It’s almost time for the return of the world’s first Sonic the Hedgehog convention. And I am positively excited about the whole affair. Excited and nervous, actually. Who would have thought that an idea formed in my little head several years ago would actually become one of the most talked about events on the Sonic fan calendar? Not me for starters.
Thanks to the growing relationship I have with Sega Europe, which first began in 2005 when we ran Shadow Week, myself and a group of TSS staff and SSMB community members worked together with Sega to make the first true, real-life Sonic gathering. And it was really awesome. SoS 2008 couldn’t have gone better for a bunch of first-timers who never had any prior experience to hosting such an event.
Fast forward to 2009 and already SoS has grown exponentially. Sega are more heavily involved in the process; we have a budget rather than paying for a tiny hall out of a pool of community money; the success of last year’s event gives us some clout in inviting more special guests over… I haven’t had a second to really stop and think about it all this year, but given a chance this morning it’s really hit me how big and successful this thing is.
Of course, the additional luxuries mean additional pressures – we have a 500-strong space in the form of the Truman Brewery this time around, with a nice outdoor area, public parking, easy access and even a balcony (which I’m so using as a Command Deck! Watch me act like a pirate overseeing the sea of Sonic fans on the day!). But, seemingly endless amount of red tape are associated with actually hiring the space, because of the fact that it’s a proper professional venue rather than Dragon Hall’s cool and cosy community hall.
Everyone’s working really hard to get stuff done in this final stretch. AAUK has perhaps been the most busy of us all – again, the red tape means that a lot of things have to be run through Sega (it’s no bad thing; we’re talking budgeting stuff, hiring equipment, securing content that can only really come from Sega…) this time around, but he has been an absolute trooper in helping to secure Sumo Digital and an exclusive (unless you went to E3) preview of Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. That and he’s working on, with fiancee Echo Hawk, a huge sprite comic built out of beads. Epic.
T-Bird’s been super-busy in working his butt off to try and get sections talking to each other and organising schedules with me. Jemnezmy’s finishing up our special “Featured Artists” wall, which will feature select fan artwork printed off in glossy A4 and displayed next to the general community wall. Then Jem’s off to bake some epic Sonic cakes! Flyboy and I are working on write-ups that will introduce the cartoons and comics to visitors of the event, and Casanova is creating devious questions to pose at me and T-Bird at the special Sonic quiz. All while Urtheart tries to avoid working way too hard in security and ticket-providing and B’man and DiscoPonies figure out wireless connections and technical hoo-hah.
As for me, I’ve still got two lengthy Q&A sessions to prepare for (yep, it’s muggins here that’ll be on stage with Nigel Kitching, Nigel Dobbyn and Sumo Digital), another live Sonic Hour to bungle with Roareye and the general stress of ensuring every section is catered for and that my floorplan is solid, enough volunteers are on each area and that the schedule runs smoothly on the day. So yeah, I’ll try not to have a heart attack. 🙂
Half of the fun in doing this though, as I learned last year, is the stress of preparing the convention. That might sound a little strange to you (but maybe not to you, over there), but I’ve been powering through these problems with the end result in mind – an awesome little show that aims to bring fans closer together in a real-life space. And when it turns out well, that more than makes up for all of the crap that we’ve had to go through the last six months.
If SoS 2008’s friendly visitors and attendees were any indication, then we’re in for one of the most awesome Sonic ho-downs this side of Christmas Island. I hope you’re as excited as I am about August 29th, and I hope to see you guys there on the day! Oh, and I’m staying in a hotel round the corner from the venue, so I will be out and about to hang loose with people for an after-gathering at a nearby pub or something if some of you want.