A decent number of comic book and genre writers and artists go to a lot of conventions. They go for lots of different reasons: some go for the social scene, after all, many of us sit alone in our rooms working umpteen hours a week without company; some, mostly artists, go to sell product to top-up their incomes; some go to network, looking for new business.
I hope that we all go for the fans.
The husband and I don’t do a great many conventions. We love them, but we also work a lot and can’t dedicate twenty or thirty weekends a year to meeting the public, because that would mean twenty or thirty weekends a year when we weren’t working.
We tend to really enjoy the smaller conventions, at home and abroad. They give us the opportunity to spend time with people, talk to them, answer questions, and enjoy their company.
We’re invited to more conventions than we can possibly attend, and often take recommendations from other writers and artists as to which are the most fun and community oriented.
Last weekend we were in Bergen, Norway, for Raptus 2016. The artist Mike Collins recommended that we should attend, and has been a regular at the con for fourteen years.
So, we went.
Raptus is a lovely convention with lots of European creators as well as Brits and Americans. The universal language is English, despite the guests including French nationals, Danes, Italians, Norwegians and others.
One of the nice things about the smaller cons is that they tend to be extremely well and thoughtfully organised, and creators tend to be very well looked after. This was certainly true of Raptus. The organisers did a fabulous job, and the red and yellow shirts were endlessly attentive. I cannot express how impressed I was with everyone from our lovely driver, to those who recommended sightseeing opportunities, and others who constantly plied us with food and drink… I don’t think I was ever without a glass of water at my side.
|Some of the guests who attended Raptus 2016|
The other guests were great company, too, Henrik Rehr told extraordinary stories, and we shared political viewpoints with Arthur Suydam and Renee Witterstaetter. Mike Collins was on roaringly good form, and a delight, as always, and Karoline Stjernfelt was bright and engaged and a real breath of fresh air. She’s also hugely talented, so look out for her work.
The convention was small enough so that we were all able to eat dinners together, and they were lively events with endless chatter and good humour.
There was a steady flow of comic book fans, who wanted to talk and ask questions, and some of them made a huge effort with their cosplay.
There were no low moments, no arguments; we all slotted neatly into the space and the atmosphere, and, I trust and believe that a good time was had by all.
I hope, one day, to be invited back to Raptus… We’d jump at the chance.
Not for nothing, we’d also jump at the chance to return to the rather beautiful city of Bergen with the views of the mountains surrounding it, its old wooden buildings and its wonderful museums and galleries.
The one small problem I had in the city was getting a good cup of decaff coffee. The Norwegians have lots of great cafes and coffee shops, but they take their coffee seriously, so many of the independents don’t serve decaff. In the end, I avoided the inevitable Starbucks and drank good local apple juice in the best of the city’s coffee places… The strudel was pretty damned good too.