(Crossposted with Der Übergeek.)
Finncon/Animecon 2009 ended yesterday.
It was made of win and awesome, with blood, sweat, tears, and toil.
Three days long, the convention called a total of around 15,000 visitors to the Helsinki Cable Factory. Most of them, of course, were there for Animecon. I was there for Finncon. While I do enjoy a good anime as much as the next man (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex rocks!), I’ve yet to find a manga I like and I find its fandom occasionally off-putting and have precisely one thing in common with its greatest demographic, the fifteen-year-old girl. This is the love of really stupid badges.
My plan this year was to relax and have fun, and try to actively avoid anything stressful with Finncon. I’m already organising one convention, I did not want to kill myself with work three weeks before Ropecon.
While I did not have a position in the organising committee, the fact remains that I know most of them. I’ve spoken about this before, I think. The science fiction fans around the Helsinki region are broadly organised into three clubs, the Helsinki Science Fiction Club, the Helsinki University Science Fiction Club, and the Espoo Science Fiction and Fantasy Club. I’m in the board of the last one and one of the three board members who weren’t in the Finncon committee. It’s slightly difficult to go to a con where all your friends are working their asses off and just hang around.
So, I volunteered to man the science fiction clubs’ stall and sell badges. Which I did for eleven hours. Then, at the evening party on Saturday, I volunteered to come in at nine o’clock next morning to clean up since there were some issues with staffing. Alcohol was involved.
There was also the taking down and packing up of the convention. I think I did a total of around fifteen hours of work, with little in the way of sleep or food, and a hangover for most of Sunday morning. My feet still hurt from all the standing around I did (I tend to assume a standing position when selling stuff from behind the desk. Better reach, better command of the area, better visibility.).
I tend to invest myself in conventions pretty heavily, and it always takes me a day or sometimes even two to really get back to normal life, to recover mentally and physically. I’ve spent most of today in a sort of mixed afterglow/shellshock. Conshock.
Incidentally, I am awed by the amount of work the committee had to put into that con. What we’re doing in Ropecon isn’t even close to the scale of Finncon/Animecon.
At our stall, we mostly sold badges. We offered fanzines and ESC’s books and Tähtivaeltaja, but mostly it was just badges. I’m not up on the specific figures, but if I took a conservative guess, I’d say 500. Everything else combined, I’d be surprised if we broke hundred units.
While it’s nice that the badges are selling, some of those publications are really good stuff. They’re funny, and our fanzines are as professional as magazines published out of someone’s garage get. There’s content by professional writers in there. A lot of it. There’s at least one Petri Hiltunen comic that’s never been released anywhere else (called “Goretta vs. the Giant Killer Zombie Tyrannopenguins”). One of our books, Hannun basaarissa, contains an Alastair Reynolds short story that for nearly three years was only available in that single book, with a print run of 200. The most recent issue of Tähtivaeltaja contains another Reynolds short story that’s not only not available anywhere else, but also not available in any language other than Finnish. Even the English original was destroyed.
To market them, we tried to puff up Petri Hiltunen (which sold two issues), offer gingerbread with the Christmas Marvins (sold one issue) and advertise the porn short stories of Emmanuel Arse (sold three issues).
Me, I bought two issues, Xmasparodia? Marvin and Marvinah, which date back to 1997 and 1994, respectively. There are a lot of back issues available. I also bought pretty much everything the Turku sci-fi clubs were selling, and, well, pretty much anything that looked interesting. It’s another con-related psychic disorder, con psychosis. It’s a tired state when everything is funny and everybody is wonderful and of course you have enough money for everything and it’s all so cheap, too. So, I picked up DVDs like Postal, issues of Kosmoskynä, issues of Sarjainfo, Marvins, badges, a hideous purple t-shirt, a mug of the Comics Society, a pile of old Forgotten Realms novels…
Yeah. A lot of loot. However, because I spent most of my time working, I missed a lot of the really interesting programming – a side effect of not asking for those hours free. On Sunday, when I did have time, I was too tired to actually drag myself to watch it. I spent an hour practically comatose in the sci-fi lounge, drinking water and generally not being a scintillating conversationalist. This was interrupted when the con organisation required a photo of my butt. Long story.
I did get to see our three foreign Guests of Honour speak in the On Writing presentation. We had a pretty impressive lineup here – while names do come bigger than George R.R. Martin and Alastair Reynolds, they don’t come much bigger. To get any bigger, it’s pretty much Gaiman, Rowling, Pratchett, or a proficient necromancer. The third guy was Adam Roberts, the guest of our academic science fiction study symposium thingy. Excellent speakers, all. Writers, too, though I must admit I never really liked A Song of Ice and Fire. It wasn’t a violent reaction to badness, though, so I’m giving his other works a chance. I’m especially interested in Fevre Dream. Then there was a copyrights panel, featuring Kaj Sotala, with whom I wrote Roolipelikirja.
One of the events I missed was the Destroy the Useless Crap auction, where people had the option of either saving or having the auctioned items destroyed, apparently with power tools. A friend of mine bought George R.R. Martin’s hat for a hundred euros. I am told a VHS set of Babylon 5’s fifth season got destroyed with a power drill. I can’t really say it wasn’t deserved.
The evening party on Saturday was great. This time, the restaurant had taken the forewarning seriously and stocked up, and we were saved from last year’s downer, when we drank the bar dry at Telakka, in Tampere. I counted around thirteen kegs of beer behind the counter.
The dead dog party was also excellent.
Oh, and we founded the Finnish H.P. Lovecraft Society.
Next year, Jyväskylä!