Convention Reporting

I haven't posted anything resembling a convention report in a while. Remember those, the blog posts full of photos, names of people I met, panels I enjoyed, and all the other convention-concomitance? Yeah, I kind of miss those.

But not enough to try to document what a convention is like. I'm not a journalist. So while I cannot give you a taste of Phoenix, I can tell you what it was I tasted.

Phoenix Comic-Con was a huge, underground convention center full of flights of fancy, costumed attendees, and friends both old and new. I shared table space with Brandon Sanderson, and so anytime he was in the booth we were completely swamped. His booth crew, Isaac and Kara, were awesome, and we sold lots of stuff.

If you're in Phoenix, this is a great show to go see. The exhibition hall is a regular treasure-trove of comics and pop-culture paraphernalia, and I would have to guess that at least half the attendees were in some sort of costume. Also, there were lots of writers in attendance, and it was great fun for me to get to rub shoulders with them (and deface their name placards.) I met Sam Sykes (I'm reading his first trilogy right now) and several other authors for the first time, and caught up with Aprilynne Pike, John Scalzi, Peter Orullian, and a pile of other folks I've seen at other events. 

Also, I got to have bacon-wrapped dates under maple syrup. Those may have been worth the whole trip, and there were only four of them. That taste right there? Yeah... that was Phoenix for me. Even if everything was imported.

I ducked out early, departing on Sunday at around noon, because I wanted to catch up with my friends at CONduit, which is held the same weekend in Salt Lake City. The twenty-first century is pretty amazing. We moved my flight, got me on it, and got me from one convention to another in the same half-day. 

The contrast between the two shows was rather stark. CONduit, which has a long history as a small SF/F literary show, seems to be trying to become a pop-culture show lately. It remains tiny, however, since it hasn't yet branded itself in a way that will attract the crowds. I walked in and found all my local friends immediately, which is cool, but there was no sea of new faces, which is less cool.

This year I expect the big crowds to be out in force in early September for Salt Lake Comic-Con, a first-year show whose name pretty much guarantees good branding to the right demographic. I've been invited to attend that show as a guest, and even though I'll just be coming down from WorldCon the weekend prior, I'm planning on it. Will I exhibit? I don't know yet. Exhibiting at two shows back-to-back may be too much for me, even if the second one is just a 45 minute commute from my own bed. 

Make no mistake, conventions are hard work for me. I am not naturally outgoing. I am at my most comfortable squirreled away in a corner writing or drawing. I enjoy being sociable, certainly, and I love having the opportunity to meet fans, make new friends, and draw things on-the-fly for people, but it's exhausting. I usually spend one or two days after a convention getting absolutely nothing done. If this schedule is correct, that means I'm going to get nothing done for 26 days this year.

Speaking of which, I have things to get done. I leave for the Writing Excuses Seminar and Retreat in a little over a week, and I need to have added a week to the buffer in that time. That means three weeks of comics need to be scripted and illustrated in the next seven days. This, like convention attendance, is also exhausting. And, like convention attendance, it is also fun, and worth every second I spend on it.