.

We spent the rest of the con walking around, accumulating illustrations, precious treasures and then retiring to the game room to play a stupid amount of Super Smash Brothers. We only stopped when we were told we had to give up the machine as it was going to be used for a tournament. And so, it was time to go. I made a call to reveal our whereabouts to our ride. My voice gave me away though and I was given, unpredictably, special permission to stay for Monica Rial’s panel. An incredible amount of excitement rushed over me as we made our way to wait for the panel to start.

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Monica’s panel was one of the best I’ve ever seen. She loves what she does, she loves her characters, she has a wonderful sense of timing, humor and a great energy to share with everyone around her. On the way out, she caught a glimpse of me and, selflessly, she made my day (and week). She took a short video for me as the voice of Mayaya from Princess Jellyfish. It was a dream come true for a colossal fan! I literally fell to my knees and put both hands up in the air, triumphant, despite the curious gazes. I walked out of the panel euphoric and bubbling with joy.  We went outside to be picked up and to discuss the events of the day. We all agreed Monica’s panel was a highlight and that we had enjoyed our time at the convention.

As we waited to be picked up for the trip back home, we watched as the Minion R2-D2 wander around outside. A young child caught a glimpse of the yellow, suspender clad droid and took caution as the droid moved closer to him. The child waved hello and goodbye to the droid, both captivated and mystified by the unusual sight. It was a nice moment to leave on. It really emphasizes what makes Comic Conventions so fun for the people that take every opportunity to attend. It is a fantastic community where you can meet: artists, creators, collectors, fans, cosplayers, creative aficionados, authors, designers, voice actors, actors, illustrators and random people you thought you would never meet etc. And to share in a collective community drenched in fandom. There’s a lot of acceptance, enthusiasm and comfort in loving what you love and being who you are. With that, we were whisked away to what should have been the highlight of our trip. In my mind though, Hub Comic Con took the cake and I hope to visit again in the future.

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