A Founder’s Thoughts with D.J. Lewis: Project Paradise

Six years and nine months ago I was sitting inside our current studio with A. Goldman wondering what it would be like if we had our own anime blog. We’ve spent the last five years going to Otakon when it was still in Baltimore, while going through all of the pictures that we took of us, and other cosplayers. During the month of December 2015 I made the decision to start building our nerdy empire; a website that was going to be different from any anime blog that you would find out there in the world. It wasn’t gonna be your kid brother’s anime blog where all he’d talk about was DBZ and Pokemon all day, it was going to become an experience that you’d have to see to believe.

In January 11, 2016 we made our debut as D&A Anime Blog at a new convention that came to Baltimore known as Animore. The vibe of that convention was very much like conventions of old; where it was just about the medium and the fandom, and not about the mainstream Hollywood attention that its getting today. Right out of the gate people were excited about what we were all about and wanted to support our dreams of being one of the best anime blogs out there. We even became friends with a lot of the voice actors that were there as well; from Anthony Bowling to Tia Ballard (and eventually Steve Blum, Josh Martin, Josh Grelle, and Monica Rial). We also started doing panels during the convention’s run from 2016-2020; but also around that time we started going to other conventions like Zenkaikon, Anime USA, Saikoucon, Thy Geekdom Con, and more! Things were going great and everything was awesome…or so we thought.

Us and Crispin Freeman at Anime USA in 2018

After Animore’s 5th anniversary in January 2020, we received warnings of a possible outbreak of coronavirus we know as COVID-19, and the worst was yet to come. After March of that year; anime conventions and other mass social gatherings started getting cancelled and dropping like flies, although there were a couple defiant ones who thought they were better than everyone else, many in the anime community decided to go virtual with their convention experiences. The last two years tore me apart; from not being able to go to conventions due to Covid, to Animore closing their doors permanently because of the effects that COVID-19 did to them on a financial standpoint.

Now we’ve reached that ‘Seven Year Itch’ phase of our business where A. Goldman and I had a few speed bumps in our business partnership; and even gotten mad at each other at one point. (It’s not just married couples that go through this.) It was extremely hard on my end to not go to cons as attendees anymore; but as all-expenses paid guests with appearance fees to help us expand what we do, and give back to our fans who’ve helped us along the way. It took awhile for me to understand that; because no longer were we going to go as just ourselves, we were going to go as paid performers with a 3-panel convention entertainment experience we call “The D&A Experience”.

Project Paradise Teaser

So I started doing what all other agents do for voice actors in the anime industry; scout out bookings for anime conventions that we wanted to bring this unique experience to. You never know who’s watching, so that’s why you got to keep going if you want that dream gig or that dream experience. For me, that’s what it all came down to; a chance to get back on the road and have all of the fun at conventions like we did in the past, but now making money to help fund and expand our business. As for “Project Paradise”, well, that is still our mission to one day have own own anime convention. January 11, 2026 will be our 10th anniversary as D&A, and what better way to do that than to launch our anime convention campaign through “Project Paradise”.

I will say that once the official name of our con is revealed (probably Spring or Summer 2023), it’ll take on the convention model it was inspired from; Animore. I want to bring anime conventions back to Baltimore, but its gonna take a lot of support and money from the anime community. We’ve been on this journey of ours for a while, and from the looks of things we’re only just beginning.

Until next post, stay nerdy! 😉

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