DogCon IV • October 23-25
DogCon IV in Philadelphia • October 23-25
I realized DogCon IV was the biggest yet when we were unable to get a group photo of all the participants, much less attendees/audience members. As always, each DogCon is unique and Philadelphia was no exception. One thing we did differently was instead of staying in a hotel we rented a house through AirBnB for the authors to stay in. This was fun and provided more chances to hang out than a hotel.
First up, Michael Arnzen gave a lecture at Neumann University on The Uncanny Valley. It was creepy and thought-provoking and a great way to kick things off. Next we toured Eastern State Penitentiary and everyone seemed to enjoy it a great deal. Even our tour guide got a kick out of getting to share more off-color aspects knowing that we were a bunch of unsavory creative types. Whether you’re interested in architecture, history, abandoned places or odd stories ESP is a fascinating place to visit.
Saturday night was our main event with readings from 13 RDSP authors, the announcement of the Readers Choice Award winner and live music from Stoneburner. This was all held in the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Modern Art (PhilaMOCA) which is in the neighborhood where David Lynch filmed Erasherhead. The outside of the building appears in some shots in the film. Inside they had the baby from the movie! It was the perfect venue for our readings. We debuted Andy Deane’s All the Darkness in the World and he treated us to a truly hilarious reading. We also heard from Drew Conry-Murray who we met for the first time, K. Ceres Wright, J.L. Gribble, Albert Wendland, Matt Betts, B.E. Burkhead, Stephanie Wytovich, Leland Pitts-Gonzalez, Donna Lynch, D. Harlan Wilson and Michael Arnzen. Painters Kristen Margiotta and Steven Archer had art on display for sale.
As we previously announced, Mourning Jewelry by Stephanie Wytovich was the winner of the Readers Choice Award. We were lucky to have last year’s champ, Matt Betts, on hand to pass on the belt. This was probably my favorite moment of the weekend.
The next day we toured Laurel Hill Cemetery, another amazing historic site rife with stories. We were lucky to have beautiful weather all weekend so the drive north afterwards to Farley’s Bookshop in New Hope was stunning. New Hope is a gorgeous small town, especially in the fall.
Farley’s hosted the launch of D. Harlan Wilson‘s Battle Without Honor or Humanity. To celebrate we did a story swap where the authors traded short stories and each person read the others’ piece. We had never done that before and the results were excellent. It allowed for many funny moments and more audience interaction. It was also a great way to include non-RDSP authors. Readers included Joseph Bouthiette, Jr., D. Harlan Wilson, Jessica McHugh, John Edward Lawson, Leza Cantoral, Cristoph Paul, Josh Myers, WIlliam Pauley III, Michael Arnzen and Stephanie Wytovich.
With a larger group and so many things to do in Philly this year was different because people could break off in smaller groups to do whatever interested them so there were side visits to the Mütter Musem, the Rodin Art Museum, the Rocky Statue and Steps and many others.
Since the main goals of DogCon are to get as many of our authors together as possible, have people make connections with each other and promote creativity I think #4 was our best one yet. Many people thanked me for organizing and really genuinely seemed to have a good time so I call that a huge win.
More information from Michael Arnzen about The Uncanny Valley with videos and sources he referenced.
Video of Donna Lynch reading from her novel in progress.