Nine Worlds

Ryan Saves Us from Boring BoozeNine Worlds – a whole new breed of beastie. Ambitious, as beasties go, and far-reaching – but could they really make all of this cool shit happen?

The short answer is yes – cool shit happened. Nine streams of activity, all wonderfully diverse, a new structure to the timing of panels, even a split site – it all worked to make Nine Worlds one of the most inclusive and eclectic conventions I’ve ever been to.

Even nailed by our knees to the trading table as we generally are, it was easy to see the difference. There was a much larger cross-section of people – the book con regulars were there, and so were the cosplayers, the steampunkers, the comics fans and the – yes, really – the Bronies.

LOTR LadiesThere were fanboys and girls from every walk of geekdom and there was a strong LGBT presence, as well – and all of this contributed to a wonderful feeling of freedom and self-expression. And after the dark flickerings of rumour that have been circulating about people’s behaviour at cons, it was very good to see everyone feeling so confident in their companions and surroundings – and modes of dress!

New Voices!Big success of the weekend was the New Voices Slam Session on Friday night – a gathering of nine new authors all reading for five minutes each. From an original idea by Stephanie Saulter, it had an energy and presence and there wasn’t a weak voice in the bunch. Thanks to Barry Nugent, Stephanie Salter, Rochita Leonen-Ruiz, Emma Newman, Adam Christopher, Liz de Jager, Lou Morgan, Jennifer Williams, and Hannah Eiseman-Reynard for sharing it!

Abe the Alien - you should have seen him on the dance floor! From an FP point of view, we had an excellent weekend, saw old friends and new faces, and will certainly be going back. Thank you to everybody who signed with us at our table, and everyone who called past to see us.

Well done to all – it’s good to see that sense of family return!

FP Signings!

SFX Weekender – The Con Comes of Age

Pontin’s. In Wales. In February. Eight (yes, eight) trains and eight-and-a-half hours from Sutton – by the time I rolled in, a G&T was necessary and the travel chaos was having a similar ‘blitz spirit’ effect to the chalets at Camber.

The weekend’s been maniacal, fantastically busy – we’ve had non-stop a stream of signings, as well as a huge array of fans and costumed characters, buying t-shirts and goodies and books. We’ve met John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra; we’ve seen Daleks and K9s and giant Predators and hot girls on stilts. We’ve seen robots, large and small. We’ve seen Steampunk, we’ve seen superheroes, we’ve had a large amount of beer. We’ve seen Pat Sharpe and Craig Charles, spinning their tunes, getting us all up to dance our arses off.

Thanks go to all of the publishers and guests who signed for us, to Suzanne and the girls for letting me nab chalet space (and bacon), to Gollancz for letting us nab taxi space, and to Alasdair Stuart for extremely well-timed coffee runs (did I mention we were busy?)

Memorable moments include Al Ewing’s tunes, Raygun Rankin’s ink and Sam Sykes’ thighs (don’t ask). Oh, and the gorilla with the unlikely banana.

Through all of the event though, there was a common theme of conversation. Namely – the face and content of the ‘SF con’ is changing. Angry Robot’s Lee Harris drew the difference between the ‘fan convention’ – the cons that we know and love, the ones at which we see the same faces, the same friends – and the ‘commercial convention’. The SFX Weekender was the latter, it was more like Kapow! than it was like EasterCon – it’s a con that’s opened out to new ideas and new demographics, to more people and younger people, to new blood and enthusiasm. China Miéville said the ‘Geek Pound’ is still strong – and he’s right.

SFX got the mix right; they’ve effectively blended the traditional ‘book con’ (panels and signings) with geek-cool celebrity, with cosplay, with props and monsters and movie culture, with music, with glamour, with in-jokes and eye-candy… all of this explodes out of the traditional mould and comes together to bring us something new.

We like it. The Con has come of Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glory #23 – The Warrior Goddess Returns

Joe Keatinge over at Image has sent me this…

The Extreme Warrior Goddess returns! She’s now written by Joe and drawn by artist Ross Campbell, and quite apart from anything FP-related, I’m absolutely loving her re-manifestation.

Something about the artwork reminds me of both ElfQuest and A Distant Soil – the comics of my youth. And the narrative features an almost Miltonian fallen superbeing (always a winner). And the greatest wonder of all…

Glory LOOKS like a warrior. Yes, she has a scant costume and an adorably cute turned-up nose, but she’s a fighter – she manages to be both ludicrously hot AND she looks like she’s plummeted from the Creator Race and hit every damn rock on the way down. Her beauty is manifest, but broken. It suits her.

Let’s hear it for proper Warrior Women.

Well done Joe. I love it – and I’m glad she’s back. Give us more!

Baring Your Chest

Geek culture is all about the t-shirt. From the days when Superman yanked open his buttons, cool has been defined by the logo between your nipples.

I’ve been trying to work out (Superman’s nipples aside) just where this is going.

Five years ago, at Star Wars Celebration Europe, the Grand Moff Tarkin offered me sixty quid for my Gentle Giant Tour tee – and, frankly bemused, I turned him down.

At Kapow! last year, the ‘who’s got the coolest tee’ battle really heated up with some fantastic contenders – but was won by the bloke with the ‘Han Job’ image. Included here for full impact.

A couple of months back, thanks to the intervention of @loudmouthman and the networking of twitter, I was able to send Colin Baker a sixth doctor costume tee, purpose-made for him by Titan Merch.

And then yesterday, I had a phone call from a financial journo doing an article on t-shirts worn in the City. Three-piece suits are no longer required, it seems – if you work in the high gloss of Canary Wharf, it’s all about your tee.

And that made me chuckle. It also made me think.

The costume tee thing has been a recent stroke of Titanic genius – not just the good Doc, but everyone from Dredd to Venkman has appeared (or will) on chests at Cons all over the world. The Canary Wharf thing, though, implies that this has bust out of the Con circuit and is joining the rise of geek culture in the mainstream.

Look at the Haynes Manual x Star Wars tees – don’t they do exactly the same thing?

Taking this one step further, Threadless has cross-bred social networking with Etsy with geek tee cool and enables you to upload and showcase – and possibly have made – your own tee art. There are companies like spreadshirt and streetshirts which allow you simply make your own. And look at how far our friends at Genki Gear have come!

Where this meteoric rise of cotton cool will end, I have no idea – at the moment neither the sky – nor the neck – are the limit. As the lines between types of genre ‘platforms’ blur – films to toys to garments to games to artwork – the expansion is exponential…

It’s easy to see one thing, though. Whether Geek Chic or Hot in the City, it’s all about baring your chest.

Last Night’s Who Signing

Sometimes, things just work. No matter how big they may be, or how many cats need herding, they reach a kind of social critical mass – and it all just falls into place.

So it was last night.

Outside, we had fans queuing for hours in the cold – clutching dedicated pieces of Who memorabilia they’d treasured for years. We all know the return of Who has spanned the generations, bringing families together on a Saturday evening – my son is seven and no-one feels this more than I do. But to see it really brought to life is quite something. From the girl from the US with the TARDIS earrings and the painted jacket, to the Dad with FOUR eager cubs out there with him… truly, the Doctor spans space and time.

Inside, everything was gleefully organised chaos. Steven Moffat chatted to his gobsmacked fans, Mark Gatiss had a thing about peg dolls, Ben Cook offered very fine scarlet hair and Tom MacRae offered equally fine studded scarlet boots – the writers of Who are a garrulous and colourful bunch. The atmosphere they brought with them was voluble and festive.

Chatty or not, they’re efficient – flawlessly herded by Clayton Hickman and Garry Russell, the whole crew really linked with their fans and put in a sterling evening’s work.

Prior to last night’s event, we’d been a little nervous about accommodating something of that size – that many people, that many fans – but experience tells, it seems, both theirs and ours. Either that, or FP is bigger on the inside.

At the end of yesterday evening, a great many people went home laden with presents and smiles. They’d had a moment, and they’d snagged something cool for Christmas Day.

And that’s really what makes this stuff special.