The Big Con

I think over the years I have been writing in this blog that it’s clear enough that I love conventions. As far as I can figure, Fangoria’s WEEKEND OF HORRORS was my first (and second), with the Motor City Comic Conventions coming after and by then I was hooked. I loved conventions, the WEEKEND more than anything, because it did two things – it brought together all of these misfits that were into the fringe pop culture stuff (horror), and it let us meet the people who inspired and impassioned us. At their best, conventions are a place where dreams and passions come together. At their best they are a place for people to find that they are not alone in their weirdness, in their hobby, and that they can find the best friends they have ever known. At their best, cons give us opportunities to show off our talents, sell our wares, and become the next generation’s inspirations.

At their worst, conventions become an example of the shortened form of the name – a con. High vendor fees, high autograph and photo fees, high entry fees, high parking fees, lines, congestion, fees to enter this or that or those. The convention becomes a vampire, feeding on the fans ruthlessly. We are starting to see this more and more as cons have turned from fan gatherings to businesses with employees, CEOs, boards, and on and on. Too many voices, too many hands, and too much cost.

Having been to a few bigger shows, I am not going to damn them all because it’s only at these bigger shows that you see the bigger named guests. It’s only at the bigger shows that you get the wide variety of art, craft, comic, movie, and book. It’s only at these big shows that you find some of the cooler and weirder art and geek goodie. The thing though is that there are just too many huge shows. Everyone seems to want to have the huge show to bring in more money. Those shows have become their own worst enemies. They put a big show on to get bigger guests, which means more crowds, which means more money. But the thing is that there is always more, more, more. More guests, bigger guests, bigger space, bigger displays and the more you add the more you have to charge. It’s a beast that demands to be fed and is never full.

Which is not to say that I don’t love big shows. I do, but I think that in the push for these huge shows we are forgetting that it’s the smaller shows that keep fandom going. It’s the shows that get friends together and let people interact. The smaller shows let fans speak with people working in industries they may be interested in. The smaller shows showcase the foundational people that make the genres we love, the people that get left behind and forgotten. Sure, it’s boss to meet that guy in that thing that’s done other things and did OUR thing too but isn’t it better to show someone that actually cares about the genre you love some love of their own? Smaller shows let us get closer to the creators of our dreams and nightmares and there’s something special about that.

Ideally we’d have a mix of larger shows with smaller shows as the foundation. Now, saying that, that’s what I WISH but that’s not reality. Even as a fan I look for the bigger shows more than the smaller ones but part of that is that there aren’t that many small shows anymore. Small shows need funding that isn’t always there. Small shows need people who are willing to put the work in to make them happen and brother, that’s asking a lot of anyone. And let’s face it, as popular as comics and genre works are now they are still on the outer rim of the norm and as such will never be full embraced by the masses. Bigger shows the now the entry point for most folks now so that smaller shows serve to reinforce the fandom and inspire the casual fans.

We are forgetting, far too easily, that conventions were created for fans and as opportunities for fans to celebrate that fandom. Money is an integral part of these shows – they cost money put them on and it costs money to get autographs, pics, art, or what have you. There’s way to do all of it though that makes fans fee less like human ATMs and more like a part of something bigger. Those shows are out there, inclusive shows that serve the fans first, but they are getting harder and harder to find.

For the same of fandom, I hope those shows start taking over the discussion more and that the fans start to embrace the smaller shows for the good of us all.

…c…

A Fall – a story

rough draft of a story i wrote this week before finding out about the loss of a friend who took their own life. this story feels very raw and real to me but i think there’s a sort of truth in that that maybe someone can get somthing from. 

There was no flash.

No revelation.

No playback of life’s good, bad, or ugly.

There was only anger, rage, pain, and the fall.

The fall.

 

I’d like to tell you that there was something that made me do it. Some cataclysmic something that was the final straw, that was the final proof for me.

I’d like to tell you that the reason was enough, was enough to make everyone understand why, why, why.

I’d be lying though.

I can tell you that it was the culmination of years and years of something burning in me, beneath the surface, consuming my memories, my dreams, and my relationships until it finally broke through to the surface.

I can tell you that the occasional thoughts turned to day dreams turned to fantasies turned to reality.

I can tell you that a vague flower of sadness had blossomed into a flowering mushroom cloud that wiped out reason and left only action.

I can tell you it was a mistake I intended to make.

It wasn’t sadness or pain that guided me though but rage, pure, black, self-directed rage. It was the need to punish myself for another mistake, another fuck-up, real or imagined. I needed to hurt myself in order to hurt the world. There was no darkness that took me over though, there was just me and that fire in me that had finally gotten out of control.

When I think about it, when I force myself back to those moment, because that’s what they were really, moments, it seems like a dream.

A nightmare.

My body a sparking wire, movements spastic, mind a shark searching out prey. I stormed into my apartment and searched everywhere for something, something, something…THERE!

I grabbed a detached electrical cord and quickly rushed to my closet and pulled open the door that was already ajar. I pulled coats and shirts out with my free hand and threw them onto the carpet until there was a small open space before me. I took the thin black cord in both hands and wrapped it around the closet rod and looped the two ends and created a knot. I started to make a loop but was struck by a thought and dropped the cord and turned to scan the one room apartment again. There, on the floor I saw it and rushed over and grabbed a dirty sock and then returned to the closet. I stepped within the darkness, crowded by clothes I never wore, and turned to face out once more.

There it all was, my life in clutters and piles.

Clothes.

Books.

Movies.

Music.

A discarded guitar.

An abandoned basketball.

A forgotten suit, piled in a corner.

An unmade bed.

Unwashed dishes.

Dirty clothes mixed with clean.

I looked at it and all there was was hate and rage and it was with pure clarity that I wrapped that cord around my neck with the sock against my throat, and tied it off.

Just in case, a part of my thought, just in case it didn’t work I didn’t want to crush my windpipe or voicebox.

Just.

In.

Case.

I tied the last knot and let myself drop, pulling my legs up as I did and I fell.

I fell.
The cord pulled taut and there was a moment where I hung before my weight snapped proved too much and my noose snapped. My knees connected with the floor and pain ran down my shins and up my thighs. I fell forward into an abandoned pizza box and let out a rage filled sob.

I pushed myself up onto my knees, broken cord around my neck, and struggled to my feet, legs aching. I stumbled forward, intent on finding another way, some other way to do it. Tears ran down my eyes as I searched everywhere for something, something, ANYthing that could just end me.

That could make the pain that seemed so bottomless go away.

I fell onto my knees and let my shoulders slump.

I couldn’t even do this right.

All that came then were tears.

I closed my eyes and saw the face of my mother, ten years dead but smiling at me from a long-gone birthday.

Back when I was still a kid with the sky in my eyes and the sea in my heart.

Christ.

 

I opened my eyes and my eyes caught a picture of my brothers and me at a baseball game, laughing, beers raised.

I clenched my fist and punched at the floor and stood on wobbly legs and put my hand down on my dresser and looked down and saw my hand on a letter from an ex that had tracked me down, wanting to know how I was. A letter that even now, after everything, after two weeks, still had me laughing.

I wiped a hand across my eyes and looked outside and caught sight of the setting sun and that was all I needed because it meant the day was ending. And if this day was ending then that meant there was a tomorrow.

It meant I’d have a tomorrow.

Tomorrow.

I made my way to my bed and sat heavily onto it and closed my eyes and started untying the noose from my neck and in the darkness of my mind I saw dad, napping on a lazy Sunday like a cat in the sun. I opened my eyes and looked around my apartment and put my focus on that and nothing else.

One moment.

One thing.

One day.

One at a time.

Like an addict drawn to death.

One day at a time.

I took a deep breath, wiped my face again, and then stood and started cleaning my place up.

…c…