Both Miss L and I had a really good time at Balticon this past weekend. It was very relaxed, and a good chance to feel like we were getting away without going very far.
Miss L hit a bunch of panel discussions on Web Comics. They covered just about everything: software, artwork, the business side, and even writing. I went to a couple with her and even though the panelists were pretty much the same folks at each one, they kept it fresh and interesting each time. They were a nice bunch, and as I dig through the web links to all their various projects I'm sure I'll be sharing some of them here. Although I know a bit about comics in print, web comics is an area I just haven't delved into very much yet. It was interesting learning about the differences and the similarities, and also just hearing what people are really into. Miss L came out, I think, a little overwhelmed at the end but still interested in the medium.
I hit a bunch of panels on my own as well, things like "Worldbuilding", "What Draws You to an Author for a Second Book" and a even a panel devoted to the BBC show Torchwood. My only complaint about the panels was how casual they all were. It worked for the comic book ones because only a few people attended those each time. But some of the others I went to seemed disorganized to me, like the panelist didn't come in with clear ideas for what they were going to say and just let the audience jump into the conversation without any real direction. And the fanboys and fangirls? Good lord, calm down. Get over the fact that someone new (Simon Pegg) will be playing Scotty in the new Star Trek movie and move on with your life. There are far more important things to get upset over.
My favorite panel was one on Sci Fi/Fantasy for kids and young adults. Moderated by local romance/fantasy author Stephanie Burke, who looked like she was having a great time dressed as a goth bunny, I came away with a pretty sizable list of authors to check out and also learned about an interesting program NASA has in the works. They are looking towards bringing in authors and teaming them up with NASA scientists to write novels and/or short stories to help get kids interested in science. It's an interesting idea and I hope they can get it to work.
The dealer room wasn't that impressive. It was set up a lot like a comic book convention, with different book stores trying to sell there wares more so than publishers or authors---although there were a small handful. I'm not sure why they don't hit this convention. If there were more small presses there selling stuff, I know I would have spent a lot more money. I'm just not interested in buying a first edition Heinlein or an authentic blaster gun from Star Wars, but that's me.
I did end buying a few things, though. First of which is the anthology Steampunk, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff vanderMeer. I like Jeff a lot as an author and I appreciate both of the VanderMeers as editors as well. The book has a lot of good names, and it's something I'm really curious to dig into. Other than some stories in mags here and there I haven't read a lot of Steampunk.
I also got sweet-talked by C.J. Henderson, one of the few authors there with his own table, to buy a couple of his books. I've never read him before, but at least the ones I bought look like fun. He basically takes old characters like H.P. Lovecraft's Inspector LeGrasse and writes new stories for them. Looks like good, pulp-inspired fun and sometimes I need that.