Nearly two years ago my friend James Bacon phoned me up and asked me if I’d be on for designing the comic book programme at Worldcon in London (known as Loncon 3) in August 2014. I agreed readily enough as I was keen to raise the profile of comic books at the event. Comics are still a bit of a newcomer to Worldcon – the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story was only introduced in 2009.
I didn’t realise how much work was involved, which was probably lucky for James, as I might have turned him down if I truly understood.
I now have huge respect for the Worldcon programming team (especially the techs who have managed its database). They have achieved a gigantic task with professionalism and tact. The programme has gone online today, and I’m really pleased with the result.
Just to give you an idea of the logistic challenge involved: there are 9,000 members of Worldcon, and 1,000 of them volunteered for programming. There are 600+ cross media programme items happening over the five days of the convention. The volunteers listed their areas of interest in the programme, as well as indicating what times they didn’t want to be scheduled, or events they didn’t want to be panelled against.
Plus, many of the people I wanted to use on programming were in high demand in other areas. I had to try to assemble a diverse list of panellists, while avoiding clashes with other programme items. Sometimes I couldn’t squeeze people in because they were already heavily scheduled, and you have to try and be fair with allocation of panels. Other times people dropped off panels because of various reasons which caused difficulty in re-assigning a replacement because of the panel topic or time slot.
And always we were up against deadlines: finishing the draft programming, adjusting the programme after an onslaught of email, and finalising the programme on time for the publication deadline. Even now, I have some minor changes to make due to extremely late line-up changes.
It’s a very difficult job, and I was only in charge of one department. The people at the top level – James Bacon, Liz Batty, and Ian Stockdale – had to oversee everything. There are way too many other people to thank, but I also need to mention Emma England, Spike, Niall Harrison, Mark Slater, Alissa McKersie, and Esther MacCallum-Stewart who have been particularly helpful to me.
I have so much respect and admiration for the trojan work of all the staff of Worldcon, who have put so much effort into designing an event for the enjoyment of others – on their own time and for no payment.
Here’s the listing of all the events in my area. Several of them are cross-programme items, and here they are broken down by panels, talks, workshops, and screenings.
- 11am Underground Comics Go Mainstream: Has Digital Distribution Widened or Saturated the Audience?
- 12pm Tove Jansson’s Moomins: Their Legacy and Influence
- 11am British Comics: Influences and Influencers
- 12pm Manga Evolutions
- 12pm Diversity in Comics: The Good, The Bad, and the Missing
- 1.30pm Best 21st Century Comics: Predicting the New Classics
- 3pm What is Art in the 21st Century? (Cross-discipline panel)
- 3pm Digital Comics (Academic track)
- 7pm Comic Book Networking: It’s Not Just The Interwebs
- 8pm Kapow! Best Comic Book Cosplays (cross programme event with costume/cosplay)
- 11am Revealing the Real World Through Comics
- 12pm Fresh Perspectives: Comic Books for Young People
- 1.30pm Old New Classics: The Off-Beat and Indie Comics of Yore
- 3pm Setting Up Your Comic Book Press: New and Old Models Examined
- 6pm From Page to (Small) Screen (media programme)
- 7pm The New Supers: How Superheroes and Superheroines are Changing in Comics
- 10am Vox Populi: the new voice of comic book criticism?
- 11am Writing and Pitching Comics
- 12pm In Space No One Can Hear You Ink: The Best SF Comics
- 12pm Comics: The Global Arena
- 1.30pm How Digital Art Techniques Have Changed Comics
- 3pm: Experimenting with Comics by Karrie Fransman
- 9pm Drawing the [redacted]: comics and censorship by Jude Roberts
- 12pm Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition by GoH Bryan Talbot
- 3pm Bryan Talbot:’How I make a Graphic Novel’
- 12pm Comics Jam Session with Sarah McIntyre! (An event for young people)
- 1.30pm How to Draw Manga with Inko (An event for young people)
- 2.30pm Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson
- Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot
- 1.30pm What Do Artists Do All Day? – Frank Quitely
- 4.30pm Comics Britannia – Anarchy In The UK
I hope people enjoy the comic book events at Worldcon!
But, they’ll have plenty of competition from the tremendous variety of events in the other departments: science, literature, media, television, gaming, young adult, WOOFA, music, art, video games, academic, and costume/cosplay. It’s going to be hard to decide what to attend.
Oh, and do download the Grenadine Event Guide app from either the iTunes store or the Google Play store (it doesn’t even ask for any sneaky permissions). Once you download it, type in loncon, and it will download the programme directly to your device.
It will sync with the latest updates, and you should be able to create your own bespoke programme – very handy for those of you on panels.
Please have patience if you encounter any glitches, and report them. The techies will do their utmost to resolve anything within the realms of possibility.