As a newbie geek, a major event you learn about is the genre convention. When I started out, I thought it pretty amazing there was a gathering where you could leave your home and go to geek out with your friends or make new ones while enjoying the thing you loved.
The more I went to conventions as a journalist—first for Sequential Tart and then Anime Insider—the more I became interested in how they were run. It wasn’t long before I was volunteering first in the publications department, then later becoming a senior staffer in the guest relations departments of some East Coast anime conventions.
I’ve since returned to my roots as an attendee, but after being a panelist for six panels(!) at the recent CONvergence in Minneapolis, MN, I started to wonder: What’s it really like to be on the planning committee of a genre convention? What changes have taken place while I was “away?”
Picking up where I left off, I didn’t stay very long in the southern end of the Javitz Center because the one panel I’d RSVP’d for was in the northern end of the hall with the majority of the large publishers, game companies, and stores.
When I registered as a member of the Press, I had to supply my email address, presumably so that I could receive a confirmation that they received my information. What also happened is that as the convention grew new, my Inbox became flooded with press releases from those same publishers, game companies, stores, and individuals who wished to promote their panels and get members of the Press to write about their work.
Approximately 10 years ago, I used to go to a lot of conventions, like the San Diego Comic Con (aka “Nerd Prom”) and Anime Expo. In fact, in 2001, I think I went to six different conventions on two different U.S. coasts.
My most traveled year was 2003 when I was working for the now-defunct Anime Insider as an associate editor and went to the Wizard World conventions in Chicago, Arlington (Texas), and Philadelphia; my busiest year was when I was an assistant editor for Sequential Tart and covered Anime Expo all by myself.
Wheaton: This is the first time I’ve ever been on the stage with a fellow Starship driver. I have never shared the stage with someone who has also driven a Starship.
Burton: And how does it feel?
Wheaton: It feels pretty good. It feels like we could talk in a shorthand that no one would understand or care about.
Frakes: You wouldn’t consider being on stage with Marina [Sirtis, Deanna Troi from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”] being on stage with someone who could drive the spaceship.
Wheaton: I don’t think so.
Burton: She crashed the ship the one time we let her drive, didn’t she?
Frakes: That was a huge mistake.
Wheaton: That was a bad idea.
Burton: Right into a planet, as I recall!