Vision Con 2016 has wrapped, and my convention “season” has officially started. It’s my “home” con, since it’s the biggest in the area. This year was particularly noteworthy because it was also the birth of the biggest display I’ve ever been a part of. In fact, “big” seemed to be the pervading theme of the weekend. To recap, I got to con Friday morning around 9 AM, eager to get started. My publisher Shane Moore was already there, and had been doing an interview with a local radio station to promote the con. When he got back, his son Dakota drove their vehicle around, and we eventually got it backed up the loading ramp (huge shout out to George Canfield for getting the trailer up there in one piece!) Then we got the trailer open to unload, and I got my first glimpse of the bane of our Friday: five, massive black Kydex boxes. “That’s the new display,” Dakota told me, innocent as can be.
An hour later, we had it unloaded, and I opened the first box. And this was when I knew things had just gotten interesting. On top, in the first of several lucky breaks, was the instruction manual to “assemble” this masterwork design. No small pamphlet this, but a 12” X 24” book, with diagrams and parts lists. It was like a supersized Ikea project. From Hell. So, I figured, let’s get it unpacked, see what we have and get an idea of what it’s supposed to look like.
Then we discovered the tool bag. That’s right, a tool bag. The professional grade bag o’ stuff with a Craftsman label on the side. Whoever had created this thing was SERIOUS about it getting put together. They even included duct tape. And multiple hex drivers. So, we began to fumble our way through the first part.
By now, bets were starting to crop up as to when, and in a few cases IF we were going to get the monster display finished. The doors to the vendors room had just opened, and we looked like a construction site.
And then Serendipity struck again. Because as we were just getting the first piece together, the central portion that held the biggest sign, Divine Fortune sends us my gaming buddy Neil. Who, as he comes up, utters the words that would change his weekend, (and perhaps his life).
“Anything I can do to help?” he asked fatefully. Of course I said yes. And then, his eyes fell upon the Infernal Device before him, and there came an Unholy Glow as he took his jacket off. Because where I was seeing an Ikea project from the depths of Hell, Neil was seeing the world’s biggest effing Lego set under the Christmas tree. See, Neil’s degree involves theater set design. It was as if his entire life had been leading up to that one moment. And, perhaps it had. Because Neil could read the instructions, and more importantly, he could UNDERSTAND the Arcane Rituals laid out before him.
And then shit got Biblical.
And lo, we did build The Display, and set it upon the firmament. And Shane saw that it was good. And he did say “Wow!” For it was a mighty display, ten feet by twenty feet with locking boxes and many display signs. And it did stand on its own, and all of the other merchants were astounded by its greatness. And in the fifth hour, Neil did declare the damn thing finished.
Both Neil and I literally bled over that thing. And I have to hand it to my gaming buddy, when he gouged his hand, he did first aid like a boss. First, he cleaned the wound, not with sanitary this or that, but with an alcohol wipe. Then, not wanting to bother with hitting the first aid station, he used duct tape for a bandage. I was mightily impressed.
Needless to say, he didn’t pay for food if I could help it, and Shane and Steven Tibbs showered him with swag. The man was our hero.
From there, the rest of con was almost anti-climactic. We sold books like nobody’s business. I even sold out of some of my titles. I got to hang out with Katy Townsend and meet Sam Witwer, as well as a lot of cool new folks and I got to see a lot of familiar faces. Confirmed with a couple of cons from last year that I was going to be there. And while I didn’t do a lot of partying like I might have once, I still had a great time.
The VisionCon staff deserve a huge shout out for putting on one HELL of a great con. As always, but it never fails to impress me. Especially when attendance increased the population of Branson, Missouri by about 20% for that weekend. And if there were glitches or problems, I certainly didn’t see them, and they didn’t disrupt things as far as I could tell. So, my hat is off to Brandon Shane and his team. Another great VisionCon!