SciFi, Fantasy, and Horror Authors Highlight Fandemonium

Crossposted on Daily Kos

“Fandemonium is about education through entertainment,” says chairperson Jamie Parker. “We want to give fans a place to express their love of any type of entertainment media culture, but at the same time provide them opportunities to learn new skills and techniques or share what they already know through community involvement.”

Idaho's Annual Entertainment Expo has begun -- celebrating science fiction, fantasy, gaming, animation, horror, comics and more.

This year, an exceptional amount of authors highlight the event.

Guests at Fandemonium 2012 include Jacob Bear (Comic Artist - DC Comics; “Hawk & Dove,” Bluewater Comics; “Logan's Run”), Michaelbrent Collings (Horror Author – “Billy: Messenger of Powers”, “RUN”, “The Loon” and “Rising Fears”),the Brothers Thir13en (Horror aficionados and horror house actors), Tonya “Tangl” Adolfson (Fantasy Author – “The Souls of the Saintland Series”), and Meridian, Idaho resident Holland Peterson (Science Fiction/Fantasy Author – “Eville,” “Eville's Most Wanted”).

I was able to catch opening ceremonies, dance along in an X-Box competition, give out a bunch of free books, and meet scores of authors, gamers, artists and fans. Fandemonium is a three day celebration of all things media culture with events, panels, workshops, contests, tabletop gaming, video gaming, demonstrations and a host of other activities.

Video game and tabletop gaming tournaments run throughout the expo. Exhibitors and artists share their wares and handmade crafts, and an art show room showcases 2D and 3D pieces created by fans, and by the Treasure Valley artistic community at large.

This afternoon I caught Collings' powerful reading of his novel Apparition, about which one reviewer wrote:

This is the scariest book I've ever read. I devoured Apparition in two episodes of all night reading and had a really hard time putting it down. I didn't even mean to read the book at that exact time, but once I read the first chapter I was hooked. I had to keep going and couldn't stop until I hit chapter seven.

Apparition tells the very intimate story about a family of four: mom, dad, and their two kids, a teen girl and young boy. It explores one of the most horrible concepts I can imagine, filicide: the deliberate killing of children by their parents. That concept alone is horrifying and Collings uses it to ratchet up the terror to a level I haven't seen before. Brilliant journal entries written by an unknown person (until the end) precede each chapter and they are some of most chilling lines I've ever read. Then the chapters themselves move forward with relentless narrative drive page after page. The first four chapters are so tense and gripping, and lead up to a big event, which sets up the rest of the book. After the big event, the family which the novel revolves around, are devastated and things just get worse for them as the book continues. After the big event, the book is tense, but slows for a while as we get to know the main characters, and spend some time in their minds. It is a necessary build up and the characterization is stellar, which of course leads to another series of horrific events that will leave you gasping for air. The ending of Apparition was incredibly scary and blew me away. I could not stop reading and stayed up hours past my bedtime because I had to finish it and know what happened to these expertly drawn characters who felt so real.

I know that Michaelbrent Collings is a screenwriter and I can see this novel being an A-list Hollywood horror movie. It would be extremely scary, especially the ending, which pulls together so many threads and gives us the answer why seemingly normal parents suddenly snap one day and kill their children.

Kill their children?

I asked Collings what motivated him to write abut such a topic. He explained that horror writing comes from one's own fear. Watching horrible things, alone, is not scary. Seeing bad things happen to people, and characters, that we care about, is. Collings said that he has lost a child. And the scariest thing he could think of, was losing another. In his talk, Collings did a great job of showing how his work looks at horrible things and examines profound complexities in human nature, without celebrating horrible things.

Collings talks last night on "Humor and Horror" (with Carter M. Reid, "Zombie Carter" from the popular webcomic The Zombie Nation) and on "Religion in Horror" featured a level of insight and depth that few outside of the genre's inner circles get a chance to discuss. Exceptional on his feet in question and answer, close audience dialogue, the author will participate in several more panels today.

“This event is ‘for the fans, by the fans’,” says Parker. “Anything you see, hear or participate in at this convention exists because someone in the community was willing to come in and make it happen. We expect to see over 800 attendees this year, and we are incredibly grateful to our staff and event-runners for their efforts.”

Last night, I also had the privilege of meeting Reid, a.k.a "Zombie Carter." In his latest news update:

Zombie Convention Sketches are the order of the day today. I’m currently at Fandemonium nerding it up and showing my humble zombie comic off to the fans.

Sadly I wasn’t able to get a comic done with all the prep work I’m doing for this, but I can sketch like a madman to I made this for today’s update. Don’t worry as normal comics will return very shortly and we’ll finally find out what happens when a crazy stalker zombie ex-wife and a attractive zombie hunter fight over one undeserving zombie….. or will we.

The book Undeath and Taxes is a collection of strips and other art from Reid's brilliant webcomic. Readers can follow an unlikely trio of nerd zombies through the Zombpocalypse.

The Entertainment Expo takes place in Nampa, ID at the Nampa Civic Center from August 3rd-5th, 2012, from 10am to midnight each day -- with discounts available for daily passes, youth, military and seniors.

More information about the expo, including a schedule of events is available at