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John Picacio
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 01:28 pm:   

The following is a news item that I posted on my website on August 12. So it's old news already. But I wanted to put this up for the benefit of folks like Jeremy Lassen and others who are still wondering about what went down at this year's ArmadilloCon. It was a great show (albeit the hotel bar layout left something to be desired).

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August 12, 2003

A few words about ArmadilloCon 25 in Austin, Texas. An epic weekend! I was Artist Guest of Honor. Big thanks to all of the ArmadilloCon committee members for their superior Texas hospitality, thoughtfulness and consideration. It’s not easy to put one of these shows together, but these folks worked extremely hard to put together a fabulous show. Big thanks to everyone involved, but especially John Gibbons (Con Chairman – great job), the multi-talented Sara Felix, Renee Babcock, Shane Cook, Elizabeth Burton, Willie Siros, Charles Siros, Nina Siros, Fred Duarte, Lawrence Person, A.T. Campbell, and Lori Wolf. And an extra special thanks to all of the Art Show committee members. Kimm Antell, Art Show Chairperson, did a tremendous job. Scott Zrubek, Laura Domitz, and Janie Murphy worked their tails off. Thanks to all.

As for the Con itself, as I said, it was an epic weekend. What an honor to be the Artist Guest of Honor at any convention, much less a 25th Anniversary celebration that included the likes of David Hartwell, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Gordon Van Gelder, Lucius Shepard, Vernor Vinge, Bruce Sterling, Joe R. Lansdale, Marty Halpern, Kage Baker, Anne Groell, Aaron Allston, Jess Nevins, Greg Ketter, Rick Klaw, Harry Morris, Jennifer Hall of LOCUS MAGAZINE and many, many more. It was great seeing everyone. I had a blast moderating and participating in all of those great panel discussions. On Saturday, I presented a one-hour Saturday slide show about my illustration work and was gratified to see all of the folks who showed up to see that. Big fun.

With all of that said, I think my highlight of the weekend was the monster Saturday night celebration that I co-hosted with my Romantic Underground compadres – namely James A. Owen, publisher of Coppervale International’s INTERNATIONAL STUDIO and ARGOSY MAGAZINE; Lou Anders, Senior Editor of ARGOSY MAGAZINE and the star editor of LIVE WITHOUT A NET (available now from Penguin/Roc Books); and author-on-the-rise Chris Roberson, who along with wife Allison Baker, is the publisher of MonkeyBrain Books.

So the four of us (Allison was ill most of the weekend, but there in spirit) rented the two-story Congressional Suite of the Hilton North and threw a launch party celebrating the release of Coppervale’s new magazines; MonkeyBrain Books’ new releases THINGS THAT NEVER WERE (Matthew Rossi) and GEEK CONFIDENTIAL (Rick Klaw); and Lou Anders’ LIVE WITHOUT A NET and forthcoming ARGOSY launch. And me? Well, I was co-hosting for a few reasons – I wanted to offer a goodwill gesture to everyone because I was a Guest of Honor. Secondly, I’m the Artist-In-Residence in the initial issues of Coppervale’s INTERNATIONAL STUDIO. And lastly, (but certainly not least) I’m the cover illustrator/designer for the first three MonkeyBrain Books releases. So those were my reasons, but the bottom line was -- it was the fun thing to do.

So. If you weren’t there, you missed out this time. Let’s put it this way. The party started at 9pm Saturday night, and by 9:20pm, the entire bottom floor was jam-packed with the industry’s finest, with more and more people streaming through the door by the minute. By 10pm, the loft area was just as packed, and the entire place was a buzzing frenzy of pros and fans alike. We were even graced with the requisite pair of gooshy young lovers necking like there was no tomorrow and completely oblivious of all party-goers. There it was, for all to see, right under the loft stairwell. Hey -- it’s not a party without a drunken public display of sloppy lovemaking! But they didn’t seem to care and no one else did either as long as the beer kept flowing. It was a great time. It was The Place To Be on Saturday night.

After this weekend, needless to say, I think the buzz is spreading quickly. MonkeyBrain Books is here -- and they’re not going away -- a force to be reckoned with in the non-fiction publishing biz; LIVE WITHOUT A NET is selling briskly and receiving rave reviews (check out this month’s LOCUS MAGAZINE, for one example); INTERNATIONAL STUDIO will revolutionize the American arts magazine scene as we now know it; and the new ARGOSY MAGAZINE will be one of the major literary events of 2003.

Not a bad weekend.

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