Saturday, August 31, 2013

Con, Descending

Was there ever a convention called Con Descending? There must have been. Punning is as deeply ingrained in fen as arguing, Monty Python quotes and the phrase, "Not a question, more of a comment..."

Regardless: Conventions. The gatherings of the geek tribes. Nerdhallas. Cons.

With two big exceptions, about which more later, my involvement in fandom-related conventions has mainly been tied to being the co-creator and co-writer of Xeno's Arrow. Even before Greg Beettam and I launched our own comic, I went to small local comic cons to hang out with my friends and help crew the Egesta Comics table. I started on at cons being on the creator's side of the table, in other words. I didn't attend a comics convention as a "fan" (as distinct from a "pro", for certain values of "pro", of course) for years.

So, for the most part, I stopped attending conventions when I stopped having a comic to sell to the unwitting masses. Greg and I have occasionally had a table at Toronto's big outdoor literary festival, Word On The Street. And while we haven't had a table there, I attend the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) every year, as a fan/enthusiastic reader/lover of comics.

I find that I miss cons. As the Labour Day long weekend approaches, I find myself missing them even more than usual. That's because there are two major conventions over this weekend - Dragon Con, in Atlanta, and the WorldCon, which this year is in San Antonio, Texas (WorldCon moves around from year to year, like the Olympics).

The two cons are very different in size, scope and character. Dragon Con is a huge media-driven nerd fest, with tons of programming tracks covering every kind of fandom. I believe that it's second in size in North America only to Nerd Prom itself, the San Diego Comic Con. Cosplay is a major, major element

WorldCons, wherever they are, are rather different. WorldCon skews older and is focused exclusively on literary science fiction and fantasy. There's some steampunkery and people in cool hats, but you won't find many Stormtrooper or Catwoman costumes. The Hugo Awards are presented at WorldCon. It's an order of magnitude smaller than Dragon Con.

I am, however, told that the partying at WorldCon is just as intense. Make of that what you will.

If my Twitter feed is to be believed, everyone in the world except me is at one of these two conventions. Or, okay, it might just feel that way. Regardless, missing on out con season is hitting me especially hard this year. 

It's funny, because when Greg and I were actively publishing the comic, cons were part of the job. They were exciting and fun and a wonderful opportunity to see and spend time with the friends we'd made through comics, certainly, but that wasn't supposed to be the point. The point was go somewhere where we could meet existing and potential readers, and hopefully sell them comics. I wouldn't have gone to a convention just for the excitement and fun and camaraderie - I was a pro. Or, rather, a "pro", but still.

I remember a lot of conventions from those days. Guess how many of my memories have to do with how much money we made? 

So yes, I miss cons. I miss the excitement and the fun and the camaraderie. Attending conventions is another part of my life where I'd like to get back from erstwhile. Of course, in this case, in addition to being a time thing, it's also a money thing -- hotels and air fares and paying ten bucks for a sandwich adds up. But there are options that won't cost an arm and a leg or take a week out of my life -- and for the options that would, I can dream, and plan.

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