Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Comicpalooza Retrospective

Yes, yes, there is one day left on Comicpalooza, but the last day of a 4-day con is usually much smaller scale. So many people do what I do and burn themselves out on the first two days of the con, then spend the third trudging around and accidentally buying things on the dealer floor (for me, this was every issue of Red 5's Neozoic except, of course, issue #1. Darn) that by the time day four rolls around, we're not even sure if we can make it to the convention center. I'm leaving myself open to taking tomorrow off because my last panel was today, because I haven't seen Days of Future Past yet, and because I have anthologies that need editing (I may have forgotten how to take days off).

First lesson from Comicpalooza: lines suck. I was able to evade a lot of lines by being a panelist, but I still wanted autographs from the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which I had to stand in line for on two separate days. Still, worth it. I got a picture with J. August Richards (so did a lot of people) and Elizabeth Henstridge blessed my marriage by wishing us good luck, in ink, next to her signature. That's got to be at least twice as effective as the blood rites I'd been planning.

Myself, my fiancee, and Deathlok. Probably my favorite character. I geeked out a little.

Second lesson from Comicpalooza: Being on panels is fun, and I'm surprisingly okay at moderating them. Also, it's really encouraging to have someone come up to me after a panel and tell me that they thought it was awesome. As anxious as I was to moderate the Gender in Science Fiction panel, especially after witnessing the absolute disaster that was Denver Comic Con's Presentation of Women in Comic Books, it meant a lot to me that the panel went over so well that someone stopped me in the hall to say so. The thanks for that goes to the other panelists: D.L.Young, Antha Adkins, and Keri Bas who very strongly and rightfully disagreed with me on a few points. The panel was very energetic and I learned a lot from being part of it.

Another attendee spoke up bravely to say that they appreciated my choice of writing a gender-fluid character into the novel I'm working on, which is all the encouragement I need to renew my energy to do so. Themes of gender are important to me, and as a writer it's a powerful moment when my target audience tells me that it's important to them, too!

My co-panelist on the Plotting and Pacing Short Stories panel, David Sidebotham of Unfinished Creation, also made me look a lot smarter than I should have (which I need a lot of help with some days). When it comes to making a great panel happen, the others on the panel with me are my best resource.

Myself and David Sidebotham. Not pictured here: during the panel What Makes Monsters Terrifying, David became uncomfortably excited about monsters with pustules. It was adorable.

It was great running across friends and colleagues from as far away as Colorado, like Peter J. Wacks, whom I haven't seen since last year's DCC. Nothing like seeing how far a fellow writer has come since last meeting him, plus picking up a signed copy of his new epic fantasy and meeting his new coauthor.

While it can be tiring and difficult, this weekend has reminded me just how invaluable it is to do cons like Comicpalooza whenever I can. It's not just making the professional connections and speaking on panels, but about the living, breathing culture that spec fic is part of. I love my role in this culture, I love my readers, and I love events like this where all the best parts of the scene boil over.

I won't be at Denver Comic Con this year on account of getting married (which feels important to me), but I do plan on attending more cons and events throughout the year, beginning with a Sci-fi panel at the Barbara Bush Branch Library in July and including COSine in Colorado Springs at the end of January. I'll be growing between now and then and can't wait to have even more to share with the community.

Thanks to everyone I saw and met at Comicpalooza!


  1. Great! Looking forward to seeing you in January!

    1. Definitely! I don't know yet whether I'm going to be on any panels at COSine, but I'll definitely be there. Maybe have a table in the vendor room to sell some HWG books at.