Tuesday, January 19, 2016

ArmadilloCon 25 in 2003

I was sorting through stuff[1] in my study, specifically a couple stacks of convention books (all of which have now been discarded), when I came upon the program book for ArmadilloCon 25, August 8-10, 2003. The Author Guest of Honor was Kage Baker and the Artist Guest of Honor was John Picacio. The program book brought to mind one of the panels I participated in at the con.

As an editor at the time for indie publisher Golden Gryphon Press, I had acquired and edited Kage Baker's first short story collection, Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers, which was published the previous year in time for the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California.[2] Also, I had acquired and edited Jeffrey Ford's first short story collection, The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories, published in 2002 as well, which featured cover art by John Picacio[3] -- the first of many covers John did for Golden Gryphon titles. In fact, the ArmadilloCon 25 program book, pictured above, features that very same cover art from The Fantasy Writer's Assistant.

Other Golden Gryphon Press authors were regular ArmadilloCon attendees in those days: Neal Barrett, Jr., Joe R. Lansdale, and Howard Waldrop. And when I learned that Lucius Shepard[4] would also be in attendance, I knew that I had to attend the convention as well.

So I contacted the programming staff and asked that they plan a panel discussion with me as the moderator, and include all the Golden Gryphon Press authors as well as artist John Picacio. They complied with my request, to a degree. The panel, entitled "The Golden Gryphon Experience," held at 11:00 a.m on Saturday, featured, in addition to myself, Kage Baker, Neal Barrett, Jr., Joe R. Lansdale, and John Picacio. Unfortunately, both Lucius Shepard and Howard Waldrop were on a competing panel at the same time entitled "Cool SF/F Movies."

I arrived at the meeting room prior to the start of the panel and taped dust jacket flats along the front edge of the panelists' table, and along the left and right walls: dust jackets for books by the participating authors, and a few dust jackets with John Picacio art.

To tell you the truth, now that it's nearly thirteen years later, I don't really recall any of the specifics of that panel, other than a memory of quite a bit of laughter from the sharing of anecdotes. But I know I had a grand time -- how could I not, sitting alongside the likes of Neal Barrett, Joe Lansdale, Kage Baker, and John Picacio!

Sadly, some of these authors are no longer with us: Kage passed away in January 2010; Neal and Lucius both passed away in 2014, in January and March respectively. So I remember those eight years with Golden Gryphon with equal amounts joy and sadness: joy at having met, and known, and worked with such fine authors and artists, and sadness over those we have now lost, as well as sadness at what could have been regarding Golden Gryphon Press. Excluding reprints, Golden Gryphon published nine books in 2003 -- I did say it was a small indie press! -- but of those nine books, six of them made Locus magazine's recommended reading list. In 2002, five of the six published titles made the recommended reading list, and five out of seven books in 2004. But all that's for another day (though I doubt that day will ever come).

So, cheers to ArmadilloCon, which celebrates its 38th convention in July -- and may you see many, many more such gatherings![5]


[1] And I mean "stuff" -- my wall-to-wall bookshelves are double-stacked, I have boxes of books piled upon boxes of books on the floor, and here and there where I can find a smidgen of floor space, books simply stacked upon books: that's my workspace!

[2] I wrote about the making of Black Projects, White Knights in a blog post entitled "In the Company of Kage Baker," published here on January 27, 2010. It's the third most read blog post since I began More Red Ink in 2009.

[3] In a blog post entitled "Reflections on the 2000 World Fantasy Convention," published on October 27, 2010, I wrote about my first encounters with both Jeffrey Ford and John Picacio, which led to the publication of The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories with the Picacio cover art.

[4] In my October 20, 2015, blog post "On Lucius Shepard," I wrote about the man and author.

[5] I attended my first ArmadilloCon in 1998 -- ArmadilloCon 10 -- which I wrote a wee bit about in my blog post of August 30, 2010, entitled "Philip K. Dick & Rudy Rucker's Warez."

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