By Jason Harris
Once more, I got to travel to another world or a lot of them, by attending Granite State ComiCon, organized by Double Midnight Comics. I was one of two authors at the Books & Boos table. The other author at the table being Stacey Longo. We were signing books for fans, new and old.
It was an amazing time at a well-run con, with thousands of fun people enjoying themselves and sharing their special likes of comics, TV shows, books, films, graphic novels, games, and cultural icons of all sorts.
You get to see people like The New England Brethren of Pirates.
The New England garrison of the 501st Legion.
All three groups make appearances to help raise money for charities. These people put a lot of time and effort into their outfits and shows, and they deserve a big hand for what they do.
You get to see celebrities, like Sam Jones (of Flash Gordon and Ted fame) and tough-guy actor William Forsythe, both of whom were
extremely gracious and kind to the fans. You also see the people behind the voices of your favorite animated characters such as Richard Horvitz, who voices Zim in Invader Zim, .
You get to meet writers such as Gordon Bean, Rob Watts, Katherine Silva, and Scott Goudsward, who are all members of the New England Horror Writers.
Author Matthew Bartlett, another NEHW member, was also signing books at the organization’s table.
Besides the NEHW and Longo, Chris Philbrook, another author, had his own table at the convention.
During my time at the convention, I also met author John Murphy, who was recently heard on the Sci-fi Saturday Night podcast. I can’t wait to hear their interviews with the cast members of Game of Thrones.
Speaking of which, lots of folks were Game of Thrones cosplaying to honor the cast members who were there.
Miltos Yeramelou (Syrio on GoT) hosted a Water Dancing class to teach beginning fencers. I watched some of it, and thought it superb– and I’ve been a fencer for over 35 years.
You get to see about every superhero and supervillain you can think of.
And many other costumes. A guy who plays Mr T. emceed the huge costume contest. I sure wouldn’t want to judge that one, because there are so many cool costumes, it would be too hard to choose a winner!
Two days of fun, and we just saw a small part of it. It’s a total experience, with panels, parties, and participation.
Haunted Acres is New England’s most exciting haunted attraction, with Maniac’s Midway, live bands, a beer garden, and lots of food and ride vendors.
The third Anthocon has come to an end. All we have left are good memories and pictures until next year’s convention. Anthocon is organized by the Four Horsemen ( Timothy Deal, Mark Wholley, ZjOhnny Morse, and Danny Evarts). It’s an excellent convention where there are panels, author readings and vendors selling everything from books, t-shirts, wooden bookmarks and even lemon curd.
Another Rock & Shock has come and gone, the 10th one to be exact. It was another good one with even more vendors this year. The one thing that was lacking was attendees in costume. There just wasn’t a lot of people in costume. Here are pictures from the event.
Once 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 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.
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.
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/.
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!
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.
There were other writers as well, most notably a contingent of the New England Horror Writers. Rob 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.
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.
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.
It has been a number of years since the city of Providence has celebrated the life and work of H.P. Lovecraft with the convention, NecronomiCon. It was expected to have about 1200 people attend, convention director Niels Hobbs said. The convention ran from Thursday, August 22, through Sunday, August 25 and took place at the Providence Biltmore.
Putting on a convention is a huge undertaking and the organizers did a great job. The only noticeable problem was the program wasn’t available at the start of the convention. They arrived a few hours later. The printer should have had them delivered at the beginning of the month, a volunteer at the registration table said.
The convention was spread throughout Providence at eight different locations, Hobbs said. There were art shows, gaming, and movies being shown. There were events of all types for Lovecraft fans. There were also panels and readings throughout the weekend.
There were also a lot of vendors on the registration floor and on the 18th floor of the Biltmore. Vendors included publishers, writer organizations, and artists.
You can check out the Double Vision Embroidery Facebook page here.
You can check out Elig’s work here.
You can check out the New England Horror Writers (NEHW) here.
The Tandy Leather Factory is located in East Hartford, Connecticut. Check them out here.
A.S. Koi is a writer, painter, writer, and owner of Catalyse Studios. Her first book, Tribes of Heaven: Honor & Sacrifice, took Koi 15 years to complete it, she said. She has three planned in the series, but it will probably be four since that’s what is needed for the proper conclusion of the story. The second book in the series will be released in January of 2014.
You can check out Broers other sculptures here.
You can check out the Cryptocurium merchandise here.
If you missed this year’s convention, there will be one in 2015. Stay tuned to it’s website for information.
The New England Author Expo and Book Sale organized by Christopher Obert and Pear Tree Publishing took place at the Harborview Ballroom in the Danversport Yacht Club in Danvers, MA. on Wednesday, July 31.
For writers, the process of actually writing a book is one of the most painfully brutal tasks imaginable. It’s a meticulous, painstaking, heart-stopping (and often heartbreaking) procedure that truly changes a person.
See, once the plucky creative-minded person decides that he or she has aspirations to become (of all the things in the world) a writer … and once that foolish, foolish person decides to embark on the god-awful, painful task of writing a book, well … that creative person quickly becomes wrapped up in his or her own world. And inside that world, it often seems like the only thing you’re working toward is that last page, that final period.
Once you finish the book, you’ll be done, right? The world will just end, won’t it? Everything will be complete! Your life is finished!
No, not quite.
As it turns out, completing your book isn’t the end of the story. No, not by a long shot. Now that your work is out there – now that this collection of inner demons that you’ve been carrying around in your head is finally out in the world, and it’s available for people to read — now, it’s time to get YOURSELF out there. It’s time to meet people, form new friendships and make new connections. You’ve done the introverted part, and you did it well — but now, it’s time to gather up your extroverted energies and, uh … mingle.
But … mingling? How are a bunch of socially awkward WRITERS suppose to MINGLE?
See, this is why going to fiction/horror/comic etc. conventions can be difficult, but it’s also why the good conventions are so much fun. Conventions force all of us introverted writers, artists and other creative types to get to know each other and interact. Above all else, these conventions force us to get out of our writing shells.
This is also why NECON (short for the Northeastern Writers Conference) is by far the most entertaining, lively and just plain entertaining convention I’ve ever had the opportunity to attend. Yes, it certainly features a smorgasbord of genre authors, artists and publishers, as well as plenty of enthusiastic genre fiction fans. But what makes NECON unique is that, really, it’s a surprisingly small, personal con; within a few hours, it’s as if you’ve known everyone there for years.
At NECON, the walls are down. It’s a highly casual affair, wherein all the big names (for example: Jack Ketchum, F. Paul Wilson, Kealan Patrick Burke, Christopher Golden, Brian Keene, etc.), small names and middling names are all on equal ground, and everyone freely interacts with one another. Everybody shares beers, trades corny jokes and gets to discuss their passions. Throughout my NECON experience, if there was one thing I heard quoted over and over again, it was this:
“Necon isn’t just a con, it’s a family.”
Yes, that’s definitely the feeling that one gets from attending. It doesn’t feel like a conference at all. Really, it just feels like a family reunion – the good kind, the kind where everyone cheerfully pokes fun at each other and catches up on what they’ve been doing for the last year.
For genre writers, the Northeastern Writers Conference in Rhode Island is something you hear a lot about, and always in highly enthusiastic tones. Put on every year by the Booth family, including founder Bob Booth (who is affectionately referred to as Papa Necon). Booth is a truly inspirational figure; currently battling lung cancer. Bob and his family’s perseverance is absolutely amazing to see.
NECON is the Booth family’s baby, and what a creation it is; most people I’ve spoken to refer to NECON as “the best con,” or “the only con I go to every year,” and now that I’ve attended, I can definitely understand why.
(Before we move on, allow me to insert an embarrassing side note and a tip: Yes, NECON is pronounced Knee-Con, not En-E-Con, Neck-on and definitely not Neeh-Cone. This seems obvious, but I’ll admit I actually made sure not to say Knee-Con out loud until I’d heard someone else say it first. Oh, the shame, the shame…)
Now, how did my weekend get started?
Okay, so I made the two-hour drive down from New Hampshire on Thursday afternoon. Immediately upon opening the doors, the welcoming nature of the whole event was made extraordinarily apparent. Once I got my badge, collected my bearings and started emptying all the empty candy/chips/highly-stereotypical-road-snack wrappers out of my bag, I was immediately greeted by Mark Angevine and artist Duncan Eagleson, both of whom did a terrific job at explaining everything, telling me the history of Camp Necon and showing me around. Seriously, I really can’t emphasize enough how great these guys were; I enjoyed many intriguing conversations with both of them throughout the weekend. From there, Mark offered me a cup of coffee – very, very strong coffee. I got the pleasure of enjoying a brief demonstration of his talented musical abilities, in particular his undeniable skill at playing the shakuhachi, an ancient Japanese end-blown flute.
From there, I met up with Scott Goudsward of the New England Horror Writers, a great guy who really does an admirable job at organizing all of these group events. There was a whole slew of NEHW members all over NECON, so all of us got to freely navigate throughout the convention. Sometimes at the table, sometimes at the panels or sometimes just walking around, you could always spot an NEHW member somewhere. Among those in attendance were Charles Day (The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief), Bracken McLeod (Mountain Home), Tracy L. Carbone (Restitution), David Price (Dead in the USA), Kristi Petersen Schoonover (Bad Apple), Michael Arruda (In the Spooklight), Eric Dimbleby (The Klinik) and Scott and Trisha Wooldrige (UnCONventional), as well as Jason Harris and Stacey Longo Harris, owners of the horror-themed Connecticut bookstore Books and Boos, which I’ll be doing a reading at on August 24.
Now, NECON is a four-day event , so naturally, there’s an enormous amount of great moments to talk about. However, since I’m far too aware of my own tendency to turn every article into a novel-length work (yes, I’m one of those guys, ugh), I’m going to force myself to whittle this down into a neat, tidy, manageable length. To accomplish this daunting task, I’m going to write out a concise list of highlights:
1. The Rick Hautala memorial. Rick, who was famously known as “Maine’s other horror writer,” was the author of over 30 novels and short stories; his recent death this past March was an enormous shock to many in the literary community. As a regular attendee of NECON – an event that was, according to his close friends, “Rick’s Christmas,” – most of the first night of NECON 33 was devoted to a moving tribute of the man and his work. Touching speeches were given by many of Rick’s friends and loved ones, including Christopher Golden and Rick’s wife, Holly Newstein Hautala. I’m sorry to say that I only had the opportunity to meet Rick once, back at Anthocon 2012. However, even in my limited interactions with him, Rick’s kindness and generosity were truly remarkable, especially for someone who so many young horror writers (myself included!) have looked up to for so many years; he was truly one of a kind. Rest in peace, Rick.
2. For the next highlight, going back to speeches; I can’t go without mentioning that every speech given by Mike Myers and Rio Youers was absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious. Great job, guys.
3. The Hawaiian shirt contest! Ridiculous as it might sound, this was totally one of my most anticipated events of the weekend. Since I consider myself to be something of a Hawaiian shirt connoisseur (and with that, the crowd groans), I was excited to give this a whirl. As it was, my shirt – a white and red number – placed in third, winning me a set of googly eyes. I was happy with third place, since my fellow top fivers (including the winner, Barry Dejasu) had some really terrific shirts. My personal favorite was probably Errick Nunnally’s Spider-Man number, which displayed almost all of the major Amazing Spider-Man issues of the last fifty years.
4. “That Damn Game Show,” hosted by Craig Shaw Gardner and Doug Winter. This is the sort of event that could only happen at NECON; a relentlessly silly “game show” with a head-smacking number of “simple rules.” Truly, an enormous amount of fun.
5. The artists’ reception – complete with coffee! – where everyone got to chance to spend some time exploring all of the amazing art pieces at the show, and discussing them with the artists themselves. Artists in attendance included Jill Bauman, Caniglia, Stephen Gervais and the aforementioned Duncan Eagleson. Overall, I probably spent the most time speaking with him. Duncan is an exceptionally interesting guy with a lot of great insights, as well as being a truly remarkable artistic talent; his Lovecraftian “Homo Avis” piece was absolutely fascinating.
6. …and finally, the courtyard! Why the courtyard? Because when it comes down to it, those nights in the courtyard – the long, late nights spent drinking an ocean of alcoholic beverages, chatting with friends and eating saugies – are truly where the warm, beating heart of NECON becomes most alive. The friendly, even affectionate atmosphere of the whole event is truly something special.
Special. That’s what NECON is, really — special.
And this, right here – right when I’m beginning to really, really enjoy reminiscing about what an amazing time NECON 33 was – is where I’m going to cut myself off, before I go into the aforementioned novel length territory. I’m already sailing ahead at almost 2,000 words, so I’d say it’s time to call it a night.
But in all seriousness, I just want to thank everyone who organized, contributed and attended NECON this year for creating an absolutely extraordinary event, one which even a “NECON newbie” like myself will never forget. Necon doesn’t just live up the hype, it surpasses it. There’s no other con like it, and I guarantee that I’m going to make a point to come back.
The New England Author Expo – Book Sale is a week away. It happens next Wednesday, July 31 from 4 p.m to 9 p.m. in Danvers, MA.
This expo has over 50 authors attending it. You can find out who is attending here.
There will also be publishing and writing related groups such as Independent Publishers of New England and the New England Horror Writers organization. There are a number of NEHW members attending this show. There will be three members at the NEHW table; Scott Goudsward, Rob Smales, David Price, and Ken Wood. There will be six members at the Books & Boos table; Michael J. Evans, Stacey Longo, Erin Thorne, Rob Watts, and T.T. Zuma. A few members, Tracy Carbone, Dale T. Phillips, and Vlad Vaslyn have their own tables at the expo.
This expo has been happening for a number of years. It was started and is organized by Christopher Obert and his company, Pear Tree Publishing. It takes place in the Harborview Ballroom at the Danversport Yacht Club in Danvers, MA. from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The yacht club is located at 161 Elliott Street (Rte. 62) in Danvers.
The table of content has been announced for the second New England Horror Writers’ anthology, which is being edited by Stacey Longo.
The tentative title for this new collection is Wicked Seasons and will be released at Anthocon 2013 in November.
Introduction: Jeff Strand
“Furious Demon” by Addison Clift
“The Basement Legs” by Robert DuPerre
“Hungry For More” by Michael Evans
“The Secret Backs of Things” by Christopher Golden
“Blood Prophet” by Scott Goudsward
“Three Fat Guys Soap” by Catherine Grant
“Chuffers” by Paul McMahon
“Spirits” by James A. Moore
“Bleedthrough” by Gregory Norris
“Lycanthrobastards” by Errick Nunnally
“To Chance Tomorrow” by Kristi Petersen Schoonover
“A Night at the Show” by Robert Smales
“The Girl Who Wouldn’t Break” by Lucien Spelman
“The Widow Mills” by Trisha Wooldridge
The first anthology, Epitaphs, was published in October of 2011.