Tag Archives: worldcon

THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN…

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The Time of Judgement! That’s right, it’s nominating time for the Hugo Awards®, which is the big award given out by the World Science Fiction Convention every year. This year, Worldcon (as we world-weary sci-fi sophisticates call it) AKA MidAmericon 2, is being held August 17-21 in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri. If you’ve never been to a Worldcon, this should be a good one, so give it a shot. (http://midamericon2.org/) There will be barbeque!

If you are already signed up as a Worldcon member, then you can nominate for the Hugos. Naturally, we creative types expect you, the public, to take this very seriously, and to carefully look at everything before you make your all-important nominations…HA ha! I laugh. There is so much amazing stuff coming out in every conceivable medium that no one can possibly be expected to examine it all—but despair not! I am here to bring you up to speed on some worthy material in the highly-coveted and glamorous field of Best Graphic Story.

Now, I will admit that there are many fine comic books worthy of consideration that can be found in today’s comic book shops—but examining those would involve leaving my house. So I will deal with what I know, and talk about this year’s crop of science fiction/fantasywebcomics. This is where you will find some of the most interesting and different comics currently being made, and even better; they’re free!

In the following list, I’ll give you the name, the publisher (if known), the creators, and the website info, which should be all you need to go out and experience these works. Let me start with a completely random example—which just happens to be a webcomic I read almost every day—just to show you how it’s done:

1. Girl Genius: The Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne Book Two: The City of Lightning. Published by Airship Entertainment. Art & Story by Kaja and Phil Foglio, Colors by Cheyenne Wright. http://www.girlgeniusonline.com

See? Like that. Just as an example. To show how it’s done. Continuing the list:

2. Stand Still Stay Silent: Book One. Published by SSSSComic. Art & Story by Minna Sundberg.  http://www.sssscomic.com/

3. Drive: Book 3: Such A Lovely Species.  Art & Story by Dave Kellett. http://www.drivecomic.com/

Now, the examples above actually got a printed book out in 2015. There are many fine webcomics that did not get a physical, made-of-paper book onto the shelves, but I think they can still be nominated. It’s a bit of a grey area, actually, but Science demands that we experiment! At the very least, you’re in for some good reading;

4. Kill 6 Billion Demons. Art & Story by Abbadon.  http://killsixbilliondemons.com/

5. Prague Race. Art & Story by Petra Erika Nordlund.  http://www.praguerace.com/comic/start

6. Schlock Mercenary. Art & Story by Howard Taylor.  http://www.schlockmercenary.com/

7. Bird Boy. Art & Story by Anne Szabla.  http://bird-boy.com/

Well, there you go. Nominations close March 31. Happy reading!

What’s Up In Blighty

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So our books arrived after all. Yay! Now we didn’t sell out in an hour and a half, like we did in Australia, but then we brought significantly more books. we might even last until Monday.

We went over to Titan Books to do a stock signing. Unfortunately, our cab driver was not one who possessed “The Knowledge”. After awhile, we began to question if he possessed “The Common Sense”, as he drove us to The Tate loading dock and declared that we had arrived. We parted company shortly thereafter and relied on Google Maps. Thank you Google Maps.

We did a reading from the third novel (due out in October from Skyhorse and Titan) to a standing room only crowd, which was very gratifying. Afterwards someone said that if there’s ever a movie series, we should get Brian Blessed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4_Mk-MzYNQ) to do the voice of the castle. We are all over that. Give us a call, Mr. Blessed, we’ll do lunch.

Attended the Titan Books party, which was uncontestedly the most popular party Friday night.

It’s official; this is the largest WorldCon ever. Topping 10,000 attendees. I remember when people were panicking because Kansas City in 1976 was going to top 4000. The uncontrollable chaos!!!!

It’s also one of the best WorldCons. Everybody seems to be having a marvelous time. Now, to be fair, there is a constant muttering that somewhere in the heart of the ComCon, things are constantly going wrong. Supposedly there is screaming and catastrophic failures and knife fights taking place in every department…but nobody has seen any of that alleged turmoil resulting in (major) problems for the attendees, which means that it is a successful convention.

A Day of Pleasant Reversals

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So here we are in London. A fine old town with a great deal of scenery that appears on television a lot. Possibly because the architectural copyright has expired. The Experiments seem to like it here, and apparently they have learned the first and foremost thing, which is to look Right as you attempt to cross the street.

Last night we did a signing at Forbidden Planet (https://forbiddenplanet.com/) which is a comic book store that does not feel that it is necessary to carry Girl Genius. This made us sad. However at the signing, we had a lot of people who declared that they had come to the store to see us, and we moved a fair number of the novels, so we put it into the ‘win’ column, and will never speak of them again.

Today we arrived at the Convention Center, which is in the middle of this charming industrial wasteland, where everything is cheap, including human life. The convention staff seems to have a good grasp of things, Registration and the Dealer’s Room staff all spun in greased grooves. The problem was that none of the cases of Girl Genius that I had arranged to have shipped here had shown up. Argh. A frantic flurry of e-mails revealed that apparently the warehouse manager had neglected to process that laaaast little bit of paperwork. However I am assured that everything will be here tomorrow. We shall see, but I will willingly embrace the fantasy.

This is not to say that I am sitting at an empty table. 20 or so years ago, Greg Ketter, of Dreamhaven Books (http://dreamhavenbooks.com/) who also served as my partner in our publishing house, Palliard Press, have brought a couple of cases of comics to England for a comics con. The show tanked, and some friends, the Moyers, agreed to store them “temporarily” in their attic. When Greg mentioned to them that he was coming, they gently told him that if he did not remove them, they were prepared to burn down their own house in order to be rid of them.

This explains why I have stacks of Buck Godot comics, What’s New #1 , and XXXenophiles that I’m selling for a few pounds apiece. It’s like I’m running a table from 20 years ago.

Worldcon; Day 3 (sort of), Day 4 & Day 5

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So Saturday started out pretty well… and then I got ill. All of a sudden–BANG Headache. Disorientation and fatigue. Did what I always do in cases like this; Went to bed and went to sleep. Blew off the entire day, which was annoying, as it had the panels I really wanted to do: Steampunk, and Webcomics. Goddammit. Luckily, I had Flora and Experiment # 1 here to watch the Dealer’s table.  Slept off and on for the next 18 hours and the next day, I felt fine. According to anecdotal evidence, a significant percentage of the convention attendees experienced something similar. Could’ve been worse.

Sunday. Got a slow start, and missed my panel about “How I Make Art”. I have got to start insisting that I cannot do any panel before noon. For those folks who were disappointed that I wasn’t there; I use a pencil. Found out that Spokane won the worldcon bid for 2015. Yay! In case you missed our earlier posts about it, Spokane is a surprisingly fun little city. I think this will be a fun worldcon, and now is the time to sign up, as it’ll never be cheaper (http://sasquan.org/). They also approached us about writing a play. I won’t give away too many details at this time, but it sounds incredibly cool and different, which is good.

Got a chance to talk to George R.R. Martin. I knew George relatively well back in the 70’s. We played a lot of poker together. He has since moved on, and done quite well for himself, I hear. Anyway, I asked him, after twenty some–odd years of being a respectable mid–list author, what was it like to suddenly become a media celebrity. Not just for his writing, but for being George R.R. Martin. Seriously, you can do a rough drawing of a round guy in suspenders with a big beard and a Greek fisherman’s cap and half the free world knows that it’s supposed to be George R.R. Martin. He said it was weird. He can see his house and his car on YouTube. This has resulted in him washing his car more often.

Sunday was also the night of the Hugo Awards. As always, the voice of the people alternates between divine wisdom and tooth–grinding stupidity (depending on how closely it hews to my own choices) Saga won for best graphic story.  Fair enough, it was my sixth choice in that particular category, but what annoyed the slats off of me was not that they didn’t attend, many people who can’t handle rejection don’t attend, but they didn’t even make the pretense of caring enough to designate someone to pick up the award. Seriously– if you don’t give a fuck about the award, do us a favor, and take your name off the list so that someone who does care can get a shot at it. As you can see, later that night I found their award and stole it. I’ll donate to the science–ficion museum in Seattle. I’m sure they’ll never find it there.

Monday. The final day of the convention. Started off with a Kaffeklatch. This is a thing where anyone who’s interested gets to sit down with me and pretty much ask me anything. It’s different from a formal panel where people can ask me anything, in that we sit in a circle, and I get to drink a very large and very strong coffee while I do it. This makes a surprisingly large difference, and we had a good time. This was my last official program item for the convention, and the remainder of the day was spent trying to sell as much stuff as possible so I didn’t have to schlep it home. There is always going to be some schlepping, but we managed to boil 19 boxes of stuff down to 4, so I think we did pretty good. The most asked question was “Where is Volume 12?” Most people were satisfied with the answer, “It’ll ship out at the end of September.” The people running The worldcon next year in London (http://www.loncon3.org/) asked if we could do a new Girl Genius Radio Play there. Indeed we will. You have been warned.

After we go everything settled, Experiment # 1 and I went out for barbeque. We went to a place called the County Line, which is right on the Riverwalk. Their ‘thing’ was the size of their ribs, and indeed, when they arrived, there was more meat there then you’ll find on my thigh (which, sadly, is a lot). Taste? Not so much. This confirms my hypothesis that the closer a restaurant is to the Riverwalk, the lamer the food. The next time you’re in San Antonio, choose accordingly.

The second Day of Worldcon

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An interesting thing. I am dressed in my usual ensemble (which we refer to as ‘Steampunk Lite’) and I was one of the few people who was comfortable. The folks who run the convention center keep the temperature somewhere in the mid to low 60’s, so everyone in shorts and T–shirts were turning blue. It was so bad that actually exiting into the moist San Antonio heat was downright pleasant. The theory I heard was that the temperature is set for the benefit of the rugs, furniture and fixtures of the building, not the people. I can believe it.

Sales today were pretty good. I’m sure I’ll be shipping stuff home when everything is done, but perhaps not as much as I’d initially thought. Went out to dinner with my old buddy Greg Ketter and his family. We ate at a Mexican place. The food was okay, but everybody in the place was screaming at each other. They had to do this, in order to be heard over the Mariachi players, who were okay, as long as you understood that they were Mariachi players.

Went to the parties after dinner. The vote this year is to decide if the worldcon for 2015 will be in Helsinki, Orlando, or Spokane. We’re kind of pulling for Spokane, because we sort of know them, but I think I’d have fun anywhere we went. Helsinki had reindeer pate and cloudberry liqueur, so they’re trying pretty hard.

The first Day of Worldcon.

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So the first thing I had to do was get up freakishly early to be part of a thing they have here called “Strolling with the Stars”. This is where they let people know that assorted artists and writers will be perambulating along the Riverwalk for an hour or so in the morning, so come on out and get some exercise, you spuds. There were about a hundred people there this morning, and everyone had a fine old time stomping about. The Riverwalk is a network of walkways adjacent to a canal system that threads through downtown San Antonio. It’s beautiful and one of the nicest urban features I have ever seen in any city anywhere. There are restaurants and clubs that abut it, and at night it’s all lit up and festive. It reminds me of parts of Amsterdam, with bits of what I think Venice might be like without the assassins.

Then I went to the convention center and got all the settin’ up stuff done. Getting our badges. Unpacking boxes and arranging our dealers table. Hanging art in the art show and grinding through the paperwork. Tedious, but it only has to be done the once, so tomorrow will be much more laid back. I didn’t really get a chance to wander the dealer’s room much, but I happen to be right across from Scott Bieser’s ‘Big Head Press’. Scott does a wonderfully complex hard science–fiction webcomic called Quantum Vibe (http://www.quantumvibe.com/). It updates every day (damn him) and I was pleased to see that the first collection is finally out, so I had my reading material for the day.

Business was a bit lax, but it was a Thursday. Experiment # 1 spent a lot of his day assisting Steve Jackson, who is overseeing the ongoing construction of a Chaos Machine. Anybody who wants to try adding some bits to it are welcome to mosey on over (It’s free, though it you’d like to contribute something, they could use more marbles. People keep designing parts that cause the ones they have to shoot off somewhere, melt, or shift into another dimension). He also rode a mechanical bull the convention has set up. Nobody who rides the mechanical bull can expect to retain any shred of their dignity, and thus all look equally pathetic, but I’ll still save the video I took and show it to any inappropriate girls he’s trying to impress a few years from now.

After the show closed, we went out to dinner at a place called Texas de Brazil (texasdebrazil.com), which is a Brazilian steakhouse. I was unfamiliar with, which just goes to show you that wonderful things lie unsuspected all around you. Their gimmick is that they bring you skewers of grilled meat. Easily several dozen different types of grilled meat, and you slice off bits of the ones you want to try. They keep bringing these around until you beg for mercy, and then they laugh cruelly and finish you off with dessert. Apparently it’s a chain.

Over dinner, Steve talked about his own recent Kickstarter, which was for the latest iteration of O.G.R.E., which is an awesome game built around giant monster tanks that crush everything. This is appropriate, since the Kickstarter was wildly successful, and they kept adding extra stuff. According to a rather wild–eyed Steve, the resulting game box will be close to 2 by 3 feet in dimension, and weigh around 28 pounds. I’m going to buy one just so I can make a coffee table out of it.