February 15th, 2013


Who, Me?

Hello, and welcome to, "Iz Diz A Troll?", where we look at something and try to determine if the people behind it were clueless, funny, or antagonistic.

College basketball teams and fans are notorious for taking cheap shots at each other.  It's often more entertaining than the game itself.  University Of Illinois has a basketball program, and it was doing terribly until last week, when they defeated #1 Indiana.  John Groce, the coach of Illinois, was obviously ecstatic, hugging his son Connor as cameras captured the moment of emotion.  Why was Connor shirtless?  Why is John apparently trying to show his son his war face?  Who cares?  It was just a great shot for an emotional game.  Here's the pic --


Everybody still with me so far?  That's good!

So, Illinois is trying to sell tickets for next Thursday's big game, and decided to use the above image.  Check this out --


Some of you may have noticed that they are playing Penn State, which is still reeling from the baby raping scandal Sandusky and Paterno perpetrated.  Maaaaaaaaaaaybe not the best pic to choose.

So, is this a clueless mistake, a playful jab, or giving Penn State the finger?  Discuss.
Peter G

Magic Dragon*Con

Let's start at the beginning. A more in depth analysis of the story is here, this is the Cliff's Notes version with a slightly different focus.

In 1987, a group of sci-fi/fantasy fans start a convention for like-minded heads in Atlanta, Georgia, called Dragon Con.  Among these people is a fellow by the name of Edward Kramer.  It quickly becomes the premiere sci-fi/fantasy con in the US, but also becomes an Anything Goes time.  Despite attempts to present itself as family friendly, the rule of thumb says it all -- if you can't get laid at Dragon Con, you simply aren't trying.

The swinging sex aspect ratchets up as cosplayers get better.  Ever wanted to have sex with an elf from Everquest or Rogue from the X-Men (well, without worrying about her leaving you in a coma)?  Here's your chance.  And this apparently extended to Mr. Kramer.  In 2000, he was arrested and charged with molesting teenage boys.  He stepped down as an officer of the con, but his stake in the company means he still got paid.  $150,000 a year, to be exact.  In fact, he has sued Dragon Con to get a bigger share than that.

Kramer has since used the money to avoid prosecution on the charges.  A common tactic of his team is continuances due to his health.  They argue that he is physically incapable of withstanding trial.  Well, Kramer was apparently healthy enough to venture to Connecticut in 2011, where he was arrested for bond violation while staying in a motel room with a 14-year old boy.

The whispers about Kramer are loud, and Nancy A. Collins, a famous fantasy author, decided she'd had enough.  She called for a boycott of Dragon Con, since the money goes to help a pedophile elude justice.

The response was staggering.  Many people started shouting down Collins, saying she was making shit up, that she had a vendetta, and attacking her for saying what she was (if I recall correctly, and I don't believe I'm wrong about this although I might be, among the people joining in the verbal mob action was the host of the costume skit competition, one Mister Peter Alan David).  A few individuals supported Collins publicly, such as artist Dave Dorman (not a fan of his work, but I love the man), who was also white knighting her and has publicly refused to attend Dragon Con despite all the money he gets there.  Steve Bissette was another of Collins' advocates.  But the excuse making and dodging drowned out Collins' voice.

On January 22 of this year, the Atlanta police apparently decided that, if Kramer was well enough to go to Connecticut, he's well enough to stand trial.  The police used that as the basis to charge Kramer with parole violation and have thrown him in the slammer.

All the critics of Collins have gone suddenly quiet.  Oh, there's a few.  There's always a few.  But their numbers have dropped like the NASDAQ.  Collins wrote on her Facebook page:

"All you have to do is publicly declare you will never attend DragonCon again as long as Edward Kramer profits from the convention.

"DragonCon has had over 12 years to sever ties with this man, but has failed to do so. Although the convention’s chairman has bought enough shares from Ed Kramer to qualify as the controlling shareholder, Kramer refuses to be bought out. No matter what DragonCon does or says, funds from the convention will continue to go to Edward Kramer until either he dies or the corporation that runs the convention dissolves and reincorporates under another name. DragonCon knows what needs to be done, but has been dragging its feet on this matter, and has gone to great trouble over the last 12 years to hide the fact that they continue to fund Edward Kramer’s lifestyle. But now the cat’s out of the bag (in large part due to Kramer’s own decision to sue them for a larger share of the convention’s profits) and there’s no putting it back in."

Steve Bissette chimed in with:

"Now that there are public confirmations and articles vindicating Nancy and everything Nancy has been battling to warn folks about, the worm(s) are turning—though she has yet to receive a single public (or private) apology from the many professionals who maligned her and her work in defending DragonCon and its association with Kramer."

Dragon Con today issued a formal statement in response to Collins' call to action.  It reads:

"There has been a great deal of discussion as of late in the community regarding our continued financial connection to Edward Kramer. Please know that we are as troubled by this circumstance as anyone else, but please also know that there is no simple, legal, solution to this matter...if there were, it would have been resolved long ago.

"For the record, Edward Kramer resigned from the Dragon*Con convention in the year 2000. Since that time, he has had no role in the direction or management of the convention; however, he remains a stockholder despite our desires otherwise.

"Since Edward Kramer's arrest in 2000, we have made multiple attempts to sever all ties between Edward Kramer and Dragon*Con including several efforts to buy Edward Kramer's stock shares. Unfortunately, Edward Kramer's response to our buyout efforts was repeated litigation against Dragon*Con...thus our buyout efforts have been stalled. The idea proposed of dissolving the company and reincorporating has been thoroughly investigated and is not possible at this point. Legally, we can't just take away his shares. We are unfortunately limited in our options and responses as we remain in active litigation.

"The current flood of 'information' about this litigation appears to have been taken from the multiple lawsuits against Dragon*Con filed by Edward Kramer and his lawyers (i.e., Edward Kramer's arguments and allegations, not documented facts). To our dismay, much of this misinformation is being quoted as pure fact despite the reality that a court of law determined that many of the facts and figures provided by Mr. Kramer in his law suits were false, inaccurate or completely fictitious.

"It is our sincere hope that the end is in sight and that the upcoming trial(s) in Gwinnett County will provide a resolution of Edward Kramer's guilt or innocence, and therefore a cause of legally divorcing ourselves from him once and for all.

"Since 2000, Dragon Con has been managed by three of the original co-founders, Chairman Pat Henry and board members Dave Cody and Robert Dennis. In that time the convention attendance has grown from less than 10,000 to over 52,000 fans. Our goal has been and will continue to be, to provide the greatest fan driven science fiction/fantasy convention in the world.

"We do hope that everyone understands that due to past, present, and possible future lawsuits we find ourselves unable to comment further on any matters concerning Edward Kramer. Please do not construe any future silence on the matter as a lack of concern on the part of the Dragon*Con staff and more specifically, our board of directors.

"We will continue to strive to provide the best possible experience for our attendees, volunteers, partners and invited guests alike.

"We are, and will remain, for the fans, by the fans."

And I am, and will remain, someone who will never endorse Dragon Con.  It took them this long?  And it sure sounds like they are admitting Collins had a point, but they were silent as she was pilloried.  Until they ditch Kramer and get on some knee pads to apologize to Collins, I join this boycott as a creator, as a fan, and as a human being.

When I see Dorman at C2E2 this year (we have a mutual friend), I'm going to give him a hug for keeping up the good fight and standing by his friend.  And pray that Kramer is no longer able to escape judgment.