By Jason Harris
Vermont Comic Con held it’s second annual convention this past weekend. It was bigger and better than it’s first convention in 2014.
Pictures by Dale T. Phillips and Stacey Longo
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.
Experiencing Arisia 2012
by David Price
When did steampunk become so popular, would someone tell me? I went to Arisia for the first time this year, which, for those who don’t know, is a yearly science fiction and fantasy convention in Boston. Now, admittedly, my convention-going experience is limited. When I was a kid, I used to go to some of the local comic book and Star Trek conventions, but that was over twenty years ago. Last year, I went to a horror convention called Rock and Shock, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a horror writers’ convention called Anthocon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Neither one of those prepared me for the spectacle I would find at Arisia.
I had expectations for Arisia. I’ve seen these kinds of things on tv, so I thought I would find a bunch of people dressed up like Starfleet officers, Klingons, Jedi, Hobbits, Elves, and Battlestar Galactica pilots. My expectations were, however, blown out of the water. Instead, it seemed like every science fiction fan woke up one morning and said, “Hey, I finally get that 1960s television show, The Wild Wild West. You know the show, right? Robert Conrad and Ross Martin were James West and Artemus Gordon. These two were a couple of James Bond types during the time of the Old West. It was half science-fiction, half western. The gadgetry they employed was far in advance of what you would expect for the period, with things like cyborgs, force fields, flamethrowers, and batman-style grappling hooks. The 1999 version starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline really sucked, but they played up the whole steampunk angle even more than the series. So that’s what steampunk is, this blending of Old West and Victorian era time period with science fiction elements.
If the the Arisia I attended is representative of what it is usually like, they could just call it a steampunk convention. There were plenty of people dressed up in costume, that’s true, but most of it had that steampunk theme. I saw one Starfleet uniform, one hobbit, and a couple of guys who might have been Jedi, but they didn’t have light sabers, so I couldn’t be sure. Dressing for the occasion seems to be the way to go at one of these things too, as I would say a good three quarters of the convention-goers showed up in costume. I was in the minority. It was fun to go there and people watch, though. Let me tell you something; nerd girls dress up in some of the, ah, *ahem*, most appealing costumes you could imagine. I’ll admit they surpassed what I expected. There may not have been any Slave Leias, but there was a scantily clad elven archer from the Lord of the Rings or Skyrim, a seductive assassin from the video game Assassin’s Creed, and a very revealing Poison Ivy from Batman wrapped in only, you guessed it, ivy.
All right, so I still decided I would go in there and enjoy myself. I like Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Babylon Five as much as the next geek. Stepping into the dealer room was like entering some alternate universe, where geeks didn’t even know who the Doctor, Captain Kirk, Han Solo or Starbuck were. I wandered around and checked out everything they had to offer, but nothing really jumped out at me. I’m amazed to say that I walked out of Arisia without purchasing a single thing. When I went into the dealer room, however, it seemed the dealers got the same memo that everybody else did. It was Steampunk Central in there. I’m an introvert by nature and I have to admit that I found the place to be a bit overwhelming. I think I could have settled in better if I found some of the familiar Harry Potter and Star Wars elements that I expected to, but those things were almost non-existent, except for one notable exception. One of the highlights of the day was a life-sized stormtrooper cake that was on display. Towards the end of the day, it was sliced up and served to a very long line of hungry Star Wars fans. I passed on that, because hey, how good could it really be? If it was Darth Vader cake, maybe, but stormtrooper? It was probably just a cloned recipe, anyway.
The biggest lesson I learned from this convention, was that I should have made myself familiar with the schedule before I even walked in the door. There were hundreds of events that included movies, seminars, discussion groups, and even combat sword training. I know I would have enjoyed a bunch of those, and next time I intend to have a plan of attack. I missed the discussion I had planned to attend, which was a panel of critics wrapping up the science fiction movies from 2011. A friend of mine, Woody Bernardi, had what they call a “fan table.” Woody started a group called the Boston Science Fiction Association, which is really just a bunch of fans who get together and hangout sometimes. He got the fan table to drum up some more interest in the group. So far we’ve mainly been getting together for lunch at the Tavern at the End of the World, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. I agreed I would take a turn watching the fan table for Woody so he could go to some of the discussion groups that interested him. I think he was particularly interested in a tribute to Anne McCaffrey. I was happy to sit down and unwind a bit. I actually talked to more people sitting at that table than I had wandering around the crowded dealer room.
I look forward to the next one, though, now that I’ve had a chance to process the experience. As a writer, I dream of a day when people will be dressing up as characters from my fantasy novels. That would be something to see. Would I go in costume? I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. Of course, my ultimate goal is to be one of those guys sitting behind a table with a long line of people waiting to see me. I’ll be serving the Darth Vader cake, of course.
The Happenings and Pictures from the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show
by Jason Harris
There was no sleeping in this morning. No enjoying the extra hour of sleep gained from falling back a hour for Daylight Savings Time. The day started at 5 a.m. Sunday morning for Author Stacey Longo and myself. We left around 5:40 to get the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show in Fairhaven, MA. On our drive to the show, we came across this site.
We arrived at the Seaport Inn and Marina without any problem. Once there, Longo performed her magic and had the table set-up in no time. This picture is of the second version of the NEHW table. There were two more set-ups as different authors arrived. Thanks to Longo, Dave Goudsward, Kasey Shoemaker, and Rob Watts for participating in today’s event. Thanks goes out to Nathan Wrann and Kristi Petersen Schoonover for having their books and dvds at the table.
The Toy and Comic show had many draws today from George “The Animal” Steele, Brian Harnois, Penny Dreadful and Gaoru, Uncle Fright, and Thom Christopher (Hawk on Buck Rogers). There were also sideshow performers and paranormal researchers.
Along with the stars and guests to see and meet, there were also convention attendees who came in costume.
Books were sold and some great networking opportunities were made. The show was a lot of fun and I know the NEHW will be back at this show in the future.
It was nice meeting Rick Silva of Dandelion Studios today. He will have a table at Anthocon next weekend.
Watts, Longo, and Goudsward will be attending Anthocon next weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Be sure to look for their books at the NEHW table at the convention.
Enjoy the following pictures from the SouthCoast Toy and Comic Show.