Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G
sinetimore

After Action Report: The Kankakee Fantasy Con

Well, here we are in Kankakee, Illinois, at the Kankakee Public Library (SEVEN STORIES TALL!!!) for the second Kankakee Fantasy Con. The first year had over 500 attendees, although the biggest memory I have of the day was how the last hour was spent taking shelter from the tornado siren. A tornado touched down in St. Anne, and the twenty mile rule kicked in. We took shelter on the ground floor, so I was waiting out a tornado siren in a place with upholstered chairs, a coffee bar, and a ton of books to read, so no bitching on my part. Some of the artists even talked about making T-shirts that read, “I survived Kankakee Fantasy Con 2011!” (Last year was also interesting because it was the first time someone shoplifted stuff from my table. Hooray for firsts, I guess?)

Last year, part of the fun was trying to find a parking space. There's a farmer's market right across the street. Cars for it park in the library parking lot, and cars for the library park in the farmer's market lot. It's almost Aristotelian in its symmetry. I got lucky and snuck into a space last year when I arrived at about quarter to ten. I was going to gamble that I would have better luck if I got there close to the stated set up time of 800. I got there at 802 (which is astonishing for me). The library proper was closed, but the executive entrance was unlocked. I couldn't remember what floor the con was on. I jumped on the elevator by the atrium, and hit “7”, figuring I would eventually see the floor. When I saw lights on and comic boxes through the windows of the fourth floor, I knew I had found it.

Like last year, the con was held on the fourth floor of the building, spreading across two rooms. Creators were spread between the two, but dealers were pretty much in the one room. There weren't as many creators as there were last year. Back then, there was so many creators, the tables were almost right against the walls to make space. This year, plenty of room and the tables were further out, I could have brought my easel to hold my Sound Waves poster instead of setting it on the window ledge. Last year had names like Tim Seeley and Gene Ha and Franchesco! This year, folks like Lonely Robot, Unshaven Comics, and me, your friendly neighborhood manga-ka. It's kind of a shock when you realize you are considered one of the biggest names in the room.

Not only were the number of comic creators and dealers smaller than last year, but it seemed attendance was smaller as well. The start of the day was slow, it picked up about midday, then slowed to a crawl about two hours before the end. No complaints from me, it made the place a little more intimate instead of “blink and you'll miss something.” How did I do? Sold one set of Hannah Singer books, two sets of Red Riding Hood, and four different issues of Sound Waves and a first issue of Red Riding Hood. Day is in the black. Also got two Snickers bars (trades for Doctor Whooves – Cloud Strife). One of the things the library did to try to get people to visit as many people as possible was a bingo card. It has the names of different creators, and people go around to collect signatures and possibly win a prize. Not a bad idea.

As I said, the dealers room had some spillover from the creators room, including the folks from Unshaven Comics and P.I. Jane. Decapitated Dan, founder/operator of DanCon, was there selling his wares. Two rooms were set up for tabletop gaming, and another room was set up for video gaming. They had an Xbox 360, a couple of PS3's, a couple of PS2's, an N64 (!), a Dreamcast(!!), and an 8 bit Nintendo (!!!) -- kids were getting their asses handed to them by Contra. I said I should have brought my Atari 2600. That just got blank looks.

My table was right next to the Chicago Jedi (www.chicagojedi.com). I was next to them last year (they were squatters and the table next to me was open). The head of it, Boom Darklighter, apparently used to work for Jim Shooter at Marvel (ya wanna know some interesting stuff about the New Universe? Talk to her). They were the hit of last year's con. The library had set up panels on the history of the Marvel Universe and such, and the response was...well, lukewarm. The Jedi, though, were hits. This year, the library set up two demonstrations at 1100 and 1400 for them to strut their stuff.

When not pitching my wares to attendees, I found myself wrapped in conversation with one of the Chicago Jedi. He noticed the Twilight plushie (which, to be fair, I did place prominently), but the Doctor Whooves fan comic really caught his interest. Turns out he was a brony. We had a lot of fun talking about favorite episodes and favorite lines like “I just don't know what went wrong!” He was unaware of the Save Derpy campaign and I brought him up to speed on it.

I was sitting across from Chris Brault and Andrew Winkel. The two of them collaborated on Raceboy And Super Qwok Adventures (Winkel wrote the prose, Brault drew accompanying illustrations). They were bedtime stories Winkel made up for his two sons based on superhero personas they created. Brault had hit the dealers room and found a Transformers Grimlock. He went on and on about what perfect condition it was in, then looked at me and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, I'm just geeking out,” he said.

I pointed to the Twilight plushie on my table and asked, Do you really think you need to apologize to me for geeking out about anything?

Also met Romel at huddtv.com. He creates videos and hosts them for creative types for their comics and so on.

Ran into Anthony Feinman. His dad, Myke Feinman, showed me the ropes of shoestring publishing back in 1992. Anthony took up the Ink And Feather Comic mantle his dad started. We talked about his experiences, especially with C2E2. Anthony has tried getting an Artist Alley table the last two years, and was rejected each time, although they did offer him a small press booth. From what he was saying, it sounded to me like C2E2 is trying to angle the Artist Alley to a place of people who do sketches rather than just publishing books or prints. Myke Feinman also eventually turned up, and it was great to see him again. Myke is mostly focusing on writing prose now, but he was thrilled to see I hadn't given up all those years ago. I told him about my successes with publishers, getting in comic shops one time, and other stuff. Good to see him again.

So the day was quiet, fun, good company, and enough jingle in my jeans for some chicken wings. Peter G is signing off.

Tags: art, comic books, comics, fandom wank, haven't we suffered enough, i'll drink to that, red riding hood, sound waves, technology is a beautiful thing
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