"Clay and Susan Griffith's Vampire Empire is Transforming Genre Fiction" Paul Goat Allen, BN Explorations.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The local convention in a global media world.

David and Goliath

We attended StellarCon in High Point, NC this past weekend, and it got us thinking about the place of the smaller, local convention in fandom. StellarCon isn't the smallest of cons; it's more of a medium-sized convention. We have no idea of attendance numbers, but it is small compared to the giants like DragonCon and ComicCon.

Conventions like StellarCon don't have the glitz and buzz of the super media events, but the local cons have a charm that you can't replace with seizure-inducing displays by gaming companies or panels complete with sneak preview footage of the latest upcoming blockbuster. Don't get us wrong, we LOVE the giant cons, but the local cons are about the fans. Fans who attend those local cons have an opportunity to meet and interact with both pros and other fans with an intimacy that doesn't often exist at the super cons. You can get your books signed without waiting in line for hours. You can ask a question and get an answer. You don't have to plan your whole day around standing in line to get in a particular panel. You can buttonhole people in the hall and chat. In fact, the pro guests are very available because a lot of the fans are really there to hang out with their friends, not monopolize the guests.

And since local cons tend to get their guests from the writing world, most of the programming is about writing and publishing. Movies, tv, and gaming haven't taken over the local con scene. These gatherings are first and foremost about reading. And that is really cool. People talk books. People buy books. People carry books around like they mean something to them.

There's room for both types of cons. We just hope that the smaller local convention stays around. They certainly seem to be thriving. There are new cons popping up every year. Some work, some don't. But there seems to be no shortage of people anxious to create their own con. They don't seem to care that ComicCon and DragonCon are out there. They must know that someone will always come along to fight the giant.


Paul said...

I agree that local cons are wonderful and a great way to meet people. In North Carolina it is even more difficult to find a great convention to attend because the audience here isn't accustomed to conventions like larger cities, it is both disheartening and also sometimes magical. The connection you talk about is something that reminds me of the early days of the punk scene in NC.

I also agree that it is wonderful to see people walking around with books as if they mean something. What will happen to "book signings" when everything moves digital? I love the idea of having a digital copy I can read anywhere but there is something about having a physical book in my hands that I will always miss.

I've just started reading your book and so far I've been pulled into the story. I look forward to reading more and yes, it is an actual book, not digital.

Crystal Cowell said...

E books are nice but I will always prefer having a real book in my hands.

Cathy said...

Have you thought of Steamcon in Seattle?

Clay and Susan said...


We're doing the Steampunk Worlds Fair in NJ in May, and if we do a west coast convention this year, it'll be ComicCon in San Diego. But we've heard great things about Steamcon and would love to come.