Copper Con: FANtasm in Phoenix kind of snuck up one me this year. Lots going on. I did manage to go Saturday to take a look around. I was very disappointed. I went mainly to drop off some books that were going to low income and homeless kids. That was worth the trip. The con – not so much.
I’ve attended several times. Copper Con isn’t the largest convention around, but it’s always been informative and lively. This year they moved the event to Avondale on the outskirts of Phoenix for whatever reason. The venue was nice, but when I walked in, I thought I had missed it. Instead of throngs of people milling about looking at displays, buying books, etc., I saw a few people sitting around. I felt like I was in a library. Yes, I like libraries, but they don’t offer much of a party atmosphere. I dropped off a few postcards, bookmarks, and business cards at a table to complement the two or three others that were there. It seemed no one was pushing anything.
The vendors room had one table with used books, a cutting weapons display, some embroidery work, a Star Trek display, a two-person signing table – It would have fit in my living room. Very disappointing. There was a gaming room, which stayed busy, a media/film room, Steam Punk how to build it lectures, writer panels, etc., but all very poorly attended. I went to an Asteroid lecture by David Williams of ASU and NASA fame. Quite good. Then I went to a Finding the Story panel with author Michael Stackpole and was among six people. Same thing happened at a panel with Stackpole, Marshelia Rockwell, and Jeff Mariotte, all great authors. Six people attended and two of those were con promoters. I’m sure the authors were as disappointed as I was.
I left with a bitter taste in my mouth. The officials say they’re going back to their roots, away from the Comicon-type event they had last year, Copper Con: Revolution. They say everyone wants a great convention but few people want to participate in setting up a convention, which is true. I don’t have the time. I write for a living. It is a sad state of affairs when a beloved convention, one of the few local ones, begins to fade. It’s not dead. This is a lament, not a eulogy. It may bounce back and flourish. I hope so. Writers and fans both need conventions. Phoenix needs it, It’s where an author gets to see his fan base in other than a bookstore setting.
I have to admit I only stayed from about 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 on Saturday. I may have missed something, but the entire atmosphere seemed very muted. No one seemed to be having fun. If not for fun, what is a convention for?