Victory has a hundred fathers, defeat is an orphan, goes the familiar saying. No doubt that explains how some conventions seem to have no parents, while others could use a Solomon to settle claims about their history.
For example, in Living in Atlantis #2, a lavishly illustrated fanzine filled with autobiographical insights about Seventies fanhistory, John McLaughlin’s editorial reveals a controversy over who founded BayCon, the San Jose convention which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.
Just 26 concom and staff, and about a dozen gophers, ran BayCon ’82. One of them was Hotel Liaison Michael Siladi, identified as one of the convention’s founders in last year’s program “BayCon Trivia: 25 Years Young.” McLaughlin believes he and Randall Cooper alone are BayCon’s co-founders: “Should, then, those 40 people all be considered ‘founders’ of BayCon? No. Because, before anyone can join a con staff, the convention first has to exist, either as a concept, organizational structure, or business entity.”
There is justice on both sides of the argument. Founder tends to be a pretty elastic term. It may attach to a single individual who conceives an institution, or it may extend to everyone who shares the risk to get a project off the ground. Americans liberally define as Founding Fathers all the signers of the 1787 Constitution – even signer John Dickinson, who before the Revolution opposed John Adams in debate about the Declaration of Independence. (Kevin Standlee will now rise and sing Dickinson’s lyrics from 1776).