For Sale: Tardis, slightly used

Are you a Doctor Who fan? Want to travel the galaxy and the depths of time? You might have your chance: Jesse Whitaker is putting up his replica TARDIS for sale.

It won’t be cheap: it’ll cost you $5000 (marked down from the original $7000) — but he’ll take the best offer he gets. Whitaker says that he made it himself, but can’t store it any longer. This particular prop can be broken down for storage, and can also light up and make sounds from the show.

I’ve seen this prop in person over the years: Whitaker brought it to Vermont Comic Con a couple of times, and it’s an impressive, accurate-looking build.

Storytelling at a Comic-Con

We tried a comic-con experiment this last weekend.

I say we, because while it started out as my crazy idea, I managed to convince several people to join in, most notably my writing partner and co-author, Annalisa Parent. Here’s the idea: let’s a write a custom story for a specific comic-con, the North East Comic Con in Wilmington, MA. More than that, let’s play it out as a live, interactive story at the con, costumes and all, and see how people react.

The story was about super heroes as told from the perspective of a sidekick, well, a woman that works for an agency that outsources sidekick services to super heroes. The agency is called No.2 Inc. Kate Taylor, the “protagonist assistant,” was sent to retrieve a laptop containing sensitive data that was then stolen and later reappeared at the con. When she arrived to reclaim it, she discovered the situation was far more complex than she assumed and she needed more information to get her laptop back without getting caught.

In order to get that info, she enslists the help of conference attendees with smartphones via Twitter. Here’s the interactive part of the story. Attendees are encouraged to take pictures, meet with vendors, and pass all the information back to Kate before the con ends.

We also had an antagonist, the mysterious Carle Group, voiced (Tweeted) expertly by Jon van Luling, interferring, harassing, and generally trolling Kate while she attempted to pull off her reverse heist.

Then, for those who wanted to know more about the story and Kate, we wrote an ebook version of the mission with all the behind the scenes details. By the way, you can find where to get the ebook and pictures from the con at http://apologue.co/no2inc

So was it successful? Depends on what you mean by success.

People loved the idea. From vendors, to actors, to attendees, I was told over and over this was the coolest idea to hit a con in a long time. But there were a number of problems that prevented us from making a truly cool experience.

The first, and biggest, was that the network was absolutely awful at the con. Moreover, the promised public WiFi didn’t exist, which made it difficult to run this thing, let alone participate.

The second problem was that not everyone was using, or even liked using, Twitter. But then, no one could agree on their favorite social media platform either. That was a definite facepalm moment for me. You know that moment when an assumption catches up to you and boots you in the butt? This was mine. We rallied quickly and added Instagram and Facebook to the mix but by then half the con had gone by.

The third problem was what really got me. This is one of those problems that I didn’t really anticipate because it never occurred to me until I was standing on the con floor. Turnover. For those who enjoy the chaotic math surrounding crowd dynamics, this was fascinating. I don’t like that math. I just found it frustrating.

Turnover: meaning, how soon before someone gets their fill of the con and leaves. The answer is not simple. For example, if a con is small, you don’t spend as much time there. Also, if a con doesn’t have a lot happening other than vendor tables, you don’t spend much time there. If a con is small but there’s a ton of people there, you spend more time there because there’s more to see: namely cosplayers and friends. If a con is small and there’s too many people there, you get overwhelmed and get something to eat while things die down a bit.

The bigger a con gets, the messier the mechanics. Who are the celebrities attending? How many panel discussions are happening? Are there any sneak previews of upcoming projects? Here’s the thing I find funny about this. Messier is generally better. At the popular cons, when the numbers get larger, the turnover stabilizes. People may be leaving at the same rate, for any number of specific reasons, but you have enough other people replacing them, that the population doesn’t spike as often.

Complicated, right? How this affected me was that if people stayed longer, I had more people involved in the story. If the crowd was thin, less people. If you had a day like I did on Sunday, where there little attendance except for two decent spikes, it’s hell to keep story momentum moving. In the beginning, people leave faster. In the middle, people want the whole story to play out immediately, until it gets too crowded, and then they leave.

What I can say is that I know a lot whole lot more about how to write an interactive story for a con than I did before attending this con. Will Kate have more missions? Absolutely. She one of the more interesting characters I’ve written. I’m not giving up on her yet. And the whole interactive part? We’ll work it out. Because, as I said, people really really liked it.

I hope you like it too. As I mentioned you can find more about this story at http://apologue.co (the “imprint” I created for this project). Go there and start clicking on things.

Imaginary Worlds Collide At Vermont Comic Con

VPR has posted up an article and some photographs from Vermont Comic Con:

Halloween is around the corner, but some comic fans dress up in costume year-round. And all manner of characters came out for the first annual Vermont Comic Con in Burlington this weekend. Folks dressed in elaborate costumes ranging from obscure comic characters to fairytale favorites.

For some, it’s a chance to be a hero – or a villain – for a day.

Curtis Swafford won the “novice” category in the costume contest. He dressed as Edward Elric from “Fullmetal Alchemist,” a Japanese manga series.

“I’ve always been a dork and geek my whole life. I like anything fantasy, sci-fi, anime,” said Swafford. “It’s all good.”

Listen to the article and look at a slideshow here.

Vermont Comic Con

Apparently, Vermont Comic Con is a thing that’s going to happen. There’s not much information, but here’s what the website says: the convention will be held on October 25th and 26th at The Sheraton in Burlington. Guests thus far include Jason Casey and J.R. Fortin.

This is pretty cool news, because Vermont doesn’t have much when it comes to the convention scene, unless you’re into some fairly specific things: gaming (Carnage) or anime (Bakuretsu Con). Any regular reader to this site knows that we’ve got a huge number of artists, authors and other geeky folk throughout the state, and hopefully, this convention will get everyone together.

The website does list a call for artists, which you can find here. Tickets are available, and can be purchased at $20 per day, $35 for the weekend, or $50 at the VIP level.

They also have a Facebook page (and Event), which seems to be a bit more up to date.

Open Fields Medieval Festival May 25-27

With the official first day of spring coming up fast, it’s time to start thinking about those mythical “out of doors” events. Word’s getting out about Open Fields’ medieval festival, held on the Thetford town green at the end of May:

On Saturday, May 25, 2013, Open Fields will hold its Medieval Festival on the Thetford Green from 11 am to 3 pm. During this family-friendly festival, the Green comes alive with the sights and sounds of a Medieval village. A King & Queen, knights and ladies, peasants, craftsmen, shepherds, and farmers gather to celebrate the age via music, dance, games of skill and chance, food, parades, storytelling, Benny the Dragon, and feats of juggling and acrobatics. Costumes are encouraged.

[Tip via New England Science Fiction and Fantasy Events.]

Bakuretsu Con 2012

Vermont’s annual anime convention returns this November for a weekend of cosplay, panels, workshops, gaming and more! The convention is put on by the Anime Society of Vermont, a public, non-profit organization whose primary mission is to promote cultural awareness and diversity through the celebration of anime and manga.

Guests this year include Terri Doty, Matthew Myers, Michael “Mookie” Terracciano and Scott Melzer (NoN.D.E. Fanfilms).

The convention will be held at the Hampton Inn & Conference Center in Colchester. Membership for the entire weekend is be $45.

Sign up on their facebook event here or register here.