MAGFest has once again come and gone, and my official start to the new year can begin. As I’ve said in past years, MAGFest means so much to me, my year almost can’t even get underway until I’ve attended. It’s the creative re-charging of the batteries for the rest of the year. So many connections, ideas, and inspirations are had and shared at MAG that it really does set my path for the next 11 months. It’s where Beyond Mode 7 came from, and it’s where some future projects will be coming from. Let us begin taking a look at this year’s show, shall we?

FRIENDS

I have a lot of friends I only see every year at MAGFest. I make new ones every year as well. It would almost be more appropriate to call them my MAGFamily. We party, we laugh, we cry, we cheer and boo and just enjoy every single minute of time we have with one another. This year was no different.

A lot of my friends at MAGFest are extremely creative people, and do everything from artwork to podcasts to improv comedy. I’m going to quickly take a look at a few of the major players!

SML Podcast

The SML Podcast (Someone Might Listen) is hosted by my long time MAGFest and beyond friend JoeCam. His co-hosts are Kris Huber and Pappy. They focus on gaming news and discussion and just having a light, hanging out with friends feel to their show. It’s guest list includes everything from indie game developers and composers to major players like Harmonix and King of the Nerds winner Kayla LaFrance. Joe is one of a few remaining Lumberjacks who have been to every single MAGFest, Kris is a drummer and all-around awesome musician and Pappy reviews movies over at Drunk Monkeys!

I created the logo art for the show and you can see a sneak peak of the new art above!

Fat Gatby

Fat Gatsby is a variety postcast network comprised mainly of members of the now closed X-Strike Studios. Tim, Juese, Dave and Ben talk about all manner or things from comics to game culture to improv comedy! It’s always got a humorous twist and is highly entertaining, I can’t recommend it higher!

These Guys are Sick!

Made up of X-Strike members, new faces and the amazing ProJared this intrepid group of improv-comedy performers have grown in popularity exponentially since they burst onto the MAGFest scene a few years ago. They do a full 2 hour “Whose-Line” style show with a video game themed twist! They’re quick, witty, atheletic even! If you get the chance to see them live, do it…you’ll laugh till you hurt!

The whole crew!

ProJared giving his best performance!

8BitMaximo

Max is one of those cartoonists that I wonder when he finds time to sleep. He’s involved in so many projects, he’s always got new art and it’s always getting even better and more amazing! This MAGFest he had no less than 5 brand new poster designs for sale as well as his work on SWD Tech’s “Pixel Noir” which I’ll talk more about later! Support this dude, he’s simply the best!

Kevin Bolk

K-Bo is just such a lovable human being. Not only does he create the cutest parody comics and commissions, he’s got a HUGE heart and spreads joy from behind his table like no one else. He also contributed to Beyond Mode 7 and it was nice to finally be able to deliver his contributor copies of the book!

Hex Martinez

Hex hasn’t updated his FB art page in a while, as he recently got hired by Apple! Still, his work is super dope and I think you should all enjoy it! He’s a really rad guy!

MUSIC

Honestly, I didn’t get to as much music this year as last, I was spending way too much time hanging with my friends and making connections. I did still however make it to two key concerts, one great discussion panel with Virt and met a new band for whom I may be doing some art for! Let’s commence the rock!

Machinae Supremacy

I am new to Machinae. Unlike Kris Huber, who’s been listening to the Swedish metal band since High School, I only became aware of their awesome this past summer when Kyle JCRB of Arecibo Radio held a listening party for their new album “Phantom Shadow.” I’m glad I attended that one because I’ve been hooked ever since! A solid mix of modern heavy metal, power metal and alternative rock with chiptunes, they’re a perfect fit for MAGFest and help bring a fresh, non-gaming flavor to the show.

The selection they played in their set was fantastic, many of my favorites were in there! I had some issues with the balancing however, and thought the guitars were way to loud, drowning out the vocals at times. Drums were almost non-existent. Still, my ears were happily ringing days after the show and I hope they come back for another MAGFest!

The Lonely Rolling Stars

The Lonely Rolling Stars took the stage this year with a slightly new lineup. Stemage finally decided he was in too many bands and had too many projects, so he gracefully bowed out after Carnivortex. Enter MEGA BEARDO! He’s been a stellar addition and adds some great stage presence, awesome guitar playing and Vocal power to the team! They played several new songs at MAGFest and in discussions at Virt’s panel the next day, Ailsean admitted that the young drummer Chuck “finbeard” Simpson had already finished his recording for the new album! Unfortunately the old men of the group have some catching up to do, but soon…very soon. He provided a consolation hug and hurried on his way to bug the equally busy Jake Kauffman.

Did I mention that the composer for Katamari Damacy, and the song for whom the band is named, made a special appearance on-stage at the end of their set? Very special thing…you really had to be there!

Jake “Virt” Kauffman

(Brendan Becker aka Inverse Phase crashing Virt’s panel…he’s in the red!)

SPEAKING of Jake, his panel was a fantastic boost to my morale! He discussed his recent work on projects from Double Dragon Neon to Duck Tales Remastered and Shovel Knight to his experience coming up as a new, ambitious, self-taught musician. He referenced his on-going battle with depression and self-doubt and how his family, friends and the amazing companies he’s been able to work with have given him all the strength he needs to continue to create amazing music. Having known Jake in some capacity for over a decade now, it’s always inspiring to hear him talk about his work ethic and the things that keep him going!

Do A Barrel Roll

A new-er band to the VGM scene, their first album “Thunderous Crash” came out in 2011, and last year featured “Boss Rush.” Boss Rush is an important album for them as it introduces the band members (Dani Kong – drums, percussion, Ayalisse – electric and acoustic violin, Meta Man – trumpet, keyboards, Prof. Sequoia – keyboards, samples, Zero Nimbus – guitars, arrangement, Axe Deadeye – guitars, Rado – guitars, Photo-Man – bass guitar) as heroes in their own game-inspired multiverse. Their new album, which I am in discussions with to illustrate, will introduce their full musical narrative! Prepare first for a short Pokemon EP to tide you over, which I also might have an artistic hand in. I’m very excited to work with these guys, they’ve got energy to spare!

NEW FACES

Sarah Lulu Ding

Working with Maximo this year was the lovely Sarah! She shared the table with him and had her own amazing digital paintings with her, game characters, anime, pretty soldier sailor moon! Her bright colors and vibrancy was as attractive as her attention to detail and figure work! She and Max made a great team and I can’t wait to see more of her work in the future!

SWD Tech Games/PixelNoir

It was my great pleasure to meet Len Stewart of SWD Tech Games, an indie developer working on a superb classic Noir-inspired, top-down pixel animated RPG called Pixel Noir. Featuring art designs by Maximo, Music by Kunal Majmudar and Len’s great creative leadership, (among many other great team members) Pixel Noir is on it’s way to success! Their first Kickstarter came up a bit short, but they’re gearing up for a new one and you can bet they’ll pick themselves up and deliver one of the best indie games of the year!

Richard Durham

Another new face not to the scene, and probably not new to the vendor hall either, but this year was the first year I had the pleasure of playing an original card game created by Richard Durham called Zomboree! In the X-Strike party room we took on the hoards as our group tried to survive 7 days until rescue by the military…however the infected quickly took control of the game and over took what was left of us. It was incredibly fun and very challenging. You can grab a copy of it and his other game, a detective misdirection game called Dirty Little Secrets at DriveThru Cards

Ode

“Magic is fading, and the world is changing. Some, however, still fight for the Old Ways. 
These are the kinds of heroes that live on. 
This is their Ode.”

Ode is a fantasy comic by Annie Stoll & Tim Ferrara. The beautiful semi-abstract painted style with anime influences and fluid character designs by Annie and the smart, fantastical writing by Tim pulled me into their booth at MAGFest’s marketplace. Sadly they were out of chapter 2 of the print edition, but like Citadel, they are currently on the third Chapter and it’s available in it’s entirety online. I still highly recommend getting a hard copy however, the books looked beautiful!

Smooth McGroove

I got to meet Smooth McGroove! He signed my 3DS right next to the AVGN’s signature from last year! He’s such a nice guy and his panel was very laid back and fun!

COSPLAY

I was so involved with seeing friends and hanging out this year, making connections and the like, I didn’t get my camera out for too many cosplayers. The few that did catch my eye however, I’ll feature below. Enjoy!

Full-on Katamari goodness!

These two were already posed so I snapped a quick one!

Ambitious MegaMan costumer was ambitious!

He ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

My favorite of the show, a super well done, simple and cute Paula from Earthbound!

Closing Thoughts

I made more positive connections at MAGFest 13 than I’ve made in a long time. I caught up on old friendships, made new ones, and even lined myself to continue contributing artistically to the community I love! I learned from some heroes, laughed with my favorite shows live, rocked out, and re-invigorated myself for 2015! While I’m sad it’s already over, I’m very excited about the projects I have already lined up for this year and the ones to come! Stay tuned!

Here’s a few more remaining pictures from the show!

Pano over the Balcony of the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel from the X-Strike party room…one last time!

Some guerrilla advertising for Beyond Mode 7! I sold around 7-10…thanks all who bought one!!!

Game music orchestra set up in the main hallway outside the convention center!

Hot Pepper Gaming LIVE! I laughed till I felt the burn!

MAGSwag! Finally got that scarf I’ve been wanting since last year!

-RD

All Photos are © 2015 Randall Drew
Logos and art are © their respective owners.