Comic Non-Sans: Interview with Onezumi Hartstein

Oni and Harknell, the husband-and-wife team behind Intervention.

Last year, I was fortunate to be one of the inaugural guests at Intervention, a webcomic and Internet culture-centric con run by Onezumi Hartstein and James Harknell.  The first year included guests such as Phil Kahn, T Campbell, David Willis, and shows by Cosplay Burlesque and Super Art Fight.

Geeking Out About took a few to sit down with Onezumi and find out about Intervention’s past, present, and future — and what exactly goes into starting up and running one’s own convention.

GOA: So, what exactly is Intervention?

Onezumi: We are a convention that is here to intervene and inspire people to make webcomics and other geeky creative pursuits like blogging, podcasting, and geek music. We are half conference, half fandom convention, and have the event scope of a large Anime con.

You can learn how to make fun things and put them online from the pros who are doing it, or participate in our Humans Vs. Zombies LARP, Vampire LARP, Video Gaming, Board Gaming, watch Cosplay Burlesque, Super Mario Brothers Belly Dancers, listen to some live Geek Rock, win prizes, go to a geeky Steampunk and Goth/Industrial dance club, meet the employees of ThinkGeek.com, or make some arts, crafts, and science with your child in our Children’s Track.

GOA: What in particular made you decide to start up a convention like this?

Onezumi: Comics, and the ability to use the internet to reach my audience changed my life for the better and helped me become a better person. Starting this convention is my way of giving back to the community that helped me so much. We all believe so much in what we are doing and it shows in the quality of the event.

GOA: What criteria help you decide which artists and writers are guest material?

Onezumi: They have to respect their fans and want to work with us to make the event the best it can be. Sending us a pitch telling us about your work and what you think you can bring to the event is a good way to get noticed. Attending this year and talking to us is another way.

GOA: What are the best and worst things about running your own convention?

Onezumi: The fact that it’s my convention with all of the responsibility is both the best and the worst thing.

GOA: What did you learn in Intervention’s first year that’s helped you plan for this year?

Onezumi: The event ran really smoothly last year, so just small things like buying a better payment system, knowing how many program books we should print, and expanding staff in certain areas.

GOA: What changes and additions are being made to the programming? Anything particularly awesome?

Onezumi: New this year is a Video Gaming Room and a Childrens’ Programming Track that is designed by our staff K-12 Art Teacher Corinne Simmers, Helene and Brian McLaughlin of GeekMom and NASA, and Matt Blum of Wired.com/GeekDad. People asked us last year for programming for the whole family, and we were listening. Some of the Childrens’ stuff is so cool I want to pretend I’m 8.

GOA: What sorts of changes are you hoping to make in the years to come?

Onezumi: I want to be able purchase cameras to record more of the programming for posting on our website as a year-round resource. We are recording a lot, but the equipment we have so far isn’t quite good enough to do it the way it should be done. I’d also like to be able to financially support more of the types of programming that has been suggested, and perhaps offer some sort of scholarship to promote indie creativity/digital publishing.

GOA: So, tell us the craziest thing (for better or for worse) that happened at the first Intervention.

Onezumi: A new Mom and Dad entered the Humans vs. Zombies LARP with their newborn in a baby carriage. They’d push the carriage out like a horror movie and people would come and look at the baby which would immediately turn them into a zombie. Baby Zombie ended up winning MVZ (Most Valuable Zombie) and everyone is still talking about it. I hope they come back this year with Baby Zombie.

GOA: If you had to convince someone to come to Intervention in one sentence, what would you say?

Onezumi: If you miss going to Intervention this year, all of your friends who went and had an awesome time will mock you online for the rest of the year.

After the interview, Onezumi summed up her feelings on running a convention on her personal Twitter:

Planning a con=being on a butter-covered bus. You have to be organized or it’ll fall off your butt &you’ll have to use a sad horse instead.

Intervention ’11 takes place September 16-18 at the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville in Rockville, MD.  For more information and to register, visit InterventionCon.com.  See you there!

Posted on August 23, 2011 at 01:00 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Events, Eyes and Ears, Interviews, The Written Word, Webcomics, Webcomics