Thursday, April 19, 2012

who are we?

Yesterday, in my capacity of working on programming for Mythcon 43, I met for lunch with our Author Guest of Honor, Malinda Lo, to talk about what will be going on at Mythcon and to exchange programming ideas. Naturally, as one new to the Mythopoeic Society, she wanted to know something of what we are about. So I explained that, as our name suggests, we're interested in myth-based and mythically resonant fantasy, that, while there probably isn't a well-known fantasy writer who doesn't have fans in the Society, we focus on what we consider the quality work, not necessarily the best known, as our awards nominee list, which her work has been on, testifies. It's fair to say that we don't follow the crowd, and, with con attendance under 200, it's pretty obvious, too.

And then I come home and read this post about World Fantasy Con and how they "don't want the 'wrong sort of fan' coming to 'their' convention." Are we like that too?

In a way we are, and I see nothing wrong with it. Mythcon is a particular sort of conference and aims to continue being that sort. People who want other sorts of fantasy cons, there's plenty of others to choose from, most far larger than ours, but there's none, or few, others like Mythcon. Those looking for DragonCon, or even WFC, won't find it at Mythcon, and it would be futile to try, and only annoy those who are at Mythcon because that's what they want.

At the same time it's not exclusionary. Anybody is welcome if they want what we offer, at least for long enough to attend a Mythcon. I go to many different types of conventions myself; each has a particular flavor, and I go expecting to dine on that flavor for the weekend, whether it's my regular dish or not. Mythcon doesn't have to go around proclaiming what it isn't, because it runs under the radar and doesn't have people knocking at its door with the wrong address, but maybe WFC isn't that lucky. Mythcon doesn't have a pre-emptive list of what we don't allow in our dealers' room, but when someone writes in to ask for a table, or for that matter offer to give a paper, on some topic that just doesn't fit Mythcon, we just write back and say no, thanks. It happens occasionally. We're certainly not trying to impress the general literati, as some think WFC is.

As far as comics, a particular subject of the above-referenced screed, it depends on what kind. A tableful of ordinary superhero comics would not do well at Mythcon, although we do have a few fans of them among us (B. is one), and we did give our scholarship award once to a book discussing superheros as mythic figures. On the other hand we did once have Neil Gaiman as our GoH, though perhaps uniquely among conventions he's attended, he was better-known among us for his prose fiction. I recall, however, that Sandman was on sale in the dealer's room, and properly so; and B. and I both gave papers on it.


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  2. Cheryl didn't accuse WFC of not wanting "the wrong kind of fan", only analogized to the attitude of some WorldCon fans.

    This controversy seems overblown to me. Comics dealers shouldn't get a table in the WFC dealers room; they wouldn't like it and the WFC attendees wouldn't either. The WFC committed is doing those dealers a favor by pointing this out. But nobody is going to complain if some of the books at a book dealer's table have lots of pictures in them.