StokerCon Comes Back to Life (Virtual Edition)

                In my recap of the 2022 StokerCon in Denver, I said I wasn’t sure if the price of hybrid registration was worth how little I’d used it during the event. After all, $250 is quite a bit. I did promise to revisit my opinion, and here I am a week later with a few more takeaways. Like 2021, the event created an “extended access” encore; this took place from Thursday, May 19 to Sunday, May 22. All of the pre-recorded panels, the recorded livestreams, the author readings, the academic presentations, and more were available for the entire weekend to anyone who already had a ticket or access could be purchased for $50. The extra time was worth it.

               Although, I was relatively busy this past weekend and didn’t spend it glued to my computer, I was able to catch some of the panels and elements that I’d missed while I was busy in-person. The benefit of this for people who physically attended is that you don’t have the same conflicting schedules when you can make your own. For those who were already virtual, a few of the final panels popped up and the party continued. The convention also did an encore presentation and audience voting of the Final Frame competition which I hope is a tradition they continue.

               In my limited screen time, I was able to watch four author readings, four panels, and two academic presentations (I was able to see a few of those prior to this weekend). What I am still excited about is the continued access to some of the recorded panels for the foreseeable future. This will allow me to have a weekly panel or seminar-type learning where I can stay engaged with the art and conversation of horror writers. So, what did I find time for?

               Rebecca Stone Gordon’s presentation “A Panic on the 4th of July: Municipal Malfeasance, Mutation, and Monstrosity in Barry Levinson’s The Bay” touched on a lot of cool elements and made connections to other films such as Jaws. I love the academic presentations because I always find recommendations from their analysis. Anita Siraki’s “Distortions in the Looking Glass: The Hidden Horrors of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and its Effects on Contemporary Black Horror” connected the abolitionist literature to shows such as Lovecraft Country and Them in its depiction of racist caricatures and horror. I have a few more Ann Radcliffe Academic presentations to sort my way through (some of them available publicly), but it’s definitely the coolest conference.

               I checked out four panels which focused on different elements. “Editing Isn’t the Hardest Part” was an insightful conversation between four editors on what they look for in work, how authors can improve, and the varying types of editing. “Finding Your Scooby Gang: Building a Network and Professional Relationships in Horror” discussed how you can have multiple “Scooby Gangs” to help better your writing, promote your work, and that—at its heart—you’re trying to build relationships. “Horror and Hope: Writing in the Age of COVID” was a bit of a Mental Health 2.0 panel, which is necessary, but I’d been hoping for some discussion of how horror writers can or should incorporate COVID into our work. It’s already a horror of its own—where do you go from there? Lastly, “What Makes Cosmic Horror Cosmic?” was a fun way to learn more about a genre I don’t engage too heavily in but am fascinated by.

               I caught four author readings, and wished I’d done a few more. Linda D. Addison read some of her poetry and then promoted others through her platform. One of the poems involved were-butterflies and it was stunning. Alan Baxter read from The Fall, a strange Australian town where strange things happen, and it sounds like a great book. Gwendolyn Kiste read from her upcoming Reluctant Immortals and I can’t wait to get a copy. Finally, L. Marie Wood read from The Tryst, a dark romance with a beginning that packs a punch and the first in the Affinity Saga.

                Was the money worth it? I think it will earn itself the more I use and engage with the material I didn’t have. I do wish the full virtual StokerCon would have the year-long access, but I can’t complain about more time to learn, think, and engage with these ideas. For the next StokerCon, if they continue hybrid, I’ll try to buy my ticket early enough to save some money.

               If you missed StokerCon in Denver, tickets for 2023 in Pittsburgh are already available. Come roam the streets with some horrific, yet friendly, people.