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Conflux: Day Two

Day One Report

Due to my misreading of the program, I thought my two Saturday panels were around the other way, and that the comics one was at 10:30! Fortunately, Rob Hood and I had compared notes the night before, and disaster was averted. I am not really at my best at 10am on a Saturday, but getting there with time enough to get a coffee was a great start.

Saturday 10am – Melrose Room
“Ask the Tech Expert” Panel
Our panel of experts examine a range of objects and give us their educated guess about the item’s name and probable function.
Host: Kathleen Jennings Panellists: Rob Hood, David McDonald, Lewis Morley, and John Morris.

Going into this panel, Rob and I still weren’t sure whether we were meant to hazard serious guesses, or simply make up the wildest, most outlandish claims possible. We were, of course, hoping for the latter and fortunately that was the case. We were presented with a bizarre range of implements and the panellists went nuts in their attempts to come up there with the most out there theory. Rob’s obsession with the gouging of eyeballs was a bit disconcerting, though, and I am glad that I wasn’t aware of it before getting a ride through dark and deserted countryside.

Seen through the prism of creative minds objects that started out as merely bizarre became wondrous, we ended up with everything from a unicorn whistle (just like a dog whistle, of course) to a very nasty espionage device. It was all very ably moderated by Kathleen Jennings (who has produced some delightful art which you must check out here). It was also the only real chance I had to interact with one of the Guests, Lewis Morley, which is a shame because he was absolutely brilliant.

This was a very fun panel to be on, with lots of laughs from the panellists and the audience, and I thought everyone involved did a great job.

Saturday 1:30pm – Melrose Room
Comic Adaptations Panel
Comic Book heroes take on the Big Screen” – Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, The Green Hornet, Captain America, the X Men – they’ve all made it to the big screen. Have they done it right?
Panellists: Conor Bendle, Mik Bennett, Rob Hood, Devin Jeyathurai, David McDonald (moderator), and Ian Nichols.

By the time this panel rolled around I was getting rather nervous. It was only the second time I have moderated a panel, and it was very different from the last one. From the emails we had exchanged leading up to the con, I knew there was both a lot of knowledge and a lot of passion amongst the panellists, and it was going to be tough to fit everything we wanted to cover into one hour. But, it makes it much easier to moderate when you have good panellists, and we certainly did.

The discussion was very wide ranging, starting with adaptations that we thought had worked or hadn’t, and then trying to work out what the ingredients to success were. As you can imagine, there was some debate about the relative merits of more than one movie (Batman Begins nearly started a fight haha), and it was great to get so many different perspectives from people with different histories with the comic book world. I think we were all in awe of the fact that Ian Nichols had been reading comics for almost sixty years!

Some of the themes that came up were how vital it is that the adapters have a love of the source material that goes beyond how much money it can make them, the need to not be a slave of continuity but to be aware of it, and how long running characters have different interpretations that allow the adapters to decide which version they will use. In the end we simply ran out of time, but we managed to pack a lot into that hour and I think we managed to leave everyone, both audience and panellists, with a big list of new things to watch and read. In the end, I was really happy with how it all went.

After that I was able to relax for a little while, before heading into a reading.

Reading by Jack Dann

Nebula and World Fantasy Award recipient Jack Dann will read from his new autobiography INSINUATIONS or his new fantasy series-in-progress entitled “SHADOWSIN THE STONE”. If raining, please meet in the lounge area adjacent to the café.

Jack read from Insinuations and it was incredible, like no other autobiography I have read before. It jumped around in time and space, but despite that, or perhaps because of it, it was deeply moving. You could see him struggling with certain passages as he read them, and I think all of the audience felt it too – I know I did. Then we were treated to almost an interview style chat between Jack and Nick Stathopoulos, which gave us all an excellent insight into the creative process from two different points of view. Incidentally, I saw some examples of Nick’s artwork and it is amazing, so I will be checking it out as soon as I can.

Then it was time to frock up and head to the Hellenic Club for the Conflux Banquet. It was an extravagant affair, with a 1920’s theme and set upon the luxurious Graf Zeppelin. There were lots of people completely in character, glamorous dresses and slick suits catching the eyes. The menu was delightful, with one of the best goulashes I have ever had, and Talie Helene’s wonderful vocal stylings provided the perfect backdrop. Gillian Polack did an exceptional job putting it all together, and it is a real shame it is meant to be her last (though I heard a rumour that she may make a comeback for the 2013 Natcon!).

I was at awesome table (every one of my table mates someone I could have happily spent all night talking to), and our conversation was wide ranging, everything from asparagus and its effects on various genetic groups to human trafficking. We were all astounded to learn that Alan Baxter was once a fishmonger (not sure that his new nickname, Mong the Merciless will stick, but here’s hoping!). I wandered around a bit as well, finding some BWBers I first met last year at AussieCon and was very happy to see, and taking some pics of Laura Goodin as Amelia Earhart. Fully satiated by both good food and good company, we made our way back to the convention centre to continue our night.

There was much more talking and socialising. To be honest I had so many great conversations over the Con that the timeframes are rather fuzzy, but I believe that this might have been the night that I met two visiting American authors and had a long and fascinating debate covering topics like the difference between humans and animals, and what political systems and ideologies were the best for humanity. It was all very civilised considering the contentious subjects we addressed!

Finally, it was time to go, however reluctantly, and again I was offered a lift home, this time by Alan Baxter (thanks, Alan!). There was no Dalek, sadly, but plenty of good company and laughs, a great ending to a great day.