Granite State Comic Con, a Glimpse Into Another World

By Dale T. Phillips

WelcomeOnce in awhile you get to do something really interesting, like get a glimpse into another world where people are nice, intelligent, and having fun in a different way. I had that experience this weekend at Granite State Comicon, a convention held in Manchester, NH, for people to meet who enjoy a variety of things: comics, costume play (cosplay), science fact and science fiction, fantasy, horror, anime, manga, and just hanging out with like-minded people.

This particular annual gathering began ten years ago, and Chris Proulx, co-owner of Manchester’s Double Midnight Comics, organizes the event. The show has proven popular, and grown to be a two-day event, with roughly 3000 people attending. It’s such a rush for those attending there were already people trying to register for next year, while the event was going on.

There was a great deal to see: panel discussions on various subjects, Ghostbusters, the only privately-held Delorean from the “Back to the Future” movies, R2-D2 and Imperial stormtroopers, vampires, pirates, superheroes and villains of all stripes, and even a place to play working arcade games from the past.

The Ghostbusters of New Hampshire

The Ghostbusters of New Hampshire

R2-D2

R2-D2

Stormtropper

Stormtrooper

Pirate_Elvira

Jack Sparrow, the Silence from Dr. Who, and Elvira.

The Justice League

The Justice League

Arcade

The people who come to the con love the stories and characters they find in graphic novels, movies, television, podcasts, and online. Many of them enjoy dressing up as a particular character they find appealing, and there are contests for best costumes in many different categories. But these are no mere outfits grabbed off the rack at a party store, they are meticulously researched and hand-crafted designs of ingenuity and creativity.Ladies_Cos

You may have seen a television show about people who cosplay and enter these contests, but in true television fashion, it shows many participants in a less-than-attractive light, editing to make them seem as if they are nasty competitors. Those in the costume contest I saw were nothing but supportive of each other, cheering each announced prize and high-fiving each category winner. I spoke with one participant who had a costume that included beautiful, hand-crafted armor. Having made armor myself, I know how difficult and time-consuming the process is, and complimented him on a stunning display. Though he was completely passed over for any prizes (an oversight, to say the least), he had no words of disparagement for his fellow competitors, no whining or complaining like you might see on television. A true hero of cosplay, and one who embodies the completely positive spirit of the whole event.

Winners

Winners

One costumer (cosplayer) who really goes above and beyond is artist Amy Fletcher, who over the years has become well-known for a series of striking mermaid costumes: steampunk mermaid, goth mermaid, even Ariel (from a well-known animated film). She’s back at cons after a hiatus, and what she does is more performance art than just dressing up. A true mermaid costume restricts ones movements, and she sits for hours at a time on display, where fascinated folk come to take pictures and marvel at the attention to detail on the current incarnation. Amy says she enjoys meeting people and being an inspiration to others, and loves to push creativity. Her attitude is: “Have fun, be yourself, and don’t care what others think!” Check out her website for great art and all things mermaid: http://sinicallytwisted.bravehost.com/.

Goth Mermaid

Goth Mermaid

One place that encourages and educates this convention audience (and the world beyond) is Sci-Fi Saturday Night, a wicked cool podcast of all things science fiction. Check out their site and listen in on Thursday nights for news, interviews, and commentary by a talented cast of characters and guests from film, TV, and the writing world. Yeah, when I can tune in and hear classic writers like Spider Robinson and Harlan Ellison, you’ve got me without anything else. Then they’ll bring on someone like actor Lance Henriksen from the Aliens movie, just for good measure!

The Sci-fi Saturday Night crew

The Dome, Zombrarian, and Kriana of Sci-fi Saturday Night

And there are illustrators by the score, vending their artwork in various forms. Many have created graphic novels or other books, such as Susan Saunders, who was at her first convention, selling her children’s book Snowpocalypse, co-written with well-known horror writer Rob Watts. With a background as a schoolteacher, she’s now interested in creating literature for children. She enjoyed the people-watching element of the show, and was getting inspiration from the many other artists on display.

 Susan Saunders and Rob Watts holding their book,  Snowpocalypse.

Susan Saunders and Rob Watts holding their book, Snowpocalypse.

There were other writers as well, most notably a contingent of the New England Horror WritersRob Smales, one of those selling books with the group, said that there were “a metric butt-ton of good writers in the New England area– some seriously creative people.” Earlier in the day, he’d gone around the event with a death mask on to scare up some business.

Authors and members of the New England Horror Writers Tracy L. Carbone and Rob Smales.

Authors and members of the New England Horror Writers Tracy L. Carbone and Rob Smales.

From left to right: authors Tracy L. Carbone, Rob Smales, Scott Goudsward, and Tony Tremblay.

From left to right: authors Carbone, Smales, Scott Goudsward, and Tony Tremblay.

Author Scott Goudsward in front of the New England Horror Writers sign.

Goudsward in front of the New England Horror Writers sign.

You see a lot of good ideas here, such as raising money for charities– for example, the Ghostbusters of New Hampshire, who go to cons as their favorite movie characters, complete with heavy packs and gear for dealing with paranormal occurrences. They pay their own way, and make appearances and accept donations from attendees which all go to a specified charity. At the event, they were raising money for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. The Delorean Time Machine is doing something similar, and making appearances to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

The Delorean

The Delorean

So it was a great time, talking to filmmakers, photographers, and fans. Artisans creating accessories and vendors selling items from favorite shows and comic lines. Enthusiastic people having a ball, enjoying themselves and learning about many creative venues while meeting people from all over. If this sounds like your thing, there’s a slew of shows throughout the year, and New England hosts a number of them.ObiWan_jabba

Silence_SciFiSat

Vendetta

Warrior_lady
Raider
Danearis
Lara_Rhyddick
Lady_Cosplay
Young Justice
Editor’s note: All pictures in this article were taken by Dale T. Phillips

A Collection Celebrating Ray Bradbury

Press Release

Borderlands Press & Gauntlet Press Present: Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury

The collection is edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle and will be released this summer.

Signed and numbered edition limited to 500: $75.

Signed (including Ray Bradbury) and lettered edition limited to 26: $500.

To order, click this link and go to More Information: http://www.borderlandspress.com/. (The collection’s cover hasn’t been announced yet)

Under a joint imprint, Gauntlet Press and Borderlands Press will publish a limited, signed, and numbered edition of Shadow Show, a tribute anthology to celebrate the career of Ray Bradbury. In the collection, editors Sam Weller and Mort Castle have assembled short stories from 26 of the most celebrated authors today to honor Ray and his contribution to the literary canon. Also included is an introduction in the form of a personal essay “Second Homecoming,” written by Ray Bradbury, specifically for the book.

Limited to only 500 copies, this book is signed by all contributors (except Ray Bradbury) including Margaret Atwood, David Eggers, Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman, Joe Hill, and many other award-winning writers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Sam Weller and Mort Castle – Introduction

Ray Bradbury – Second Homecoming

Neil Gaiman – The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury

Margaret Atwood – Headlife

Jay Bonansinga – Heavy

Sam Weller – The Girl In The Funeral Parlor

David Morrell – The Companions

Thomas F. Monteleone – The Exchange

Lee Martin – Cat on a Bad Couch

Joe Hill – By The Silver Water Of Lake Champlain

Dan Chaon – Little America

John McNally – The Phone Call

Joe Meno – Young Pilgrims

Robert McCammon – Children Of The Bedtime Machine

Ramsey Campbell – The Page

Mort Castle – Light

Alice Hoffman – Conjure

John Maclay – Max

Jacqueline Mitchard – Two Of A Kind

Gary Braunbeck – Fat Man And Little Boy

Bonnie Jo Campbell – The Tattoo

Audrey Niffenegger – Backwards In Seville

Charles Yu – Earth: (A Gift Shop)

Julia Keller – Hayleigh’s Dad

Dave Eggers – Who Knocks?

Bayo Ojikutu – Reservation 2020

Kelly Link – Two Houses

Harlan Ellison – Weariness