April 11, 2018

Some C2E2/Windy City Pulp Panel Thoughts

From Left to Right: Phillip Salomon, Dawn Xiana Moon, Gordon Dymowski, Shira Raider, and Karlyn Meyer

(Note: some content originally appeared on personal Facebook posts...and it's kind of long).

Moderating panels is a challenge; organizing and moderating even more so. As many of you are aware, I've been busy organizing a C2E2 Doctor Who panel as well as moderating a Windy City Pulp and Paper panel..and my schedule continues to be full.

Although scheduled as one of the first panels Friday morning, I was extremely grateful - getting this panel "out of the way" allowed me to move forward with C2E2. However, what surprised me was the huge turnout (the room was about 4/5 full, if memory serves) as well as the active conversation. I was fortunate enough to have some great panelists (not only are they friends, but three of them had worked with me on a livestream C2E2 panel two years ago), and we had a lively, engaged conversation. In fact...Culturess reviewed "She's The Doctor Now" soon after the panel ended.

And not only am I grateful to Dawn, Phil, Karlyn & Shira for participating...I'm proud of them, as well as many other things I've done (and do) as a Doctor Who fan.

I'm proud that, through the Chicago Doctor Who Meetup, I've run really cool events and build inclusive, strong friendships as a result of my activities.

I'm proud that, ten years ago, I helped a marketing agency pitch work for Torchwood: Children of Earth and flew out to New York to discuss with BBC America.

I'm proud that, in 2013, I helped Chicago Nerd Social Club organize a massive viewing of The Day of The Doctor in which we had about 250 people...and we took over an entire bar.

I'm proud that, as Auction Director for Chicago TARDIS, I helped raise over $10,000 for Northern Illinois Food Bank.

But I'm especially proud of the fact that, thanks to some incredibly great people, we had a really cool panel discussion - and conversation - at C2E2 about female (and other) representation in Doctor Who.

Thanks to Shira, Dawn, Karlyn and Phillip for being excellent, putting up with my weekly e-mails (hey, I'm used to excessively detailed writing being a former counselor/nonprofit program leader/community organizer), but most importantly, for being so fricking *wonderful*.

I'm proud that they've chosen to serve on my panel...and I would do it again in a *heartbeat*.

My Windy City Pulp panel - about sword and sorcery in New Pulp - was a different matter entirely. It wasn't a negative experience - after all, I'm not really a sword and sorcery aficionado - but it led to an accidental, more revelatory moment.

Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, LLC is a more low key event focused on rare books. Although focused primarily on old (and new) pulp literature, there's plenty to engage those curious about pop culture history - comics, videos, and art. I enjoy working (and attending) this show and there's always something worth learning...and my sword and sorcery panel helped me learn a lot about myself - much that I did not want to admit.

My approach to the sword and sorcery panel was to focus on "why should I care?", making it a panel introducing newer readers to the genre than, say, why it is so awesome. (And yes, I grew up with those really bad sword and sorcery films of the 1980s). We were discussing Robert E. Howard towards the end of the panel. David C. White (who is writing a literary biography about Howard) brought up the circumstances of Howard's death. Someone in the audience remarked that they heard that Howard had "reactive depression", but didn't know what it was...so I related my experience.

Like me, Robert E. Howard was caring for an ill mother. He also lived in the 1930s in a Central Texas town. When you're caring for an ill parent, the stresses get to you...so much so that you begin the downward spiral into despair. Unlike clinical depression, reactive depression leaves you with the knowledge that you will get through it, but it hurts, physically and emotionally. Even small, insignificant heartaches take on a greater drama when you know that you're only reacting to events yet still feel that awful ache.

Robert E. Howard didn't have a support network. He also assumed that he would win in the end. I have a support network, and I am not going to make that assumption. But we soldier on and create because....to quote "The Shape of the Darkness That Overtakes Us" in Uncanny Magazine # 19, "Stories are how we survive...in times that seek to destroy us." That's just as true for personally -as well as politically - challenginging times.

In reading Robert E. Howard's non-Conan stories, there is a *hell* of a lot of raging against the dying of the light. Howard was trying to survive emotionally...and the only way he could do it was to create. Sometimes we tell stories because *we* need to reassure ourselves as authors that we can - and will - endure.

Although Howard made a tragic choice, I discovered at the end of that panel that I really *empathized* and understood Robert E. Howard in a way that I hadn't before now. And that, on some level, that's why I write the kind of fiction I write.

And I'm all the better for it.

And more importantly, I have friends. I'm part of a bigger community. And I gave up my notions of being "nobly alone" a long time ago....

(If you liked this post, please feel free to purchase the Robert E. Howard ebook linked below - I am an Amazon affiliate - or buy me a coffee via Ko-Fi.com)

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