Oasis 14 '0
Con Report by Pagadan
Oasis 14 Con Report
by Joy V. Smith
This year we left earlier for Oasis so I wouldn't miss any programming. We parked in the parking garage, bypassing valet parking and saving $4.00. (You get cheaper hotel rates with the con, btw.) We checked in and dumped our bags, except for the totes. The big one's contents completely covered one of the freebie tables; this is where most of my old fanzines, etc. go. The small tote was for the charity auction--some fiction zines and books, including autographed ones. I dropped that off in the Art Show room after finding out where to put them. We were pre-registered, and there was hardly any line so that was quick.
We explored and then browsed the Art Show--lots of great art, including The Chalice by Jean Pierre Targete, Catalyst by Mike Conrad, and Ambush by Ed Cox (which I later learned was a cover for a Pinnacle RPG). Lots more, of course. There were also engraved, colored goblets by James Krog; wire sculptures, including a dragon; jewelry; decorated items; and Lucky Bamboo (something to do with feng shui) in decorated pots. (Too bad the pot sculptures proved toxic to the plants; three were on display to show her intent.) And TV/movie characters by Betsy Mott; cartoons; furry art (less than last year; I liked the appaloosa centaur jumping rope), dragons, spaceships, magicians, animals, planets, adventure, ... There was more fantasy than SF art.
At 4 PM I went to the painting demo by Targete. (There were two tracks, which started at 4.) The painting was speeded up, of course. He had three boards displayed showing sketches, thumbnails, the underdrawing, and the finished painting. One of the displayed works was The Chalice.
The demonstration was a planet/moon with landscape below it. He started with a large circle on one side, using a permanent marker and made a sketch. He usually works in oils. The underdrawing can be very detailed and is done with marker or charcoal. He skipped that for the demo. He sprays the underdrawing with acrylic to seal it so the oils don't soak through. He also uses acrylic--burnt sienna in this case--to get rid of the white background. (He thins with water.) He uses assorted brush sizes (for different purposes and because he doesn't like to clean them as he works).
He worked from his sketch, which he put aside, to create the painting. Painting is done in layers. He used a palette board, medium to make the oil flow better, etc. It was fascinating watching patterns, shapes, the volcano and lava appear. Light is very important, but color is the last thing he thinks about. The drawing comes first; it must be rendered well. And then he ran out of time. I really enjoyed watching him create and tell us how he does it.
Next was Monster Committee. Targete, Cox, Conrad, and Stanley Morrison were the artists. Steve Parady, another artist, was the moderator. He timed them and made suggestions. Space alien and cave ogre were the suggested subjects-- from the audience, as I recall. There were two big artists' boards--one for the SF drawing and one for the fantasy drawing. They started out by working in two minute increments and then switching to a different artist, but they ended up all drawing--with colored markers--at the same time--two to a board. It was wonderful fun to see what they did to each other's work. They added a body and collar to the ogre (pit bull ogre as Targete described it.) Then heads and tails and a head on a tail, background, tattoo on the ogre by Targete, changed the planet in the background to a spaceship, added colors, skulls, and then blood and decapitated head by Targete (the two headed, two tailed alien began eating astronauts), hand hanging out of a mouth by Conrad, rider on the alien by Targete; he also added race stickers (STP, etc.), tie fighters, flies, and speeder--enhanced by Conrad--in background. Oh, they've added great color to the ogre's head while I was watching the alien--which is right in front of me. Another head is added to the alien drawing, also a foot. CRASH to the ogre drawing (tie fighter hits mountain; yes, the fantasy drawing; these guys are having fun). Mike Conrad has a great sense of humor, as do they all. Moderator suggests adding an ID tag to the ogre's collar; they add a name--Buttons. Look! Ick! They've added an eyeball hanging out of one of the alien's head's mouths. Conrad adds electric cord and plug to alien. They discuss marketing and joke as they work and add a little bathroom humor to the alien and the poor devil who has now appeared underneath it... Oh, then they put body parts on the alien's back; the rider is a collector. That was fun! Both drawings, signed by all the artists, will go to the charity auction.
After that we went to the Cthulhu Chili Challenge in the Con Suite. I voted for Dante's Death. Fowl Wind (chicken) was good too. (There were two fowl dishes.) Witches' Brew was alcoholic, I think. There was a I Hate Chili dish--mushroom soup with Irish whiskey. After that I lost track, and no way was I going to taste them all again to vote for the Hottest. (I didn't realize there were going to be two categories on the ballot.)
At 7:30 was the opening ceremonies; brief and fun, even more so than last year because the opening speech was sung by Tom Smith, the Filk GoH; he introduced the chairs--Terry Dahl and her husband, Jim Rogers; Author GoH Jack McDevitt; and Targete--Artist GoH. The Andre Norton scholorship winner, Kellen Stelle, was also introduced. All their speeches were short. (This is Targete's second convention in Florida and his first GoH gig. The artist guests of honor create the tee shirt designs every year.)
At 8 PM we went to the Tom Smith filk (SF folk singing--from a typo, I've heard) concert. He does a lot of parodies, puns, and different voices. He started with Leon Redbone doing Gilbert & Sullivan, a Callisto (from Xena) song sung to Aye, Calypso (John Denver?), a twisted Winnie the Pooh/Lovecraft cross, Smurf songs sung to surfing tunes (Smurfing USA, Smurfer Girl, etc.), I Want to Grow Up to Be Peter Lorre (perfect imitation of Lorre's voice), 500 Hats (which includes a lot of Dr. Seuss titles), Dune in two minutes (Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue), a Star Wars/12 Days of Christmas cross, Babylon 5 (five season run in 2 1/2 minutes), Bobby Goldsborough (sp)'s Honey, I Miss You (Honey glazed ham), and a tribute to old SF--Come With Me Baby On A Rocket Ride.
He also chats a lot and recommends the Harry Potter movie and The Lord of the Rings. (He's seen footage.) He recommends The Iron Chef (TV cross between cooking shows and wrestling) and reports that the American version will be hosted by William Shatner. (He didn't seem happy with the prospect.) The audience was enthusiastic and knew a lot of the in jokes. For fun check out his web site at tomsmithonline.com.
There was more filking scheduled, but I went to the Alien Artifact panel. That was my favorite panel last year. It is so much fun! The panelists were Barbara Delaplace (moderator), Jack Haldeman, Mike Conrad, Jeff Mitchell (scientist), and Ed Cox. Their personnas are exoarcheologists who had to identify the alien artifacts, which were transported by matter transmitter and the identification of the items lost.
First, a faucet: Mitchell thought it was a musical instrument or else a weapon to stick people up with. Conrad said--No, it's a one wheel race car from planet NASCAR. Cox said it was a fossil. (Some good sex jokes here.) Haldeman said it was a transporter. (His explanation was very funny.)
Second, a plastic drink container with straw: more funny explanations and academic disagreements. Conrad did some hilarious trance imitations because of his personna as a psychic, btw.
Third, a big Garfield container with lid: weapon, asteroid..., cat scan device (Conrad), ...
Fourth, wire thingamjig, which was followed by an elephant toy with a tongue that would stick out (you'll have to imagine all the sex-related jokes that ensued), then a black electric device that said ffo and no. (I loved Conrad's enemy id theory--foe or no.) Then there was the magnetic paint stick, which involved some fantastic physical humor going all the way down the panel. These panels should be taped! (It might have been an unboomarang stick, once it was turned off.) Lastly was an oval box with racing stripes... It could be a game piece (curling history from Delaplace), a scooter, monocle, ... This is such a great panel; these people are fast on their feet and intelligent.
We denned up after this panel, checking out the con suite again first. We also scoped out the dealer's room now and then, along with the Art Show (how are our bids doing? After three bids, a piece goes to the art auction on Sunday). The gaming room had to move because the hotel double booked rooms. A wedding party moved in on Saturday, and we mingled a lot. The video room (lots to watch) was on the third floor. The con suite was on the tenth floor. The elevators (there were three, but one was out of service) were a little slow sometimes and crowded, but there were escalators from first to second floor, also stairs.
Saturday morning we discovered a free paper outside our door. All right! We splurged on the breakfast buffet, which was disappointing. I bought the Oasis 14 tee shirt (Targete artwork on black--very nice) and an Oasis 11 coloring book with pictures by various artists. More people arrived and registered. The con committee was busy everywhere; there was always someone around to answer my questions. Attendence was even better this year, I heard. They did more promotion online, I believe.
The freebies tables were full of media, club, and con things, including posters, pins, flyers, book marks, etc. I got lots of nifty things, some of which I'll pass on to friends and kids I know. I also came across a table with some great rocket ship models on it and talked to Steve Parady. The Scarlet Class Viper (one of the models) was designed by Parady for Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica). He also told me about the Rag Tag Fleet, a Florida-based sci-fi fan club that helps to support the revival of Battlestar Galactica. They enjoy other TV shows as well and publish a newsletter bimonthly as well as a fan magazine every three months. [I have contact and club meeting info if anyone's interested.]
At 10 AM I went to a writing panel, Guanteed Rejection? Panelists were McDevitt, Adam Troy Castro, Richard Lee Byers, and Linda Evans. Jim Rogers was the moderator. Good writing info.
Meet Jean Pierre Targete (slide show) at 11AM was delayed about 15 minutes because of the slide projector. It was well worth the wait though, and he made it through all 60-64 slides. The first slide was his first commission--a romance book cover--very nice. (He sometimes uses models.) He also does mystery book covers. He works faster with references--not models. He's been working professionally for 12 years. Fantastic covers! Spaceships, dragons on the sails of a ship, soldiers seeing angels, teen book (ghost boy and dog; old house), dragons; woman, cat, and lightning; small horse on red material (romance cover), Foundation's Triumph and Foundation in Chaos (not oil; water color and pencils); cover for upcoming book by Sharon Shinn (Summers at Castle Auburn); plates for Bradford Exchange; warrior coming through tapesty/mosaic? (very nice!); Drifter and Drifter's Run (great!), The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You; and more. I loved them all! I loved the colors! The full paintings are so beautiful.
The Nuts and Bolts panel was also at 11. I got this report from my con companion: Re: use of science in writing. Have to know what you're writing about. Some of the panel have science backgrounds; some don't. Subscribe to a lot of scientific publications. Many writers mentioned having to cull their reference books reluctantly because of lack of space. Use experts, such as criminologists and history professsors. In her Jack the Ripper series, Linda Evans asked a criminologist what clues he'd look for at a crime scene, etc. Anomolies are too often overlooked, such as everyone speaking the same language on every planet.
We had lunch at the con suite, which opened at 10. Later I went to check out the martial arts demo, which was to run from 12 to 2 PM, but it had been cancelled, so I checked out the dealers' room more thoroughly. I loved the weapon repros--guns, knives, and swords--all works of art. They're on the web: gettothepoint.yahoo.com
There were also collectibles, including comics; jewelry; figures; videos; lots of books; fairy wings; a Tarot readings booth, and a chair massage. One booth had a CD with music about an AI. [Have a flyer on that somewhere.] I loved the booth with the shoulder dragons. Little plastic ones (use safety pins) were $6.00. Bigger, fluffy ones with pins in their tummies were $30.00. And a bigger white one was $40.00. They were really pretty. The creators are working on a web site. Their e-mail address is JLJCreate@aol.com
At 1 PM was a Writers Workshop with Rick Wilber and Randy Miller. People paid to have their mss critiqued at this workshop, but Wilber let me and others come in and listen while he spoke generally. (Randy Miller couldn't make it, but he had read the mss, I believe...) Wilber is a journalism professor, not a creative writing teacher, but he writes short stories. In second grade he discovered SF and loved it. He read Lucky Starr and on through Heinlein, et al. He was way ahead of his peers in reading, but he was also a jock in high school, and he became a sports writer. (He has an impressive sports background.)
He learned to write fiction by doing, not by taking a course. He sold some short stories to Analog and wondered why some stories sold and some didn't. He learned about dramatic tension (don't give away too much; keep readers wondering) and voice (he also writes textbooks, where voice is completely different) and theme (read Joseph Conrad, especially Lord Jim) and POV (diction is important--part of voice)
Media journalists use black and white, not shades of gray. It makes people more interested, especially on talk shows. Contrast gives power to stories. Set up conflicts at start of story.
Wilber's theory on the decline of short stories in magazines: Stories changed in 1952 because of TV. Short stories were written for the masses, and TV is easy short stories. By 1960, short stories in general interest magazines had practically disappeared. They were replaced by literary fiction and writing courses--the ART of short stories. SF was the last bastion of popular fiction; now it's becoming literary.
SF magazine subscriptions are down, including Analog. Fantasy magazines seem healthier. Mystery magazines are doing better than SF too. Now, instead of buying Asimov's, etc., people are watching the SciFi channel. The novel form is healthy though; short stories aren't.
After Wilber dismissed us (the auditors) to critique mss (he had them scheduled for later in the day too), I looked at Ed Cox's painting demo in the hall (second floor) and then went to Tom Smith's 2 o'clock filk concert. First the chili contest winners were announced. The winner was Bonny Beall's Witches Brew; Cthulhu's choice was Tammy Martin's Dante's Death.
Smith opened with Worship Cthulhu (Bobby Van doing Marilyn Manson?); followed by John Denver doing Elvis; the pizza delivery man song, Domino Death (very good); Bermuda Triangle done by Jimmy Buffett (good); Beanie Babies (tune of Itsy, Bitsy Teeny Weeny...Bikini; Fenton, Death Sheep from Hell; Star Trek; a drinking son, 307 Ale; When I Was A Boy (computer song); Roadrunner song; A Boy and His Frog (Kermit and Henson--poignant) in Kermit's voice; and the Telly Taley Heart. He chats a lot, is good with voices, includes lots of wordplay and puns and media history and risque lyrics too. He's funny!
After that was the charity auction. It started at 3 PM and went on for hours... They sold computers, software, fairy wings, SF magazine collections, jewelry, figures, models, lots of books (in bags and separately and often autographed), and illustrated screenplay in book form, original art, beautiful knife, ornamental dagger, the art by committee pieces, Bradford plates by Targete, ...
After that I staggered off to supper. We checked out the con suite. "Pretty much picked over" said the guy in the great space shirt. (I asked him about it, and he said it was made for him. They bought the material.)
I took a break in my room until the costume contest at 8 PM. Mike Conrad, artist and really funny guy, was the emcee. (This was his first time as emcee and his first time on the Alien Artifacts panel.) Before the contest began, the Art Show winners were announced.
1: Crescent Wing by Ed Cox
2: The Lab by Ed Cox
3: Alien Attack! by Mike Conrad
1: Circle at Center by Jean Pierre Targete
2: The Catalyst by Mike Conrad
3: World Fall by Jean Pierre Targete
Best in Show: Polar Princess by Stan Morrison
The judges for the costume contest were: Irene Harrison, Steve Parady, Stanley Morrison, and John Stevens. The contestants were:
#0: Spawn (a kid in a great and all-enveloping costume)
#1: Esmeralda (of Notre Dame)
#2: Contents of the Genie's Bottle (nice movements across the stage)
#3: A Horny Little Fairy (she had wings and cute little horns on her head)
#4: The Millenium Bug (CDs on the carapace; very insect looking)
#5: The Blood Red Queen of Hearts (with music)
#6: The Black Queen (with music and she recited an interesting poem)
#7: Darth Kapazi (not sure of spelling)
And last was a little boy who just wanted to walk across the stage so they let him.
Best Wings: Horny Little Fairy
Best Visual Effects: Contents of the Genie's Bottle
Best Heart: Blood Red Queen of Hearts
Children's Award: Jack and The Hunter (?) both little kids, as I recall
1: The Millenium Bug (certificate and $25.00 in dealers bucks)
2: The Black Queen (certificate and $15.00 in dealers bucks)
3: Darth Kapazi (sp) (certificate and $10.00 in dealers bucks)
And they each got a certificate for a free Oasis 14 tee shirt. After the costume contest I discovered that The Millenium Bug used balloons in her body to keep it up and her lower arms were attached to her writsts--very well done. (The hall was soon full of balloons.) I also talked to The Black Queen, Tammy Martin, and learned that she had designed three of the costumes: her own, the genie's (Sherrell Carpenter), and The Red Queen's (Bonny Beall).
At 9 PM we went to the Barbara Delaplace Mystery Hour. (I was getting tired, but Mike Conrad had been so funny during his earlier appearances that I decided to go.) The panelists were McDevitt, Wilber, Conrad, Owl Goingback, and Ron Walotsky. Each panelist made three dramatic statements. (I thought one was true and two were lies, but it turned out that only one was a lie.) As McDevitt said, "It's easy to tell exciting lies; it's making the truth exciting that's hard." (something like that) The audience got to ask the panelists questions to try to find out which were the lies. All the statements were plausible, and the panelists had perfect answers. Mike Conrad did get a ticket on the authobahn, btw, for speeding in a construction zone.
After that we went to see X-Men in the video room. I found it boring. (Maybe it just wasn't as much fun as the con...) There was filking in the con suite at 10 PM; it lasted until 2:45 AM, I learned the next day.
Sunday. 10 AM. I enjoyed Targete's slide show, Creature and Character Creation. Good opening slide with the title. He said that he'd always been fascinated by monsters, SF films, etc. He loved Sinbad and other Harryhausen movies, Jurassic Park, the Alien series, ...
There are four steps:
1: Background history/literary sources
3: Rough sketches
4: Create orthographics
He showed slides of habitat, texture, eyes, ... for reference. For sketches, you need anatomy, joint articulation, ...
Slides of the front, back, and sides. (Trace the front view to get a back view.) Put it on a grid. Great variety of aliens and creatures. I loved the bipedal lizard with a ponytail. Gargoyles from Hell, The Magic Net (book cover), forked teeth, Gargoo (eyes express personality). Can use photos for humans. See more details the longer you look. Some sketches are smaller (2-3 inches) than the slides. Sometimes paints from his drawings. Great book covers, also CD covers (different from the book covers). Ink sketch; used markers to color it in for rendering for client. He enjoys rendering details/accessories.
Then he showed slides from a film strip which is a current project he's doing on his own. (This is an exclusive showing.) It takes a few weeks to render a small detailed drawing. (I loved the boots and the little critter in the close-up.) The villain has great weaponry!
The slide show wasn't a whole hour, so I browsed the dealers room, went to my room, etc. until 11. Then I went to the Character Sabatoge panel. The panelists were Evans, Haldeman, Delaplace, Goingback, and McDevitt. The moderator was Spelman. I took pages of great writing notes! (Too long for this report.)
There were a lot more things happening, including the art auction, but while in the con suite, I noticed a smoky haze out the window, and then I learned that some roads were closed, including I4, and they were listed on the bulletin board (there were maps too) on the second floor main con area (hallway). So we checked out, loaded the car, and checked the info on the boards. We had just decided what detour to take (eek!), when a guy came and told us that he'd just heard on TV that the roads were open. We left, and the smoke wasn't bad. (I was truly grateful that we didn't have to take the long way home.) There was gridlock in the eastbound lanes, but we got home with no delays. I learned that a number of people left early because of the smoke, but the art auction was well attended. And there were other panels and a Science Fictionary game. Saturday night they had a casino with a cash bar to help raise money for the Andre Norton Scholarship Fund; and members of USS Guardian were on hand during the con to accept donations of canned food for The Mustard Seed, an independent local organization which helps poor and homeless people. The closing ceremonies were at 4:30 PM.