The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

FanExpo Toronto 2015

The family, still bleary and suffering from travel and jet lag from our trip to Hawai'i (I may post something about that later) made our weary way to FanExpo on Sunday.  It was a day of long lines, huge crowds, celebrities and wall to wall merchandise.  My daughter sported a steampunk outfit she made herself and my son wore a jumpsuit from the video game Fallout 3.  My wife and I opted for the "tired parent in tow" costume that seemed popular this year.

Here's everyone being patient while the line crawls forward.

The great irony of this particular show is that most of it is held in what basically amounts to the world's largest basement.

There was a lot of cosplay going on and when I've gone in previous years, there was a lot of steampunk.  This year - not so much.  It looks like anime and gaming were well represented, as were comics.  There were more Castiels (from the TV show, Supernatural) than you could shake a stick at.

There was also a cadre of Daleks.

The Red Dalek was wonderful, telling my daughter, "No need to be nervous, Human.  Regardless of your emotional state you shall still be exterminated!"

It was, of course, crowded.

I've been to FanExpo before and knew what to expect.  My family, I think, were a little overwhelmed by the shear volume of people.  They were also impressed by the variety and (sometimes) quality of the convention's guests.

Here's Malcolm McDowell signing autographs.

Speaking of quality guests, we attended Q&A with both Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame and Hayley Atwell, star of Agent Carter.  As the dad of a 14 year old girl and a 12 year old boy, I think it's a good idea for them both to see capable, independent women who play capable, independent roles.

My daughter and I attended a panel that featured authors who belong to the Horror Writers' Association, Ontario Chapter.  The panel's title was "What's the next big thing in horror fiction?"  I know one of the panelists and recognized the names of a few others.  In all, the panel was a disappointment.  Almost from the start, the seven fiction writers (most of whom had books they were trying to promote) ignored the written word.  The discussion lead invariably to movies and film.  Example that could easily have been made citing books and short stories were made through references to movies and video games.  At one point, the moderator got onto the subject of desensitization and immediately spoke about a YouTube video that depicted a beheading.  From that point forward the moderator seemed obsessed with the subject of snuff films, returning to it so often that members of the audience began to leave and members of the panel looked increasingly uncomfortable.  Eventually - I think audience questions finally got the panel onto the subject of the horror fiction - there was some talk of Stephen King's recent crime fiction but the panel never really delivered on its promised subject matter.

Fortunately the panel experience didn't sour my daughter's day.  She and her brother had a great time, entirely enjoying spotting particularly well pulled off homemade costumes.  The best of the day was a Sharknado costume made from wire, cotton batten and toy sharks that lit up from the inside.  Totally inspired.

FanExpo IS wall to wall geek and yes, a goodly number of the people there have poor hygiene and even poorer social skills but anything that can draw together so many people with shared interests in a safe environment for mutual enjoyment can only be a good thing.

God help me, we'll likely attend next year too...

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Elora Writers' Festival 2015

The 2015 event happened over this past weekend and everything came together beautifully.  Although not as well attended as our last two festivals, it still felt like a rousing success to me.  Here's this year's poster, created in partnership with the local high school's media arts department:

They also did a wonderful job designing our brochure:

Our festival has a blog and here's a linkto follow for a description of the day:

This was the fourth EWF I've been involved with (though for my first one I just showed up and looked pretty) and I must say by the time the day rolled around I was glad to see the end of it.  Don't get me wrong - I love the event and I love the sense of satisfaction of seeing a year's worth of hard work come together on a lovely afternoon in May.  Three years ago I initiated a Q&A session that has been well-received and from which I derive so much pleasure that it should probably not be allowed.
But this year it felt like a slog.  As I was loading the borrowed plants we used to brighten the venue from the local nursery (Little Tree - follow the link and patronize the hell out of them for their generosity)  into my van at the end of the event I was drained.  Physically and emotionally I was spent.

I still had a number of interviews to conduct for the local cable book show I host with fellow committee member and bookstore owner, Roxanne Beale once I got to the committee after party .   The interviews went well (I think) and the party was a wonderful opportunity to decompress with my fellow committee members and better get to know the authors and their guests.

As I drove home in the best smelling car in the world (loaded with live flowers and likely a hundred and one bees) I was exhausted.  It was a year's worth of execution all coming together and this time around it really felt like a year.  I don't know exactly why this one took so much out of me and I'll ponder the reason over the coming weeks.  All I know is that it's a worthwhile festival and it makes the spirit and soul of our community just a little bit richer each year.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I'm already thinking ahead to 2016.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Wallopin' Websnappers!

This happens this evening:

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the exhibit last Friday.  The exhibit features gems from a mysterious unnamed local collector who, I believe, has a copy of every issue of Amazing Spider-Man ever published.  The crown jewel, I think, is the Amazing Spider-Man #1 signed by Stan Lee.

I am part of the panel that will speak tonight.  I bring only my expertise as a person who collected many titles avidly for a span of about 20 years.  I will also speak about Spider-Man as literature, focusing on a story line from 1987 written by J.M. DeMantteis and penciled by Mike Zeck.  KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT was a six part story spanning the three existing Spider-Man titles that ushered in an age when Spider-Man stories became amazing again.

 DeMantteis adopted William Blake's poem, The Tyger for the story-line, with the refrain, "Spyder, spyder burning bright..."

Tonight is made even more special by the inclusion in the panel of my old high school chum, Stuart Immonen.  Stuart is the penciler for any number of DC and Marvel titles, as well as producing his own graphic novels with his wife Kathryn.  I'm very much looking forward to catching up with him today.

I'll post more after the event.