Denver Comicon AAR

With no pictures, because those are in my camera and I’m only half awake. Also in my camera are dorky (trust me) pictures of younger son and husband in the time-traveling delorian and since they paid to pose with that, if I accidentally delete them I’ll NEVER be forgiven, not even after I die.

So, this was my first comicon. I’ve been aware it was going on, but you guys know what the last 5 (10) years have been health wise, so I kept losing track of where/when it was, and didn’t go.

As I was trying to collect my thoughts, I ran across a facebook post from my son who said that the difference between this and cons he’d attended before is not one of scale, but one of intrinsic makeup.

That is, comicon isn’t worldcon, or world fantasy, or a local con scaled up. Comicon is its own animal, a different creature entirely.

Now, I spent most of the time inside the Wordfire booth (it’s where my publisher wanted me to be and I take that seriously) but I saw a lot of the con go by, and I got reports from the boys as they came to check in/see if I needed anything/escort me to panels.

Imagine a typical science fiction con. Most of the people who attend those are habitués. Science fiction and fantasy are at the center of their entertainment choices. They either have attended a con before, or have wanted to. They are part of a relatively small and incestuous community that means they probably know three or four writers by first name, and that meeting writers is not an earth-shaking event.

Comicon is… different. It’s like taking that small con, and then throwing open the doors and inviting the world in. It’s the equivalent of shouting “If you even read a couple of sf/f books, or play a couple of sf/f games, or love a couple of sf/f movies/series a year, come on in, we love you.”

The most common answer when someone came to the Wordfire booth looking for something to read and we asked “What do you like to read?” was “Everything.”

It’s been said that SF/F won the culture wars and the vast masses are all geeks now. This is not… Precisely true. More accurate would be saying that due to tech jobs and other perks of an increasingly technological society, it’s hard to despise those who make it work and, unbelievably and often sideways, a certain patina of cool has associated to geek pursuits. This means people have integrated some of SF/F geekdom into the potentials for their amusement. They are not SF/F geeks as the ones who used to attend conventions are. This is not their life and heart. It is just something they enjoy. That means they might also enjoy mystery or romance or even stuff that’s unclassifiable.

I realize this is at the heart of the trufan/not trufan controversy, but here’s my take: for some of those people, over time, SF/F MIGHT become the favored means of entertainment. And even if it doesn’t, it will be one of their means of entertainment. Which means the field, including books, games and shows, will be wide and healthier and more diverse (in the real sense of appealing to a multitude of tastes) and therefore attract better writers and game designers and producers, which means for those who are trufen there will be better and more varied fare and you might not be looked at quite so askance for your geekdom obsession.

Is that enough justification to let the great unwashed in? Rolls eyes. They’re not asking your – or even mine, which is good, since I don’t care – permission to come in. They are in. And it doesn’t matter how much you love something, you can’t demand someone love it as much in order to share it. That is a kindergarten dispute, and you should have got over those feelings of possessiveness over your toys around the time you were potty trained.

Like them or not, the people who are only part-time sf fans are in. You can sit in your corner with your hands over your ears saying “lalalalalalala” or you can get to know them. Having spent the weekend hanging out with them, I can tell you they’re fun.

And now a quick and incomplete summary, before I shower and go paint walls.

The Good:

Diversity: if you’re looking for the only type of diversity you can track visually, this is possibly the most diverse con I ever attended. My skin tone when normal (right now I’m sort of pale, the result of illness and WAY too much time indoors) tracked around medium, I think.

Denver is not an incredibly racially diverse city, and I think that Comicon was MORE diverse than the city.

Acceptance: Okay, so Comicon had more normal people, more of what our forebears in fandom would call “mundanes” even if in costume, but our calm acceptance of the odd and the very odd remained. I saw more same-sex couples holding hands there than anywhere else I’ve been. And no one really gave a d*mn. And mixed-fandom couples too. (I’m still trying to get over Thor and zombie nurse holding hands.)

Youth: I felt old. No. I mean that, and not only because I’ve been so busy running between houses that I haven’t had time to color my hair, (it’s been gray since I turned 28.) No. My kids in their twenties tracked median age for that con. There were any number of kids wearing the “adult” pass who probably had to be driven there, due to being too young.

Readers: This surprised me. I expected a lot less enthusiasm for reading/books/literary track. As is, I’d say about half the people there were avid readers. (This is judging not just by interest at the booth, but by conversations overheard.) What this means is that outside the hard-core of SF/F dedicated readers there’s a MASS of readers wanting to find SOME SF/F works to read.

As someone who reads everything, including the back of cereal boxes and instructions for machines she never owned, I don’t care what else they read if they read my books. It’s not my job to police other people’s lives.

The Bad:

The bad is mostly personal. I found out that in these years when I’ve been ill and not doing cons as much I’ve become a true introvert. Being around people just beat the ever loving tar out of me. I’d get back to the hotel room and feel like I’d run a marathon. I think painting walls and sanding floors is less tiring. I don’t remember being that tired since I came back from Portugal with younger son and due to delays and reroutings was up for almost 48h straight.

This bad is of course a solvable problem and I’m ALMOST recovered. (Instead of showering, I might head back to bed after this post.)

The Different:

Panels are angled differently -This was harder for my sons to adjust to. The how-to-write and how-to-do-art panels were far more …. Amateur oriented. I had to explain to them that anyone going to one of those at worldcon and world fantasy is “committed.” They’ve probably read how to books, might have attended other panels/workshops/etc. A lot of the people attending these at Comicon are just attending to see if they had an interest. Of course not just the level but the thrust will be different.

Accessibility – You’d think with that many people attending, the artists and writers would be less willing to spend time talking to you. However, this was the opposite, and Robert got a very nice art lesson from a professional illustrators. She took time to show him how to merge the forms to draw a tiger-girl construct.

The energy – It’s very fast, all the time. Which is probably why I’m so beat.

Quickpass – being newbies we didn’t know about these, which meant younger son couldn’t get into the stuff he really liked.

The Weird:

They had a “Diversity” track. Yes, I realize this is a fad. You have to talk about the lack of diversity to be diverse, or something. (Rolls eyes.) This was probably the most diverse con I’d ever seen, (not just in terms of skin shades, but in terms of who the attendees were) and it boggles my mind that anyone would feel a need to go talk about how things needed to be more “diverse” (by which they mean mostly external characteristics) and microaggressions and stuff. However, whatever floats your boat. The con seemed very accepting of different fandoms, and I guess fans of racial/gender/other grievance are welcome also. I don’t know if there were enough of them to justify a whole track, but whatever.

Writers were stars – I got more of the “I am never going to wash the hand you shook” treatment there than anywhere else I’ve attended. It startles me more than a little, first because I’m not that big, and second because eh. I’m just a chick who writes stuff.

On the good side I got to meet any number of you. Sean Golden for some reason kept ducking under my radar and I forgot who he was from one time to the next. And I don’t remember the names of every Hun I met, mostly because see how the whole thing was exhausting, but I remember Byron and his little daughter cosplaying Murphy in Dresden files.

Those who identified themselves as blog readers got carped. There will be more of this at Liberty con. (Wicked grin.)

Big Enough to Distort business for miles around – I loved all the signs that said “welcome geeks” or “Denver is nerdtown” or whatever.

My Son – No, seriously. Apparently my older son is weird. He escorted me into the con yesterday morning. (Because if you send me in alone you’ll never see me again, unless you happen to cross my path as I’m completely lost, living off fountain water and dropped snacks for months.) He was wearing his normal attire: button down, dark pants, tie, fedora and trenchcoat. I was wearing a t-shirt with a vest embroidered on it (last day of con and trying to be comfortable.)

As a car slowed down for the crosswalk near us, someone looked out the window and said, “Oh, yeah, comicon is this weekend.”

And that was the unkindest cut of all, because we were wearing what we might have worn any other weekend in Denver.

Perhaps one of Robert’s former teachers was right and we ARE comic book characters.

221 thoughts on “Denver Comicon AAR

  1. Except for the size, it sounds like what MileHiCon was like when I went to my first one in 1973.

    One of the odd things I noticed about the last MileHiCon I attended a few years ago is that it was largely the same people as were at the first one. All of them about 40 years older, of course.

    1. I’ve found this to be true of most SFF cons I’ve attended since I discovered cons in 1974: It’s the same crowd I saw back in the 70s, except with more of them in wheelchairs and more of them…dead. Young people are so rare as to make you turn your head when you see them. No good will come of this, which is one reason I’m thinking we need to create a new fandom somewhere between the media cons like ComiCon and traditional cons like MileHi.

    2. BuboniCon must be Odd, then, because it seems to tend younger. I suspect the Whovian/Star Wars/Trek fandom (the Fan is strong in ABQ) may have something to do with it.

      1. I’ve always wanted to go to that one and have never been able to make it work. It’s the closest con to me now that I live in west Texas, but the timing is always bad.

          1. And when she says, “She couldn’t make it to Libertycon…”, that was with an offer to drug her, stuff her in the trunk, and drive being made so she had plausible deniability. Just to make that clear. 😀

            1. He’s not exaggerating much. It was the part about “I’ll be on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean” that put a wrench in the gears.

        1. What part of West Texas? I’m originally from 30 miles south of Big Spring, 35 miles east of Midland…..

          1. Sterling City? I was there yesterday. I’m in Lubbock. After I posted earlier, I remembered that there’s supposed to be a Comicon in Lubbock later this year. I need to look up the date and carve it on the calendar.

  2. On your first “Bad”, I call that being “peopled out” and it happens to me. [Smile]

  3. The Harry Potter kids are still reading. And writing and gaming and going to movies and…

    Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something despair-flavored.

    1. I suspect the success of comics-based pop entertainment is also driving the fan base these days. People see the Marvel movies and some percentage will seek out the source material (Avengers2 passed $400 million this weekend; assuming average ticket price of $10 — based on presumption that matinee shows and premium exhibitions net to 10 — to make the math easy, that’s 40 million attendees. Cut that in half for repeat-viewings and assume 1% of viewers go buy a comic and that is 200,000 new comic buyers. Given that these days any comic selling more than 50,000 copies is considered a hit and you are seeing a massive influx.

      Then figure some of the 6-7 million fans of Arrow, Flash, Gotham are going to be willing to pick up a comic and browse it.

      Anime had been eating Comicdom’s lunch, capturing the young eyeballs, but that wyrm may have turned.

      1. Well on the anime front. Anime has shifted in the last 5-10 years or so from being manga first then anime. To Light Novels(that first appear as serials in Magazines.), to anime. Hopefully this tread leads to more people picking up and reading books.

        1. Many of the light novels are being translated into English as well. Thankfully, by proper translators. (I respect fanslations, but they tend to be written with little thought to how they sound in English. A Certain Magical Index, for instance, benefited in readability from the professionals working on it.)

          1. My young anime fans have always been evenly split between the anime and the manga in how they portion their eyeball time. It’s one of the only genres (I know, very inaccurate term, bear with me) where sometimes the movie is better than the book, and sometimes vice versa. And the minute you get into anime OR manga seriously (I came late to the party) the Internet access to your favorite stuff becomes huge: scanlations, temporary fan-subs, etc. Which pulls you into stuff like anime gaming and creepy pasta and Homestuck.

            And since you can watch My Neighbor Totoro and Avatar and Chi’s Sweet Home before you’re old enough to read, of course the next gen of skiffy fans will have a strong media bent. As well as reading all the skiffy classics as they go along. So you tell me, oh wise. Which con are their parents going to take them back to? The one that embraces their all daughter’s fandoms with open arms, or the one that tries to make her feel small and stupid for having (some) of them?

            It’s a no brainier.

            I’m old enough in comic fandom to remember when you could just drop in to the San Diego Comic Con and buy a day pass at the door. Emerald City Comic con ditto (and the big draw for that was all the dealers with miles! Miles! I tell you of those white comic book boxes filled with back issues to pour over unti Eureka! The missing A Distant Soil issue for you collection!)

            Comiccons weren’t Comiccons back then. They could have easily gone the way of Worldcon. Their con committees chose otherwise. Makes you wonder whether those comic book fans are the “stupid” one, doesn’t it?

  4. “I’m just a chick who writes stuff.”
    Double checks ID, “Just a chick who writes stuff? Riiiiight. Your ID clearly identifies you as the Beautiful but Evil Space Princess, member in good standing of the Evil League of Evul. Would madame care to pull the other one?”

      1. You do NOT want to engage the triple-carp, double-overpressure trebuchet. Nowhere and no one within thirty miles is safe. Better to just bow and walk on …

        1. Since Tom agreed that I can identify as a B-52, intercontinental carplight strikes have become available…

        2. You know the Navy’s new railgun, and how the actually built two but only oe shows up in the latest youtube vids?

          Yeah, Sarah’s got that.

          And I understad the order for the ferromagnetic-carp-cutout-sabot pieces just came in down at the level two loading dock…

            1. Anime has ruined me in many ways. Railgun almost always gets interpreted as Mikoto Misaka these days…

    1. Humph. I’d rather read an author who says “I’m just a guy/gal who writes stuff” than an author who shouts “I’m The Next Heinlein (or some other great author)”. [Smile]

      1. “I’d rather trust a man who doesn’t shout what he’s found.
        There’s no need to sell if you’re homeward bound.
        If I choose his side
        He won’t take me for a ride”
        (Genesis, “The Chamber of 32 Doors”)

      2. My concern is over all those people not washing their hands as potential disease transmission vectors. Unless Sarah is scrupulously applying the Purell* between visitations she may eventually become as infamous as Typhoid Mary.

        *Or comparable product. Management means no endorsement of named products nor disparagement of competing brands and has no desire to infringe any product trademarks, brand-names or copyrights.

            1. Speaking of whom…

              Guess who the NY Times just reported has signed a 3.4 million dollar book deal? Instapundit’s got the link, but I didn’t feel like following it to learn the details.

              1. Good for him. Although since SFF deals normally don’t get reported on, I wonder what the battlespace prep is for…

                1. Hugos. If he didn’t have a contract, he’d be easier to laugh at. No one has to know if it actually pays out.

          1. In one of the Hugo Winner anthologies that Isaac Asimov edited, in his intro to a Harlan Ellison story, he told of how Ellison had been the young fan with boundless energy and insatiable curiosity, going around and meeting all the authors. Then he told of being at another convention years later, and, while sitting with a few other authors, another fan came up and spoke with them, asking questions and such. After he left, one of them observed that the fan was “just like a younger Harlan Ellison”. Another one responded, “Let’s kill him now.”

          2. “I pity the fool”. Harlan Ellison is still around to slap him silly. [Very Big Evil Grin]

        1. You don’t give yourself enough credit. You’re at least a centi-Heinlein, maybe even a deci-Heinlein.

        2. Well, I figure I’m a micro-Heinlein.

          Is that like a microaggression or a microbrewery?

  5. I’m already going into introvert meltdown over LibertyCon – look for me hiding behind my rather sizable husband, or over in the corner knitting. I can’t imagine a huge con, like DragonCon. My daughter and son-in-law go there every year. I see the pictures of the throngs of people, wall to wall, endless lines to get into crowded, standing room only panels, and I break out into hives.

    1. Liberty just hit its cap of 700, and the Choo Choo is a vast venue with lots of nooks and cranies to drift off and take a break in. And remember too, a majority I would guess are Bar Flies or Huns, mostly both so practically family in a weird disfunctional way. The only crowding I can remember was in the con suite when new goodies were brought out and that dies down quickly.

      1. Yeah well, when I can’t even play well enough with others to be able to discuss stuff online …. yeah, nevermind the corner, I will be behind the potted ferns, if I even come out of our room.

      2. Well, there is the standing-room-only Mad Scientists Midnight Panel, but other than that, yep, it’s a place that can be so uncrowded and laid back that even twitchier combat vets can find places to relax. (I should know; I married one.)

        1. We have a new venue – The Roosevelt Room. It will not be standing-room only this year.

          1. sigh.

            Mad Scientists. Perhaps one’s experiment to turn it into non-Euclidean space will in fact ensure that there is plenty of room, but it’s equally likely that it will get crush down to neutron star density.

            1. I can neither confirm nor deny that LibertyCon is experimenting with tesseracts to increase the amount of space…

              1. Indeed, just like you won’t confirm or deny any experiments or results thereof to settle any arguments that might happen between a certain brilliant neuroscientist and the redoubtable Travis Taylor? Look, breeding lab rats with more brains and opposable thumbs so you can satisfy the constraints of not pushing the bounds of “manned” space exploration is all very well and good in theory, but I think Dave Freer was warning us in Rats, Bats, and Vats just where that might end up in practice…

                1. If you’re just going to be a wet blanket all over the place we won’t invite you to our parties, so there! *Or* let you be the Jetpack test pilot. It’s no fun coloring inside the lines…and it makes it much harder to achieve World Domination, too.

                  1. That just means you need different lines. When you’re coloring in the multi-casting Mind Ray/Shrink Ray/Lightning Ray/Blu-Ray/Zorf Ray gun (It’s one big disk that holds several different projectors powered by the same power pack – whichever one is on top fires. Rotate the disk to get the beam you want), you want to be very precise on which color goes where, or it might blow up in your face.


                  2. For people who do not want to color inside the lines, we have nice white BLANK paper on which you may scribble with abandon.

                2. Hmmmm, I’d heard a credible rumor that Doc Travis was working on a new TV show to follow on from Rocket City Rednecks. Wasn’t aware that the working title was “Rats In Space, To Infinity And Beyond!”

      3. Well, I just tried to reply, but WORDPRESS HATES ME, so it trashed my earlier response in the never-ending login query…

        LibertyCon is indeed Barfly & Hun-friendly, but that is not at all the majority of the attendance. In a small year, Barflies (including Huns, since they are a 90% intersecting subset) might hit 40% of LC members. This is a BIG year, with 700 members, and another 120 or so guests and staff. Barflies will make up about 25-30% of the total, mainly because the 1632 Minicon is also boosting the attendance. 1632 is another intersecting subset of the Barflies, but frankly, they are more likely a 50-60% intersecting group, since there are many “Ringers” (i.e. “Ring of Fire”) fans and participants who do not get involved in other Barfly groups.

        So call it 40% Barflies, Huns and Ringers. There’s also about 30-35% of the crowd that are scientists and engineers who come because LC is so science-oriented (After all, how many Cons have a Science GoH?). Again, they intersect about 50% with the above groups, so the ‘Flies, Huns, Ringers and STEMs make up just over half of the Con. The rest are classic Southeastern Fandom, and a more laid-back and friendly set of folks you will never meet.

        My wife is quite a bit of an introvert, and will likely be overwhelmed by the number of people who will tell her they’ve been itching to meet her, and will seemingly know all about her… So I fully expect she will retreat to the sanctuary of our room quite a bit.

        At the Choo-Choo, however, the best way to calm an introvert is to go for a walk in the gardens, sit in the lobby, which is cavernous and quiet most of the time, tour the railroad museum, inspect the train cars, browse the shops. There are plenty of places to get away, and frankly, the only “crowds” will be in the main hallway, huckster rooms and Consuite (in the evenings).

        1. Hint: when you have to log in, open a new window or tab. I log in, and then use the link to open it to the comment I want to reply to. (Copying my deathless prose if necessary.0

    2. Libertycon is very introvert friendly 🙂 Lots of places to hide, and no huge herds of people.

      1. “Introvert Friendly” is a phrase you don’t see bandied about too often. *grin* When I end up at such places, most times I’m working, which creates its own camouflage.

    3. Also more and more of the big cons have spaces of calm set aside for folks like us. I worked the public library booth at ECC this year, and if we get invited back (and get permission to go) we’ll be bringing even more comfy seating to go with the bookshelves.

      If you go to and search the site for managing Dragoncon with a severe anxiety disorder, you might find info that helps.

        1. Not just the articles themselves, but skim the comments as well. There’s a lot of info on places to duck, quieter parts of the Con, and such-like. I thought Jen’s discovery about the masks was fascinating (short version: the costume mask helped reduce her crowd-anxiety).

          1. I do a mental version when I’m performing. I get into character, and then I’m good. It would be weird at a party as ‘me’ but in costume I’m fine. Even without a physical mask.

            1. This is what I do at cons, but this time it failed me, perhaps because none of my usual peeps was there, or perhaps because I’m still not QUITE myself.

              1. You’re NOT???

                Then, who ARE you?

                And what have you done to our Sarah?


                  1. Half a Sarah is better than a nun.

                    Well, perhaps not better than Sister Berthold — my knuckles still ache in damp weather.

                    1. There was an attempt to “kiln” Sarah. The results were so “interesting” that they never tried it again. Fortunately the kiln Sarahs peacefully merged with the original Sarah (which was the first peaceful thing they did). [Wink]

  6. Comic-cons are fun. They tire me out quickly, but I enjoy them much more than the ‘standard’ sf/f convention. A bonus is the reduction (not elimination, but reduction) of BO that so often wafts around a sf/f convention. Carrying and using waterless hand cleanser is still indicated so as to minimize con crud, but Vicks under the nose isn’t required, thank Ghu.

    1. As someone who has been to both Dragoncon and local cons (even Worldcon — it’s where I met my wife), I like them simply because there’s usually something for everyone. The only downside is the crowd factor; I’ve missed panels I wanted to see simply because you couldn’t cover the distance through the crush.

  7. In my experience, Crowd Tolerance is a muscle. You can build it up with practice, and it can go slack with disuse. You’ll get it back.

    And yes, Comic Cons are a wave that’s sweeping over everything, leaving more traditional cons behind, unnoticed. Grand Rapids Comic Con last year was 22,000, the capacity of the venue. They turned away another 4,000.

    Grand Rapids — and though I have my local pride, I know it’s not a major Comic Con — turned away a crowd the size of a typical World Con. And this year they’ll have a bigger venue.

    If Geek Culture is currently dominating mass culture, then its meet-ups are the Comic Cons.

    1. We were there last year, and while we weren’t quite as overwhelmed as at Indiana Comic Con, we were still very, very busy. As soon as they announced their 2015 dates and venue, we bought our vendor space for this year, and we’re looking forward to it.

      1. I almost didn’t go. I only went to keep my sister company; and then I almost didn’t get in (she had a ticket, I didn’t). And I’ve been away from comics so long, the only names I recognized were Nichelle Nichols, William Meissner-Loeb, and Tony Isabella. I’m a fan of all three, but what were the odds I would actually get to see them?

        By sheer luck, I stumbled into the main auditorium five minutes before Ms. Nichols’s interview. Afterward, looking for my sister, I stumbled upon Meissner-Loeb’s table. While I was there talking to him, Tony Isabella stopped by to chat.

        I’ll be buying tickets in advance this year.

  8. Nice summary! Cons sure have changed since I started going in 1986. Mostly for the better, some for the worse (like the number of people, and the entry price!). But overall a fun and enjoyable experience. It was my son’s first con, and he’s already thinking about costume ideas for next year.

    Sarah, it was good to be able to meet you in person, and your son and husband too! Good luck to your son on his engineering studies; we need more people in that field, especially to boost the civilian space arena.

    And thanks for the carp!

  9. And it doesn’t matter how much you love something, you can’t demand someone love it as much in order to share it. That is a kindergarten dispute, and you should have got over those feelings of possessiveness over your toys around the time you were potty trained.

    Where’s the fun in that?! They just need to love it enough to have FUN with my level of loving it, and they’re golden!

    1. If I can’t look down my nose at people for not loving as deeply, as truly, as madly as I do, how can I parade my unearned geekal superiority?

      It is people like you,insistent on taking all the snobbery out of obsessiveness, who ruin it for we truefen. Net thing you will be arguing people should buy and drink wine because they like it when we all know the true joy comes from impressing your acquaintances (we know you haven’t any friends) with your connoisseurship.

  10. Oh, come on, Sarah. You’ve never pulled into a hotel parking lot and been sure you were at the con hotel from just looking at the cars? You’ve never gone to a restaurant around a con, and easily been able to spot the fannish diners who aren’t wearing costumes and are spiffed up a bit to go eat?

    If we can know our people, other people can know our people. (And heck, the folks in the car may have been fannish too, for all we know. I don’t assume that as quickly as I used to.)

    1. We hit that with SakuraCon the first year– were coming back from visiting a relative in California and hit the crowds.

      Biggest tell, the roads were crowded and there were fewer people who assumed physics didn’t apply to them! (What? My turn signal didn’t vaporize the other car?!?)

  11. Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala!

          1. OK. That is so not fair. I manged to write a blog post about stream classification, using a trout stream as an example, without any trouble, and now you go giving me an ear-worm. *glowers in Banshee’s general direction*

            1. I was wondering if you were gonna let her get away with that. Do you have an earworm sensitivity, perhaps?

              1. If it weren’t for the Beautiful But Evil Space Princess’s rules about WMDs, I’d post a link to “Cows with Guns” or “Cat’s in the Kettle (at the Peking Moon).” Badgerbadgerbadgerbadger.

                1. I consider it a badge of honor that I recognized all of those references.

                2. You do know that “Cows with Guns” filks well with “Huns with Puns”?


          2. Ok. Now I’m going to have to listen to 3 hours of Einstürzende Neubauten just to wash that out of my brain.

            I hope you’re happy.

          3. Back in my Stage Crew days, it was:

            Snout, Snout, This is my Snout
            These are my nostrils they breathe in and out
            Come on.
            I’m breathing on you.
            Come on.

    1. Sing. Sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong.

      OH, that’s not what you meant? Good luck getting it out of your head now.

      1. Hah! With my mastery of Broadway show tunes and antique TV themes i can always dislodge the most pernicious of ear worms.

        Tra la la, la la la la
        Tra la la, la la la la
        Tra la la, la la la la
        Tra la la, la la la la

        Four banana, three banana, two banana, one
        All bananas playin’ in the bright warm sun.
        Flippin’ like a pancake, popping like a cork
        Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper an’ Snork

          1. Of course I can — with other show tunes.

            Show tunes are crafted for maximum ear wormyness and so effectively crowd out other musics, even Sixties TV themes (mostly … some of those old Warner’s Westerns can be remarkably retentive … although for some reason I am finding that efforts to recall the Maverick theme are instead retrieving the one from Sugarfoot). But I find they eventually merge into other songs from the source show, thus creating a medley which slowly dissipates.

            This only seems to work for Broadway shows prior to about 1975, however. Once you get to late-Sondheim or ALW era musicals they songs become completely unmemorable.

            Unfortunately, sometimes such knowledge can be awkward, as when I checked into my NY hotel room (as part of a college Theatre Trip), turned on the TV to a kiddie cartoon show and immediately identified the instrumental theme music:

            A secretary is not a toy,
            No, my boy, not a toy.
            So do not go jumping for joy, boy.
            A secretary is not . . .
            A secretary is not . . .
            A secretary is not a toy.

            A secretary is not to be
            Used for play therapy.
            Be good to the girl you employ, boy.
            Remember no matter what
            Neurotic trouble you’ve got
            A secretary is not a toy.

            She’s a highly specialized key component
            Of operational unity,
            A fine and sensitive mechanism
            To serve the office community.
            With a mother at home she supports;
            And you’ll find nothing like her at FAO Schwarz.

            A secretary is not a pet
            Nor an e-rector set.
            It happened to Charlie McCoy, boy:
            They fired him like a shot
            The day the fellow forgot
            A secretary is not a toy.

            A secretary is not a toy.
            And when you put her to use . . .
            Observe when you put her to use . . .
            That you don’t find the name “Lionel”
            On her caboose.

            A secretary is not a thing
            Wound by key, pulled by string.
            Her pad is to write in
            And not spend the night in.
            If that’s what you plan to enjoy.

            The secretary ya got,
            Is definitely not
            Employed to do a gavotte,
            Or you know what.

            Before you jump for joy,
            Remember this, my boy,
            A secretary is not
            A tinkertoy!

            That song and show block any competing ear worm, [Justin Wilson] I guarantee [/Justin Wilson].

            Bonus points for first to name which character in another beloved by Huns musical was played by the actor portraying Mr. Bratt.

          2. Alternate response:
            Why would I want to do that?

            I find salacious Celtic music works well, when necessary.

            Six long months I spent in Dublin, six long months doing nothing at all
            Six long months I spent in Dublin, learnin’ to dance for Lannigan’s ball.

  12. Sounds good. Maybe I’ll go to Plano or Dallas comic-cons. Can’t wait to see y’all at LibertyCon. It’s not just me, there’s less vibe at regular cons. If the cons are all the same people (mostly) then it’s going to get stale and flat.

  13. First nap.
    Then paint, preferably naked if you’re using latex.
    Then shower.
    And don’t forget to dress before you go outside.

    1. “preferably naked”?
      Is this an inside joke that I have missed? I have painted with latex many times, and never felt the need to get naked.
      Is this because the paint peels/washes off skin easier than it does from clothes? Or does this have more of a kink involved?

      1. More my hamhanded riff on an old George Carlin meme.
        Just trying to be helpful and efficient.
        That and I always find it difficult to ignore any opportunity to prank her high holiness. Or as I like to think of her, my sister from another mister.

      1. And you’d no doubt scar them for life!

        Seeing their mother naked is something that no male should ever have to endure.


      2. Heh.

        Reminds me of a day way back when. The family went to Gerickes Point on the south coast of South Africa. Being a fine hot day, and no-one else being around, we stripped off and skinny-dipped in the cool Atlantic ocean. As my mom climbed out of the water in her naked mid-60-year-old glory, I commented that I should take a picture and publish it in a well-known thud-and-blunder magazine under the title “The Decline and Fall of White South Africa”. She chased me down the beach with a length of driftwood . . . Fortunately, all of us were laughing so hard that she probably wouldn’t have been able to beat me to death if she’d caught me.


  14. Writers were stars – I got more of the “I am never going to wash the hand you shook” treatment there than anywhere else I’ve attended. It startles me more than a little, first because I’m not that big, and second because eh. I’m just a chick who writes stuff.

    Kind of reminds me of when I shared one of your books, and a friend’s wife was like, “YOU’RE Facebook friends with Sarah Hoyt?”

    I have to admit though, I was tickled by that reaction. I tend to forget that you’re just a nebulous name — and therefore a celebrity — to others when to me you’re the person who throws carp at me and answers my questions. However, writers often are a big deal to readers. 🙂

    1. Nah, that must be the other Sarah Hoyt. Our Sarah is just this chick who writes books.
      And foments the occasional bit of rebellion and insurrection.

    2. If you’re fangirling a particular writer, you can dance at her wedding and still be full of that OMG squee whe you meet them at signings and cons. There’s “that woman I know” and then there’s The Author. They’re only marginally the same person.

  15. On more of a business note…is the best way for writers to infiltrate a comicon through a table like Wordfire, or by being on panels? It looks like a good thing to try out, but I have not tried to have a presence at a comicon before.

    1. Both. I am right now talking to Honor Minion Dorothy about maybe getting a group of us together to get a table for Human Wave Consortium or something.

      1. And this is Where I Plot to get James Young alone in a room at LibertyCon – okay fine, to hand him something to drink and some food at LibertyCon – and trap him there long enough to take plenty of notes about his setup and experiences. Because he did this at KC ComicCon, if I recall correctly.

        Personally, I suspect a mix of panels and table; one gives you exposure to audience, the other gives the audience a place to come find people they liked on panels and ‘if you liked this, you might also like’…

        1. See, and this is why James Young is glad he checked the comments. Why yes, I do this at KC Planet Comic Con, and will be doing it again at Smallville Con (the weekend before Libertycon), KC Comic Con (the upstart, rival con) this August, and likely Air Capital City Con (Wichita, November). I had considered Tulsa Comic Con, but that is likely a bridge too far given $$$ and time. There are also literary festivals of different flavors sprinkled in throughout there.

          I figure at some point I will actually honor my librarian friend’s request and type up some odds and sods about the hand selling experience. I think the biggest thing is word of mouth and getting a booth versus being in Artist Alley. Also start up costs are painful, but I think once that particular hurdle is leapt life gets much easier. (It helps when UPS doesn’t misdeliver your package / neighbors don’t steal your business cards.)

          1. … type up some odds and sods about the hand selling experience

            I would like to purchase a right one, please. The middle finger on my current one is stuck in the upright position.

      2. Yessss…. (rubs hands, cackles with evil intent) I’ve been scoping out Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. April….

  16. I should preface this with a little geography for the unfamiliar – Amarillo, TX is (by car, going 70 MPH) five hours from Oklahoma City, Five hours from Albuquerque, eight hours from Denver, and five hours from D/FW. The next large-ish city is Lubbock, 90 minutes to the south. People up here are good at entertaining ourselves, and Amarillo is the market center for a three-state region, maybe a total of 500,000 souls total (5,000,000 cattle and horses).

    For the first time ever, Amarillo is having 2 Cons this year. AmaCon has been around for a few years, and spun off from a public library festival. It tends to be a little book and anime oriented. This year, with almost no notice that I saw, Amarillo had its first ComicCon, and apparently that pulled in over 5K people for a one-day deal. But when you consider how active the gamers are out here, and how much time and energy (and $$) the younger set are spending on comics, games, movies and related media . . . There’s a niche waiting to be filled. (There’s also an active steampunk group with some goth crossover as well, but once they went to the Book of Face I lost track of them.)

      1. Maybe that’s just the average speed, and includes stopping in a small town along the way for a leisurely lunch at a gas station.

        1. That. The route to D/FW includes two of Texas most (in)famous speed traps. And if the winds are high enough, you may have to stop twice for fuel on the way to ABQ.

  17. It’s weird having so many of my disparate friends post about Denver Comicon—both friends working and friends attending. I will probably never attend a comicon, because even as an extrovert, it looks like too many people. But my friends had fun.

    1. Strangely, I have found that anonymous crowds allow me to feel virtually alone. No real need to interact with anyone in particular, and few if any faces that you recognize. The people in such a crowd, to me, turn into little more than moving obstacles, which I can generally get around without much trouble, though sometimes a bit of patience is required.

      1. I think it’s *because* I like to interact that such crowds turn me off, honestly. I had a lot of fun at Westercon in my hometown a couple of years back, where attendance topped out at about 1000, because I could talk with so many people, some of whom I knew and some of whom I’d just met.

      2. A brisk walking speed and a vaguely homicidal look on your face will part a crowd very satisfactorily.

  18. I’ve only ever been to anime cons. I went to a smaller one out in Bakersfield(?) a while back because Petrea Burchard (Ryoko’s original VA) was attending. I can’t remember the con’s name, unfortunately. And I went to Anime Expo in Anaheim a few times. Very different affairs. The former was a smaller event. The latter had a ridiculous number of people in attendance.

    San Diego Comic-con is supposed to have an insane number of people in attendance, and isn’t all that far away from me. But I’ve yet to go.

    Similarly, there are a handful of small strategy game conventions in the area, but I’ve yet to attend any of them even though my interests run in direction.

    Amusingly enough, the thing that’s stuck with me the most over the years from the cons is listening to a female English-language voice actress at the smaller anime con talk about her brief discussion with a Japanese voice actress about the difference between the Japanese and American version of a female orgasmic moan.

    1. I used to go to most of the gaming conventions in the Los Angeles area (and a few Comic-Cons in San Diego, but for the gaming), and they seem to be different animals. While there might be a few panels, they were mostly about playing games.

      1. Yeah, gaming cons are primarily about the gaming. It gives players the opportunity to play against gamers they wouldn’t ordinarily meet (and maybe see some new tactics to take back home to the regular gaming group), and it gives the publishers the opportunity to show off their product.

        From what I’ve heard, a lot of the smaller ones are dominated by home brew rules. But the larger ones (which aren’t really all that large in SoCal, mind you) draw in the established publishers.

        1. Woahwoahwoah that’s not right.

          There are 2 primary kinds of gaming-cons.

          1) Things like PAX, these are mostly to try out new games way before they are out and new technology/controllers get cool swag and talk to people about other things you enjoy. If your expecting high level play hahahahaha it will be so random and erratic. Tournaments are a waste of time as they are normally poorly run single elimin and normally have 1-2 really good players/teams and everyone else is terrible.

          2) Major Tournaments (will have foreign players) everyone here will be good at FPS/MOBA/Fighting Games, whatever the event is primarily for. This is where you go to learn new tactics to bring back home and all rivalries between local players end and you root for your friends>state>coast>nation in that order.

            1. Yep… when I still went to cons, there was usually a computer gaming room, but it was usually pretty minor. The main categories of games at these cons were:

              – Board games (generally war games, but I’ve seen Monopoly tournaments at cons)
              – Roleplaying games (Dungeons & Dragons, etc.)
              – Miniatures (never played, but I’d try to go through the room at least once just to admire the detail on the terrain and figures)
              – Collectible Card Games (Magic, Pokémon, etc.)

              I’d go mostly for the RPGs (usually the RPGA games), but would play the occasional boardgame tournament as well. Plus, until CCGs became a thing, I’d usually spend time with friends in the “open gaming” ballroom at the cons by the LAX airport… when CCGs hit the scene, they took over that ballroom and the replacement wasn’t at all convenient to the dealer room, flea market tables, and food table, which IMO hurt the con more than the addition of CCGs helped.

            2. Actually the same thing applies to boardgame cons. Also PAX has like 3 floors for tabletop games. I actually spend most of my time there, it’s a good number of devs doing beta’s or showing off their new games it’s really cool. The MTG tournament there is good enough just because it has like 1000+ people in it. But the average level of player is lower then a more focused TCG tournament, or even playing on some private IRC chat online.

  19. Well, there may have been a Diversity track, but at least you didn’t go to WisCon 39. This was one of their panels.

    “Gendered Hair: Sometimes hair is just decoration and warmth. But sometimes it’s the entire kyriarchical edifice of oppression, tied into childhood and adolescent trauma.”

    Isn’t WisCon supposed to be an SF/F convention, or something?

    1. *squints* Well, there may be a case to be made that they are not talking about this universe….

    2. Only childhood and adolescent trauma? We adults deserve to have our hair related traumas vindicated just as much as they do!

      1. Oh, but if they allowed adult hair-related trauma, they might have to realize that almost nothing woman suffer compares to male pattern baldness. Because it’s going, going, and it ain’t never coming back…

        And admitting that men have it worse at WisCon? Heresy!

          1. They’ve already answered that– men have shorter life expectancy because they die doing dumb stuff*, so they should be locked up For Their Own Protection. Or maybe be chemically altered to be like women.


            *they always seem to look at things like driving accidents, rather than self-sacrificial ones, and ignore the suicide gap. Although if pressed they might insist that shows that men are damaged by not being women…and I’m suddenly sure someone has made that argument.

              1. Men deserve shorter life spans because of all their activities — like sports, watching sports, fishing and drinking beer — which are a waste of time.

        1. That would just make them bring up women’s hair thinning*, and then they’d have to REALLY piss off Trekkies by attacking first-season Picard for getting the benefit of Male Privilege because he was voted sexiest man alive while a woman with just thinning hair dare not even talk about it. The irony of assuring an actor who went bald in his 20s that he was just soooo blessed might destroy them.

          *yes, it’s a thing, although it doesn’t get even close to how a guy’s hair thins since it’s all over; more notable in those women whose hair doesn’t get thick when it gets gray/silver. My grandmother– whose hair, thankfully, I did NOT get– had the problem. It’s one of the reasons for hair rollers being an obsession.

        2. It’s the real reason that Sauron was continually wreathed in clouds of fire and smoke.

          Bald. Spot.

      2. Adult trauma? Totally. Wake up one morning and have your roomie at an academic meeting start giggling, point, and say, “hey! It’s Rosana Rosanadana!” And then text it to your professors. Thick curly long pelt + weather change = a chaotic haircoat.

    3. I wore long hair in my teens, but went to a radical hairstyle shortly afterward. I’d tell the barber “You know that Captain Kirk guy on Star Trek? Like that, except without the pointy sideburns.”

      My Dad called that “a haircut”, but the Disco Era was all about shaping the blow-drying, and few barbers would admit to being able to do an old-school hairstyle.

      My current barber consistently cuts noticeably shorter than that, but it might be an effect of being sandwiched between the Army recuiter on one side and the Air Force recruiter on the other.

  20. “Those who identified themselves as blog readers got carped. There will be more of this at Liberty con. (Wicked grin.)” Ummmmm, what is carped and should I be worried about meeting you at LibertyCon? 🙂

    1. “Carpped” is having The Great Sarah launch a Large Carp at you via various means of delivery (carp cannon, hand thrown, etc.).

      She does it when she’s impressed by your “evilness” (bad puns, bad jokes, etc.)

      As for being “worried”, nobody has been killed by “carp” … yet. [Very Big Evil Grin]

      1. Thanks for the def, Paul 🙂 If she launches carp at me, I’ll just feed it to my cat 😉

      2. How fresh are these carp? Cons can be expensive, and cooking fish on a hot plate in the hotel room could save some money.

        1. In the original iteration of the joke, it was Portuguese bacalhau. Dried, salted, triangular wedges that could actually hurt. These days, I think we’ve all rallied ’round Shadowdancer’s card trebuchet designs with a very surprised goldfish…

          1. Hey whatever form they come in, I’m still feeding them to my man cat 🙂 It’s the only way to make sure he remembers to eat something at conventions.

  21. That sounds pretty fun. I know my kids are dying to go to a con like that, crowded and fast and full of stuff, with some authors and some comics and some movies. I myself would probably not quite count as a trufan–I read everything, am not really up on modern SF, and do not care about comics if they are not Usagi Yojimbo–and neither would my kids, but we are kinda geeky and we like this stuff. We just also live in the middle of nowhere and don’t have the $$ to go to a giant con. Maybe someday though.

  22. So…any chance of getting to the Salt Lake ComicCon? The Salt Lake area has simply exploded in cons in recent years.
    I even hit the Renaissance Festival this year, (though it is much smaller than the Larkspur festival in Colorado.) You wouldn’t even have to go to the ComicCon, but could hit one of the smaller venues, like FantasyCon or LTUE.
    It could be awesome!

  23. I had lunch with my daughter Saturday, and went through downtown Denver on the way back to avoid a major slowdown on I-25. I hadn’t realized that Comic Con was this weekend, and she’d forgotten, until we saw cosplayers crossing the street in front of us.

    Had I known you were there, I might have tried to get in for a day to say “Hi” again (we met at one of Stephen Green’s summer parties a few years ago). However, I had enough stuff going on over the weekend that it wasn’t in the cards (and I don’t game, so if it had been in the dice, I’d still have missed it).

  24. So sad I had to miss Denver ComicCon this year. Hopefully, it will be as much fun next year and life will have settled down enough to buy tickets.

  25. Been reading here for a couple months…first comment ever. (So exciting.)

    I’ve only been to a couple of relatively small comic-cons (and never to a sci-fi con), being a latecomer to the knowledge that these things even existed. But as a lifelong nerd/geek/weirdo, it’s a huge rush to be there amongst all the quirkiness and unabashed fan geekery.

    It’s one of the few big gatherings I’ve ever experienced where I felt like I was among my own weird people. Even if they’re only trying on “weird” for a couple hours on Saturday.

    1. Yeah, there’s nothing like hanging around with a few thousand people that actually GET the humor.

  26. Sasquan has apparently hit 9000 members. Of those, 3688 are attending. Of those, 84 (~2.5%) are young adult (17-21) and 164 (not quite 5%) are children (5-16). I bet those numbers look wildly different for any Comic-Con.

    1. Er, on a second look, I think young adult and child are separate categories from attending, not subsets. That just makes the percentages slightly worse, though.

  27. Sorry I didn’t get back to talk to you and Dan more after Murphy got her picture taken with Jim Butcher. You know how things tend to spiral around with kids and a two year old is only good for a couple of hours. Thanks for the carp! It’s now in my collection of cube toys.

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