So, those of you close to me know that I put together this year’s comics track paneling for Norwescon and am stepping way. I have been helping to put together and run various SF/F conventions in the Pacific Northwest for the bulk of the last 25 years, and I am tired.
So, why do we do it?
That depends on when you ask me. Generally, I will tell you that I enjoy it. I love meeting the panelists I invite. I love coming up with panels. I love doing panels. I will always tell you I hate scheduling, but I love most of the rest of it. Most of the time.
But the thing that a lot of people forget, and this includes other people who help run these things sometimes, is that putting this shit together is a lot of hard, unpaid work. For which, you will get comparatively few kudos and a lot of whining and criticism.
But why do we do it?
I do/did it because the first time I walked into a SF/F convention in 1990, I looked around and for the first time in my life I felt like I had come home.
There were people there wearing costumes based on media I loved, talking about media I loved, and some of whom who actually knew that media better than I did. There were panels where people talked about things I had only heard of in passing, and parties full of people debating the superiority of superheroes, and there were authors.
SF/F conventions have introduced to some of my favorite authors, in all meanings you can imagine for that combination of words.
I discovered Seanan McGuire at a SF/F convention. I shared an elevator with Fredrick Pohl and his wife. I talked about vampires and Arthurian Legend with Marian Zimmer Bradley (her children came forward about the abuse), I met Anne McCafferey and talked about the merits, or lack thereof, of US -v- UK schools. I got to be Roger Zelazny’s arm-candy for an evening. I’ve done fencing demos, showing how Olympic style fencing differs from stage fencing for several British actors it would require digging through several boxes of old convention programs to find.
SF/F is my home. No matter what else I read or study, when it comes time to relax and read solely for pleasure, that’s where I go. Well, that and horror, the occasional mystery or romance… But the bulk of my book collection is SF/F. Asimov, Lee, Cook, Stevenson, Martin, Stephenson, Sterling…
Seriously, I have a LOT of books and I’d wager at least 70% of them are SF/F.
And comics. I love comics. Everything from the Harvey comics of my youth though my Marvel obsession which has been ongoing since the early 90s. Although, honestly, if it’s good, I’ll read it. I don’t care about the publisher. I love Indies, and I love webcomics.
SF/F conventions gave me a home for the first time in my life. They gave me a place I wasn’t the “weird” one. No one made fun of me for wearing an X-men t-shirt or Wolverine sweatshirt (seriously, I wore that sweatshirt into the ground). No one thought my obsession with Labyrinth was strange. If I mentioned an old Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode, they knew what I was talking about.
And I enjoy trying to give other people that sense of home.
People who have fit in their entire lives, and don’t tell me “No one feels like they fit in,” because that is bullshit and you know it. There are quite a few folks out there who know if not who they are and what they want, then at least who they should be and what they should do, and are fine with that.
I have never been one of those people.
In my entire life.
I have been searching for home since I was cognizant enough to realize that most of my peers thought I was an utter freak for reading like I did, for knowing the things I did, for my family moving as often as we did, for being able to quote the majority of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Highlander, and Labyrinth.
And SF/F cons have given that to me, along with some of the best and longest friendships of my life.
So, yeah, even when I’m burnt out and tired, I still want to be able to give other misfit toys, like me, a home.
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