by Alicia, Glass, contributing writer
Welcome to Oz Con, also known as Winkie Con (likely to differentiate itself from at least two other events: Oz Comic-Con and OzCon), coverage of the con’s very first time in San Diego, California! The 50-year-old Con was moved to San Diego (on Coronado, which author L. Frank Baum helped to make famous); it seemed to get off to a bit of a rocky start. There wasn’t much in the way of con organization on day one, but after that the Winkies did seem to find something in the way of a stride.
The Dealers Hall (for the uninitiated, that’s where we do our shopping) was perhaps the size of my living room, which is to say surprisingly small. I’ve been to other cons at the Town and Country Resort Hotel (T&C, for short), so we know very well they have the room, I couldn’t figure out why the dozen or so vendors were all crammed together in the tiny apartment like that. I did manage to score a free t-shirt with a flying monkey on it from Illogical Associates, and had great fun buying things with beloved book covers on them from Kit Basler’s booth, check out her stuff here. Autographs tables were also crammed together in the Dealers Hall, so I did manage to score some of those too.
The con itself felt awfully small, and while you didn’t technically have to be a huge Oz fan to enjoy it, that would certainly help. I observed absolutely no Steampunk presence whatsoever, and I thought it was kind of a shame, as this years’ Winkie Con theme was “Clockwork in Oz”, and one would think that would be right up a Steampunkers alley. Not so, mostly what I saw were a lot of silver-haired foxes happily reliving their childhood memories of Oz, and less-than-knee-high young-uns, brought there to learn a new love of all things Oz. There were a few day costumes, so I got as many pics of those as I could.
Most of the panels were laid out on the second floor of the T&C, and spread out a bit so of course even if the con is small, one has to walk everywhere. But this is how one discovers things like the Trade Room, where tables laden with gently used items are laid out for perusal – you bring a thing and put it on the tables, and you can take something from the tables away with you. Like thrift store hunting, the Trade Room can be full of wonderful and unique surprises, if you’re willing to put in the effort.
I did enjoy wandering through the exhibit of Judy Garland’s varied outfits throughout her long and amazing career, put on by vintage costume collector Michael Siewert. Mr. Siewert was actually on hand to patiently answer my many questions, and I did learn all sorts of interesting things about Garland’s own history, and the difficulty of preserving stage and screen costumes.
I attended the panel called Storytelling in Someone Else’s Sandbox, which is exactly what it sounds like: an exploration of writing in an already-established universe. The panel featured Melissa Wiley, who wrote the Little House on the Prairie prequel books; Edward Einhorn and Gina Wickwar, who were both officially sanctioned to write latter-day Oz stories; and Caroline Spector, who’s written for the likes of George R. R. Martin’s Wildcard series and Shadowrun.
Hopefully, after this initial “shakedown cruise” in its new venue, Winkie Con will be able to attract more volunteers to help organize, and more interest from Wizard of Oz fans of all kinds. The potential for Oz-tastic fun is huge!