Monday, August 17, 2015

My First Con: GlitchCon 2015

Back at the end of July, I went to my first ever convention.

Okay, technically I went to a "convention" a few weeks earlier at the Rogers Public Library because my friend, Harper Voyager author Brooke Johnson, was there, but that was less a "convention" and more "an event put on by the public library." It was very sweet, but very very small.

GlitchCon, however, was a proper convention. Also pretty small, since it's still a relatively young con, but it had all the trappings that you expect at a con, including:
  • Voice Actors
  • Cosplayers
  • Authors
  • Comic book artists
  • Book publishers
  • Cosplayers
  • Tabletop gaming
  • Video gaming
  • Cosplayers
  • Events and panels
  • Cosplayers
  • Did I mention the cosplayers?
Honestly, I was wrapped up in such a whirlwind for those three days that I didn't take many photos, which I'm kicking myself over, but I did manage to find a few photos on the GlitchCon Facebook page to help me document my time. (All photos featured in this post were found there.)

Do you see that Mr. Freeze cosplay? WTF that AWESOME!!!!
I went mostly to support Brooke because she was going to be on several panels--and MODERATING one!! O_O--and I wanted to attend those. It turned out that another recent acquaintance that I've made, horror author Joe DeRouen was also there. He's pretty awesome, so I wanted to attend his panels as well.

The first day, I'll admit, wasn't a whole ton of fun because Brooke was understandably busy setting up her table in the vendor room and selling books and I couldn't just hang around that table like a friggin' weirdo, so I wandered. 

Brooke at her book booth. Awwwww.
But with no one else there and my wife at work, it was a tad lonely. I'm terrible at humaning, so I was mostly awkward around the other people and tried to keep my time in conversation with others to a minimum so I didn't come across like a mole person only recently discovering the surface world. And I'm not a big video gamer, so there just wasn't much draw for me there.

The second day was much improved. Not only were there more panels that I was interested in, but my wife was there, so I had some company.

The first place I stopped was at the "Voice Acting in Anime" panel because I was and am a huge geek about voice acting. Don't get me started on voices in cartoons. I know way too much and most of the time it results in so much eye glazing I could start my own eye-based donut shop.

It was very entertaining, and I got to hear Jeremy Inman (Android 16 in Dragonball Z and Heymans Breda in FMA: Brotherhood), Kristen McGuire (Hinano Kurahashi in Assassination Classroom), and Cynthia Cranz (Chi-Chi in Dragonball Z).

Cynthia Cranz, Some Dude, Jeremy Inman, and Kristen McGuire
After we grabbed lunch, we made it back for the Break an Author Panel in which we suggested outrageous ideas, concepts, props, setting, characters, etc., and authors had to craft little microstories that used these ideas effectively. It was silly fun, and got hilariously inappropriate fast.

After that, I basically lived in the Author Room.

Joe was on a panel about fantasy fiction that was entertaining, and it was very interesting to hear different authors takes on fantasy and what that genre means to them. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find a photo of that panel.)

Next, Brooke was on a worldbuilding panel, which was great for her because The Brass Giant has a ton of interesting worldbuilding that is just sort of hinted at in the background in really cool ways. It was also interesting to hear her get into a discussion with another author about the different random things you end up researching when writing, such as wind patterns and such.

Then came the "What Publisher Want" panel featuring Tommy Hancock (Pro Se Press), Selina Rosen (Yard Dog Press), and Tony Acree (Hydra Publications), which was very interesting. I got to hear from some indie publishers about what they look for when they buy fiction and more an idea of just what it's like in the industry for a writer, especially if you go indie. It was very grounding to hear the numbers and understand just what "success" means to a writer, and it's not Stephanie Meyer numbers. I was already aware of a lot of this from following Kameron Hurley on Twitter, but it was still definitely an interesting and valuable sit through.

After dinner, Brooke was on a panel with Joe about writing heroes and villains, which was very interesting. They're silly on panels together.

Brooke Johnson, JC Crumpton, Tommy Hancock, Sue Sinor, Joe DeRouen, Phillip Drayer Duncan
They talked about classic heroes, what makes good villains, what separates a hero from a villain, and how villains as protagonists are different from anti-heroes.

And I wrapped up my day with a panel mysteriously called "Taboo Talk." It dealt with how to talk about various taboo subjects sensitively.

On Sunday, the wife and I started by going to a Jeopardy panel with some of the author guests as contestants. It was a lot of fun, and I made a giant dork of myself when the Stephen King category came up because I'm a huge Stephen King fan. A couple of teenage girls laughed at me. It didn't my feelings though. Not at all. *sniff* *sob*

Next came probably the most interesting time I had at the whole convention: the author panel discussion of gender roles and alternate life styles. This was also the panel that Brooke and Joe were on that Brooke also moderated, and, except for being a teensy bit quiet, I thought she did a great job. AND THERE'S VIDEO! Check it out below if you're interested in hearing them speak on it.

Brooke was on another panel immediately after that was supposed to be about what writers lives are REALLY like. However, since 4 out of the 5 people on the panel stayed at home to write, it was a little less representative of the various ways writers live. Instead, the panel sort of shape-shifted into a discussion about the different processes and rituals they all had for writing, which was kind of way more interesting.

And I wrapped up my weekend by sitting in on Joe's last panel, in which he and two other authors discussed the horror genre. They talked movies, they talked short stories, they talked novels, and since it was such a late panel and the audience was a little sparse, my wife wound up pumping them with silly questions that she looked up on her phone to really put the pressure on. This was obviously done in good fun. There were, like, three other people there, and it was less a panel and more just a fun conversation amongst ourselves, and since two of the panelists didn't show up, it was a nice manageable conversation at that.

My first convention was a lot of fun, especially pestering Brooke with stupid questions. I'd like to try to do even more next year. If you live in the Northwest Arkansas area, I recommend going to GlitchCon in 2016 if you get the chance. It's small, but it's a lot of fun. It was in Springdale this year, but I hear it outgrew its venue (for the second or third time), and so it'll need to be in a bigger place next year.

Ever been to a convention? Share your experience below.