two years ago, I received an email from Dr. Sam Conway, CEO of
the annual Anthrocon in Philadelphia. He invited me to be a guest
of honor at Anthrocon 2003. I had to decline due to my commitment
to the San Diego Comic-Con which was running at the same time.
He then asked if I'd be interested in being a guest for the following
year. I responded that I'd be glad to. I committed and the arrangements
announcing that I was to be a guest of honor at Anthrocon 2004,
I started receiving warnings from fans and pros alike, of the
danger of being associated with such a "twisted" fandom.
That made me more curious about the whole thing. I wanted to find
out for myself.
and I took the plane from Bellingham at 5:00 am on Thursday, July
8 and arrived in Philadelphia around 5:00 pm. Upon our arrival,
we were picked up by a stretch limo and driven to the Adam's Mark
Hotel. Once we checked in, we were given the keys to our suite
on the top floor. I couldn't believe how big our room was.
a quick shower we went back to the hotel's restaurant to meet
the board of directors and were treated to a great meal. Stan
Sakai, the other guest of honor, was there with his daughter Hannah
and his son Matthew.
dinner, we were asked what our feelings were about being invited
to a "furry" convention. I confessed that I was a little
apprehensive but was looking forward to the weekend nevertheless.
entire hotel was booked by Anthrocon so it was quite a sight to
see. There were fursuiters everywhere you looked and people wearing
furry ears and tails. At first, I have to say that it was very
bizarre. I felt like bursting into laughter every five minutes.
After a few hours though, I became used to it and it almost seemed
normal. The giant plush animals became the fun part of the crowd
and somehow it all made sense.
Friday morning, we had a quick breakfast, got our badges, and
went to the exhibition room to set up our table. The exhibition
floor opened at 12:00 and a mass of people, and fursuiters rushed
had amazing sales right from the start. A
Search for Meaning: The Story of Rex was a huge hit.
My other titles were also popular and by the time Sunday rolled
in, we had virtually sold out everything. This was one of our
best cons ever!
the convention, I participated in an animation panel; I did a
lecture on the book biz; I was interviewed by a paw-pet in front
of a large audience; I had a luncheon with the super sponsors
and I did at least a hundred sketches for fans. My schedule was
quite busy to say the least, but I enjoyed every moments.
artists generously gave us samples of their works. I received
several nice sketches (I'll put some of them in the fan art gallery
later on). Artist Guy
Gilchrist gave me a beautiful original of his charming syndicated
strip "Mudpie". The talented Mary Minch dropped by my
table and handed me the latest installment of her constantly improving
Mice comic series. Animation
designer Brian Reynolds, gave me a copy of his wonderful
new art book published by SofaWolf
Murray Husted left a copy of her graphic novel Making
Rain (a powerful mood piece) at my table (unfortunately, we
kept missing each other and weren't able to hook up). Artist Cara
Mitten gave us two cool t-shirts.
Friday at 9:00 pm, there was an art show opening reception. Stan
Sakai and I were asked to choose a piece for the "Guest of
Honor's Choice Award". This was a very difficult task as
a lot of the artwork was very good. I was impressed by the level
of quality and wished I could have picked at least five winners.
In the end, I was torn between two artists: TK
Labus (picture on the left) and Ursula
Vernon. I finally awarded my choice to a small piece (which
I ended up purchasing) by TK
Labus called "Shy Girl". Nancy and I also purchased
one of Ursula's pieces
called "Lurking Sock Puppet". We're very happy to add
these two pieces to our ever-growing collection of original artworks.
of the big highlights of the weekend was to be able to hang out
with Stan Sakai and his family. Very nice people. I was absolutely
delighted when Stan gave me the first seven trades of his comic
series, Usagi Yojimbo, and I can't wait to start reading this
epic story. He's been doing Usagi for 20 years which in my book
is a monumental achievement. His daughter and son were also very
friendly and they seemed to really enjoy themselves. Hannah was
even sporting furry ears and sketching for people!
highlights included "Uncle Kage Story Hour", the "Fursuiter's
Parade" and "Nighttime Dancing", where fursuiters
were dancing their tails off!
is no denying that the whole event is a little left of center,
but to me, that's what made it fun. I will take weird over normalcy
anytime. Nancy and I had such a good time. We've never been treated
better at a convention. The organizing committee made us feel
like royalty. This was a great adventure and I'm glad I didn't
listen to the nay sayers.
Gagné, July 13, 2004.
here for more pictures.