The road to Archon 46 has almost come to an end. As you read this, we’ll be packing up final things or literally be ON the road, driving toward Collinsville, IL. But anytime we come to a science fiction convention we bring artwork, books, free promotional items, plus carefully chosen clothing and accessories and all the other needed “support items” to make the trip a success.
When I think about all of those elements, and all the time it took to create them, it’s clear that for me and my crew the road to Archon – or to any other sf convention – has been the work of years. My presentations and products represent many hundreds of cumulative hours’ effort.
This is probably true for most programming participants. I thought as I prepare for this year’s Archon it might be interesting take a closer look at the preparations one family (mine) has made for the event. Then multiply that by all the other programming participants, exhibitors, and convention staffers.
The Road to Archon’s Art Show
Compared to my friend Lucy A. Synk’s art display, the road to Archon 46 has been shorter for me and my artwork. Lucy doesn’t go to many sf conventions anymore – I think Archon is her only one this year (She’s been showing in a lot more galleries and juried exhibitions). But she’s been working literally for weeks to get ready for Archon.
My post-Archon report last year shared her wonderful display (no, it wasn’t all XK9 illustrations! Although, yes, there were some). With her permission, I’ll share more from this year when I write my follow-up.
Although my “road to Archon” may have been shorter, each of my paper sculptures takes many hours to complete. Whether they’re singular originals or small-edition multiple originals, each must be created from original drawings, colored using digital and applied pigments, cut, sculpted, and glued into place. I make extra efforts to use archival-quality papers, pigments, and adhesives, which sometimes can be hard to find.
But practically every artist in the Art Show has made similar efforts. In that realm I currently claim “amateur” status. That’s because, while I’m serious about my artwork, it’s no longer my main gig. Other wonderful artists put the full force of their creative skills and vision into their presentations.
The Road to Archon Programming
I’m scheduled to be on five panels on Friday and Saturday at Archon, topped off with a Reading Saturday afternoon. I’m just one of several dozen programming participants making preparations for many hours of programming over the three-day event. All of us do a fair amount of preparation – or at least we should.
The way I see it, authors, artists, and other programming participants are an essential element for any successful convention. We are part of the reason people enjoy coming, so it’s important to prepare fun and interesting presentations. For me, the road to Archon programming involves several hours of thought and research.
I am the moderator for three of my five panels, and even for the other two I’ve prepared questions, ideas, and background information. All that, of course, in addition to writing and publishing the books, creating the art or costumes, or pursuing the career that put us on panels in the first place. Plus, some of us (including me) make freebies (“S.W.A.G.”) to hand out.
Specifically, my Archon 46 panels on Friday are (1 p.m.) “Aliens and Their Lack of Diversity,” (3 p.m.) “Will AI Replace Artists?” and (7 p.m.) “Opening Sentences and What They Tell the Reader.” On Saturday, they are (1 p.m.) “The Profitability of Settlements in Outer Space,” (3 p.m.) and “Space & Entrepreneurship.” (the Reading is scheduled right after that at 4 p.m.).
The Road to Archon’s Dealers Room
My tentative explorations of a dealers table presence in 2022 have expanded in 2023 to adding a third member of our traveling convention team (my husband Pascal). This year we’ve sponsored a full-fledged Weird Sisters Publishing dealers table at each convention we’ve attended. At this point we don’t plan to extend the experiment into a third year, but it’s definitely been educational.
At the end of last year’s Archon retrospective, I wrote that we at Weird Sisters Publishing expected to have more books published under our imprint than we currently do. I correctly predicted that we’d have Deep Ellum Duet (although at that point in our thinking the title was to be Deep Ellum Duo). But I also expected to have my late brother-in-law Warren Norwood’s science fiction Windhover Tetralogy in print. Numerous production glitches and my own inaccurate estimate of how much time everything would take torpedoed that effort! We’ll get there eventually.
The variety we’ve lacked in our own books, we’ve tried to make up for in books by our Kansas City Author Friends. I wrote a separate blog post about them at the end of August. We’re bringing the entire group’s work to Archon, although we’re running low on several titles. In addition to G. (G. S. Norwood) and me, our authors include Dora Furlong, Lynette M. Burrows, M. C. Chambers, Karin Rita Gastreich, and Randal Spangler. We also are happy to announce that we’re adding two puzzles by Lucy A. Synk to our offerings at Archon.
We’ve Almost Traversed the Full Road to Archon 46
My little band of con-goers draws ever closer on the road to Archon 46 as I write this. But this post wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging Archon’s own “road to 46.” By that I mean the journey of the entire convention, and most importantly the people who’ve been putting it together all these years.
As with every fan-run convention (including all of the ones I’ve chronicled on this blog), there’s a committee, the “concom,” behind the event. For Archon in particular, there have been 46 (forty-six!) of them. The only older one I know of is KC’s own ConQuesT. By now Archon concoms have spanned generations as well as decades.
What goes into putting on a fan-run convention? Meetings, first of all (So. Many. Meetings). But there’s also the planning, the phone calls, the emails, the list-making, the equipment-gathering. Committees divide the labor – but before, during, and after the convention, the concom is working hard. That’s why volunteersto help the “home folk” at the convention are always so deeply appreciated. If you’re also on the road to Archon 46, contact the Volunteer Coordinator ahead of time, or present yourself at the con to sign up.
But whether or not you attend the con, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of some of what goes into putting a fan-run convention together. Watch for my next post, in which I plan to tell you how it went!
About the Author
This post was written by Jan S. Gephardt. If you liked it, perhaps you’d also enjoy some of her other posts about Archon: its policies, Artists, Authors, and Costumes. Or maybe you’d like her posts about the other fan-run conventions she’s attended this year: DemiCon 34, ConQuesT 54 and SoonerCon 31. Watch for her follow-up post about Archon, as well as others in the pipeline about writers, artists, and dealers she encountered during her “con season” of 2023.
The Archon 46 header image is © Timothy Chiasson, and used by courtesy of Archon 46. All other images used in this post were created by Jan S Gephardt for her own publicity or for that of Weird Sisters Publishing LLC.