K-Con was a weekend of firsts. First time travelling across the country to spend a weekend with friends. First time behind a table at a convention. First time an under-performance in sales wasn’t totally depressing. There’s a lot to talk about. And it starts with a journey to set up a table.

There were a few hours of panic on the Friday immediately before the convention, when the Bus Eireann strike in Ireland suddenly Irish Rail and Dublin Bus. This was an issue, given we were all planning on getting the train down to Kerry. Thankfully, three of the people I was bunking with for the weekend were able to drive down, another got a coach, and I was picked up by the very lovely Jason Browne and his partner from my house. A five hour drive later, we were there… with barely enough time to set up. I have a lot of experience in setting up my table. I finished in ten minutes. A dinner and a couple of drinks later, we were in bed for Day 1 of K-Con.

Missing from photo: fancy hat

Completely out of the hands of the organisers, the convention itself was very quiet. A lot of it can be blamed on transport strikes. It was also a new convention, in a town that lives on country rock music.

It’s just as well, then, that there were still a lot of awesome people on the scene over the weekend. The lovely Meg, AKA Without a Stitch, was sharing our apartment over the weekend in Kerry, so we go to witness her putting together her amazing 18th century Peggy Carter cosplay. I won’t lie: I audibly squealed when she showed up on Saturday. And that was after seeing her finishing up the hat and ironing the dress the night before.

I was also joined at my table by one of the lovely members of the Dublin 2019 team, who were busy giving away free books downstairs. (And she even bought a book, which was awesome!)

The weekend was filled with people like her, enthusiastic about the event and up for a chat at the table. We met a few wonderful kids over the Saturday and Sunday, from the cutest little fan of Supergirl and the Flash, to a couple of young comic creators who Tracy introduced to one another.

Seeking the full convention experience, we gave Saturday night to the Cosplay Ball. Myself, Gareth Luby and Tracy Sayers headed down together, to meet up with Meg and a few others we knew were heading out for the evening. Things got… interesting.

(Psst, there’s a video that won’t embed properly…but here it is.)

We can’t explain the horseman, but we did appreciate his sudden appearance on the dance floor.

A big shout-out has to go to Tina, who was the driving force behind the organisation of the ball. She put together the prom-photo display on the day, and made sure to mingle as much as possible.

She was one of the reasons I was able to get so involved in the comic community a couple of years ago, too. I met her in person by complete chance the day before my Masters’ orientations day in 2014, and she was the first person I interviewed for the documentary I was making for my thesis, along with her partner Stephen. She secured my group press passes for Dublin Comic Con in 2015, and that was the final push I needed to throw myself headfirst into this community.

After a long night, we prepared for Day 2 of K-Con.

And boy-oh-boy was I tired. I like to think that the expression I’m wearing in the selfie I took is part exhaustion, part excitement. In reality, it was mostly exhaustion. In a complete turnaround from my stand-all-day attitude on Saturday, I sat for most of Sunday.

It was quiet. Very quiet. Apparently there was also a Kerry GAA match on, so we knew better than to get our hopes up. We just had the chats, spent time with each other, and took a look at what other artists were selling. (I avoided heading downstairs to the Trading Hall, because I knew I’d only want something.) I’d like to take this chance to thank everyone who picked up a copy of any of my books over the weekend, especially A Death in the Family – I was so ridiculously excited about that book, so it meant a lot that people were picking it up.

We were interviewed by Geek Ireland during the day – I’m hopeful we’ll see that video soon, and that I didn’t babble too much! – and spent a lot of the rest of the time watching Gareth work on his commissions.

Most of Gareth’s commissions for the weekend were done on blank variant comics – proper comic on the inside, but an otherwise blank cover. He was colouring them with Copics, which meant watching him blend the colours together for a while.

Gareth’s art really picked up a lot since I first met him in 2015. I have a commission from that day, and the difference in his work over an 18-month period is astonishing. Other people seemed to agree, with him receiving more commissions than he could possibly complete in the weekend (thankfully, Tracy had already thought of that and began taking postal bookings!)

Now, obviously there’s some bias in how I look at Gareth’s artwork, because he’s a friend of mine. But you can see it for yourself. He’s posted a couple of his more recent commissions on his Facebook page – and if you’re reading this early enough, you can still get one at a reduced rate – including the wonderful commission of Supergirl and Flash dancing.

Spending the weekend with my friends really made K-Con something special. The past few months haven’t been the easiest, with a less-than-successful job hunt to occupy my subconscious, so it was nice to be able to unwind with them, both behind the tables and back at our apartment. We played Cards Against Humanity and watched movies, and I had to deal with Gareth’s scare-tactics to help me get rid of the hiccups I’d beaten almost instantly. We stayed up talking until late at night.

Every story has to end, of course. Every weekend rolls into Monday, and like thousands of travellers before us, our road led us through Moneygall for a pit-stop.

It was a full and exhausting weekend – and I don’t envy Gareth the drive to-and-from Kerry – and while the sales were the best, it was still one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. And that’s what conventions are supposed to be about. There’s so much focus on money, and whose cosplay is the best, and the drama between attendees in this small community of ours, that sometimes it can be hard to remember why they’re worth such a massive undertaking. But there are always friends to be found, and good times to be shared, games to be played and memories to be made.

Next stop:  The Geek Mart.



About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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