Ah, Boskone.

I’ve got a weird kindred relationship with this con. I’ve been going on-and-off since my late teens, and a good number of books still on my shelves were purchased there. It was the first relatively nearby con I became aware of, and it moved from hotel to hotel, occasionally from city to city. The year I moved out of Springfield MA was the year it relocated there for the start of a 5 year run. It’s been back in Boston for most of the past decade, and I attend when I can.

The one element of Boskone that has never disappointed over the years has been the Art Show. Quite frankly it’s the yardstick by which I measure other Art Shows. This year I got to be part of it.


Let me back up a little.

Last August I attended Anticipation in Montreal, expecting a world class Art Show. The one at Noreascon in 2004 (my last Worldcon) had been mind-blowing. Anticipation’s, not so much. Much of what was displayed was amateurish, with far too much emphasis on cuteness and winged cats (no slight intended to those who favor such subject matter). Part of the reason, I was told by a few folks, was that getting art into Canada for either display or potential sale required a great deal of paperwork with the Ministry of Culture (or whatever authority oversees art), the paying of levies and tariffs, and is an exhaustive experience. For the record I have no documentation or data to support this and could be completely in error. If I am, please correct me.

As with many artists and illustrators the thought occurred to me “I can do better than this.”

I decided then and there to shut up and walk the walk. When the Boskone Art Show applications appeared online I got myself half a panel, a 4′ by 6′ space, to hang some stuff I’ve recently worked on: both illustrations for my last holiday card, this morbid little number, and a few others. I spent the last few months touching them up, experimenting with printing types and paper stock, and learning how to best display them. As the Con approached I was beginning to get excited.

Then the “Snowpocalpse” hit. I was stuck at a hotel near work for two nights. The night I finally got home I scrambled to ready myself for the con. But I was well-prepared. I headed out to Boston on Friday.

As I was setting up that afternoon, the weariness from the past week began to fade and the reality of the situation set it: I was in line of sight of the display (shown above) by Artist Guest of Honor (and friend of SF Signal) John Picacio. I was around the corner from Bob Eggleton’s display. I was one row away from a breathtaking retrospective of Michael Whelan, including the originals of many famous book covers. It felt like being in a garage band opening for Led Zeppelin. I did not realistically expect anyone to bid on my stuff, but it was humbling just to be there.

Please understand something: I am an old jaded curmudgeon. I harrumph through life with an irritable demeanor. I do not get giddy often.

The con had a lot of highlights for me. There was the Zombie Casino, followed by an Art Show reception with wine, hors’dourves and a jazz quartet. Guest of Honor Alastair Reynolds signed the copy of House of Suns my girlfriend got me for Christmas. There was a fun panel where all the artists I mentioned looked at slides of obscure book and magazine covers and guessed the artist, and more importantly, explained why they guessed a particular artist. There was a discussion on the Singularity featuring Vernor Vinge, Charlie Stross, Karl Schoeder, and Alastair Reynolds. Stross and Reynolds also participated in a video-teleconferenced panel about retro-futures with Gene Wolfe and Robert Sawyer, who were at Capricon in Chicago. John Picacio gave a tour of his work and talked in detail about technique and the realities of publishing demands. The whole thing was invigorating, thought-provoking, and fun. After the preparation and exhaustion leading up to it, Boskone delivered on all counts. As it always does.

In the end one piece of mine was purchased. My friend Ed picked up this picture near the convention’s end. But the important thing for this jaded curmudgeon is that I am no longer an Art Show virgin.

I hope to try my hand at selling prints at Lunacon next month. They also usually have an excellent Art Show.

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