Faces of Fandom: Dave O’Hare

Dave & Sal

Garden State Comic Fest co-founders Dave O’Hare (left) and Sal Zurzolo (right). Photo by The Daily Record.

by KT Pinto

 

I spoke with co-founder Dave O’Hare about the Garden State Comic Fest, a comic book fan event that took place at the Morristown Hyatt in New Jersey on Saturday, August 23rd, to find out a little more about one of the newest events on the comic fan scene.

KT Pinto: Can you give me a little history on the festival?

Dave O’Hare: Being a fan of comics and comic art, I founded this show and partnered up with Sal Zurzolo to put together a show for all. This show has been developed as a way for fans, like-minded individuals, and people that are just getting into the culture to come together and have a great time to celebrate their comic book heroes.

We try to put together a show that has something for everyone—from the serious collector to the casual fan.

KT: What spurred the festival committee to have a comic event so close (in location as well as time of year) to New York Comic Con?

Dave: NYCC is one of the biggest shows on the planet and my personal favorite show to go to. But New York is New York; I was born in Manhattan. But New Jersey is a great state unto itself; it has its own culture and such great people and fans. Other shows have been organized in New Jersey over the years (Asbury, NJCC) but none had ever been held in the northeast part of the state of this caliber. So we said why not? And we couldn’t find a reason, so here we are.

As for the time of year, well the convention schedule has been getting very busy over the years and we figured a month and a half before NYCC would be fine this year. It would give people a chance to have some fun as summer ends.

KT: I noticed that this is a festival rather than a convention. What differentiates the two?

Dave: Well, I look at a convention as an entity that has 5000+ attendees and goes on for days. A show is a couple hundred that is there for one thing (comics, toys, art) but a festival is something that combines it all like a convention on a smaller scale and [is] a lot less stressful. We want people to have a good time and be able to enjoy every aspect of the event without tripping over others, buying merchandise without having to be crammed and actually be able to talk to their favorite artists, creators, and guests to learn more from them. To get great pictures and really just celebrate the world of comics, stress free!

ComicFestKT: Has the festival grown in attendance?

Dave: Our first show was in January of 2014 during a snow storm and a week before the Super Bowl. It was put together in a little over two months and drew over 500 people. GSCF II, our official attendance was just over 1000. All in one year. We hope to have this continue as the word spreads.

KT: Where do you see the festival in five years? Ten?

Dave: We will never be NYCC size nor do we want to be. We want to establish ourselves as one of the best events around where everyone wants to attend, especially creators and guests. We never want to become an autograph show as many are now doing. We want to keep it real and just go for the ride for however long we can. We will continue to grow but will never lose the idea of what this is truly about: comics, people, and fun!

 

Faces of Fandom: Craig McPherson

CraigMcPherson

Photo by Craig McPherson

by KT Pinto

 

EL-who?

I have been able to witness firsthand the evolution of ELPunk from basically a one-man show with TRON-like gear to a rather large, organized costuming movement along the east coast. Which is why I was very excited to be able to score an interview with the somewhat elusive founder of ELPunk, Craig McPherson. That’s Craig in the photo above, modelling an ELPunk helmet of his own design.

KT Pinto: Please tell us in layman’s terms what Electroluminescent (EL, pronounced ee-ell) Punk is.

Craig McPherson: Electroluminescent Punk, ELPunk as it is more widely known, is a term coined by NYC costumer and event promoter Craig McPherson—me—to describe any costume, artwork, prop, or device which incorporates the use of electrically powered lighting. This lighting effect is often seen as a highlight or accent system to add color to these common items.

KTP: How did you get started in this hobby?

CM: During my stint in the nightclub scene of NYC (circa 1994–2014) I often received requests for presentations or commissions for science-fiction costumes and props. Be they movie replicas or unique devices, I took an interest in lighting systems for these items as it would always grab the attention and wonder of viewers. From the very first build I knew there was a great potential to show off one’s creativity with the careful application of light to mundane things.

KTP: Is it an expensive activity, or are there different levels of monetary participation?

CM: As with most things dealing with costumes, art, or props, cost can vary in the extreme. From simple ELWire outlines on a picture frame to add a glow effect to the picture (a few dollars in price) all the way up to ELLED and ELPlasma systems wired throughout 12-foot tall robotic suits (cost can range into the thousands)… Cost tends to increase with complexity.

KTP: How is this different from what cosplayers and ravers do in their costuming?

CM: With cosplayers you tend to find people building costumes with a focus on screen-accurate replication or personal builder creativity. EL effects can be added to those costumes in accordance with set style requirements or personal taste, but these effects will almost always be electrically powered in some way.

Ravers will normally incorporate glowing effects into their costuming using electrical, chemical (glow sticks), or phosphorescent (reflective or light-reactive paint) sources.

KTP: Do you think the geek/fan world is ready for another “punk”? Steampunk is still going strong; cyberpunk is hanging on by a thread; slashpunk is almost non-existent… Where would ELPunk fit in?

CM: A “punk” in the geek universe tends to refer to a genre or style which adheres to certain limitations and points of interest. Cyberpunk refers to the use or incorporation of cybernetic and computerized enhancements into the human body, clothing, or cyberspace as a reality. This also happens to touch on the idea of ELPunk as it refers to the use of real/fantasy lighting effects to enhance and highlight certain aspects of the subject. While ELPunk may reach into other genres and concepts, it is itself a powerful term used to easily describe a very commonly seen effect in science fiction and fantasy settings.

KTP: Are there certain sites/artists that you like working with to get EL parts? And why these over others?

CM: When purchasing large volumes of ELWire, ELLEDs and other lighting parts I will often do business with companies online, such as ELWirePros and CoolNeon. These companies will sell ELWire, ELLEDs and the systems for powering them at bulk pricing, with prices dropping drastically for large volume orders.

KTP: Are there any movies or TV shows that you recommend to get inspiration for ELPunk costuming?

CM: ELPunk examples can readily be found in many common science fiction and fantasy films or TV series. TRON, Star Wars, Star Trek are just a few very well-known examples which show costumes, weapons, and even individuals enhanced or covered with ELPunk devices.

KTP: What suggestion would you give for a basic, inexpensive ELPunk costume?

CM: Some creative people, who are easy to find online, in video or “how-to” formats, have created internet and world-wide sensations with builds such as Baby Stick Figure (a very cost-effective costume using a simple ELWire strand) or the dance troupe iLuminate currently slated for a run in NYC (off Broadway).

KTP: Does ELPunk have a following yet?

CM: ELPunk has thousands of fans, many from the east coast of the USA, who have seen EL costumes built by me. Some have been lucky enough to catch a New York Comic Con appearance, complete with Daft Punk musical soundtrack and sound-reactive EL lighting system incorporated into his costumes, or seen work-in-progress videos on his and other builder’s YouTube pages. There is also a growing FaceBook group, by the name Electroluminescent (EL) Punk, which boasts hundreds of members. There they post images, videos, suggestions, construction methods, and discuss the history and validity for various ELPunk costumes and devices.

KTP: Are there any upcoming events where people would be able to find you or your group?

CM: Currently, in the NYC area, ELPunk.com is slated to attend the Staten Island annual Art & Light Festival, LUMEN 2014 and the annual New York Comic Con 2014 shows.

KTP: E-mail/website/social media?

CM: To contact us at ELPunk, please feel free to email us at: avatar@ELPunk.com or find our group on FaceBook at: Electroluminescent (EL) Punk.

KTP: Anything else you’d like to add?

CM: ELPunk is a very wide-open term when it comes to your imagination. The options, styles, variations, and choices are nearly endless. From simple toy lightsabers, as seen in Star Wars, to the complex suits worn by characters in the TRON movie and TV series, ELPunk lighting is a great way to express individual creativity and catch the notice of fans, passers-by, the media, and other costumers. ELPunk is about personal style. Make it yours.

ELbasket

Watermelon-shaped picnic basket enhanced with LED wire for an ELPunk effect. Photo by Craig McPherson.

 

Faces of Fandom: Christopher J. Garcia

Chris Garcia

Illustration by Michael D. Pederson

by Chris Garcia

 

Over the past few years, Chris Garcia has been a frequent contributor to Nth Degree. He’s written short stories (as Johnny Eponymous), con reviews, and gaming reviews for us but now we’re letting him turn the white hot spotlight of public scrutiny on himself…

How To Be A Toastmaster:
My BayCon 2005 Experience

BayCon is the Bay Area’s largest, oldest, and most established SF Convention. Having attended the first one, and many off and on over the last 22 years, it’s my home convention and the event that really brought me fully into fandom after a lay-off of several years. For some reason, they chose me to act as their Toastmaster, running the “Meet the Guests” event and the Masquerade. If you’ve ever been to a large convention, you know that these events can be huge and facing the task of leading them is daunting. I got a chance to chat with last year’s Toastmistress, Esther Friesner, and 1999 and 2000 Toastmaster Kent Brewster, who both gave me great pointers. As a public service, I created a set of rules that anyone who is asked to be a Toastmaster should follow.

Be memorable and make sure folks can find you among the crowd.

Friday, noon. I’d arrived nice and early, ready to get down to the fun of the con. There was already a maddening crowd. A great many folks were milling around, and for some reason, there were far more young folks than usual. In the 1980s, BayCon was the home to a large crowd of young fans who would go on to become important to fandom over-all and this was like being back in those days. By the end of the con, there were more attendees than any BayCon I’d ever been to and one of the largest BayCons ever.

As I walked through the halls, I ran into Jay Lake (Writer Guest of Honor, 2004 Campbell Award Winner and respected anthology editor), Frank Wu (Artist Guest of Honor and 2004 Hugo winner), Andy Trembley and Kevin Roche (Fan Guests of Honor and well-known party hosts) and a number of other folks, all wearing fezzes made of purple. They had one for me. The rest of the convention, I walked around with my purple fez worn proudly.

Be funny, but not offensive or out of control.

As the day went on, we were introduced to a small crowd at the Opening Ceremonies. This was simple and small and no one had anything to say, though I did manage to do a spit-take for the delight of some (OK, mostly myself). After the Opening Ceremony, I had to prepare for the Meet the Guests.

If you’ve only been to the Meet the Pros events on the East Coast you probably have no idea why I was freaking out. Meet the Guests is an event where all the guests talk for a minute or two and the Toastmaster runs the show in front of 500 or so attendees. This year, the number was likely a bit larger, as there were no free tables and little standing room left. As I had to run the thing, I was panicking, though not nearly as badly as I should have been.

I walked up and introduced everyone, saying funny things that fit with the theme “BayCon: The Con You Can’t Refuse” (Sonny Corleone couldn’t make it tonight. There was some hold-up at a toll booth) and pointing out that Jay and I had once been confused for one another, which is easy to understand as we could both be described as Big Guys with beards and Hawaiian shirts. We worked the room and Chase Masterson of Deep Space Nine fame performed a few jazzy numbers as the place opened up for the Charity Casino. A late night playing blackjack and generally having a good time.

Always show up early and ready to perform.

With all the gambling we did, and a few late-night parties, I was dragging on the way to the early morning panels. BayCon’s best panel, “5 Dollars, a Time Machine and a Dead Fish,” was a morning panel and featured hilarious and brutal ideas of how to change history for the funnier using those three things. This was the first year I wasn’t on the panel, but the guys did a great job.

Sadly, I was nearly asleep the entire day. When I made it to the panel about MonkeyCon (the convention which is always held next year), I was tired, but we all managed to have a good panel. I even got to make Jay Lake sing for the entire audience. The other panels that were going on were really well-attended, with the young fans who had shown up all coming to more panels and getting more and more involved. They weren’t just there for the parties. The only downside was that all the Guests of Honor were scheduled against one another. That’s kinda tough, as we were all friends, so we would have liked to have attended each others panels.

Remember: The audience wants to like you!

The next thing I had to worry about was the Masquerade. As Toastmaster, I was given the option of MCing it, and for some fool reason, I said yes. We gathered beforehand with all the judges for dinner and I was seated next to a lovely young thing who was working as the runner for the judges. We chatted and ate and then I headed into the Green Room, where I got to see the costumes before anyone else.

And they were magnificent.

A brilliant British Admiral’s costume, an amazingly cute Ewok and mermaid, and the best was Jem & The Holograms along with Sinergy from the 1980’s cartoon. All of them were great. I went about making sure I had everything right so I wouldn’t look like an idiot when I was doing the announcing.

Make sure you dress for respect.

I wore my tux with a Hawaiian shirt underneath. When it came time to go out there, I introduced myself as Entrant #0: Christopher J. Garcia as Evening Wear Jay Lake. Jay, who was in the audience, said that I did a better than passable job.

Make sure you go over every name you’ll have to announce to avoid messing them up.

I managed to get every name correct. Even the weird Celtic ones. Heck, there was even a Jwlhyfer that I had to work out, and I managed it.

But I should have put more into learning the names of the entries. You see, there was a word on my sheet for announcing that read A-V-E. Well, it’s obvious to me that you would pronounce that word to rhyme with Knave. I announced it as such and then she came and started singing. Started singing Ave Maria. I then realized my mistake and nearly exploded. I was trying to fight down hysterical laughter at how moronic I had been. I then grabbed the mic after she was done and said “that was Number 7, Ave” rhyming with agave. I was saved and made it through the rest of the night without incident. The winner was an excellent kaiju entry with two monsters that ended up dancing to SpongeBob SquarePants.

The night ended early, I was in bed by midnight, and preparing for my heaviest day of programming.

Try to interact with as many attendees as possible.

On Sunday, the place was jumping. It seemed even more fans were arriving every minute. I went to my panels and found myself stopped every few minutes.

“What’s with the fez?” they’d ask.

“I’ll tell you later” I’d respond in my best reference to Buckaroo Bonzai.

The Sunday panels were very good, including a panel on “How to Be a Villain” which included my dear pal Neil Zawacki who wrote the book How to Be a Villain. This was a fun panel with lots of the audience coming through with great funny comments.

I had to take a nap and ended up watching an MST3K Fanfilm on the in-room BayCon TV Network. I realized that I had nothing to do for the next few hours, so I settled in. Gen, the darling girlfriend, and Evelyn, her precocious daughter, came over and we had room service and watched Shrek which they projected on the side of the hotel. It was nice, and once Evelyn got to sleep, I managed to finish reading the National Fantasy Fan Federation Handbook and a few fanzines that managed to make their way into my hands.

Monday was a few panels, a few lunches, a nice chat with Frank and Jay, and that was that. This BayCon was younger, more vibrant, faster, harder-to-follow, bigger, louder, and more terrifying than any other I’ve been to. Having been Toastmaster, I’m ready to do it again, though maybe at a smaller con this time. The Guests of Honor for BayCon were the friendliest I’ve ever seen. I used to say that Steven Brust was #1 for inviting folks into his room for whiskey and singing at Conjecture, but watching Jay mingle and break it down on the dance floor, Frank talking to everyone, Kevin and Andy greeting everyone and making sure that folks were having a good time, these guys easily took the cake.

And I’m still recovering.

Above all, don’t swear into a live microphone.

And this is the only one of my rules I managed not to break at all.

 

Faces of Fandom: Alexis Gilliland

Alexis Gillilandby Catherine E. Twohill

 

Alexis Gilliland has been active in Fandom for nearly forty years. Nth Degree sat down with Alexis following a recent Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) meeting hosted at his home in Arlington, VA.

ND: As this is “Faces of Fandom,” show me your face. How did you become involved in Fandom?

AG: Well, I came to Washington when I was in the military service—to Fort McNair—and I got involved with the DC Chess League. I played chess and, early on, I found out about the WSFA and I went to one meeting but they met on Fridays. That was the same day that the chess league had their meeting so there was a conflict. So… I played chess and didn’t think too much more about WSFA. Then, I got married and started a family.

In 1963—two weeks after the birth of our first son—WSFA was involved with Discon 1—the first Washington Worldcon. I was working at the Bureau of Standards and my colleague Bill Evans (who was the treasurer of the con) said, “You’re a science fiction fan. There’s a World Science Fiction meeting this weekend here in Washington within walking distance. You should go.” So, I bought a membership and my wife and I and traded off pass for the weekend. It was a huge convention—800 people—and I didn’t know anyone. I wandered around and thought, “Oh, that’s very interesting.” A couple of years later, by which time we had another son, we got The WSFA Journal #1. They started doing those in Spring, 1965. By this time, with two kids, taking them to chess matches wasn’t really feasible and I was looking for something else. So I thought, “Alright, here was WSFA and it was a lot more infant-friendly than a chess match.”

ND: Capclave is coming up and your wife, Lee, is the Con Chair. Are you involved?

AG: I’m helping with registration and to the extent that I can. It’s always nice to have a reliable ‘second’ around. I ran conventions—six Disclaves (not the infamous year, however) from 1974 to 1978 and then I came back for one more in 1981. I had Asimov as Guest of Honor. We had 1500 people and one of the biggest Disclave’s ever.

ND: How else would you define your involvement in Fandom?

AG: Being involved with fandom takes many forms. WSFA has been meeting in my house since 1967 and the deal was that when I started coming to WSFA, they met in Miss Elizabeth Cullen’s house on Rock Creek Park. It was not as big or as exuberant as the current lot. We’d been meeting there twice a month and the group usually consisted of 10-15 people. Then, we went off to the New York World Convention and, while we were there, her little dog died. Her nephew put her in the Roosevelt Hotel, which was an old-age home. When we came back from the World Convention, we didn’t have a place to meet. So, they started passing around the meetings to different members. Sometime that Fall, we got our first meeting and we’ve been meeting on a regular basis in my house ever since—usually once a month. Once in a while, emergencies come up and we’ll either skip a month here or host two meetings in a month.

Overall, Fandom means you deal with people—you’ll meet people you like and people you don’t like. Some can be real pains in the butt. Some can be exasperating. Basically, however, it’s a social group. It’s people to hang out with, socialize with, schmooze with. There are usually two parties a month and sometimes if there’s a Fifth Friday, someone will volunteer to host a party without a WSFA meeting. I enjoy this group very much.

ND: So, let’s talk about you. From where do you hail?

AG: Oh, around. I was born in Bangor, Maine. In 1940, my dad was a professor of Chemistry at the University of Maine. He got his commission activated so that he went into the Army. Christmas of 1940 was spent in a Baltimore hotel room while he was looking to get settled. It was a really miserable Christmas. We’d moved, didn’t know anybody and the cat died. We lived in Baltimore for a while then moved to Texas, Los Angeles and Lafayette, Indiana. My dad got out of the Army and became a chemistry professor at Perdue University. I went to Perdue and got a Bachelor of Chemistry degree and was going on to Grad School when I got drafted. So, in 1954, I had to call it quits with my education.

ND: Did you serve overseas?

AG: No, that’s how I got to Washington, DC. I had applied for OCS, which took me out of the pipeline. Half of my company went to Korea and half went to Germany. Those of us who remained—those in Sick Bay and those like me who had gotten out of the pipeline—were just sitting around waiting for special assignments. I wound up going to Fort Benning. From there, I was sent to Fort McNair. Fort McNair sent an order around—they wanted one man from each company. My First Sergeant said, “Who do we have who’s more decorated than useful?” So, I went.

ND: From there, you moved on to being a family man.

AG: I was married to my first wife, Dolly (E. Dorthea Gilliland) for 32 years. We had two sons, Michael and Charles. Dolly passed away in 1991. Lee (Uba) and I got together and I married her on Halloween of 1993.

ND: Tell me about your art.

AG: The stuff I’m doing is pretty much calligraphic. The art is basically “in the hand”. The drawing is in the service of the joke. The drawing is very minimal but basically the drawing is the hook to hang the joke on. I started by trying to make witty drawings and wasn’t getting anywhere until I started making them talk and doing lettering. So, I was writing but it had to be very concise, very lapidary. You’re on a 3×5 piece of paper and you can’t fill it up with text. You’ve got to have the minimum text to get the joke across. Sometimes you have a drawing and you look at it for a while and there’s no caption. A week or two later, you look at it and say, “Oh! That’s what I was thinking. Who knew?”

ND: Who are your influences?

AG: Oh, a number of people. Bill Rotsler, Heinrich Klay—he’s a German artist. (Saul) Steinberg—I have a number of his books. He does wonderful things with line. It looks very simple until you try to do it. I was drawing before I could write. As soon as I could hold a pencil I was trying to draw with it. I found some of my cartoons that I did when I was in college recently. And I don’t think that I am any funnier now. But with all the practice it comes much more easily. I remember that I really worked on those. It took a long time to get where I was going using India ink and a crow quill pen. I now carry three pens (pulling them from his pocket)—the flair tip is for the heavy outline, the ballpoint is for shading, the Pilot pen is for the lettering. What you get is… (begins drawing while Lee’s noisy turtle creates a diversion) …here’s your basic sketch…Caption?

…here’s a little hair… a gray suit.

ND: Is there a joke?

AG: Oh, of course (draws a bubble and, um… joke).

ND: Can I have this?

AG: Oh sure, it’s a demonstration just for you.

ND: (Still contemplating joke) Let’s talk about your real writing…

AG: All told, I’ve published seven novels. I began by publishing two books in 1981. Those two novels were the beginning of a science fiction trilogy that we called the Rosinante series (Long Shot for Rosinante, Revolution from Rosinante and The Pirates of Rosinante). Following the first two books’ release, I won the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. My next three books were the fantasy trilogy, Wizenbeak. If I had known I was writing a trilogy when I started out, they would have been Wizenbeak, General Wizenbeak and Wizenbeak Rex. Instead, Wizenbeak was followed by a more flowery title: The Shadow of Shaia. Lord of the Troll-Bats was the third in the series. My seventh book was a stand-alone book entitled The End of the Empire. And I’ve had some short stuff published. But the market for short stuff isn’t what it used to be.

ND: Are you still writing?

AG: I have a novel in submission and I have a short novella in submission. The novella’s kind of strange and it’s been turned down by a couple of people but it’s still out there.

ND: What other honors have been bestowed upon you?

AG: I have four Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist (1980, 1983-85) and three FAAn (Fanzine Activity Achievement) Awards. I still have at least one of those statues around here somewhere. Randy Bathurst made a little sculpture of a stylized mimeograph with a can of beer on top of it looking shocked.

ND: Over the years, I’m sure you’ve seen many changes in Fandom. What changes stand out for you the most?

AG: It used to be that there was a little group of people and they did Fanzines. In order to do a Fanzine, you need a mixture of creativity and a certain engineering savvy and a doggedness to do grunt work like typing up your stencils. In those days, to do a Fanzine, you’d typed a stencil on a mimeograph and then you used correction fluid to correct your mistakes. Then you typed them over and then you took the stencil and put it on the drum and then hand-crank the drum to produce copies of one-side of one page. Times change. Today, you go down to Kinko’s and you hand them your pages and you ask for 50 or however many copies printed on both sides. There will be 12 pages and you want them stapled and the machine goes chunkachunkachunk and it comes out stapled. The machine does it all—when it works—and all you have to do is pay some money. The writing and composition is all done on computers. I did my first four novels in long-hand for the first draft. Then I got around to typing up the second draft. Going to computer from that was very liberating as it lets you re-order your paragraphs and pages so that you can put your ideas down—not the way you thought them out but the way they should be. So my first four novels—science fiction—were written in long-hand while my fantasy trilogy was typed on a computer. Go figure. Also, the Internet has been a big change. I hear there are five pages on the Web about me but I haven’t looked at them.

ND: So, you’re a scientist, artist, writer—quite the Renaissance man. What else do you do?

AG: I make very good deviled eggs.

 

Faces of Fandom: Robert Quill

Robert Quillby Catherine E. Twohill

 

Nth Degree recently sat down with con artist, er, freelance artist Robert Quill for a quick chat.

ND: How would you define yourself in the world of Fandom?

RQ: Well, I’m a published artist, but more than that I specialize in providing custom illustration directly to the members of Fandom… the fans themselves.

ND: Custom illustrations. How long have you been doing that?

RQ: Off and on since the late ’80s. I was always doing character sketches for my role-playing game pals. One day I decided to get a table at a local convention. I brought a portfolio and a sign that said, “Please Disturb the Artist.” It was a greater success than I’d expected, and I’ve been attending conventions to one degree or another ever since.

ND: A published artist—tell me more about the types of publications and the work.

RQ: I worked in the comic industry for about a year, on a very nice comic called Raven. I have contributed illustrations to many role-playing and card games, as well as magazines and graphic design in and out of fandom. It can be a tricky profession, because it’s so very, very fun and cool.

ND: How do you balance the “contract work” with the “ego work”? And I mean ego in a good way.

RQ: Well, good or bad, I certainly have one… just ask my wife (costumer Rae Bradbury) and family. But to answer your question—to me, it’s been a priority to make my way in the world with my art. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Lots of artists supplement their income with “day jobs” non-related to the art field. For me, that’s never worked. The good side of that is that I do what I love and make a fairly handsome living doing it. The bad side is that I don’t have the time, or maybe opportunity is a better word, to explore “ego art” as you call it.

ND: Tell me more about your day job.

RQ: Well, it varies. I do software interface work, Flash work, advanced web design. It varies with my clientele and their needs. That type of commercial or graphic design work constitutes about two-thirds of my income, while pure illustration makes up the remaining third. I expect the ratio to reverse over the next year or two so that the pure illustration work comprises the larger two-thirds.

ND: And that’s the work you find at conventions?

RQ: Yes. Some for individual fans/gamers/models, some for publishing interests, like we discussed before, some… well… in the adult industry.

ND: Gotcha. Moving on with our G-rated discussion… Let’s talk about cons. How many have you attended over the years?

RQ: Whoa… Anywhere from five to twenty a year over an approximately fifteen year period… So over 180 or so. Wow, that’s quite a lot, isn’t it?

ND: Yes, it is! Any cons that are absolute staples for you?

RQ: Arisia is a great, great con. Very consistent, well run, good location. Dragon*Con in Atlanta is wonderful because it’s so enormous, and the attendees are SO into what they’re doing. There’s a fantastic level of costuming and enthusiasm there. Beyond that, in my view, the quality of a given con will vary tremendously from year to year.

ND: What’s your most memorable con experience?

RQ: Well, for a G-rated interview I could tell how I met my wife: I was living in Virginia and I traveled about as far north as I ever traveled back then to attend Shore Leave at the Hunt Valley Inn in Baltimore. Rae was living near Boston at the time, and had traveled as far south as she had ever gone to attend the same event. She walked by my table in a fairly alluring and mighty tight outfit. I didn’t leave her alone all con until I got to know her and, more importantly, got her address and phone number. We were living 600 miles apart, both in relationships—each with varying levels of commitment—and we had managed to share a grand total of six hours together at the event. Obviously, it was fate.

ND: Beautiful… it’s an inspiration to other con-goers.

RQ: Indeed, cons aren’t for fandom, they’re for true love!

ND: How about your worst con experience?

RQ: One time I drove to Atlanta for Dragon*Con and I pulled into town without enough money to get me home. I had to count on a successful event—or I’d have to move there.

ND: Financial issues are common to many Con-goers. How do you deal with it?

RQ: I went through a period where I was focused entirely on the financial side of what I was doing. Every aspect of my approach to custom illustration was focused on profitability and it can be an insidious trap for artists. It may sound corny, but if an artist doesn’t care, I mean really care, about what they’re doing, their talent will atrophy, and that will show in their work, believe me.

ND: Let’s talk about your illustration work. Do you have a style that you’re naturally inclined toward?

RQ: Well, the subject matter of what I do is dictated by the wishes of my clients, not my personal preferences. That is, incidentally, why so few artists do what I do, it requires that your subordinate your artistic preferences for your clients. I have developed a sort of “default” drawing style that I drop into in the absence of other direction. Certain facial and body types I tend to gravitate towards.

ND: What kind of demand does the personal illustration work put on your time?

RQ: A tremendous demand. I’m the chief bread-winner for my family. Every hour I spend working on something “off the clock” hurts the household cash flow. It’s a question of building a buffer of time, so I can invest that time into more of what I want to do, in order to give that a chance to take off, and thus become all that I do. Did that make any sense whatsoever?

ND: No, but who’s really reading this, anyway?

RQ: Good point.

ND: You mentioned that your wife Rae is a costumer. As a supportive husband, how does her work affect your time at home and at cons?

RQ: I once was asked to participate in a panel aimed at those who are married to or dating a costumer. It was actually quite an informative panel and surprisingly well attended. What came out of that panel really sums up the issues involved with having a costumer as a significant other: 1) At least one room of your home will be consumed and ever-after exclusively devoted to their costuming habit. 2) You will be involved in the creative process, whether you like it or not, and finally, 3) You WILL be on stage, probably within the year. Resign yourself to it. It’s much more fun that it sounds.

ND: You tend to “garb up” at Cons. Would you say that you wear a “costume” or are putting on a “personae”?

RQ: Well, that’s easily your most insightful question. It’s a complicated issue. I wear different garb at different events. I’ve found that wearing garb, or some sort of distinctive attire, is good business. But, while I don’t feel my personality changes in the slightest, in or out of garb, it is true that when I’m wearing garb I look very different than I do in regular, daily life… and that difference does have an impact on the way some people interact with me. Cons are an accepting environment, where a person is assured that 90% of the people around them have interests and hobbies just as strange as their own.

ND: Finally, how can people learn more about what you do?

RQ: Check me out online.

 

Faces of Fandom: Rich & Nicki Lynch

Rich&Nicki2by Catherine E. Twohill

 

ND: Why Mimosa?

RL: Well it goes back to when we were living in Tennessee. We started Chat—the club ’zine for the Chattanooga SF Association. We did that for 40 months—before computers! We had to print it out and paste it up by hand.

NL: That got us noticed but we quit after 40 issues as the club had started to disintegrate and we really couldn’t do much more with the format we were under. Plus, it was tough doing it on a monthly basis with just the two of us working on it.

RL: While friends would help collate and provide articles and artwork, printing monthly was non-stop work. We tried to print eight or fewer pages but, toward the end, we had 24 pages. Chat was made up of author interviews, commentary, and continuing comic strips. All of that eventually led to burnout. We wanted to try something else that was a little less structured. We wanted to publish articles rather than be a focal point for news. So we decided to do more of a genzine and we started Mimosa. “Why Mimosa?” you said—back to the question! Well, we were still living in Tennessee and we wanted a one-word name.

NL: Something that was indicative of the south but not necessarily from the south—just like us.

RL: Kudzu was already taken and Julep just wouldn’t do, so we decided on Mimosa. It’s a tree, it’s a drink and, after Issue #25 while at the ’99 Worldcon in Australia, we found out it’s also the second greatest star in the Southern Cross, thus bringing the name back to the science fiction aspect.

ND: Okay, so… Why Mimosa?

RL: We were doing it for preservation reasons. There were many, many stories that were fragilely preserved in the memories of the older fans—many of whom have since passed away. There was a real need for preservation for some of these stories. That was one of the reasons we started Mimosa.

ND: How many years were you publishing Mimosa?

RL: January ’82 was our first issue so this would be our 21st year but there was a five-year gap between Issue #s 1 and 2. We published thirty issues in total. Once we got going again with Issue #2, we were averaging about two issues a year.

ND: How do you pay for it? There’s no advertising!

RL: Nope, no advertising. We paid for it out of our own pockets. We did charge per issue but near the end the price we were asking was less than the cost to publish each issue.

ND: Why no advertising?

NL: It’s a fanzine! You never have advertising in a fanzine!

RL: Well, some fanzine’s do, of course, to cover costs. But we wanted to be in control. We definitely did not want to make it a commercial enterprise with compromises. Plus, if you have advertisers, you need to stick to a timely print production schedule.

ND: Tell me about it…

NL: The same reason we didn’t take subscriptions, either! We never knew when we were going to stop it. If we took subscriptions, we’d be beholden to fulfill them.

RL: So, we never took money for more than two issues in advance.

ND: How many copies did you print for each issue?

RL: At the last part of the run, we were printing 500 copies and we’ve never done more than that. Early on, we printed about 200-300 copies each.

NL: Because we mimeo-ed them all ourselves!

RL: Up through Issue #16, they were stapled by us, too. After that, we farmed it out to a commercial printer.

ND: How have you recruited writers and artists?

RL: It’s hard at first, that’s very difficult to do. You have to start with the people you know.

NL: Yep, you lean on them heavily!

RL: You have to be a pest in a nice way. But nobody’s going to contribute if the product doesn’t look attractive and if it doesn’t contain decent writing. The longer you go the easier it gets as your reputation starts getting around. Networking at conventions is key.

NL: Every now and then, out of the blue, someone will say, “Hey, I’ve got an article for you.” Sometimes they actually fulfill on that promise!

RL: We were usually planning for 20% more content than we could print as often, work failed to arrive. We’re not paying people for their work so there’s only so much we could do.

ND: Without a formal print schedule, how did you set your deadlines?

RL: We’d let people know about three months in advance. Before email, lots of snail mail went around.

NL: We have people who don’t have email still! One fan in particular refuses to get email—and he’s a lawyer! Also, lots of our contributors are older.

RL: But that’s a nice thing about an open-ended schedule. We used to say we’d publish as soon as we had about 36 pages of usable material. After about Issue #12 or 13, the page count went up and up so that rule went out the window. Our last issue was 68 pages and one of our “Best of” issues had 108 pages.

ND: Let’s talk about your cover art. I’ve noticed that the two of you have been woven into the fabric, so to speak. What’s that all about?

RL: I don’t know how this trend started but, with the last four or five issues, all the artists decided they were going to put us into the cover.

ND: So, Mimosa’s taken that long ride into the publishing sunset. What’s next?

RL: Nothing.

NL: <laughing gleefully>

RL: Wait for the economy to improve, I think.

NL: Yeah, I was laid off in December. I was a software tester.

RL: We don’t necessarily have quite the disposable income we had before. My job with the Department of Energy is stable so we’ll be ok.

ND: If you didn’t have SF Fandom to define you, how would you define yourself?

NL: A quilter!

RL: That’s an excellent question and, to be honest, I really don’t know. When you’ve been doing it for as long as I have, it’s tough to say. Maybe astronomy?

ND: How many cons do you attend a year?

RL: When we lived in Tennessee, we’d attend about ten a year. Nowadays we attend the Worldcon, Midwestcon, the local conventions and that’s it. It takes time and energy. But we haven’t missed a Worldcon since 1988.

ND: How many Hugos line your shelves at home?

RL: This year was our sixth win. However we were nominated and didn’t win many, many times. Theoretically, we’re eligible for next year’s ballot but it’s probably not going to happen. In order to be nominated, you have to have something out by the end of the year and we ceased publication as of August.

ND: How long have you been married?

RL: This is our 30th year.

ND: Do you share your home with other 2 or 4-legged creatures?

NL: Yes, we have a cat named, of course…

ALL: Mimosa!

 

Faces of Fandom: Filthy Pierre

FilthyPierreby Catherine E. Twohill

 

You may be asking yourself “What’s a Filthy Pierre?” Is it a new drink? An unwashed nether region? A new wrestling move? If one was so inclined to have one’s own Filthy Pierre, how might one go about making it? Well, here’s a start: begin with a very bright, well-educated American, mix in some early exposure to SciFi, an interest in physics, a Parisian college experience, and a homemade musical instrument. And voila! You have Erwin S. Strauss.

Spiffy recipe aside, Erwin Strauss is still a long way from Filthy Pierre. Unless you’re a French college student in 1961 and meeting a “feelthy Aymereekahn” around the same time as the cartoon and movie Lucky Pierre made the scene. Ahh, you say, now it all makes sense. Sort of. OK, let’s move on… I had the chance to sit down with Erwin during Balticon 37. I’ll let him fill you in on the rest in his own words.

ND: So, give me some stats!

FP: Well, I live in Newark, New Jersey—downtown, across from City Hall. I’m 60 years old and single, no children.

ND: How’s the career?

FP: I’m retired. I retired at 55, well, really ten days before my 55th birthday as I had to one-up my sister who retired at 55 herself. I had really been planning to retire 18 months later and attend the WorldCon in Australia in ’99. However, my employer had other ideas about moving the project I was working on to Alabama. I decided that I’d prefer to not go to Alabama. Plus, at the time, the market was hot. I took vacation, crunched numbers and determined I could leave for good. So, off I went.

ND: So, clearly you had a career! What did you do?

FP: I was a computer consultant focusing on Business Process Analysis for both GE and Computer Sciences. I would talk to customers about why and how they did stuff and how they could do things better.

ND: Sort of a “know-it-all”?

FP: Sure.

ND: How did you get into SF and conventions?

FP: I really need to credit my mother who was an avid SF reader. She had me reading SF when I was nine. I attended my first convention in 1965—Philcon in Philadelphia. My interest in Fandom really started when I arrived at MIT to do my undergraduate work in Physics. By then I had the Filthy Pierre nickname so I kept it for Fannish purposes ever since.

ND: Did your interest in Fandom help in your career?

FP: Not really. I was not a career-oriented person. If I really wanted to be in Physics, I’d need my PhD and it’s all really competitive. It’s all about being one-up on the next guy and I’m not that competitive. I think it’s very difficult to be a practicing physicist—there are very few jobs out there.

ND: How many conventions do you squeeze in per year?

FP: Oh, about 12-20. Twenty was my max at one point. I don’t commit to going as I may not feel up to it. I tend to focus on the big cons like WorldCon, of course, and Boskone, Arisia, Lunacon, Philcon and [waving emphatically] Balticon! The con organizers know I’ll generally show up with my racks and ready to play my music.

ND: Your racks? Expliquer, s’il vous plait

FP: I’ve designed the racks that many cons use to display the abundance of free materials people wish to distribute. I’ve sold about twelve rack designs/plans to different groups around the country. I don’t know if they’ve actually built them. I’ll bring 4-5 to an average-sized con. I’ve got as many as twenty racks on hand to handle as much as a WorldCon can offer. Each rack breaks down so much that a couple of them can fit into a suitcase for easy travel.

ND: And your music? Is that an instrument or scuba gear?

FP: Oh, it’s my Hohner Melodica! I know some call it the Annoyatron or the Sonic Disruptor. It’s sort of a harmonica with a keyboard. Inside is very much like a harmonica or an accordion as it’s got brass reeds. Back in the day, Hohner made two different Melodica models. A piano player by training, I glued the 2 & 3-octave models together as I wanted as much range as possible. Over the years, I’ve added the cover and a hose and a little rig so I can put it over my shoulder and march down the street with it. Oh, and I’ve also added a bagpipe’s mouthpiece to the end of the hose. The hose blows the air through the reeds inside so I sit around hotel lobbies with my organ in my mouth.

ND: <blink>

FP: <smile>

ND: Got any good con stories?

FP: The funniest story had to be the ’74 WorldCon in Washington. We were rounding up a piano for a filk sing and it was at a multi-level hotel on a very steep hill where the lobby of one level led to the 9th floor on the other level. We wound up in the sub-basement of one building while trying to get to an upper level in another building. Hilarious. The saddest story was probably the 1983 WorldCon in Baltimore. They rented a DiamondVision projection screen for $25,000 and the convention went bankrupt. It took years to pay it off. The convention organizers all had their own ideas of what to do to make the con a success and, in the end, they were just twelve Cardinals in search of a Pope.

ND: How about a brush with greatness?

FP: Oh, one rubs elbows with all of the authors at these conventions. In 1966 I ran my first convention—Boskone 3—with Co-Guests of Honor John W. Campbell and Isaac Asimov. It was totally impromptu and was great fun! Campbell was coming up to speak at MIT and Asimov was teaching at BU. It was sort of a “Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland” moment when it was suggested that “hey, we can put on a con right now!” It was considered sort of an in-between con as we had been holding cons every six months but after Boskone 2, we planned to wait a year. The availability of Campbell and Asimov was just too great to pass up so we had an instant convention with 75 people in attendance. Another great “brush” was in 1976 in Kansas City. I grew up on Robert Heinlein and he was the GOH. He and Sally Rand (his own childhood idol) were judges for the Masquerade. I played my Melodica as a trainee bandsman from Starship Troopers and received a Judge’s Choice Award. I’d like to believe that it was from “Master Bob.”

ND: Hey, you’re published in Asimov’s! You’re a celeb!

FP: Oh, no. Not really. Years ago, I started publishing an “Upcoming Conlist” that [still] has its own mailing list distribution. George Scithers took note of it about 22 years ago and started including it in the magazine. It gets printed 11 times per year. I think I’ve been on Asimov’s masthead more than anyone else—save for Mr. A. himself.

ND: Well, on that humble note… thanks for your time today!

FP: You’re quite welcome. Would you like a picture of me with my organ?

ND: <blink>

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