Back from Salt Lake City ComicCon

I just had my 11th and final convention of the year. Salt Lake City ComicCon was nuts (in a good way). I haven’t seen official numbers yet, but people were talking about at least 130,000 people. I can believe that. I’m totally fried. I did DragonCon, Rose City ComicCon, and SLCCC back to back. Plus, I picked up some form of con crud at Rose City, so I started Salt Lake under the weather. I still had a great time.

The con staff did a great job managing such a huge event. The volunteers were fantastic. Blake Casselman had the impossible job of managing a zillion panelists and herding cats, and he still pulled it off. This was a very smoothly run con. The guest list was impressive. The panels were fun. And the fans were having a great time.

However, my adventure with late flights and missing luggage after DragonCon, I am reminded that the single best thing about Salt Lake ComicCon is that I can drive an hour home every night and SLEEP IN MY OWN BED.

For the first couple of SLCC’s I didn’t have a booth. I was offered one, but turned it down. For writers it sucks to sell your own books at a convention. That means you are trapped, and you have to have help to run it or you can’t ever leave to be on panels, and then you’ve got to mess around with all that pesky inventory/sales stuff. Basically it is a huge pain.

Luckily, Kevin J. Anderson started the Wordfire Press booth that travels around from convention to convention. Kevin invites in a bunch of other authors, and his people take care of all that pesky business stuff for us. It’s a life saver. Over the last couple of years, the Wordfire booth has turned into a sort of Author Super Booth. For example, this year he had authors like Jim Butcher, Terry Brooks, and Bob Salvatore signing there. Plus, having so many authors in one spot makes it a destination location, where otherwise your solo author booth might get overlooked in the sea of humanity.

I started with a full size table, stacked full of books, and boxes underneath. By day 2 I was raiding my personal home book stash to replenish sold out titles, and by day 3 I was sold out of the first book in three different series and only had a handful of books left. I don’t know if this is the most books I’ve ever sold at one event (it is hard as the author to tell, because you don’t always know which books the fans bought there versus what they brought in with them) but if it wasn’t, it was damned close.

I was next to a bunch of cool authors like Dave Butler, Steve Diamond, Julie Frost, Peter Orullian, and Chuck Gannon. Steve and Julie are both on their first novels and they sold out. (actually the three closest to me had been, or are scheduled to be Book Bombed, and I’m the cover blurb for two of them). One nice thing about the Super Booth is that you’ll get a better known author next to somebody starting out. As one of the established types, it is a lot of fun because as you’re making conversation with a fan who already has all your stuff, you can refer them to other things that they might like. It works really good for the newer authors. Oh, you like the noir detective aspect of Grimnoir, check out Quincy Allen’s Chemical Burn. Urban Fantasy, check out Josh Voght’s Enter the Janitor (great title by the way). Oh, you like the TV show Supernatural? Ramon Terrell was one of the authors in our booth and his other job is being an actor and he got murdered on that show. Boom. Hooking up new readers with authors they might like is a really fun part of my job.

Basically, I shook hands for three straight days. I’d take a break to go be on a panel, then I’d come back and meet more fans. It very rarely let up. I was talking to fans continually.

slcc tat

Speaking of the fans, I’ve got the absolute best fans ever. I’ve just got to say that. I truly do love you guys. You’re freaking awesome. And this weekend I got to speak to hundreds of you. I got letters, fan art, and people were in cosplay from my books.

SLCC cosplay

I had a Green Beret’s wife come by to pick up signed copies of everything. Her husband is a huge fan, and was currently deployed to an undisclosed location doing badass stuff to bad people. He recorded a video for her to play for me, and gave me a unit hat. That was neat, but even cooler, while I was signing her stack of books, somebody else standing in line had heard her story, and paid for all of her books while she wasn’t looking. Just to say thanks for her husband’s service, and then he walked away, anonymous. I didn’t even know until I got done signing, and Steve Diamond leaned over and said, yep, these are all already taken care of. She teared up. Because fans are awesome people like that.

No matter how busy I was, if I am ever in danger of pride, all I had to do was look at Butcher or Brooks’ signing lines, that literally stretched across ten aisles, to be put in my place. Holy crap. I’m a pretty successful author, but Jim does what I do, with another zero on the end of everything.

Speaking of Jim, several of us writers put together a game night. We played Fiasco, which is a perfect, silly, stand-alone RPG for one-off events. Think of it like a Cohen brothers movie, where everything is odd and goes sideways. Ours was like the movie Fargo. Poor Jim ended up as the only decent human being in the cast (a Mexican Catholic priest and champion of SOCIAL JUSTICE I kid you not, thank you so much Fiasco’s random complication tables). But don’t worry, after Jim was horribly injured when Steve and Allen blew up the meth supplies hidden in the basement of his church, Peter and I burned down the local Walmart to avenge him. Yes. It was that sort of game.

I was Krasnov! Russian mafia boss turned witness protection Subway manager, who teamed up with Kitty Krell’s Maria the Social Justice Warrior to rob my drug dealing business associate, Paco Kerplanskly. Chuck Gannon was Danny DeVito, mob enforcer, who had his junk eaten by a rabid racoon. Steve Diamond was Paco the drug dealer, and when my attempt to murder him with Foamy the Racoon accidently targeted local farm supply salesman, Jim Kerplanskly–no relation to Paco–(played by Alan Bahr) who turned vigilante, to get revenge on Peter Orullian’s New Jersey arsonist Rocko, who stole the show, because Peter played Rocko as a sort of brain damaged Rocky Balboa spray tanned Guido pyromaniac ‘CAUSE THAT’S HOW WINNIN’ GETS DONE!

Yeah. I laughed until I cried. I can’t repeat 90% of Peter’s lines because my mother reads this blog. But for the rest of the con anytime two or more of us from that game ended up on the same panel it was only a matter of time before one of us slipped in the line ‘CAUSE THAT’S HOW WINNIN’ GETS DONE! Which is sort of like the theme for Salt Lake ComicCon in my brain forever now.

I was on a bunch of panels. One of the really funny ones was the late night Choose Your Own Apocalypse panel. This is a recurring panel which I was unfamiliar with, but apparently I have a rep for being fearlessly stupid at improv (I’m so glad that DragonCon first contact improve panel wasn’t recorded) I got drafted. Holly gave me the rules that morning, where three panelists represent three different factions, using audience participation to advocate for one particular type of apocalypse, and then I did absolutely zero preparation. 🙂

The three competing factions were the Buggers from Ender’s Game (represented by Dave Butler, who used all of his calm, logical, lawyer skills to make being bred like farm animals by giant mantis monsters not sound half bad), the Borg from Star Trek (represented by Jason King, who went in a surprisingly bible thumping religious revival direction with them… oh, you cunning cyborgs) and I got the Reavers from Firefly.

slcc apocolpyse

Apparently, I was born to play a Reaver, because for the next hour I used my Randy Macho Man Savage voice to explain the joys of being a cannibalistic heavy metal redneck. I may have also brought in Mad Max, Borderlands, and President Hector Mountain Dew Camacho for backup. “I think Reavers are having too much fun.” “I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE WORDS COMING OUT OF YOUR FACE MOUTH!” Anyways, I got to sing Bohemian Rhapsody, the audience had a lot of fun, and Reavers won the apocalypse, so that was pretty sweet.

slcc panel

Another panel that was really neat was the big Urban Fantasy panel. There were a bunch of super stars (and me!) on it. On the way in I ended up in the waiting room with the Neon Trees (because that is just how ComicCon is) and then I sat next to Terry Brooks.

slcc brooks

 

Look at that goofy look on my face. You can see the fan boy glee in my eyes. At one point I had to tell Terry that he’d written the very first fantasy novel I’d ever read, and introduced me to the genre. He was so cool that his response was “that’s what I get for being the oldest guy on the panel.” Then to make my already giant ego completely unbearable, when somebody in the audience asked something about how to make unlikable characters still sympathetic, Jim Butcher talked up Monster Hunter Nemesis and used Agent Franks as the example of how to do it. Groovy.  So yeah, that was a fun panel.

I really recommend Salt Lake City ComicCon.

 

Fisking the New York Times' Modern Man
Book Bomb Postponed!

44 thoughts on “Back from Salt Lake City ComicCon”

  1. Sounds like an awesome time.

    But Man, if I ended up with Jim’s rolls, I know I wouldn’t be able to resist playing the guy as Mexican Father Coughlin.

          1. I knew I should have had coffee this morning. SLCCC is SCLC if you delete one of the C’s and move another one to the number two position. I think.

    1. I will admit that if you aren’t good with crowds, this isn’t the con for you. There are a LOT of people there. They tend to be having fun, and are all super nice and polite, but there are still tons of them.

      1. Agent Franks is superlatively awesome. He invented gangsta gnome place kicking.
        I merely want to know when this sport will be enjoyed at Sci-Fi and Comic conventions.
        Cheers!

  2. It was a great con and so many authors made me happy. Great running into you and picking up Grimnoir 3, you’re right Blake is absolutely amazing. He took care of our panels with such personal care, was there to resolve any issues ans even dropped in our 8pm Saturday screening of Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog to make sure we had everything we needed and it was going smooth. Truly an amazing guy.

  3. Larry, you make the Con for us! Seriously! I know if you’re on a panel, it’s going to be interesting. Keep up the awesome work and come to all the local Cons you can!

  4. Jim Butcher knows what he’s talking about. In Nemesis you even made Jefferson and Myers seem sympathetic. (Which was distinctly uncomfortable. Please don’t make me do that again.)

  5. Hey, Larry, it was great to meet you there, and have you sign my Kindle cover. I have to thank you also. Jim Butcher told me the only reason he came was because you told him you guys would play Dungeons and Dragons. The Urban fantasy panel was great, and SLCC was a ton of fun!

    1. Yeah, when Jim’s giant line was there one day and I was walking along the hundreds of waiting Butcher fans I told them “I’m the one who got him to come here! YOU’RE WELCOME, BUTCHER FANS!”

  6. I wanted to say it was great to watch you work as listen to you do your thing. I genuinely learned from a group of masters this con. Thanks for allowing me to do so. I really need to find something Kevin and Rebecca write on this and say the same there.

  7. I remember (vaguely) the first time I met Peter Orullian, at the ’99 Chicago Worldcon. After knowing each other for all of five minutes, we decided we were twin brothers (no relation), named Non and Sakweeter. Then we spent the next 8 hours interrupting every conversation around us with completely random comments–not certain if anyone else thought it was funny, but there were a couple times we were literally rofloao…

  8. Glad to hear that fun was had and there are some cool stories there too, but . . . “who had his junk eaten by a rabid racoon” please tell me that in this context ‘junk’ means drugs. Please.

  9. Say – is that Kevin Hearne on the far right of that panel picture? If it was, (and it certainly looks like him,) seeing the two of you, regardless of the other big names, would have been enough to get me out there… Had I known far enough in advance.

  10. So until fairly recently I was somewhat torn between which I wanted to focus on as an author: YA fantasy or adult fantasy. I read both, see, and have ideas for both. (I’ve even got one finished book which started as YA and got rewritten as adult.) Then I read this book by Scott Westerfeld (who’s a YA author with some good books) called Afterworlds, and a large part of the plot is about a young YA author entering the YA-author-sphere and hanging out with a bunch of YA authors. Those fictional authors are totally based on real world YA authors, because Westerfeld is totally in that group and knows those people. Thing was, though, while I was reading it, I was struck by how much I didn’t like those people and how irritating it would probably be to me to be in the same professional sphere as them. Then I thought about the adult fantasy authors I like, such as Larry Correia and Jim Butcher and Patricia Briggs, and thought that those were probably people that, were I to somehow become wildly successful, I would rather hang out with at author hang-out times.

    I mention this story because your description of your game night pretty much exactly illustrates why I decided to focus on writing adult fantasy rather than YA fantasy. (So yeah, apparently I’m geeky enough to make career decisions based on which cool kids I’d rather hang out with when I become cool.)

    1. There are authors that write both YA and adult fantasy. For instance, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books are aimed at adults. His Reckoners series, however, is aimed at young adults.

      The important thing is to get the initial publish out there.

      1. I have been hearing so much about Sanderson lately. I haven’t read him, but I have a few of his books. Will definitely need to read him very soon. (And I just realized that I actually met him at Comic-Con. My signed ARC of Steelheart is personalized, so I guess that means I did. I’m sure I’ll appreciate that fact a lot more once I read his books.)

        Yeah, it seems like authors tend to only stretch into a different genre (or in this case age group) once they’re well established. Which basically seems to require committing to one genre at least to start off with.

        1. When SF/F is involved, the line between Adult and YA can be fine at times. There are books that obviously fall on one side or the other. But Steelheart (which you mentioned) is one of his YA books. And yet most adults who are willing to read books with supers would probably enjoy it.

          In any event, write what you like. Then after you’re done, sit back, look at the finished product, and determine which side of the Adult/Young Adult divide you think it best fits on.

          1. Two things I learned as I got older:
            1) Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.
            2) Adults aren’t nearly as grown up as they’d have you believe.

            I’m still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m less than a dozen years from retirement age. I’m thinking of opening a winery.

    2. YA or not, if it’s a good story I’m in. Of course, I still reread Narnia every ten years or so … YMMV.

      1. Oh yeah, as a reader, I’m open to adult, kids, whatever, as long as it’s good and entertains me. But publishers, man. They really want to keep carving out readers in smaller and smaller increments. Which for new writers, it means we have to figure out which tiny increment of the reading population our book is supposed to appeal to. I feel like writers and readers all know that readers will read what appeals to them, but publishers really like their boxes. Like this whole New Adult thing that they all thought was going to take off and really just hasn’t. Not like they thought it would. IMO, it’s because that particular “genre” is way, way too narrow, as is its supposed target audience.

  11. I am Tattoo Guy(tm), whose right forearm is pictured above. I want to say what a genuine thrill it was to meet you, and as many panels of yours that my wife and I attended, I just hope you didn’t feel like we were stalking you — we’re both frustrated scribblers, and figured that our first ComicCon was as good a place as any to get some (relatively) hard advice from (relatively) sane authors.

    Oh, and REAVERS REPRESENT!!

  12. Thank you for making me laugh! I lost my job yesterday, and I’m having surgery on Tuesday. Needless to say, I needed that.

  13. No NYCC this year? Jerk. I saw you around last time but didn’t have a chance to say hi, and was counting on it this year!

    Curses!

  14. SLCCC was awesome this year! I loved the booth you were at. A lot of great authors were there.

    I had read alll the MHI series by checking them out of the library, so with the deal they were promoting at your booth I walked away with 3 MHI books that you were gracious enough to sign for me. You were the first author I got to meet and I was so out of it I forgot to get a picture with you. I had to track you down on the last day when it was swarming with people. Again you were nice enough to stop and take a picture with me. Thanks so much!

    I also attended the Choose your own Apocalypse, and I have to say the Reavers were the best! WE ROCKED!

    In the Urban Fantasy Panel, not only did Jim Butcher give you props for Franks, he also mentioned you having the best opening line of any book as well.

    It was a great Con and I was especially happy to meet my top three Urban Fantasy authors – you, Jim Butcher, and Kevin Hearne. Thanks so much! PS – I still haven’t talked to Ethan, but will soon.

    1. “Best opening line” is high praise from the guy who gave us “The building was on fire and it wasn’t my fault.”

  15. Brings back memories of when I used to go to SDCC. Sounds like a blast! And that RPG sounds like more fun than “Paranoia.”

  16. Reading this out loud to my hubby, I am so sad that we live on the other side of the planet now. This would be a con I’d regularly go to.

  17. Sounds like a great time. Would have loved to stop by and meet you, I unfortunately missed you when you passed through the DC area a couple years back. Quick question, who are the two people on the left in the Urban Fantasy panel photo?

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