As Programming Coordinator for San Diego Comic Fest I saw an opportunity to bring the process into the 21st century. A lot of conventions are still relying on email and MS Word:
Collect availability and panel ideas via email
Create a list of programs
Send this list in a Word doc to all the panelists with a pair of square brackets, , by each item
Spend days processing these docs by hand, figuring who’s interested in what programming and juggling the availability of over a hundred people
The bulk of the time is spent manipulating clusters of guests and their schedules, trying to avoid conflicts, and keeping it all in your head. But me, I like to crowdsource and I use computers to make my life easier. Here’s my process:
Release the schedule on a second Google Form to the guests. They manage their own availability. This is the step that saves the most time
Upload to Sched.org which handles future communications and all presentation.
That’s saves a whole lot of data entry. But there’s a lot of transitioning between mediums. From Google forms, to post-it notes, to Excel, to Sched, and email, email, email. Sched is good for presentation, but not for inception, and it could be a whole lot better at conflict recognition. I think there’s room here for a better tool. One tool to take the convention from conception through presentation with support for print.
Man, I thought it’d be cool to live in a loft and swing down on a rope.
At 7 or 8 I was all about Mork & Mindy. My first non-fiction book was a cheesy, 80 page, paperback biography of Robin Williams. There wasn’t much to it. What was there to say at that point in his career? “Robin grew up, went to school, performed stand up, and landed on a hit TV show.” But I still carry the memory of that book. Robin’s been there my whole life.
From Mork to the movies and TV stand up specials. I never had to follow Robin’s career, he was always there. A ubiquity that I should have worn its welcome. The rapid fire pop culture references in Aladdin should have played out after a single viewing, but I still pop in that DVD at least twice a year.
Like most stand ups he was public with his troubles. The manic performer had a depressive private side. Recently, there’s been money problems, then there was the Parkinson’s disease which comes with it’s own bag of depression. Darkness on all sides.
Robin: "I guess I want people to like me, I hate myself for that."
Mindy: "If you learned to say no you'd have a lot more time to yourself."
Robin: "Maybe that's the last thing I want."
Entertaining people was how he felt loved and valued. With the onset of Parkinson’s he must have felt those days were coming to an end. If he couldn’t entertain us anymore he’d lose us and have only himself. He’d always been giving; USO tours, Comic Relief and stories of him stepping into people’s lives, just to make them happy, make them like him.
It’s tragic that he drowned in a pool of depression so deep he couldn’t see we’d never abandon him.
It was an amazing Con. I learned a lot and got to see Con friends. Spike’s brain was ripe for the picking on Tumblr techniques. Accidentally wandered into the Grant Morrison Multiversity panel, scored a Map of the Multiverse, and turned it into Reddit Karma. Bore witness to a recording of Pop Culture Happy Hour. Possibly broke a toe on Saturday morning. Did that stop me from walking the Con floor for the weekend, fuck no it didn’t. Of course the one TV panel I wanted to get into left me standing outside, typical Venture Bros.
The Pro Lounge used to be a barren wasteland of free coffee and empty tables, but this year I met someone every time I stopped for a rest. I’m going to spend more time there next year.
The high point, what really recharged my battery: I asked Geoffrey Thorne about leveraging my novel work into comic and TV mediums. His said not worry about that, keep producing quality content and the work will find you.
San Diego Comic Fest 2013 is over and I have my life back. Let me tell you, after being on the inside of a convention at Assistant Programing Director I’m never complaining about a convention ever again, either as an attendee or panelist. I’ve seen how the sausage is made.
I landed on four panels overall:
Comics You Should Be Reading I did a similar panel last year and now I’m out of current comics to recommend. If I try again next year it’ll be “Comics You Should Have Read but can’t because the came out years ago and haven’t been collected in trade.”
The Implications of Supermen and Superwomen in the Real World was fun, but ultimately as futile an exercise as being a superhero comics fan. Steve Barnes is a very smart guy.
How Do I Draw This Which I was in no way qualified to be on, but none of the artists wanted to moderate and I knew enough about how comics work to keep the conversation going. Russ Heath’s hearing aid was dying so he’d answer whatever question he thought I asked, the guy is hilarious.
And then I filled in on Writing in Someone Else’s Universe where I asked Marv Wolfman and Nancy Holder about specific problems of writing freelance and their answers were almost always “You suck it up and you do it.”
While it might have been a financial loss for Google I think they underestimated how much good will Reader was buying them. It was a sign that Google was promoting an open web with a variety of creator owned sites. The opposite of the “Everyone get a Facebook page” attitude that’s turning the web into a Zuckerberg owned enterprise.
Yes, it was more popular among the tech savvy and yes, the tech savvy were less likely to click on their ads. But we’re the ones who help the rest of the population with these kinds of services. We’re also the early adopters. And after losing Reader I’m less likely to invest my time and energy in any future Google projects. At least Gmail is probably safe for now, as long as Google+ keeps flailing it’s the only thing it’s that keeps people logged into their Google accounts.
Well I’ve switched my feeds over to The Old Reader. At least for now. With no adds and no subscription I have no idea how their business model works but they are what Google Reader was and that’s good enough for me.
You’re looking at the first three chapters and prolog; 1439 pages at approximately 100 words per page. Handwritten because at the early stages of a story being one a computer is too distracting. If this were to go to print now it’d be about 56 pages in a book. But it won’t be printed. It’s not worthy. Because inside these pages there’s a meandering storyline that needs tightening, sentences that need restructuring, paragraphs that need tightening and spelling that needs some serious correcting.
But there’s some good stuff too. For one there’s a lot of action. Picking Up the Ghost was criticized as a slow starter. That won’t happen again. Also an ensemble lets me play with a diverse series of challenges and I’ve already started thinking about writing a series of short stories featuring members of the supporting cast.
In the meantime I’m going to take the weekend off to let the pages settle. And then on to the second draft, my favorite draft of all.