I've been doing RavenCon since its first year, back when it was in an airport hotel in Richmond and I was doing 5-6 panels a weekend just to make up the numbers. Now in 2017, it's grown to include big-name authors, musical acts, a masquerade, and room for both known and up-and-coming creators to get their work out to a wider audience.
RavenCon is, technically speaking, a multi-fandom con -- the sort that seems to be suffering more and more in the 21st century as corporations corner the market on multi-genre events and fans look to indie con runners for more specific shows. The difference is that, while you can show up and get your fill of multiple shows, RavenCon skews more in favour of writers.
Hence the "raven" -- the con started in Richmond, home of Edgar Allan Poe, and the con's mascot is a raven named Lenore. It's moved down to Williamsburg in recent years in order to find a hotel that fits the event's needs, but you can still see the same crowd there. It's also a con that develops a "home group," so even when it grows, you'll still see the same familiar faces at the core.
After stepping down as a guest, I was asked to return as a staff member -- this time in charge of the newly expanded Author/Artist Alley. I started three years ago, and I had a lot to learn. I'd never run one before in my life, but I'd been in plenty at anime cons. So if nothing else, I knew what to look for.
We have approximately 20 tables available per year, with contracted and self-published writers, artists, jewelry makers, LARPs, and more. There's also a vendor room, but the Alley is a place for people who might have smaller stock or less funding for self-promotion. Or they might just want something a little more low-key.
Regardless, the Alley this year was fantastic. We had a wide variety of both returning vendors and new faces, and everything seemed generally happy throughout the weekend. Which, in turn, makes me happy.
RavenCon also branches out with special programming -- bad con story drinking games hosted by the Misbehavin' Maidens, writers reading their favourite writers' work, and a shadow cast of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. Opening Ceremonies is always a special occasion, too, starting off with a champagne (or non-alcoholic alternative) toast.
The hotel staff gets into it, too, wearing their own geeky shirts and accessories. An old friend from last year was back, too, dressed as Mos Def's Ford Prefect from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. His hotel badge even had "Ford Prefect" on it!
It's been fun to see RavenCon grow from its first year to now, and I love being a part of the staff that made the event. I've followed it through multiple hotels, typical con growing pains, and all sorts of amazing big name guests. And I can't wait to see where it goes in 2018!
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