Every convention I have ever attended has included conversations with people who do not seem to be on the same time-space continuum as I am. This has been just as true at the journalism conferences I attended back in the day, or the evangelical mission conference I once attended, or any tech conferences, not just the sci fi, comics, gaming, or anthropomorphics conventions.
I realize that it is mostly a matter of statistics: a certain percentage of the population could be categorized as odd or downright crazy, so any situation that puts you in contact with a bunch of people in a constrained time will include some of them. There’s also likely a correlation between certain personality types and enthusiasm. In other words, the sort of person most likely to choose or agree to attend a convention dedicated to any topic may be more likely to be a few standards deviations out from the norm in some way or other.
Often after conventions I summarize some of the conversations I had with random people while sitting behind my table in the dealer’s den. I do this for entertainment value, and so have usually picked the silliest, weirdest, or just most dumb-founding. Which creates the impression that that’s all the happens.
Also, for some reason, there were a lot fewer of the really odd ones this time.
So, I think this time I want to focus on the more positive fun encounters:
Fan #38: Points to my t-shirt. “Hey, is that a pony? Which one?”
I lift my badge up out of the way. “It’s Derpy!”
Fan #38: “Derpy! I need a Derpy shirt! Wait, why does she have a muffin?”
Me: “Why shouldn’t she have a muffin?”
Fan #38: “No, no, no! Derpy should have a chocolate chip cookie!”
Me: “Derpy can handle either.”
Fan #38: “True. More Derpy!”
Fan #9: Stops and grabs friend’s arm. “Oh! This is one of the books I was telling you about!”
Fan #10: “What? Another comic?”
Fan #9: “No, it’s stories! Science fiction and stuff.” Makes eye contact with me. “I really like your stuff. Oh! Look, that’s a new issue!”
Me: “Just published last week, actually.” I look at the other guy, who has picked up one of our zines. “Do you want me to explain how the project works?”
fan #10: “Sure…”
I gave him the usual spiel about being a collaborative project, and that we’re a non-profit with a mission of fostering creative skills, and a bit about the universe.
Fan #9, meanwhile, has pulled copies of the most recent two issues from the racks. “I’ll take these.”
Fan #10 puts the issue he’d been looking at back down, and asks his friend, “I can read these, right?”
Fan #9: “Yeah, but if you like ’em, you should pick up the whole set.”
I rang up the sale, handled the change, then pulled out one of the blind bag boxes.
Fan #10: “You’re giving away ponies?”
Me: “One blind bag with each purchase, subscription, or renewal.”
Fan #10: “So I can come back tomorrow when I have money. Cool!”
(I don’t know if he came back, since I wasn’t always watching the table)
Fan #87: “There you are! I was afraid you weren’t around any more when I didn’t see you last year.”
Me: “We were here last year.”
Fan #87 is picking up the last several issues from the racks. “Really? I looked and looked.”
I pointed out where we had been, and mentioned the posters.
Fan #87: “I don’t know how I missed you. Tell me about this Omnibus…”
Fan #43: “Yeah, I picked up some of your books last year, but only really liked a couple of the stories.”
Me: “I’m sorry.”
Fan #43: “It happens. I really, really like those two stories, but some of the others just weren’t my thing.”
Me: “Do you remember which ones you liked?”
Fan #43 describes two tales. I ask some questions, he answers. We determine the stories were “New Queensland Station,” originally published in issue #2, reprinted in the Omnibus, and “A Shadow’s Kiss” from Eclipse. We talk some more about what he liked about them. Eventually I suggest he might possibly enjoy “Beside Himself” from Skulduggery, and point out a sequel, “The Shadow of Azrael” was printed in a more recent issue. He decides to pick them up.
The next day, Fan #43 stops by the table. “I haven’t had time to read them all, yet, but I really loved the story in the Special Edition. Thanks for recommending it!”