Published: Tuesday, 08 July 2014 12:42
So it's now been a week since LibertyCon 27 and things are starting to settle back down to a 'normal' schedule. We've been meaning to write up something about the convention for a while now, but have honestly had a hard time thinking of what to say. And now that we are actually sitting down to do this, we just want to warn you that it's probably going to go a little long. You might want to go get something to drink, or possibly let your dog out before you begin.
Our Literary Guest of Honor, Jody Lynn Nye, is one of the sweetest people that you could ever hope to meet in your life. She's personable, funny, and brings along a really nice guy with her in the form of Bill Fawcett. It was great sharing a table with the two of them at the Banquet on Saturday, and as a longtime fans of the MYTH, Inc. series it was a real pleasure to see that the person behind the words is everything that you would hope they would be. Matt, our head of Registration, was lucky enough to win the ‘Tuckerization’ that Jody generously donated for our charity this year. For those of you who are new to conventions, a Tuckerization is a promise to put the person who wins it into one of their future books or publications. Normally it is a minor character, but hey, when it’s a book of this caliber, even a minor character is something to be proud of!
Kurt Miller, a master of many forms of art (including digital as well as non-digital), made being the Artist Guest of Honor look easy. The amazing artwork that you saw all over the convention on banners, t-shirts as well as the program book was only possible through his genius use of layering so that we could pick and choose pieces of the whole gorgeous picture for the different uses that we had. Because he is so conversant on so many topics, Rich Groller (our Programming Director) had Kurt running all over the place for panels! We all know that if you run a convention you get to go to very few programming events, but we did hear people raving about his panels though... apparently the guy can put on a heck of a demonstration.
It was great to have Travis Taylor, our Science Guest, back at LibertyCon. We lost him for a few years due to his schedule with 'Rocket City Rednecks', but this scientist turned author turned TV personality came back with a bang. Outside of the ever popular Mad Scientists Panel on Saturday, he could also be found by the pool chatting with both fans and budding authors. We did hear that the Mad Scientists panel might spawn some offshoots such as a 'Quantum Throwdown' event featuring this guy in the future sometime! All in all it was great to see Travis again, and hopefully he doesn't stay gone so long next time!
Speaking of gone for a long time, some of our newer attendees didn't know our Special Guest David Cherry. He's an incredibly talented artist who was a regular to the Chattanooga conventions, but dropped out of fandom many years ago to focus on 'real life'. It was great to get to hang out with David and his daughters Kasi and KJ, who are both talented artists as well. He has talked about getting back into SF/F art again, and possibly fandom in general, and we really hope that he does. On a more personal note, it was great to get the stories behind two of his prints that we have hanging in our bedroom. We've had them up since we moved into our house, about fifteen years or so, but never knew the names of them. Amazingly enough, even after painting thousands of pictures David was able to not only tell me the names of the pieces but also the back story of each just from my quick descriptions. If you missed the opportunity to chat with him, you definitely missed out. But hopefully we can talk him into coming back in the future so that you can get your chance.
Baen editor Jim Minz is a very engaging speaker, and a really funny guy... you know, things you want in a Master of Ceremonies. His carpet-bagging spiel at Opening Ceremonies had us in stitches and his deft handling of the Banquet brought a smile to everyone’s face. He gave plenty of advice to budding authors as well as those who are interested in editing in various programming events. Jim’s history with many in the LibertyCon crew just added a little spice to the convention as he was always ready with a funny con story, especially if you had good Scotch on you.
That's of course our main guests and while they are really important they're actually a small section of our guests. Don't believe me? HAVE YOU LOOKED ON OUR WEBSITE AT OUR LIST?! At LibertyCon 27 we had: Fifty seven listed authors (Todd McCaffrey, David B. Coe, John Ringo, Michael Hanson, Sarah Hoyt, Leia Barrett-Durham, David Drake, Timothy Zahn, Kim Daniels, etc), thirty six attending artists (I'll list a few for you below), twenty-ish scientific guests/panelists (Such as LC28 Science Guest Tedd Roberts, Les Johnson, Daniel Hoyt, some guy named Tim Bolgeo, and a bunch of other scary-smart people)... as well as several performers, entertainers and professional mischief makers. And that's not even taking into account the large number of fan panelists that rounded out the weekend festivities!
One of the things we can definitely talk about was the Art Show. Shannon did a GREAT job putting it together, and it was our largest show ever with around 60 presenting artists! There were a ton of new talented people who showed up this year such as Sam Flegal, Amy Ashbaugh, Nicole Nicholson, Sara Glassman, and etc. This was of course in addition to our 'regular cast of characters' like Mike & Paul Bielaczyc, Melissa Gay, Stacey Morgan, Fritz Fotovich and Daniel Jean. (And with a list like that, 'Cast of Characters' is so incredibly apt!) On top of that the Art & Charity Auction raised the better part of $4,000 for the AIM Center! We'd really like to thank our artists and authors who let us raise money to give back to the community every year!
As far as Matt’s crew in Registration… well, there is really not much to tell, which is very, very good thing. Even with the largest attendance in history there was never a very long line and everything processed smoothly from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. Mom and Ms. Barbara yet again handled pre-registration with lots of great help, and the t-shirts sold quickly. Good work everyone!
I can tell you where a good chunk of our money went to though, and that was next door to the Art Show. The Dealer's Room this year was phenomenal! We got books, stained glass (Thanks Leia!), and even picked up some Steampunk-ey jewelry and hat... and we think Alex was trying to run Mike Williamson out of his 'Sharp Pointy Things' inventory since every time we saw him he had a new acquisition.
I also have to throw out a special thanks to Matt and Dena with Aegis Steamworks. I hit them up for help with the Steampunk themed LibertyCon Banquet since I didn't quite think ahead to have a 'full' outfit. They didn't think about it a second before saying "Here!" and throwing their primary display piece, a custom leather and brass armor chestpiece, over my head. The fact that they let me borrow and wear such an expensive piece to just go to lunch was really over the top! Thanks again you guys!
As for Consuite, Michael and Vonn might have just about worked themselves to death feeding the horde, but things worked out pretty darned well, and from what I've heard there are plans for 'bigger & better' for next year already! All I know is that as long as they leave the Killians beer tap alone, we are good.
The final 'area' of the convention was all over the place, and we really mean that. Rich & Tish Groller headed up Programming, and holy crap did they pull it off! Can you imagine how much work went into running over a hundred guests, pros and panelists smoothly through almost two hundred panels/events/etc in ten different locations spread throughout the hotel complex?! If someone told us that Rich had thousands of hours in his schedule we would easily believe it. Of course one of the reasons that Rich's schedule went off without a hitch was thanks to John Trieber and his Engineering team working behind the scenes (since Thursday I might add!) to make sure that the rooms had working lights, projectors, sound, etc... not to mention keeping tabs on everything over the course of the weekend.
John had quite a few new people helping him out this year and to those new volunteers (and to all of the other new volunteers) we would like to say a special thank you. We're a convention that runs solely on volunteers and can always use all of the new people that we can get!
And speaking of new people, that's one of the main things we personally took away from LibertyCon this year. So many new people... we put purple 'First Timer' ribbons on the badges of new attendees, not in a 'Rocky Horror Virgin' way but instead as a way of letting the staff know that if someone is standing there looking lost that they actually might be. Well this year it was like a purple flood! You couldn't turn around without seeing 'First Timer' in front of you... heck I spent a good chunk of time talking to a Father/Daughter/Grandson family from Alabama who had never been to a convention at all. (And since they both work in a steel mill down there, the Tennessee heat was nothing!) We had people coming in from all over the country, and even had Ben and Shannan come down from New York for the first time! (For those of you that don't know, Ben is the guy that wrote the LibertyCon IOS & Android App. He'd never been to the con, but still let us not only use it but also let us harass him for changes and tweaks all the time! Thanks again, Ben!)
But it wasn't just first time attendees! While I've mentioned a lot of the new faces that we had in the Art Show already, we also had a ton of new names in the 'Author' column as well. Eric S. Brown was brought out to the con by his recent co-author Jason Cordova, LibertyCon regular and one of our 'favorite authors to give a hard time to' (which just proves that he's family!). The poor guy didn't stand a chance considering that he's the unofficial "King of the Zombies" and Derek is an unapologetic zombie fan... he fanboyed all over him, which amused Brandy to no end. Kim Daniels was another, and though Derek hasn't read her book yet it's definitely on the list after Brandy picked it up, read it in one go, and finished with, "wow... that was good!" (As an fyi, that list is actually getting pretty long with our "non-headliner" writers since Brandy keeps piling them up for me... The two series, "Fear" & "Trust", by L.R. Barrett-Durham (Thanks again, Leia!), the "Sha'Daa" anthology series by Michael H. Hanson and his crew, and I'm fully expecting the same thing when she's done with Alan D. Lewis' "Capes & Clockwork". (Which btw, Alan has one of the best quotes I think I've ever seen on his website: "Some may see me as a mild-mannered, single father, but I'm also a writer. That means that in the time it's taken you to read this far, I've already thought up 12 different ways to kill you with a spoon in my next book.") I'm personally currently working through Jason Cordova & Eric S. Brown's "Kaiju Apocalypse" series and related books, which I would HIGHLY recommend if you're a Godzilla or Pacific Rim fan!)
All of this helped make LibertyCon 27 one of the biggest and best conventions that we've ever had! Everything ran incredibly smoothly, and we'd like to again thank all of the staff for helping to make that happen! The few issues we had we've taken note of, and will work towards addressing those before next year (Room for the Mad Scientist Panel, we are looking at you!)
All of us hope that you guys had as good of a time at the convention as we did, and we hope to see you back next year for LibertyCon 28!
And in case you missed it:
June 26-28, 2015
Literary Guest: David Weber
Artist Guest: Not telling yet, but we will...
Science Guest: Dr. Tedd Roberts (Robert Hampson)
Special Guest: Steve Jackson
Master of Ceremony: Howard Tayler
- Derek and Brandy