Category Archives: Conventions & Conferences

Cheating on My Love Affair with Minimalism

horribleAt a convention recently another writer raised an eyebrow at my steampunkery  and asked, “Do you have a whole closet full of costumes?” I stammered a little and then reluctantly confessed to having made a couple of incompatible lifestyle choices.

You see, for all my years of pursuing minimalism, there’s one part of my life that remains less than minimal — my “special events” wardrobe.

Day-to-day, you’ll find me in jeans, black v-neck tee, and boots. That’s my Uniform, plus a blazer when I’m teaching or a flannel shirt around friends and family. I have a handful of blazers, flannels, and boots, so it’s not utterly boring, but it’s certainly limited and doesn’t take up much closet space.

But then if you go to, ahem, the other side of the wardrobe, all of the sudden you’ll be confronted by cloaks, vests, corsets, overcoats, ascots, gloves, belts, hats, goggles, masks, replica weaponry, and the velvet doctoral robes that get yanked out twice a year for the university’s opening convocation and  commencement ceremony.

Sometimes I fantasize about getting rid of it all — usually around the time I’m packing to go to a con! — but….

Not yet.  :-)

ComicCon Bibliography

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 8.55.57 AMHere’s a copy of the bibliography of fan studies that I’ll be handing out at ComicCon, for anybody who can’t make it but would like to get started on the academic study of the field….


Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 8.55.57 AMI’ll be at ComicCon on Thursday, participating as the token academic in the panel “How Fan Fiction Can Lead to Being a Professional” at 11 am-12 pm in room 29A. Here’s the official description:

Fan fiction can lead to jobs in several fields as a professional, including writing books, acting, screenwriting, and many others. Panelists include Katherine Fugate (Valentine’s Day), a selected member of the board of directors of the WGAW, who created/executive produced/wrote Army Wives; Melissa Good (Tropical Storm), a fan fiction writer and novelist who has written episodes for Xena, Warrior Princess; Nancy Holder (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Watcher’s Guide), New York Times bestselling author whose fan fiction street cred includes Robin of Sherwood; Dru Pagliassotti, a novelist and professor at a California university who has researched Western manga fandom and teaches courses on film and comics analysis; Nancy Cornell-Healy (Intersection), comedian/novelist/playwright; Justin Robinson (Get Blank), a multitalented novelist; and Sherri Rabinowitz (Fantasy Time Inc.), a writer of fan fiction, playwright and award-nominated novelist and host of the popular blog talk radio show Chatting With Sherri.

My primary contribution to the panel will be to provide background and perhaps a framework for considering fan fiction’s effects, and the other participants will be talking about the act of writing fan fiction and going pro within their fandoms.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to hitting the Exhibit Hall at ComicCon, where I will be on the hunt for steampunk-oriented comics — preferably containing mad scientists — for a scholarly book chapter that I’m drafting up that’s due in September. Yes, the best thing about being a tenured professor is Researching Whatever You Want!

I don’t know if I’ll be staying more than one day; my partner-in-professorial-crime Terry and I are planning to play it by ear. This is my first ComicCon but it’s her first con, period! (I’m to blame for drawing her deeper into geekdom, since I convinced her to co-teach a class on comics and graphic novels with me next spring semester and create a webcomic with me). We have credit cards and a car, however, so we’re ready to adapt to whatever circumstances throw at us…!


Gaslight Gathering Photo

Just wanted to post these photographs from Gaslight Gathering, courtesy of the Tobias Eastman Photo Booth (Thanks, Jerry Abuan)! This was Friday and Saturday … unfortunately, my writing panel Sunday clashed with the photo booth hours, so you won’t see me in frock coat, vest, and ascot!


Panels & Press

IMG_0426Conjecture 2013 was a lot of fun, and I have some posed photos of my costumes, thanks to Eben Brooks of Or It Didn’t Happen Photography.

The panels went great and I renewed my friendship with a number of San Diego con-goers and -organizers as well as met some great new co-panelists and audience members, including Nancy Holder, Nathan Long, Sherri Rabinowitz, Justin Robinson, “Don Luis,” and Walt Fisher, who kindly put me in touch with SDSU’s special collections librarian. She will be a great contact as I develop my new comics course for Spring 2015.  I was also very pleased to meet Eytan and Dani Kollin, whose The Unincorporated Man I’ve recommended to a number of friends as an original and thought-provoking take on the future.  The filking was fun, the book signing went well, and I even got a mention in the San Diego Union-Tribune’s writeup of the event. Now, the grading … well, that’s what I’m doing today, or would be doing if I weren’t updating this blog, instead.

Speaking of the press, our campus magazine just emailed me to ask, “In the ‘movie’ of your life, which actor do you think would best play you and why?” I replied, “I’d want to be played by Neil Patrick Harris due to the physical resemblance and Harris’ portrayal of Dr. Horrible. I, too, have been known to wear strange goggles and practice maniacal cackles in front of the mirror, and I expect that Bad Horse will soon be evaluating my supervillain potential now that I’m chair of the Communication Department. Muahahaha!

I’m not sure I’m flying low enough under my university’s radar these days.  ;-)

Conjecture 2012 Other Costume

And this is one of the other costumes that I wore to Conjecture, photo again courtesy of Kimberly Paul Photography in San Diego.

I spent a while looking around the web to see if there’s an easy way to create “tintypes” from digital photos — maybe on lightweight sheet aluminum that could be run through a printer — but I didn’t find anything. Time for someone to invent the process! I did find a 2010 article on a more traditional, plate-exposing  modern tintype process, but I was hoping for a way to transfer digital photos to tiny metal squares, instead.

…Seems to me that an enterprising photographer could set up a convention booth taking portraits of guests in costume, swiftly running them through Photoshop or some other editing program to give them whatever look is desired (depending on the type of con and/or costume, I suppose), and then print them out as contemporary daguerrotypes or tintypes — maybe the small “Bon-Ton”-sized ( 2-3/8″ x 3-1/2″) tin plates that were so popular in the past.

In the meantime … the end is in sight! I’ve finally reached the Final Confrontation scenario in CH3. I still have a few days of writing left, but it looks like I’ll make my self-imposed end-of-October deadline for finishing the first draft. And then, I’m off to the Himalayas for a month!



Conjecture 2012 Costume

Official Conjecture/ConChord 2012 photographer Kimberly Paul did such a fantastic job on the photos, I just have to show one of them off! This is me in my steampunk cowgirl costume; I was a cowboy the day before but didn’t get a photo taken (you can see an older version of my steampunk cowboy costume at the bottom here), and I dressed as a very proper gentleman mage the next day. I’m hoping the mage photos came out; they’re not on her Facebook album yet, but I’m  checking back later!

Take a look at her work; there were a lot of wonderful costumes at the con, and she did a fantastic job capturing them for us.