It’s all over… After months of anticipation WHC 2011 has come and gone and I’m left suffering from the serious ailment known as the post-con blues. After all the fun and excitement in Austin: making new friends and renewing old acquaintances, good-humoured bantering with like-minded folks and of course copious amounts of drinking, I’ve returned home and swiftly come back down to reality with a heavy bump…and it hurts. As always these Cons seem to be over far too soon and I’m left with fond memories, new friendships and the sneaking suspicion that I have to get back to something…ah that’s it – deadlines and more deadlines.
Rather than give a full account of the Con, here’s a collection of highlights and memories in no particular order:
Eating Crawfish (tasty but fiddly little buggers!) for the first time with Joe Hill and Louise Morgan whilst discussing whether there should be a female Doctor Who. Helena Bonham Carter anyone?
Getting to meet up with my email buddy, artist extraordinaire Chris Roberts, at last. Not only is his artwork fantastic, and should be featured in art galleries around the world as well as adorning book covers, but we share a similar sense of humour and is a totally cool guy to hang out with. Maybe even more importantly he told me of the existence of Bacon Fest…!
Getting to ride in the back of a Hearse limo three times – now that’s something you don’t usually get to do more than once… (Haunted ATX)
Meeting the ChiZine Publications crew; a great bunch of people who made me feel like one of the gang. Especially Helen and Laura Marshall whose wicked sense of humour and playful banter kept me amused and thoroughly entertained throughout the Con. Check out CZP’s fantastic looking books at chizinepub.com.
Wondering round downtown Austin with Chris Teague and stumbling across the Museum of Weird – the home to a motley assortment of bizarre curios including shrunken heads, the Fiji mermaid and freaks of nature.
Listening to Joe Hill read a chapter from his new novel NOS 4A2. Joe Hill fans are in for a treat – it’s going to be amazing!
Chatting with convention chair, Lee Thomas on the night I arrived about everything from British TV to American Politics.
Meeting artist John Picacio whose work I’ve admired for many years and serves as an inspiration to me. As a bonus I was even able to buy a copy of his art book Cover Story which he kindly signed for me. If you like art books, you must check this out.
Parties with margarita and hot dog machines and beer kegs, which I learnt how to operate for the first time ever.
Catching a couple of old episodes of Saved by the Bell one morning. It was one of my favourite sitcoms as a kid so it was a welcome trip down memory lane, but was the fashion really that bad back then?!
Being reunited with some of my British friends and FantasyCon regulars: Louise Morgan, Chris Teague, Gary McMahon, Jon Oliver and Will Hill and going with some of them (plus adopted Brit for the weekend, Chris Roberts) for a proper Texas barbecue at Stubbs BAR-B-Q, a heaven for meat lovers and the ideal place to satiate your inner caveman. I’ve never seen so much meat piled onto a plate before and as it was all-you-can-eat, it kept coming. It was so, so tasty but after the second plateful we were well and truly defeated and the next day I still felt like I had a whole cow and pig living in my stomach.
Hanging out with my pal, the ever entertaining and inimitable Rio Youers. If you haven’t read his novel End Times yet, do so, and keep an eye out for his forthcoming collection from PS Publishing which will feature cool cover art by my friend David Gentry.
Meeting Chris Ryall and Jeff Conner from IDW and Steve Niles; those guys create some fantastic comics.
There were also many other writers, artists, editors, publishers and horror fans I met, too many to name check here, so apologies to them for not doing so but it was a pleasure meeting them all; everyone’s always so friendly and a joy to speak to at these Cons. If you haven’t been to a Con before I’d highly recommend it.
All that, and that’s not even mentioning the panels, interviews and art show. I’m sure there’s a lot more I can tell you about and even more that I can’t… but I’d better round it off here before I get even more carried away than I already have with Con reminiscing that will no doubt bore all those who couldn’t make it, and probably even those who were there.
A special shout-out has to go to the Convention Chairs Lee Thomas and Nate Southard whose hard work in organizing the event lead to an extremely successful and enjoyable Con. They made me feel very welcome and looked after during my stay and I thank them for inviting me over to be a part of WHC 2011.
One last thing… Thank you to the random Finnish girl I met at Dallas Fort Worth Airport on the way to the Con, who kept me sane as we were rushing around like headless chickens trying to make our connection to Austin. Trying to make a connecting flight and going through US Customs is no fun at all!