“Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve” Joins Ranks of Failed Media Conventions

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Perhaps the accursed year 2016’s last victim, Marvelous Nerd Years Eve in Dallas is the latest media con to underperform and leave behind a cloud of shortchanged celebrities.

Marquis guest Stan Lee, who received half of his $200,000 appearance fee in advance, is still owed $50,000 reports Heidi McDonald at ComicMix.

The con advertised 40 other celebrities would be on hand, including Ming Na Wen, Michael Rooker, Kevin Sorbo, Jasen Mewes, and Nichelle Nichols.

Matthew Egan, a con volunteer, wrote in a public Facebook post that “many celebrities were not paid, many agents were not paid, all employees at the show have been laid off.” He also claimed to have overheard attendance estimated at 4,000, half of what was needed to make the con a success.

As a result, the con did not meet its room guarantee. According to McDonald, “When not enough rooms were booked, the amount owed skyrocketed as rooms were then billed at a higher rate. When the guarantee wasn’t met the hotel threatened to kick people out of their rooms on Sunday unless organizers paid the difference.”

Things were settled with the hotel, but many others are still looking to get paid. Among them is David Gerrold, who detailed his experience in a Facebook post that he encouraged people to share.

I was an invited guest at the “Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve” Comic-Con held in Dallas over New Year’s weekend.

Apparently, it was a disaster of biblical proportions. Not just dogs and cats living together, but suing each other for palimony and custody of the kittens.

The convention organizers over-promised, under-budgeted, over-extended, under-performed, and committed what I consider acts of “criminal incompetence.”

Why do I use the adjective “criminal?”

Because people were hurt. Not just by the incompetence, but by the deliberate incompetence.

Many of the guests — not necessarily the A-listers — depend on the sales of autographs and photographs as part of their income between gigs. They are not all millionaires. Many actors and celebrities, especially those from TV shows of yore, have some income from royalties and residuals, but often depend on convention appearances to give them a little bit of a cushion — or even cover the mortgage.

So when a convention signs a contract, makes a commitment — such as, “We guarantee that you will make $5000 in autograph and photo sales, or we will make up the difference” and then fails to provide enough attendees to make those sales and then fails to cover the guarantee as well — that’s criminal incompetence.

Even worse, the company formed to put on the convention is dissolving itself, so there will be no one to sue.

Most of the other guests had their air fare covered and meals covered by a per diem. So at least their basic travel expenses were covered.

I drove.

After four days of promises, I had nothing but four days of promises. My travel expenses were never covered.

Based on their promises, I had expected $2500 and travel expenses as the bare minimum, and I budgeted for that.

Instead, I’m out my travel expenses. Nearly $800.

Did I sell enough books and tribbles and scripts to make it worthwhile? No.

Because first, they didn’t have a dealer’s table for me, and the woman who was supposed to arrange it was more interested in talking about how busy she was than in actually making arrangements for the table. Not a bad person, but not really focused on the job.

When I finally did get a sales table, it wasn’t in the dealer’s room, it was in a second room that was carefully hidden from most of the convention membership. I did not sell enough to cover my expenses.

I am particularly angry at the CFO of the convention who lied to my face, three times — that he had a check for me for my travel expenses (I’d already turned in my receipts) — when he already knew damn well that the convention was so far in the hole that the hotel was about to lock all of the guests out of their rooms because the convention couldn’t cover the lodging bills.

Any other convention, I would have made enough to justify the effort. Instead, I have a hole in my budget that is going to create a problem for the next month or two. I had planned to spend the money on paying for the kids’ wedding pictures. Now I have to generate that cash somewhere else. (January book sale starts momentarily.)

So yes, “criminal incompetence.” People were hurt. Not just me — but every celebrity guest (over 40 of them) and every vendor (at least as many) who invested his or her weekend on the promises of this criminally incompetent group of people.

I’ve had nearly a half century of convention experience. Most of the cons I’ve attended, whether professional or fan run, have been managed well enough that fans and guests were taken care of. I have never been caught up in a disaster as big as this one. (Which is why I didn’t recognize my personal alarm bells when they went off.)

I would hope that the individuals responsible for this particular train wreck have enough class and courage to issue a public apology — but more than that, I hope they get out of the convention business, because, based on the evidence, they are a danger to the well-being of everyone who trusts them.

The event was produced by Geek Expos, and Bleeding Cool’s article about the debacle says the company is going under:

Added to a poor performance in their recent Oklahoma show, and the word was that Geek Expos is in the process of being dissolved, with firings across the company including the CEO, and future announced shows, in Dallas and Tulsa, being cancelled.

Edge-Lit 6 Will Host 2017 David Gemmell Awards

The 2017 David Gemmell Awards ceremony will take place as part of Edge-Lit 6 in Derby (UK) on July 15.

Edge-Lit 6 will be held at QUAD, Derby’s independent cinema and art space.

With a growing reputation for quality and an audience of 200+ each year, the event offers an array of panels, workshops and book launches as well as popular yearly features such as the live Edge-Lit raffle.

Alex Davis, Literature Officer for QUAD, said: ‘Over the last decade the Gemmell Awards have become a high point in the genre calendar, and have been presented at some of the biggest conventions and fantasy events in the UK. I’m delighted to be working with them to bring the ceremony to Edge-Lit, which makes the 2017 running even more exciting!’

Stan Nicholls, Chair of the David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy, said: ‘Edge-Lit has established itself as one of the highlight events of the genre year, and the Gemmell Awards are thrilled to be part of 2017’s line-up. Devoted as they both are to championing the best of speculative fiction, the Gemmells and Edge-Lit are a perfect match. Roll on next July!’

Tickets for Edge-Lit 6 on sale at http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/film/edge-lit-6.aspx and cost £30, including access to all sessions on the day and an event goodie bag.

Corflu 34 Rates Rise January 1

Corflu, the convention for fanzine fans, will be held at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills (a Los Angeles neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley), California, on April 28-30, 2017.

The rate for Attending Membership in Corflu 34 goes up on January 1. The news release doesn’t say what it will rise to, you’re supposed to take the hint and join today so you never need to hear that stunning number.

The current rate for an Attending membership is $95(US) and £65(UK).

The new rate for an Attending membership will be $115(US) and £90(UK). Supporting memberships will remain the same, $25(US)and £15(UK).

The Conversion rate before January 1 for those currently holding Supporting memberships is $70(US) and £50(UK). The Conversion rate will be higher after January 1.

The Room Rate is $135.00 plus tax and Parking is $15 (with in and out privileges). For Hotel Reservations go to: http://uhb.pt.sl.pt (Institute for Specialized Literature: Corflu 34).

Further information can be found at the Corflu website. Progress Report Zero and Progress Report One can be found there.

Membership checks should be made payable to ISL in North America and Rob Jackson in Britain.

U.S. Postal address for memberships: Corflu 34, Elayne Pelz, 15931 Kalisher Street, Granada Hills, CA 91244 USA. Membership inquiries: elaynepelz AT Verizon DOT com (please format appropriately).

UK Agent Postal address for memberships: Rob Jackson, Chinthay, Nightingale Lane, Hambrook, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 8UH, UK.

PayPal may also be used for memberships; please select the “Friends or Family” option to ensure that the full amount transfers to Corflu. North America PayPal: ISL@maileater.net. UK PayPal: jacksonhambrook@uwclub.net (Please add “for Corflu 34”)

[Thanks to Marty Cantor for the story.]

2017 LA Vintage Paperback Show

The next Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show will be March 19, 2017 at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. Over 50 authors and artists are already lined up to attend and do signings. Admission is only $5!

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Guest List

Karen Anderson
Peter Atkins
Ann Bannon
Steven Barnes
Greg Benford
Paul Bishop
James Blaylock
Jason V Brock
Mary Burgess
Tracy L. Carbone
Kim Cooper
John DeChancie
L. J. Dopp
Kelly Dunn
Joel Eisenberg
Dennis Etchison
Christa Faust
Laura Freas
Ray Garton
Gary Gianni
Mel Gilden
Tony Gleeson
Donald Glut
Cody Goodfellow
Scott Tracy Griffin
Barbara Hambly
Denise Hamilton
Odie Hawkins
Gar Anthony Haywood
Stephen Jared
Bruce Kimmel
Tim Kirk
Michael Kurland
Barry Lancet
Terrill Lee Lankford
Joe R. Lansdale
Richard Lupoff
Michael Mallory
R. C. Matheson
Daniel Keys Moran
Lisa Morton
Larry Niven
William F. Nolan
Charles Neutzel
Gary Phillips
Felice Picano
Richard & Wendy Pini
David Pollock
Jerry Pournelle
Tim Powers
David J. Schow
Art Scott
John Shirley
John Skipp
Harry Turtledove
Stephen Woodworth

2017 Smofcon To Be Held in Boston

An unopposed bid to hold Smofcon 35 in Boston was awarded the 2017 event by members of this year’s Smofcon, meeting this weekend in the Chicago area.

The 2017 Smofcon, led by Laurie Mann (chair) and Kris “Nchanter” Snyder (hotel), will be held November 30-December 3 at the Back Bay Hilton in downtown Boston. Memberships can be bought at the website.

Kevin Standlee tweeted a list of cities interested in future Smofcons.

Three of them responded to the Fannish Inquisition questionnaire circulated by this year’s Smofcon committee —

The responses of these bidders for future-year Worldcons are also available on the site:

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World Fantasy Con 2018 Membership Rates Rise January 1

World Fantasy Convention 2018, hosted by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and Washington Science Fiction Association, will be held at the Marriott Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland, Nov 1 – 4, 2018.

Membership rates are currently $150, and will increase on Jan 1, 2017.

The confirmed guests are Michael J. Walsh and Tom Kidd, with plans to add more in the future.

See the WFC2018 website for more information.

Ray Harryhausen Tribute at Philcon

By Steve Vertlieb: Here are photos from my memorial tribute to old friend and special effects genius Ray Harryhausen on November 19 at Philcon, the annual convention of The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.

The one-hour remembrance and celebration of Ray’s life and career was a belated opportunity to share memories of a nearly fifty-year friendship with a well-attended audience of fans and admirers throughout the East Coast. Happily, a most successful and well attended event.

Steve Vertlieb displays photo of his younger self with Ray Harryhausen.

Steve Vertlieb displays photo of his younger self with Ray Harryhausen.

 

Displaying my personal invitation to Ray Harryhausen’s private memorial service in London during the one hour tribute to the immortal film maker at Philcon.

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With pal and fellow panelist Richard Stout during the highly successful panel.

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Scholarships Available for UK’s Conrunner Event

Conrunner has received a £1,000 donation from Satellite 4 (Eastercon 2014) for use as bursaries (scholarships) to enable several people to attend the convention who would not otherwise be able to attend.

Conrunner, an event for those interested in running fan (not-for-profit) conventions, will be held in Nottingham, UK from February 10-12.

Applications are welcome from anyone, from prospective new convention runners to old hands. The main condition is that the awarding of the bursary would be key to your decision to attend Conrunner. Each bursary will be given to successful applicants in cash at the event.

Applications should be made using a form available on the Conrunner website. The closing date for applications is Sunday, December 18. The selection team will then make the selection over the Christmas break and let everyone who applied know the result of their application early in the new year.