Oz Comic-con was a blast. Such a fantastic eclectic gathering of people and pop culture under one roof.
My day started off passing the myriad of Cosplay attendees outside the convention center who are naturally drawn to such an event. It’s amazing how much effort people put into their costumes as well as the pride they take in wearing them. They looked fantastic and it really is a credit to the creators of the shows, games, novels and comics.
The crowds were heavy and growing steadily but the atmosphere was pretty light and friendly. People were there to celebrate what they enjoy and it could be felt through out the event. Stalls upon stalls selling their wares lay everywhere to see. Not being able to help myself I had to buy up a couple books and a few collectibles, but hey you only live once or YOLO (I only found out what ‘YOLO’ meant two days ago, I’m such a Grandad).
There was a few panel discussions I wanted to go see, the first of which was Jason Momoa, who played Khal Grogo in the first Season of Game of Thrones and Conan the Barbarian in the recent remake. Listening to his experiences from the set of his many shows and movies was interesting. He was candid about his disappointment with leaving Game of Thrones but seemed extremely appreciative of the opportunity to be part of such a behemoth of a show. The second panel discussion I went to was a Stargate SG1 special with Chris Judge AKA Teal’c and Coren Nemec AKA Jonas Quinn. The guys were extremely funny while being really informative. One tidbit from the discussion was how Chris Judge had to have botox injected into two thirds of his forehead to stop his forehead from wrinkling and dislodging his characters well recognised gold tattoo. After the two guys finished up the stage was set ready for Nicholas Brendon… Xander from Buffy. Many of my teenage years were spent glued to the TV watching Buffy, The Vampire slayer. Nicolas was animated on stage while recanting the highlights of his days on the set of Buffy. He mentioned his memorable moments with with the actors from Buffy as well as giving insight into the creative genius and processes of Joss Whedon. One story spoke of surprised me. Joss Whedon’s fabulous but ill fated show ‘Firefly’ was written with Nicholas in mind. Before Nathan Fillion filled the boots of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Nicholas was penned to play the role. It’s only when Season 7 of Buffy began filming that Joss decided to keep Nicolas as Xander while offering Nathan the role in Firefly.
The main draw card for me though was to meet and speak with author Kylie Chan. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. I was surprised to see Kylie alone on her allocated table but silently I was delighted. With a copy of her new novel, ‘Demon Child’ in hand I timidly approached. She was pleasant and down to earth, happily signing my book and telling me to come along to her panel discussion later that day. She also handed me a coupon for a free copy of ‘The Gravity Engine’, a book that fills in the story line between the second and third trilogies of her 9 book saga. Beside Kylie’s desk sat a lady names Queenie Chan, an illustrator and graphic novelist. I first came across Queenie’s work in a graphic novel called ‘Small Shen’. Kylie Chan wrote the prose for this book while Queenie produced the illustrations. Her anime style works perfectly in Kylie’s story world of fantasy and martial arts. While speaking to Queenie she told me about her ork with Dean Koontz. I’m a huge Koontz fan and when she said Dean had hired her to create a graphic novel for his ‘Odd Thomas’ series I knew I would have to grab a copy. Not only am I a Koontz fan but I started reading him through his Odd Thomas series. Queenie’s created a series of prequels to the Odd Thomas series with Dean writing the story while Queenie illustrated afterward. I picked up the first of the three book series and will let you know how I go with it some time in the future.
So to the panel discussion held by Kylie and Queenie together. Again to my surprise but delight, their was only 8 of us in the audience. Give the size of the crowd it was decided bunch up closer and create a semi circle around the two novelists. It was much more intimate and relaxing than being spread out. The 8 of us asked our questions and the women were only happy to answer. Kylie described her creative process telling us that it took her at least three months to write her rough copy and how the most difficult part for her was the beginning. Queenie told us that she also takes a similar length of time to create her rough copy but seems to wane in enthusiasm in the middle of a project. When asked about what advice they would give someone starting out in the industry, they both said that editing it a must regardless of experience. A good edit or series of edits will raise your work to a much higher caliber. Going hand in hand with a good edit is a good cover. To hook a reader initially, you first need a killer cover. Kylie went on to talk about how she didn’t have an agent and still doesn’t, instead having a representative take her place in contract negotiations. She also told us about sending in her initial manuscript, unsolicited and being rejected by many publishers. They told her she wasn’t what the market needed or that their books were full. Eventually she was signed up to Harper Collins. It was only until book 4 that things really took off for her. She began creeping up the ladder of the best sellers list both at home and overseas. Queenie told us of her success with her first graphic novel ’The Dreaming’, which she sold the rights of to a publisher without knowing exactly what she was signing up to. She was so delighted to finally get a contract offer after many rejections that she didn’t ensure the rights reverted back to the artist should the publishing house go under. Unfortunately the publishing house did go under and she is still trying to win the rights back for her breakout success. Her advice was to think ahead and not jump into something that looks too good to be true. Both Kylie and Queenie advocated the benefits to self publishing. Both said it was a superb was to break into the industry and would recommend it over going down the traditional route first.
Here’s a photo of me with Kylie Chan and Queenie Chan.
Overall, I loved my first Oz Comic-con experience and meeting an author who I have enjoyed reading for many years was definitely the highlight. Kylie and Queenie were both so lovely and a wealth of knowledge.
Oh, and I also met Chewbacca. He must be getting on in years as he needed the guiding hand of an Oz Comic-con volunteer (o: