BizarroCon 2014 Recap

Last month, I took an Amtrak train from Cleveland, Ohio to Portland, Oregon to attend BizarroCon 2014. In case you’re not in the know, BizarroCon is an annual gathering of bizarro writers, artists, editors, publishers, and fans. Held at the fanciful and haunted Edgefield hotel, it’s a four-day retreat that includes readings, panel discussions, writing workshops, parties, food, books, and beer.

I had a swell old time. Here are some highlights:

Highlight #1 – Finally meeting (in real life) the publisher and editor of my book, along with my other friends from Rooster Republic Press. It really is a fantastic thing when the digital friends inside your laptop become flesh and blood.

Art Graham, moi, and Etienne DeForest

Art Graham, moi, and Etienne DeForest

Danger Slater and me

Danger is not his middle name, it’s his first.











Highlight #2 – Meeting all sorts of other cool Bizarro folks, ranging from luminaries like Rose O’Keefe (Eraserhead Press publisher and friendly host extraordinaire) and many leading authors in the genre, to up-and-coming writers and new fans alike. I could do a bunch of name dropping here, but just go to this link if you want to know who all was there.

Me and Carlton Mellick III

Pictured here is none other than the “Baron of Bizarro” himself. Oh, Carlton Mellick III is in this picture too. (That was a joke. Get it?)

Highlight #3 – Accidently (?) spilling my beer all over Kevin Donihe a whole ten seconds after I met the dude.

I did not get a picture of the incident, but it looked something like this.

I didn’t get a picture of the Donihe-Beer-Spill incident, but I think it sorta looked like this.

Highlight #4 – My first live reading EVAH! I read three stories from Clown Tear Junkies. Fortunately for me, I was drunk, a little slaphappy, and suffering from sleep deprivation, or else I might’ve been a little nervous.

Me reading in front of people for the first time.

Me reading in front of people for the first time.

Highlight #5 – Checking out other authors’ readings, among them Bradley Sands, MP Johnson, Kevin Donihe, Jeff Burk, and Cody Goodfellow. (But I missed A LOT of others. It’s impossible to get to all the readings. But If I make it out there again, I plan on attending way more than I did this first time.)

Bradley Sands reading

Bradley Sands reading from his latest novel, Dodgeball High

Highlight #6 – Attending a workshop on writing dialogue with Brian Allen Carr. Dude knows his shit. And I hadn’t done any writing workshops since college, so this was cool.

Didn't get a pic of the workshop, but here is Brian Allen Carr and Gary Arthur Brown (who attended the workshop too) later in the day, deep in their cups

Didn’t get a pic of the workshop, but here is Brian Allen Carr and Gary Arthur Brown (who attended the workshop with me) later that day and deep in their cups

Highlight #7 – Drinking Bizarro Beer! Eraserhead Press and friends—namely Rose O’Keefe, Jeff Burk, Garrett Cook, and Jason Rizos—homebrewed craft beers named after recent bizarro book releases. These microbrews were served on tap at Eraserhead Press’s 15-year anniversary party on Friday night of the con.

Bizarro Beer

Highlight #8) Attending the Wonderland Awards Banquet. On Saturday night of the Con, a tasty fajita buffet was served in the banquet hall of Edgefield Manor prior to the announcement of the winners of the Wonderland Book Awards for Best Bizarro Collection and Best Bizarro Novel of 2013. My nominated collection, Clown Tear Junkies, did not win. However, a very cool moment occurred when Cody Goodfellow (last year’s winner in the collection category) gave a brief speech about what makes a good fiction collection before he announced the five nominees. There’s something special about having a person who, in all truth, is probably like 12,672 times smarter than yourself announce your name and the title of your book in front of a crowded banquet hall of likeminded crazy people, causing said crowd to erupt in genuine hoots, hollers, and applause. It was all just sort of wonderful and surreal, regardless of who took home the prizes. Alright, my text for Highlight #8 has officially gotten too long. In conclusion, congrats again to the winners: Brian Allen Carr (Best Novel – Motherfucking Sharks) and Garret Cook (Best Collection – Time Pimp).

Garrett Cook with his Wonderland Award for Time Pimp, Best Collection - 2013

Garrett Cook with his Wonderland Award for Time Pimp, Best Collection – 2013

Highlight #9 – Participating in the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown! Immediately following the Wonderland Awards Banquet was the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown, wherein contestants are given three minutes to perform a bizarro skit of their own design and an additional three minutes to perform if the “drunk and impatient” crowd deems their efforts worthy. This year, if your act went over the six minute marker, you were cattle-prodded (no joke) by host Michael Allen Rose. I DID NOT sign up to participate in this event; nay, I would have been perfectly content to be a passive member of the audience and entertained by those who did sign up. But somehow I let fuckin’ Gary Arthur Brown talk me into helping him out with his skit. Just when he managed to get me up onstage in front of millions of people (okay, more like a hundred), Laura Lee Bahr (who was one of the judges) ran out to tell us that I wasn’t allowed to be up there. For a few seconds there I really thought I was in trouble. Then suddenly I found myself surrounded by a chorus of people—Laura included—singing “Round and Round” by Ratt. Joke’s on me.

Bizarro Showdown

Gary, you two-foot-seven, libertarian, skinny muthafracker!

Highlight #10 – At Eraserhead Press’s anniversary party, Rose O’Keefe announced the authors to be featured in the newest Bizarro Starter Kit (that would be the Red one, if you’re keeping track of the colors) due out in March 2015. I’m honored and humbled to report that I was one of the ten authors selected. I can probably think of at least two dozen other writers I might have picked to fill that slot instead of me, but the editorial panel that made the decision apparently likes my flavor of bizarro and considers my work relevant enough for inclusion. Needless to say, that just makes me want to fall out my chair and metamorphose into a wannabe-fetal, pre-Krull, post-Shia LaBeouf, ice road trucker-shaming, TERROR ANVIL from 1786!!!!!!!

Bizarro Starter Kit - Red


~ by Douglas Hackle on December 5, 2014.

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