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Comicon 2010 round-up and wrap-up, Saturday, Sunday

July 26th, 2010

Continuing the Comicon 2010 report from the previous post….

Saturday: I had some thoughts of seeing the Chuck panel, as I was there early enough, but early enough for the panel and early enough for the line are two different things and the line for Ballroom 20 was beyond insane, so I decided to go over to the Indigo Ballroom in the Hilton which is generally less impacted and see the program track there.  En route, I witnessed the line for Hall H, where the movie panels go on.  It had overflowed it’s already insane bounds and gone over across the street, wrapped around the park where the Clash of the Titans games promos were set up and extended into another dimension I think.  The games in the park were all nice: You could have your face painted and have a picture taken in cut-outs as one of Medusa’s victims, you could bounce on a giant trampoline (which did a number on my knee last year at con), you could play boffer wars in a bouncy arena, and you could even climb a rock wall with a cable safety harness.  Almost no one was playing the games, preferring to stand in line, so I decided I’d try the rock wall, which was free.  Unfortunately, I’d sprained my LCL a few months ago and about ten feet up the rock wall I felt it complain so I wussed out.  The guy who was supervising the wall looked more approving after I compared knee surgery scars with him.  In any case, I got a souvenir fan in place of a shield or a medusa headdress and went on to the line for the Indigo Ballroom, which was fortunately short.

I was there in time for the panel for Leverage, which I’d only vaguely heard of.  They had free MASTERMIND and GRIFTER T-shirts.  I took MASTERMIND, of course.  The room was packed and I had an extremely excited fifty-something fangirl next to me who was sqeeing with delight over seeing her favorite actors, one of whom I then noted was Christian Kane who I’d previously seen on Angel and who mentioned that he has a new music debut on iTunes of some song played on the show (explaining why his character Lindsay on Angel went off with a guitar at one point–they were incorporating a talent of the actor into the character) Wil Wheaton was also playing this seasons’ guest villain, Chaos. It looks like a great show, and has a nice simple premise: a gang of modern-day Robin Hoods pulling a heist each week against some bad guys who deserve to get ripped off and then have their money given to charity.  I now have to set my DVR for another show.

Next was the Venture Brothers panel.  It’s a fun cartoon I’ve watched some episodes of and I’ll probably watch a few more.  The actors on the panel were entertaining and generally gonzo, as one might expect.

Then came the Sanctuary panel.  I’ve enjoyed the show, and the panel was enjoyable as well.  They talked a good bit about the Bollywood dance that figured into the last season finale, and also mentioned how they’ve set up a charity which has been helping various groups around the world.  The guy next to me started recording the whole show on his camera, but it wasn’t going to be an unsteady shot, because he’d brought an actual tripod.  I looked around and he wasn’t the only one.

Then came the panel for The Guild, who could teach the rest of Hollywood something serious about work ethic and how to please your fans.  Aside from being at their booth throughout the con with all the actors present doing continuous signings from what I could see, they started the panel with the producer thanking all the fans and telling some production details that were genuinely interesting (as opposed to the twaddle from the guy for the Falling Skies panel, for example).  They then introduced the actors and segued neatly to showing the third episode the current season because they assumed everyone had watched the first two.  I hadn’t, but I can remedy that now, it was fun to see Wil Wheaton back as the villain Faux who had ended up as Codex’s love interest at the end of last season.  They then gave out buttons with the bodice ripper painting of Codex and Faux shown in the episode as a funny bit.  Then, when you wouldn’t think they could top that, they said they’d show the fourth episode, though the editing wasn’t quite done.  So we start into a nice seen with Codex and Zaboo in her bedroom which suddenly organically turns into a Bollywood extravaganza called “Game On.”

Wow.  That was some serious showmanship, and not just for the music video, which was amazing, but for the reveal to the fans.  Obviously they planned this well in advance and I’m pleased to see it such a success.

The guy with the tripod then packed up and left, but I then stayed around to watch a bit of the Community panel.  It was fun and whacky and basically what you’d expect for a comedy set in a community college with Chevy Chase as one of the professors, but after getting a free community college membership card with a discount for buying the DVD, I decided I was tired of sitting and so left too, going back to the convention center to see the art show, which was underwhelming, and more of the art on in the dealer’s room, which was not.

One artist I should point out to everyone is Echo Chernik.  She does some amazing art nouveau illustrations.  Another is Jeremy Bastain who does the Cursed Pirate Girl comics.

I then picked up with Albert and a couple of his friends and we went to Dick’s Last Resort which was a good deal of fun, especially since they were into the Comicon spirit and the waiters were in costume.  Ours was dressed as a white Mr. T with a Brooklyn accent, which was entertaining, and the food was good.  Pete, who’d joined us for dinner late, told us about the really cool Tron set-up they’d had off-site from the convention center.  I wish I’d been able to see it, but there’s always too much stuff to see, but what he showed me on his camera was pretty amazing.  We ate and ordered too much, which in hindsight we shouldn’t have because the next stop was the House of Blues where one of my publishers, SmartPop, had invited us to a party.  There was a buffet with too much delicious food, and also copies of their latest essay anthology A Taste of True Blood which the editor, Leah Wilson, was signing for all the guests.  There was fun talk about anthologies and the usual convention party fun.

Sunday: The last day of the con, I decided to catch Ann and Jeff Vandermeer‘s panel where they talked about upcoming projects, including steam punk anthologies and various curious and whimsical things.  I then did the dealers room floor, snagging up various things that caught my eye as purchases for the final day sales and also getting the final day swag.

The most interesting/fun bit of swag came in the WETA Workshop booth where a guy got up on a chair and announced that in partnership with were doing a trivia contest based on The Hobbit. Now, I pride myself on having a semi-eidetic memory, so I thought my chances of winning something with trivia from a book I’d read over thirty years ago were not half bad if I played my cards right.  After flubbing one question, I got called on for another, wanting the names of two of the swords Bilbo found in the troll’s hoard.  Now, if I racked my brains I might have been able to recall the fancy elven names, but they just asked for names, so I immediately gave the orcish ones: “Biter and Beater!”  The Weta guy looked at me as if I’d gone slightly mad since he was reading the card and those were not the names he was looking at but I just grinned and nodded to the OneRing guy for arbitration, and he admitted that those indeed were two of the names for the swords.  Not the names they were looking for, but names from the book.  I was asked if I knew the elven name, which I didn’t, but a guy next to me did: “Glamdring and Orcrist!”  The OneRing guy decided that that question was sufficient to advance us both to the finals after we’d answered a couple other questions.

The final round was me, a woman, the elven scholar guy, and a kid who I expected had read the book recently.  The elven scholar won the first question, selecting a miniature shield as his prize, the kid then correctly said that Gandalf had asked for red wine in Bilbo’s house and got the map of New Zealand as Middle Earth, and I then answered the next question correctly and got my choice of fancy rubber Hobbit ears or a red T-shirt for with the slogon “Talk Nerdy to Me.”  I’m not much of a cosplayer, but a T-shirt in my size?  Excellent.

After that, Albert gave me a ride to the airport and my friend Michael picked me up.  All in all an excellent Comicon.

Realms of Fantasy: All Women Writers Issue

January 4th, 2010

Women In Fantasy issue announcement

Realms of Fantasy is planning a special themed issue for August 2011, the theme being women in fantasy. This theme will be addressed in all three departments of the magazine, i.e. nonfiction, art, and fiction. So we’re putting out the official word that we’re looking for submissions from the fiction writers out there.

1. For this issue the sign on the proverbial door says “girl writers only.” Sorry gents.
2. While being a woman submitting a fantasy piece to us is enough to get your manuscript considered for this issue, submissions dealing with gender, sexism, and other areas important to feminine speculative literature are particularly welcome.
3. If you’d like to have your story considered for this issue, stories should be postmarked no later than November 15th, 2010. This will provide enough time to find the right artists (ladies, of course) for the stories. I’ll provide periodic reminders about the submission deadline as we move along.

All right, that’s pretty much everything. If you have questions, please ask. We look forward to reading your submissions.

Comicon International 2006 — The Movie Star, the Professor and the rest of the crew

July 27th, 2006

Last year, just in time for Comicon, my sister scheduled her wedding opposite the Masquerade, which I consequently missed.  This year?  Well, I missed the Masquerade again, but only because of other complications.

Where to start?  Where to end?  Egads, I’ve been going to this thing for twenty years now, saw it when it was small, saw it when it was dying, then saw it when it moved to the new convention center and doubled in size every year, even as they continued to enlarge the convention center.  I remember a couple years ago when I made the mistake of being on the main floor when the crowd capacity overtaxed the air conditioning and I nearly fainted on top of Guillermo Del Toro as he was slipping out the back of the Marvel booth and under my arm as I supported myself on a pillar.

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Alas, Westercon!

July 6th, 2006

Well, Westercon has come and gone and a good time was had by all who actually showed up. What am I saying here? Politely that Conzilla, Westercon 59 in San Diego, was a “relaxicon.” More on the money that it was underattended relative to other Westercons past due to a number of factors, the main ones being that Comicon is coming up in a couple weeks in the same city, and at the end of next month, WorldCon will be in Anaheim (even if it is titled LAConIV).

Why do I mention this? Because twenty years ago, I attended Westercon 39 in the same city, a twenty-year-old bright-eyed aspiring pro, and I carved watermelon boats for the SFWA suite instead of going to the masquerade because I wanted to stay, talk with editors, agents and other authors, make connections and whatnot, and watermelon-boat-carving was the price of admission for non-members from the party hostess.

Twenty years later, there was no SFWA suite, nor even a SFWA business meeting. No publishers’ parties, not even the Scientologists. The toastmaster, Kevin J. Anderson, and the author guest of honor, Walter Jon Williams, did host parties and gave out free copies of their novels, but book editors? Magazine editors? Agents? Closest thing was BenBella having a publisher’s table in dealer’s room, but staffed by their distributor from LA. The publisher, Glenn, will himself be in town in a couple weeks for the Comicon.

Yes, there was some anthology chatter, but you find that wherever authors are found. But when I met a new young author who’d come to the con to try to sell his first novel–and had flown in all the way from Minnesota–I wasn’t able to tell him anything more useful than go to WorldCon next month because the only thing left was bid parties. Bid parties right, left and center for the honor of hosting the next Westercon and Worldcon, and endless amounts of SMOFing. The most important news from SMOFdom came from Michael Siladi, chair of next year’s Westercon, which would have been in San Jose except that at the 11th hour, the Doubletree decided to restaff itself with greedy crackmonkeys, at least for key managerial positions, and the upshot is that Westercon 60 will now be held slightly northwards in San Mateo:

Were the panels useful and entertaining? Without expection, yes. San Diego in particular has a talent for making highly informative and innovative panel discussions. But….

Well, I remember hearing tales of the Texas Westercon that was killed because the San Diego Comicon moved to the same weekend after being bumped by the Republican National Convention and consequently everyone who had to do the Comicon simply skipped Westercon.

What am I saying here? Well, I think that the Westercon rules should be changed such that, the same as Worldcon not being able to be placed within five hundred miles of another Worldcon, you shouldn’t place a Westercon in the same radius as a Worldcon. Likewise you should not have a Westercon the same weekend as a major regional convention.

Admittedly I also just rejoined SFWA after a long hiatus, but it’s kind of sad to not have a SFWA suite, or even a SFWA meeting. Yes, I didn’t volunteer to bell that cat myself, and there wouldn’t have been much of a point anyway since there wasn’t anything that really needed getting away from. And it’s not as if this is the first Westercon to lack both SFWA suite and publisher’s parties. But still….

On the plus side, I bought a particularly cool cane to wave at people.

P.S. I hereby retract my gripe about lack of magazine editors: Marti McKenna was there, who I know from long back, but who I only had a chance to wave to in the halls as I was rushing off to panels. My bad for not catching up, but Marti just remedied this with an email announcement, the important bit below:

Seventh Issue for Æon SF

Æon Seven is now available at ebook retailers. With a delightful cover by award-winning illustrator Alan M. Clark, the seventh issue of Æon Speculative Fiction features fiction by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, Stephen Couch, Jay Lake, Rita Oakes, Bruce McAllister, Joe Murphy, and Ken Rand, as well as nonfiction by Michael Lohr and Dr. Rob Furey, and the seventh installment in a continuing series of columns by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A preview is online at

Edited by Marti McKenna and Bridget McKenna, Æon Speculative Fiction is a quarterly e-magazine from Scorpius Digital Publishing. Æon publishes “speculative” stories (science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, magic realism, etc.) and features fiction and nonfiction by veterans, award-winners, and rising talents.

Æon Seven is currently available for download from and

Praise for Æon

“Æon continues to publish excellent work.”