MARCON (Multiple Alternative Realities Convention) was held at The Greater Columbus Convention Center in the heart of Downtown Columbus, Ohio. 2015 marked MARCON’s 50th anniversary! As such, the convention was full of guests, events, and memories enjoyed throughout the past 50 years of MARCON. As well as panels, exhibits, and events to usher in a new direction MARCON is looking to take in the next 50 years.
In 1966, MARCON started as a literary convention which focused on sci-fi literature. Over the years, it evolved into a multifaceted convention focusing mostly on sci-fi and fantasy, but all things that could be considered “alternative reality” soon fell in line. Throughout the years, MARCON has welcomed guests such as the Babylon 5 cast, Kevin Sorbo, Wizard’s of the Coast, Looney Labs, and Paizo.
- Games: Steve Jackson (known for Munchkin and other various games)
- Masquerade Judges: Fyberdyne and Animal X
- Special Guests: NASA reporter John Getter and Astronaut Clayton Anderson
MARCON’s attendees took cosplay to an entirely new level. Creating life-sized daleks that roam the halls via remote control to a Tardis or two tempting passers by to walk on in. In the hall you will find Darth Vader with his Stormtroopers, Judge Dredd, every Disney princess imaginable, and about thirty depictions of Dr. Who. In the main hall of MARCON was “Jail and Bail”. A fun way MARCON raised money for their chosen charity, The Columbus Zoo. Also in the hall was a company called the “Sci-Fi Photo Guys”. They set up a blue-screen in which they let attendees stand in front of and they would photograph them in the Sci-Fi world of their desires. Be it Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr.Who, or just floating in space.
One of MARCON’s biggest claims to fame is it’s panels. This year, MARCON scheduled 250+ panels over a three day weekend. With subjects of every possible alternative reality discussion you can think of and titles such as “Empowering Women to Feel Comfortable In Gaming”, “How To Play A Role Playing Game”, “Cosplay Shame No No”, “Gripe Session with the Con-Chair(s)”, “MARCON Brainstorming”, “Who Has Time To Write”, “Why Sci-Fi”, “Living On Mars and Other Bad Ideas That Take Us Away From The Internet”, “Buffy Match Game”, and so on.
Marcon’s Most Unique Guest:….
Joining forces with Deadpool, the TEAm went from small panels to Saturday night main events within months! Amassing an army of faithful fans who followed them from convention to convention! By the end of 2013, Tea Time was a featured event at conventions all across the state, packing rooms with every event! From Columbus Wizard World, to Midoricon– where they partied well into the early morning hours with hundreds of attendees. The TEAm could not be stopped.
A Tradition Revamped
Nick Winks, a long time member of the MARCON team passed away in January. Every year, Nick would help MARCON host a human chess game. In this game, they use volunteers from all over the convention to play the pieces of the game. People would call out the moves and the game would be played as a traditional chess game. In his memory, the chess game was again performed… with a few slight alterations.
A Tradition Returns
Vampire the Masquerade is a role playing game using a D10 system developed in the 90’s by White Wolf. In Vampire, players find themselves cursed (or blessed?) with the immortal life of a vampire. Throughout the game characters desperately seek to retain their sense of self, humanity, and sanity. All while struggling through the politics and oppression often times dealt by the hands of their own kind. Where in other forms of RPG’s the line between good and evil are most often easily seen. Not in VtM. Everyone already is a monster. The struggle is holding on to what little humanity one has left. Some players happily let that go and explore areas of themselves most people would fear to even attempt.
Tournaments At MARCON
Blightsteel Colossus. “I never got my Ornithopter”, he said.
The Time To Say Good-Bye
I sat down to ask her about her experiences as con-chair and her involvement with MARCON:
Question: How many years have you served as con-chair for Marcon?
Answer: Marcon 29 was my first convention – ever – I worked on Registration – it was the first year for both Shell, too. For the next 2 years I went to every convention I could. Mostly Midwest, but I managed at least one con on each coast. I went to Fan-ran, all volunteer Science Fiction Conventions. I have never bothered with DragonCon or ComicCons. I want to see conventions like Marcon so that’s what I went to (all sizes and shapes). Marcon 30 I was Department head of registration, Marcon 32 I was vice Chair and became main programming when the person who was doing it quit (in February). I was Programming Department Head again for Marcon 33 and then in Marcon 34 I was Chair (Shell was my Vice Chair). I was Chair for Marcon 35 and 36 too. Then again for 40, 45 and now 50. So, I guess that’s six times. I have also been Treasurer for 5 times and hotel liaison every year since Marcon 34.
Question: What made you decide to become the chair for such a large convention?
Answer: I didn’t choose “such a large convention”, I chose Marcon. It’s just grown (a lot) through the years. Of course, Marcon 36 was over 3,600 people, then 9/11 happened and the economic slow-down and attendance fell, now it’s growing again. It goes in cycles. But I love Marcon, in all its phases. It’s going to be hard to step away.
Question: How has Marcon survived for 50 years?
Answer: The Concom! There are some dedicated people who work for Marcon, and they come through in a pinch every time.
Question: What hopes do you have for Marcon’s future?
Answer: I hope it keeps going and going – like the Energizer Bunny on steroids. I hope Anime and Gaming grow, but do not take over the convention. I hope Media grows, but it could bankrupt the convention really fast (there’s that financial side of me talking again). I would like more science panels, to me Science Fiction is hard science with a left turn into imagination. Fantasy has “magic happens here”. Marcon has been the Midwest’s biggest fan-run science fiction AND fantasy convention for some time now. I am a collector of science fiction and fantasy artists and authors, so of course, more of those too! In order to stay solid, the concom is going to have to get a balance between us old -farts and the young fans (Traditional fans and younger fans to be PC, which I don’t think we have to be). If we ignore the “old guard” we’re going to leave much of our history behind, and they are the ones who have kept Marcon alive in some very lean years.
Question: What advice would you give to the con-chairs of other conventions?
Answer: Love the convention you are working. Don’t set out to be Chair, let it happen, it will. I am going to be one of the Co-Chairs for World Fantasy in Columbus in October of 2016 (I also had it in Columbus in 2010).
Did I mention – Love your convention!