Goth Chick News: Comics (and Potentially You) Get Dragged…

Thursday, July 27th, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Black Gate Goth Chick News ComicCon 2017

Sometimes, horror-related or not, a story is just too good not to share.

With the Chicago Comic Con still a few weeks off, the GCN staff has been glued to our screens watching all the going’s on at the mother-of-all cons, the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC for you cool kids) which wrapped up last Sunday.

Like any comic con, when you get this many people with this much…uh…passion together in one place, there are bound to be shenanigans. However the big surprise this year didn’t come to us courtesy of an over-enthusiastic cosplayer after too many adult beverages mixed with Red Bull, but instead from what has become a consistent player on the stage of WTF…the airline industry.

After gaining infamy from their “aggressive” removal of a passenger from a flight earlier this year, United Airlines prevented passengers leaving the SDCC via San Diego International, from carrying comic books in their checked baggage.

No, I’m not kidding.

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A Wiscon Reading Report: The Best in Upcoming Fantasy – 2017 Edition

Monday, July 3rd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

CSE Cooney and Amal El-Mohtar reading at Wiscon 2017-small CSE Cooney and Amal El-Mohtar reading at Wiscon 2017 2-small CSE Cooney and Amal El-Mohtar reading at Wiscon 2017 3-small

CSE Cooney and Guest of Honor Amal El-Mohtar perform Music & Miscellania at Wiscon 2017

Just a few days ago I wrote about Kay Kenyon’s upcoming novel At the Table of Wolves, the tale of a young woman forced to use her budding superpowers to spy on Nazi Germany and prevent the immanent invasion of England. It’s pretty clear to me that this is one of 2017’s breakout novels, and I was thrilled to get a sneak peek at it last year.

How did that happen? By attending a small, intimate reading at the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, convention readings have tipped me off to countless breakout books over the years, including works from Guy Gavriel Kay, N.K. Jemisin, Ian Tregillis, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, Connie Willis, Cory Doctorow, and many others. I even attended a reading by George R.R. Martin many years ago, in which he read from an unpublished novel titled A Game of Thrones — and then stuck around afterwards to chat to the small audience, and sign my advance copy of the book.

Any convention worth its salt will have a decent reading program. But the best conventions showcase a wide range of writers, and have multiple reading tracks. And after decades of attending cons, I can say without hesitation that the one with the best record for introducing me to stellar new talent — and tipping me off to fantastic new books — through its reading program is Wiscon, held every May in Madison, Wisconsin. And this year’s con was no exception.

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Edinburgh’s Monthly Mini-Convention: Shoreline of Infinity’s Event Horizon

Thursday, May 11th, 2017 | Posted by M Harold Page

Ken McLeod at Shoreline of Infinity's Event Horizon

Ken McLeod reading at Shoreline of Infinity’s Event Horizon

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Like the old thing you like, but genuinely new

Confession: My problem with Science Fiction conventions is that 33% of the way through, I am always seized with a desire to go home and write Science Fiction.

I can only sit still for so long without typing. 24 hours in and I’m more excited by about  hanging out with other SF folk than I am about panels and readings. That’s why I’m lazy about going to local performance events.

It helps, of course, that Edinburgh is already Science Fiction Convention: the City. It’s large enough to support overlapping cohorts of geeks spawned by the local universities the way a recurrent nova spawns expanding spheres of luminous gas. At the same time, my city is small enough that once you are plugged in, you really are plugged in. So, I already have people to hang out with.

What lured me out of my hermetic bubble was the promise of a balanced slice of the convention experience: performance followed by drinking and chatting.

Shoreline of Infinity Magazine‘s Event Horizon has grown since 2015 to become awfully like an actual monthly science fiction mini-convention.

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How to Assemble an Instant Science Fiction Collection

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Windy City Pulp and Paper 2017 Science Fiction Paperbacks-small

I came home from the 2017 Windy City Pulp & Paper Show with a lot of books.

The 120 SF & fantasy paperbacks books above represent the bulk of my purchases this year. I found plenty of additional treasures — including early issues of Hugo Gernsback’s Science Wonder Stories, a handful of hardcovers, art books, bargain graphic novels, and plenty of magazines — but this year, it was mostly about the paperbacks.

And man, what a haul. As I mentioned in my brief report Saturday morning, one of the highlights of the convention was discovering a vendor in the back of the room selling mint condition, unread SF paperbacks from the 70s and 80s at cover price (about $2 each). It was like stepping back in time 30 years into a well-stocked bookstore. You can’t reasonably expect someone to keep their head under circumstances like that.

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Goth Chick News: C2E2 2017 – More Harley Quinn’s Than You Can Swing A Mallet At

Thursday, May 4th, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

C2E2 2017

The annual cosplay bacchanalia that is the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (or “C2E2” for you cool kids) rolled into our city’s largest convention space on April 21 for three full days of exhibition in every sense of the word.

Now in its 8th year, preliminary attendance estimates easily top the 100K mark which was illustrated by the fact that the McCormick Center’s 6000 parking spaces were full on Saturday by 11 a.m. and attendees were being bussed from other nearby lots. Of course one must also consider that this year’s C2E2 event was sharing a small amount of their space with The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics annual Experimental Biology convention which accounted for some of the parking consumption.

Imagine with me if you will, jacketed and bespectacled scientist-types of a certain age, navigating the long pedestrian bridge connecting the garage to the event space alongside Superman, Wonder Woman and various members of the Seven Kingdoms. Now imagine Black Gate photog Chris Z and I under the influence of too little sleep, too much caffeine and more than the normal snark level, trudging along behind them.

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Why You Should Go to Conventions

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 | Posted by Doug Ellis

The Dray Prescot series 3-small

The Dray Prescot series, by Alan Burt Akers

Last month, I posted in a couple of Facebook groups a piece of new art that Deb and I had bought. In response to the post, one person asked how to go about acquiring illustration art, and I mentioned that one good venue was going to conventions such as The Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (shameless plug) or PulpFest for vintage art, or IX or Spectrum Fantastic Art Live for new stuff. And many of the larger comic conventions also have some dealers who specialize in vintage illustration art, or artist attendees doing current work. And several SF/fantasy conventions, such as World Fantasy, Boskone or Worldcon still have good art rooms (and Boskone in particular has strong vintage art components to their art shows), though in most cases SF cons are not what they used to be when it comes to art. In addition to conventions, I also mentioned various auction houses, eBay and dealers, which are more typical day-to-day places to find illustration art, as cons are scattered throughout the year and most of us can’t attend all of them.

Of course, this is only my opinion, and others may have different experiences, particularly when it comes to collecting newer illustration art. Our focus is on older illustration art, and while we do have several pieces that have been created in the past few years, the bulk of our collection is illustration art that’s at least 30 years old, with the majority of it at least 60 years old and some over 100 years old.

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Vintage Treasures: Famous Fantastic Mysteries, edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Famous Fantastic Mysteries Weinberg-smallI spent yesterday and Friday at the Windy City Pulp and Paperback show in Lombard, Illinois, about 30 minutes from my house. And as soon as I finish this article, I’m going to scoot over there again.

I found a great many treasures at this show this year. More than usual, even. And I’m looking forward to reporting on them here. One of the more interesting was a copy of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, a 1991 pulp reprint anthology from Gramercy edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg, in terrific shape, which I bought for just $5.

Famous Fantastic Mysteries was a much-beloved fantasy pulp which ran from 1939 to 1953. The publisher was Frank A. Munsey, a name well known to pulp fans. The first bi-monthly issue was cover-dated September-October 1939, and contained A. Merritt’s “The Moon Pool,” Ray Cummings’ “The Girl in the Golden Atom,” and stories by Manly Wade Wellman, Donald Wandrei, and many others. The magazine was a success, and it quickly switched from bi-monthly to monthly.

While the magazine relied chiefly on reprints, especially in the early days, it commissioned original art from many of the top artists of the day, especially Virgil Finlay and Lawrence Sterne Sevens, and today is treasured as much for the fabulous covers and interior art as the fiction.

In its 81 issues, Famous Fantastic Mysteries offered reprints of SF and fantasy pulp stories by Max Brand, E. F. Benson, Robert W. Chambers, William Hope Hodgson, Lord Dunsany, Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack London, and countless others, as well as brand new fiction from Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Murray Leinster, Theodore Sturgeon, William Tenn, Margaret St. Clair, Arthur C. Clarke, Donald A. Wollheim, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and many more. See the complete issue checklist at Galactic Central.

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Total Pulp Victory: Windy City Pulp & Paper, Part II

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Horror on the Asteroid at Windy City Pulp 2016-small

Horror on the Asteroid, and other fabulous treasures

Happy Saturday morning everyone!

I leaped out of bed this morning, and hastily started packing up to head out to the Windy City Pulp and Paperback show in nearby Lombard, IL. I spent most of the day there yesterday, catching up with Jason Waltz, Arin Komins, Rich Warren, David Willoughby, Bob Garcia, Doug Ellis, and many other old friends… and more than a few fellow happy buyers and sellers.

I also found more than a few treasures, including a seller in the back with an absolutely gorgeous collection of 1970s and 80s science fiction paperbacks that looked glossy and flawless. He was asking $2 each, in many cases less than the original cover price, so it was like stepping back in time and plucking brand new books by Roger Zelanzy, Sherri Tepper, H. Beam Piper, P.C. Hodgell, Gene Wolfe, and Robert E. Howard off the shelves. I even found a complete set of M. John Harrison’s Viriconium sequence, which Fletcher Vredenburgh enthusiastically wrote up here at Black Gate. I spent a small fortune at that booth alone, and it took a few trips back to the car to carry all my bags.

Windy City has the kind of treasures I cannot find anywhere else, like rare Arkham House collections and early issues of Weird Tales, and even a copy of the first collection by my favorite pulp writer, Edmond Hamilton’s The Horror on the Asteroid and Other Tales of Planetary Horror, published in hardcover by Philip Allan in 1936. I’ve only seen one copy in my entire life, and that was at last year’s show, resting on a table among dozens of other near-priceless volumes, like early first editions of Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert A Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, C.L. Moore, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and lots more (click the image above for a closer look).

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A Babe in the Woods: Derek’s Literary Adventures in New York

Sunday, April 16th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Sheila Williams speaking at Asimov’s 40th Anniversary Celebration in Manhattan-small

Sheila Williams speaking at Asimov’s
40th Anniversary Celebration in Manhattan

For those of you who don’t know, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine turns 40 years old this spring, and a celebration was held at a New York book store. Asimov’s invited its writers and I finally, finally used this as my excuse to visit New York!

I’ve traveled lots of other places, but I’ve never been to the home of Spider-Man,  Dr. Strange, Saturday Night Live, and *all* the crime shows ever!

Like a lot of non-Americans, I’ve also been hesitant to cross the border more recently, in part because I have friends who might not be able to do so anymore, and in part because I wasn’t sure how I’d be treated.

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Goth Chick News: Neck Deep in the Haunts – The 2017 HAA Show

Thursday, March 30th, 2017 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show

Hard to believe Goth Chick News has been covering the Haunted Attraction Association’s Halloween show for sixteen glorious years, but as Black Gate photog Chris Z and I once again headed south from Chicago at 5 a.m. toward St. Louis, it didn’t feel like it had been that long at all.

Okay, that’s BS. At 5 a.m. it felt longer.

But as we motored through darkened cornfields dodging various small animals and quoting the movie Motel Hell (“It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters!”), it dawned on me how many “firsts” this show represents in my Black Gate career; first trade show covered, first interview and first article in the top 50, though back then I think it was top 20.

Needless to say, not only does the HAA loom large professionally, the people we’ve met along the way mean it has a special place in my little black heart.

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