Monday, March 30, 2009

Aggiecon 40

Well, it's over and done: after 18 consecutive years of attending Aggiecon--making it as dependable a harbinger of spring as anything in my experience--I've now missed it two years running. In 2008 I wasn't invited. This year I was invited, but six months of radio silence from the convention and emails going unanswered didn't do much to reassure me. Ultimately, family obligations forced me to offer my regrets to the con, but my cancellation was never acknowledged and indeed, I have no idea if anyone at the con even noticed my absence.

From scattered reports surfacing online, it's looking like I didn't miss a heck of a lot. Todd McCaffrey is a great guy and a talented writer, but no convention is going generate much buzz by bringing him back as the sole author guest of honor year after year. Despite repeated warnings from myself and others that turning Aggiecon into a media con (ie paying B-list celebs to attend and charge money for autographs) lies the way to financial ruin, the students still seem hell-bent on charting this course. Repeated offers to put them in contact with authors, artists and comic book creators of their choice have been met with profound silence.

If attendance was as bad this year as rumor has it, maybe the few remaining Cepheids will take the hint and take the steps necessary to save the convention. More likely, with the Memorial Student Center set to undergo massive renovations next year--forcing the eviction of the convention from the home of the con for the vast majority of its 40 year run--I fear that this year marks the final chapter in that event's storied history. It's like Obama told GM and Chrysler today: Yes, you made some effort to right the sinking ship; but no, it's not nearly enough.

Ironically, I don't think many will miss it once it's gone. Once there was only Aggiecon and Armadillocon for Texas fandom. Now, there are two great conventions in the DFW area with FenCon and ConDFW, while in Houston Apollocon has grown into a very enjoyable event. As always, Armadillocon remains the gold standard. Still, anyone who knows me knows I have a profound emotional investment in Aggiecon and would hate to see it go. If any of next years' concom has any desire to solicit my advice, for what it's worth, I'm easy to get ahold of.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Animals


  1. Judy and I didn't make it, but we missed it. After 30 years and only one miss, we don't feel as if spring has officially arrived until we've walked the halls of the MSC. I was about the age you are now when we first attended, and the time has zipped by. We made so many good friends at AggieCon that we wish the best for it and really hope it gets back to what it was in the glory days. Seems unlikely to happen, but we'll keep hoping.

  2. Kim and I made it. Our first convention together in a number of years. We also brought several friends from Friendswood with us.

    It was a weak convention, but it still can be saved. There was a Cepheid Muster during the con, but since I was never a Cepheid, I can't report on what was said/not said.

    The panels were weak. There was about 1.5 tracks worth of programming. It shut down at 7 pm on Friday and had very little going on late Saturday.

    The guest list was very limited. They did a very poor job with the guest, I think. The main media guest was probably wondering why she came, although the friend we brought up with us was interested in listening to her.

    The dealer's room was a vast wasteland with not a book dealer to be seen. The middle of the dealer's room was used for gaming tables. Willie may have missed his first Aggiecon ever.

    The Art Show was good by Aggiecon standards. I think sales were relatively good. There were actually some I thought of purchasing.

    I would really like for former students to take over running the con. That doesn't accomplish a goal of educating new conrunners, but it would keep the con running. It might also make the con tougher to run since it might not be possible to use the MSC as the venue.

    I will continue to go to Aggiecon as long as they hold it. It is my main excuse to go back to A&M at least once a year. It's an opportunity to see vast fields of bluebonnets and to eat at Los Nortenos.

    I wish they'd quit selling only black t-shirts. It's been a long time since I've wanted to buy an Aggiecon t-shirt. Maybe 15 years?

  3. Glad to hear there was, at least, a semblance of a con. I hope that next year, it's back to something resembling normal.