Tag Archives: 4H

MidSouthCon 2010 report

I mentioned in this space several weeks ago that 2010 was shaping up to be a busy year. On March 12-14, I was a “comic industry guest” at MidSouthCon, held in Olive Branch, Mississippi. (Though I understand the Federal Government is requiring them to move back to Tennessee next year). While I attended ShadowCon in January, this was the first full Sci-Fi/Comics Convention I’d attended as a guest in nearly a decade. Yes, it feels weird to say that as it doesn’t feel like that much time has passed.

My stay was made possible by my sister Angie who lives nearby. She put me up and gave me a soft bed to sleep in, even if I wasn’t there to visit too terribly often. I was able, though, to talk her into coming out and visiting a real geek-convention for the first time ever. She has remained oddly silent about the entire experience. This was also Brittany’s first time to visit a convention—she even got the shirt!

I was seated next to a couple of guys I used to hire during my Malibu days. They happen to be some pretty talented artists, as well. Dean Zachary, Mitch Foust, Jim Hall, all shared a joint booth space and practically didn’t move the entire three days, steadily drawing whatever was requested by fans. And the Star Wars fans were out in droves. They came to see Star Wars comic writer John Jackson Miller, and Kevin J. Anderson, who was the Guest of Honor. Though I’ve known John for some 15+ years, I guess it’s been more peripherally than directly. To my knowledge (and his as well, he claimed), this was the first time I’d met him in person. John was just as nice as I expected, and novelist Anderson—of whom I had no expectations—was equally nice. Anderson sat to my left when he wasn’t on panels.

Some of my new acquaintances were there as well: Imagicopter founder David Blalock was there, but I regrettably didn’t get to speak much with him. Novelist Bryan Davis came for the banquet on Saturday. I spoke with him briefly and met his wife. I even had the chance to try to recruit him a little for Imagicopter (Yes, I’ll blog about that a little later).

I met some other new folks as well. Musician Chris Brown manned Anderson’s table most of the time while Anderson was away. An incredible guitarist, I anticipate he will be performing as the music guest at cons to come in the very near future. Lin Workman has been working in comics for a while, and I find it odd that he’s located so close in Memphis yet I’d never had the opportunity to meet him.

A surprise visit by Mississippi 4H leader (don’t know her official title) Linda Mitchell surprised me a bit. But I tell you, she is always on the lookout for events that her incredibly talented group of 4H kids might like. She and husband Dean were all smiles as they made their way around the convention. It’s highly likely she’ll bring a group of 4H kids there next year…and I suspect they’ll have the time of their lives!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention MidSouthCon Committee member Carlin Stuart. Carlin was my liaison and the entire reason I attended and was able to attend. He took good care of me! I’m hoping to hear from Carlin in the coming months with an invitation to do it all again next year!

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Not yer Daddy’s 4H

I spent last week in the company of some of the brightest and most talented teenagers I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around. As one of the instructors in the 4H Technology and Expressive Arts Camp held at Mississippi State University, I spent the week teaching “Graphic Storytelling” to a group of teenagers interested in that art. Other tracks offered at the camp were logo design, dancing, robotics, gaming and creative writing. Dancing seemed to be the most popular track—Dancing with the Stars, I guess?

I’ve taught Graphic Storytelling before and hope to do so many times again in the future. Graphic storytelling is something I enjoy and I like the idea of helping to pass on that love to younger artists. The cool thing is that the concepts work not just for comic books or graphic novels, but also for movies, animation, and even video games.

I was also able to meet the best-selling author Bryan Davis (Dragons in our Midst) and hear him speak at the camp. What an incredibly nice guy he is! I’d recommend picking up one of his books on that fact alone!

But really, I was most impressed by the kids. And before you go there—yes, I probably allowed myself to pre-suppose what the kids were like: this was a 4H camp, after all, they’re used to working with horses and goats and cows. Boy was I surprised. One group of the campers built a robot using legos…and then controlled it with a Wii remote! It was a working forklift robot and it was demonstrated on the last day—I saw the thing work!

Then there was this group of incredibly gifted musicians that played/performed during most of the breaks. Music wasn’t one of the tracks, it just happened to be what they did in between sessions and during breaks. I first heard them and saw the display of talent the first night we were there during a talent show. Seems a bunch of the kids, though, are part of a group called “Southern Sounds” and travel around considerably so that they can perform. Brittany sang Sky Full of Angels for her part in the talent show and was later asked to be a part of the group. Before the week was over, the group was doing several new songs and performed for a luncheon on Friday. Brittany sang Proud Mary with them, a song which she’d never heard before. One of the Moms caught it on video, so I’m hoping to get a copy and post it on Youtube before long. Yeah—I’ll post it here when I do!

One really fun thing I was able to do was teach an entire new group the incredibly awesome game of Diplomacy! I’d planned to only do the game one night, but they had so much fun they demanded I run it the second night as well. A couple of the players even asked me where they could obtain a copy for themselves. Of course, it is out of print so I could only send them to ebay. However, they’ve let me know already that they’ve signed up for an online game.

Needless to say, I learned a lot about 4H last week…and there seems to be so much more I need to learn!

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