I have always wanted to support Avalon Expo and see it thrive. So when there was issues with my panels and then issues with my prop and then issues with the panel spaces and the fact that there was no one at the con and the fact that people were stressed the fuck out….
The advice I was given was to format this blog like a “Shit sandwich.” Which later had to be explained to me but the general premise is that you start off with the good, then give all the bad and then end on a positive. I spent all of Friday and Saturday saying to friends, “What am I going to write about? This is a dud!”
And then Sunday happened and wow. It wasn’t boring anymore.
I’m going to break this down into three sections: the good, the bad and the “WTF wait until the girls at work hear about this.”
- Mile One is huge and really works as a space for vendors. There was plenty of room so everyone can look around without getting in each other’s way. This was especially nice when my high heels had to come off and I was walking around in bare feet. I didn’t have to worry about being stepped on.
- The guests! It was a little disappointing that Sean Gunn had to back out but that happens at a lot of conventions. Work comes first, especially when there’s a contract involved. But the guests that did make it were amazing. Colin Baker, the sixth actor to play the titular Doctor Who was present as was Rene Auberjonois of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And while the English dub of Sailor Moon doesn’t hold up for me so many people were ecstatic to meet the VAs for Sailors Moon and Mars. I got an autograph from Colin Baker and he was very sweet.
- Sarah Hall Photography. Myself and girlpuck had booked a photoshoot with her. I was Sha Gojyo and girlpuck was Cho Hakkai, both from manga series Saiyuki. Sarah’s a lot of fun to work with and our photos turned out so good that Sarah actually managed to save the con for me. I would have thrown it into the garbage entirely but she made me so happy. Go book her for photos!
- I got really good feedback about my speed dating panels. I had one for opposite gender/sex orientated people and one for same gender/sex orientated people. I had to cancel the same gender/sex one due to lack of attendance but those that did come were really helpful. I also had a panel on Neil Gaiman and his use of mythology that went well. I even had a copy of his book Norse Mythology that I gave away in a, well, giveaway.
- I had sent in my panel applications a long, long time ago. In fact, it was the first day that applications opened (I can’t remember if that was late May or early June). And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. I finally started to reread Gaiman’s American Gods but then I stopped. Because it was the end of July. And then it was an entire week of August gone. Obviously my panels had not been approved. And then it was August the 11th and I was told that my panels had been approved. The con was in two and a half weeks. And I was in the middle of giving the university my blood, sweat and tears- literally in the case of the blood as I had to have titers done so that I could prove to the school of nursing that I had resistance to hepatitis and chicken pox. I was waiting to hear back about a loan. I was stressed. And then there was this last minute addition to my schedule. Anyway, I didn’t know what panels were being approved but the convention schedule would be out soon and then I’d know. But it wasn’t out soon. So on the 17th I finally emailed Avalon Expo to ask what they had approved. Did I have a separate panel scheduled for the gay men and a separate panel for the gay ladies or was it the one panel? What about Neil? Also, I did not book the time off for the convention because I didn’t think it was approved. And by the time I did get approval my work schedule was out. But there was no answer by the 20th, which is when I sent out email number 2. This email was a little salty. The schedule came out on the 22nd, the con started on the 25th, I finished my Sunday shift at work at noon, the exact same time my Gaiman panel started and not one email had been answered. So I sent a facebook message. That got a response. The Gaiman panel got pushed to 3 and I had no time to promote the speed dating panels. So there was little to no turnout. Avalon Expo’s excuse for not answering emails? “Sometimes emails are wonky.” Yeah, no. Not so wonky that you couldn’t answer either one. Fuck that excuse. I’m still mad about that excuse.
- Mile One is terrible for panels! Avalon Expo is terrible for panels! If you remember my post last year about Avalon Expo then you know that my speed dating panel and Swarley Pilgrim’s Harry Potter panel were moved around three times until we both ended up in the cafeteria. Speed dating, an embarrassing thing, in a public cafeteria. And this year I was set up in a hallway right next to the concessions. So I’m supposed to be hosting speed dating sessions why people are sat around me eating poutine. The panels were all out in very public places and no portable soundproofing was set up so it was extremely difficult to hear. I get that panelists get in for free and vendors pay for their tables. So vendors are more important. But they’re not so important that you can completely disregard the panelists entirely. Some people like going to panels. I like going to panels but I can’t do that if I can’t hear what’s being said.
- I was physically ill for all of convention Saturday because the shit organization on the panels stressed me out so bad. I do not have anxiety nor any mental illnesses but poor organization can trigger me. I admit to having OCD tendencies.
- I brought a prop weapon on the first day. No metal, all wood. It was basically a staff with wooden blades on either end. It was extremely lightweight and the staff part was made with a dowel. It would never break a weapon check policy. It was confiscated for two hours because the handle wasn’t hollow. Where the fuck do you buy hollow wood dowels? They argued it was because it was like a baseball bat and those weren’t allowed it. It was not like a baseball bat. Bats aren’t lightweight, they wouldn’t break if you cracked it over someone’s head and they are made for swinging. The prop was returned after two hours because someone else told the girls it was fine and they needed to be consistent. They also were still waiting on the weapon policy to actually arrive. So they didn’t know what they were at. Mad Maddox told me she saw people with croquet mallets so she thought it was weird my flimsy dowel wasn’t allowed. Also, I had only been there for two hours but the con was open for four. Where was the weapon policy? When it was finally posted on facebook I was able to confirm that I had followed all the rules.
- Barely anyone showed. The con was on the go at the same time as two major concerts so the attendance wasn’t there.
- I can’t go into details because I don’t want to name my very reliable source but I know on the first day of the con a guest wasn’t being properly looked after. The volunteers did the best they could but they couldn’t get a hold of anyone with any authority to give them permission to do what needed to be done.
- There were other mistakes in the schedule and panels were scheduled that the listed panelist never actually applied for and thus didn’t know about.
The WTF Stuff
- Someone created a fake twitter account before the con started just to slander Avalon Expo. Some people think it’s the chair of Sci-fi on the Rock, some think it’s a random asshole. Whoever you are, why the effort? Also, buy a dictionary. You don’t know how to spell words.
- The head of Avalon Expo went missing- he later turned up safely but there was a missing person report and everything. We were all very worried. He posted on his own facebook page that he took a fall and lost his phone but no formal explanation has been released to the public.
- There’s no money. Some very kind people stepped up and paid the guests’ hotel room bills but none of the guests have had their fees paid and Mile One hasn’t been paid. This I learnt on the Avalon Expo facebook page and was posted by the acting head of Avalon Expo when the actual head went missing.
- Avalon Expo was declared dead forevermore but now their cover photo says “entr’acte” which means intermission. So, is AvEx dead forever or will it return in the future? Cause the promoter’s reputation is probably ruined outside of the local geek scene.
- People were rude to Rene Auberjonois on twitter when he complained about not getting paid and calling the promoter sleazy. Like, if you don’t pay me then I’m after you. I don’t care why you didn’t pay me. So give Auberjonois a break. He’s in his right to be angry and he was still extremely gracious towards the volunteers and the fans in his tweets.
- The media liaison put his foot in his mouth and accidently insulted the acting head on facebook. That was deleted before I had a chance to screen shot it and show it to all my friends.
- “Emails are sometimes wonky.” Things that Devinity is still salty about for 500.
It was in the news and on twitter so I guess it’s okay to link you all to an article on what happened. I figure anyone reading this is from my area of the world anyway and knows all about it. But if you’re not then here’s the link.
A Side Note to Sci-Fi on the Rock
I still don’t like you. But I admit that you have improved in the last two years. And as far as I know you’ve never run out of money and failed to pay people. So I shall back off and stop saying shit about you on the internet just to get a reaction.
The convention was a dud before the controversy started and there were a lot of issues. I don’t feel valued as a panelist considering this is the second year I’ve had an issue with Avalon Expo. And while I love having all the drama to talk about at work it’s something I don’t need in a community I’m only part of for fun.
So I’m cutting myself out of it. I’ll only go to SFOTR if a guest that I totally must meet is going. Avalon Expo is in a weird limbo plane at the moment but its dead for me. I’ll still be at the Victoria day picnics with the steampunk group (they still provide stress free fun) and I’ll still do cosplay photo shoots. But it’s time to leave the local geek community.
The next two years of my life are going to be dedicated to school. I’m starting fast track nursing in a week’s time and that will take up most of my life. I’ll see what the geek scene looks like when I crawl out of the hospital with my hard earned degree.
But I still want a fucking explanation about what happened last weekend.
I love you all,
Ps. But I especially love you right now Sarah. Seriously, you saved my entire weekend with those amazing photos.
Pss. Some people have been saying that the con was a success- really? Anyway, if you had a good time at AvEx then leave a comment down below! What did you like? Was it the guests? The space? The proximity to downtown? Just hanging with your fellow geeks and freaks? The cosplays? I’d love to know. I could use some positive vibes.