The Central Washington Authors Guild (CWAG) was back again at RadCon 7 in Pasco, WA, so Tim and I, back home now, spent this Presidents’ Day recovering from all the running around. Still, though I doubt they’ll see this, I want to thank everyone who patronized our store. We had some relatively amazing sales and raised some money to allow us to do some bigger and better things down the line.
Where do I start in recapping the weekend? I guess I can talk about the guest of honor: Toby Froud.
He’s the son of legendary Jim Henson Company alumni Brian and Wendy Froud. Of course, most people probably would know him best as the baby in Labyrinth. (Someone in the audience did unfortunately reference this at the beginning of the talk, which caused a lot of groaning. Fortunately, Toby took it in stride, giving him extra credit stars as far as I’m concerned. He also calls his production company Stripey Pajama Productions, so he’s at least willing to acknowledge that it happened.) Personally, I would prefer to think of him for the amazing work he’s doing now with puppetry and stop motion animation with Laika Enterainment, having worked on such films as Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls.
Toby explained that part of the reason he does what he does is because growing up in this realm of fantasy, he doesn’t understand how people can’t enjoy it and does what he can to bring his world to others. He also brought up the difference of practical effects vs. CG. I totally agree with this. Computer graphics are cool, and when they’re done right, they can add to an experience, but there’s something a little more real about puppets. Part of the problem I had with the Special Edition of the original Star Wars trilogy (and the prequels to a degree) was the CG Jabba the Hutt. While the graphics did get better in the prequels, Jabba never really looked like he was there like he did in the original Return of the Jedi. It makes me sad that movie makers tend to have moved away from those practical effects in their storytelling. I know that CG can be cheaper, and they’re always looking for ways of keeping costs down, but the experience also can feel cheap as a result.
Toby finished his talk by showing his short film Lessons Learned. I adored this video, and I’ll admit that a lot of that stems from how much like a classic Henson creation it felt. Some of the best things I saw growing up came from Jim Henson’s imagination. Okay, I didn’t exactly get into Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal until I got to college, but the fact that I fell in love with them as an adult (mostly) should speak to the fact that Henson’s work is designed to appeal to all different ages. Toby has also became an amazing puppeteer on his own, as he showed during the Q & A section. A little girl asked him about the puppets, so he picked one up to demonstrate to her. It seemed like the moment he put it on his hand, what had just been this thing on the stage came to life. I got to talk to him afterward to tell him how much I appreciate him doing what he’s doing because this kind of care in movie making really shouldn’t go out of practice.
On a lark, Tim and I decided to sit in on a panel about starting podcasting, and we both fully admitted that we were there thanks to the presence of Scott C. Brown and Andy Dopieralski. Why? you might ask. Well, a few years ago, we discovered this cute little movie on Netflix called The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Guess who was in it? (Jen Page was also there, but out of respect to her, we didn’t approach her the times we saw her.) We loved the movie so much, we helped to fund their third movie, The Gamers: Hands of Fate. Since they’re fairly local, I thought it would be pretty neat to meet them in person, so we did. I’m happy to report they’re just as funny in person as they are in the movies. 🙂
The final interesting moment of the weekend was when we went to the talk by the highlighted rising author, J. Dean. His talk had very little attendance, but I think that had more to do with it being on Sunday morning than anything else. I’m still glad we went since, based on what he had to say about it, I’m very interested in his series now. I admire him for wanting to do something different. So much modern entertainment tends to be a lot of the same, which I understand since it sells, but I get so bored with all the things pretty much being clones of each other. I want to explore new things because sometimes, new things are awesome. When I get a chance, I’ll read his first book, The Summoning of Clade Josso, and I’m looking forward to getting into his world.
I think that covers the main stuff that I heard/saw/interested me/that sort of thing, so I’m going to wrap things up here. Hope you enjoyed, and maybe I’ll see you next year. (If you see a female Link, that might just be me.)
Now we get to the legal stuff, which I want to give credit because credit is due. The picture of Toby as a baby and now grown up, I found through a Google search and was provided by Muppet Wiki. The picture from the talk was provided by TR Goodman. I got the picture for the Two Bards through the Zombie Orpheus Facebook page, and they apparently shared it from The Geek of All Trades podcast. (At least I hope I got that right. I linked to the page, so there’s that.) Finally, I borrowed the cropped image of the cover for The Summoning of Clade Josso from J. Dean’s website. He showed the full image at his talk, and I couldn’t think of anything better to represent him.