Last weekend I attended the Portland CthulhuCon. It was a gathering of a few hundred fans of Lovecraft and related media for two days, featuring amazing and fascinating panels, art displays and competitions, readings, games, vendors…. It was amazing!
I myself am a moderate Lovecraft fan. I probably know more about the man and his work than I do of the stories themselves. I mean, sure, I’ve read his most popular stories and I’m familiar with his mythos, but I’m by no means hardcore. Even so, I held my own in a Lovecraftian Pictionary game!
The panels were simply fantastic! They really were quality, intellectual panels with some very prominent Lovecraft scholars and artists and writers, the quality of discussions I’d have seen a the ICFA. Cthulhu vs Dracula, compare and contrasting Lovecraft’s writing and style, and place in literary history, with that of Bram Stoker. One on Lovecraft’s life and internal demons and how that may have affected his writing. An analysis of the Lovecraft mythos and writing in mythos (his and in general). And more! I took so many notes.
One of the best parts was a performance by Leeman Kessler of “Ask Lovecraft.” He does a very funny, and honoring, not satirical, impersonation of a reanimated Lovecraft answering any and all questions from the audience, from the serious to the goofy — and every improvised response of his was great and humorous.
One of the highlights was definitely “Scotch with Scott.”
Being an early registrant I got to pick a special breakout session to attend, and I got to drink a finger of 16 year old Lagavulin with Scott Glancy, a prominent and skilled game developer, particularly in the Call of Cthulhu line. Man, he had some amazing stories! I about popped a stitch from laughing. (And he bears an uncanny resemblance to a far more attractive version of Walter from “The Big Lebowski.”)
But the best takeaway from the weekend was in the inspiration I gained from all the writers and game developers (like Glancy) to really delve back into finishing stories and game ideas, and getting my stuff out there. I met one self-published author, K.M. Alexander, from who I bought the novel The Stars Were Right, who was kind enough to talk to me briefly about hardcopy book publishing. Also, I’m a few chapters into his novel, and I’m loving it! A mystery set in a fascinating post-post-apocalypse, a future where the Lovecraftian Old Ones have already come and gone and are starting to drift back into myth.
I also met another self-published author, who was inspiring as well — sadly, while I loved a short story of his, I read one of his novels and wow, not good. While I suppose it serves the greater good to provide a bad review, he was kind enough to give me e-copies for free and since I’m not a professional reviewer, I’d feel terrible saying the truth of the awfulness in return. So, I’ll select to say nothing at all. But even so, he seemed like a great guy personally and I can take a lesson from him in regards to self-publishing.
But the big event that set the whole weekend of self-publishing inspiration of, was this:
So, early on Saturday I sat down in the gaming room for a game of Cthulhu Fluxx. I’m a fan of regular Fluxx and Pirate Fluxx, never had a chance to play Cthulhu Fluxx, so why not. I’m playing with the demo guy, and he gives a pitch for another game he was going to demo later, called Phoenix: Dawn Command. Looked really cool! He described it as a combination of RPG (like D&D and Eberron) and storytelling card games like Gloom. Oh, I discover, he wrote it? Very cool! So we go on, and I don’t recall now how I made the leaps of realization, but it hit me like a one-two…-three punch:
The guy who was demoing Cthulhu Fluxx for me and wrote that Phoenix game, wrote Gloom! … and he wrote Eberron?! (Eberron was one of the best D&D campaign settings, in my opinion) …and he created… Cthulhu Fluxx??!! Are you kidding me?! (And the guy didn’t look older than 35.) Oh yeah, and he lives in Portland! Yet another cool writer/creator who lives in Portland!
So, I spend time with the guy responsible for some great game creations. I spoke with a couple of cool self-published authors. I had scotch with a guy who was responsible, as a younger man even, in creating a well-loved game setting and runs a game publishing company. And, I’m good acquaintances and former gradschool-mate with a guy who writes RPG materials and has work published in my favorite RPG of all …who knows Glancy and told me to tell him “hi” for him.
I felt acutely old and unaccomplished and depressed, and extremely inspired and pumped and hopeful all at the same time!
This is actually a fine point to end this brief summary of CthulhuCon, and carry this thought over to a new post….