Finncon Wrap

I’ll be doing a full convention report on Finncon (and the DWJ conference) later, but I wanted to take time out now to make a few final comments and thank people who needed to be thanked. So, thank you very much to:

  • Otto and Paula for being such generous and graceful hosts
  • Jukka, Eemeli and Topi for chairing the biggest and most successful Finncon I have seen
  • Merja for running a very enjoyable academic session (and for the copy of her doctoral thesis)
  • Irma for being as wonderful as ever, for the tiara, and for the bottle of pine tar liqueur (which made it home safely this year, possibly due to an absence of thirsty Sean Williams books in my suitcase)
  • Aleksi for loyally preserving some of my HangerOne Chipotle vodka for two years so I could drink it again
  • The Finnish filkers for performing one of my songs so beautifully
  • Everyone who entered the CosPlay and Masquerade, or came in costume
  • All of my fellow judges for both CosPlay and Masquerade
  • George, Al and Adam for being such great guests
  • FluffCthulhu for accepting our sacrifices and ensuring that it rained in Cardiff but not in Helsinki

Two things stand out about the event. The first is that Adam Roberts totally charmed the Finns (see comments on his blog for examples). I have occasionally heard people say, “Oh, there’s no point in my going to X because none of my books are translated there.” Adam has comprehensively proved that idea wrong.

Secondly there is the sheer size of the event. As I have said before, it is extremely difficult to get accurate figures on the attendance of free events, but the estimate of 15,000 that was being bandied about on Sunday doesn’t seem unrealistic to me. Previous Finncons have appeared to have very large attendances in too-small venues. This one had a much bigger venue, excellent media coverage, and a seemingly endless stream of teenage kids going in and out. Every program item I attended was standing room only, and only one of those (the individual CosPlay) was anime-related.

Future Finncons will have to be smaller. I’ll talk more about that later. But this one was phenomenal, and I’m very proud to have played a small part in its success.

5 thoughts on “Finncon Wrap

  1. I can see the Finncon splitting off from the anime part of Finncon. That could help with the crowds greatly. It may need to go to a more traditional paid attendance model like Eastercon.

  2. Tom:

    Finncon is faced with an ugly choice: it has grown so big that it either has to split from Animecon or it has to stay in Helsinki, because no where else has a venue big enough. As I understand it, its constitution won’t allow it to stay put.

    Also the constitution explicitly forbids Finncon from charging admission.

    More about this in the con report.

  3. Splitting from Anime Con may be best and Anime Con charges admission is what I was trying to do. It seems to me (may have to correct myself) that both can go exist without the other. Finncon can still have an anime program (like Worldcon or even Balticon does) while being free and focusing on Science Fiction Literature (it’s strength).

    Anime Con can go to an Otakon (non-profit anime convention that takes over Downtown Baltimore, MD every year) model. can give you an idea of what an Anime Con split from Finncon could look like.

  4. I know Cheryl will most likely cover this in her report but… Finncon will be held next year without Animecon and as far as I know there will be no Animecon in 2010. The year after that there will be both together once again and in 2012 the cons will be separated, most likely permanently (the reason for the 2011 is funding etc).

    Where as Finncon will proudly live on being a small and free event (with “only” a couple of thousand people or so), with Animecon the situation is more problematic. When the two cons have been organized together, the “Finncon side” of the committee has been really dominant with so much more people than on the “Animecon side”. I have no idea why this is but in the committees, most of the people have always been from the science fiction side which means there is not enough anime people from those crowds to organize a con that big. There are several smaller cons organized each year with anime and manga theme in Finland but most of those are too small (organization and committee, that is) to be labeled as Animecon, which has a tendency of getting thousands of people come to one place.

    The only cons near this size are Tracon (organized in Tampere and which will grow to be a two-day-event next year, this year had about 4 or 5 thousand people attending, if I don’t remember wrong, the previous year there were about three thousand people attending) and Desucon (organized in Lahti with a couple of thousand people attending this year, which was the first time). Both cons collect admission fee (for Tracon it was 3 eur this year for one day and for Desucon I think 15 for the whole weekend). At least Desucon has told they don’t want the label of Animecon as they want to be a more “mature” convention with more academic programming etc. Giving the label of Animecon to Tracon might be the only option and I’m not sure if that is what the organizers or the fandom wants. Tracon stands for Tampere role play and anime convention and making it Animecon would most likely kill the role play part, which isn’t too strong to begin with.

    I think the Finnish anime fandom will really have to think about this. There would be people willing to organize it but the sheer size of the con is SO big it’s not the kind of things most people even understand. And the workload on a con that big is huge! There are laws and reports to the local authorities and all the permissions etc. which most people don’t really think about. I’ve heard comments like “how hard can it be to rent a place and drag some Japanese guest and organize a couple of programming items” and I’m afraid that’s how most of the people in the fandom think conrunning is! We all of course know that’s not the case, it’s really a full-time job!

  5. Well, pre-Animecon Finncons got up to 6000 attendees (depending on the city they were held), so I’m not so sure you should call them that small, just not so frigging huge they have gotten with Animecon.

    Besides the venue (and maybe even more important) it’s hard to find organizers willing to put up with all the hassle a convention that size brings (some of which Karo mentioned above). Especially when Finncons are for adults, and Animecons bring in thousands of minors, with all the added responsibility that entails.

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