Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… Jan Ní Shúilleabháin
I was thinking about how we could let people know about the upcoming Octocon event and it hit me. I decided to dust off one of our old favourites but with a difference. This time I decided to highlight the often overlooked person in comics, the convention organiser. So for this special edition, we have the Chairperson of Octocon 2017. It’s 7 questions with… Jan Ní Shúilleabháin.
What was the first convention you were involved with?
Involved with? My that makes it sound like some sort of torrid affair! I had attended Gaelcon before I had kids, but it was later on when they got a bit older I started helping out with conventions, be it offering advice, but the first convention I staffed at was Itzacon over in Galway and then I was on the committee for Gaelcon back in 2009. I had event management experience before then with the Scouts, so really a 3 day convention like Octocon is a lot easier than taking 20 scouts from Finglas off to learn how to use axed and cook over fires.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that first convention?
Never assume people know anything, be it a committee member, a staff member or a person who is attending. Avoid using insider terms, and thinking people know how things will run.
What’s the process for organising a convention?
Honestly it is putting together the right team of people, who have the skills, the motivation make it happen and who communicate well together. Running an event will either bond a group of people together well or make them run screaming. I’ve not had anyone run screaming yet. Then its making sure everyone has the same concept for the convention, because until the doors open it is a nebulous cluster of ideas we communicate to each other, to the guests and to those who attend. Also lists, Google drive is a gods send for people being able to communicate and collaborate.
What influenced you to get involved with conventions?
Some people really enjoy helping to run events, we get a kick out of people enjoying the convention, we feel more at ease having a role or a job to do and contributing, esp when we see event runners under stress at an event we are attending. It was back in 2008 myself and my sister were talking about how a convention we were at was running and well we are not ones to grouse and not help. So we pitched in, mostly we were attending and helping out with table top gaming conventions.
Then my so-called friend JC asked me to help with Octocon one year and now I am chair, but well he’s also got what he deserves as he’s now treasurer for the Dublin2019 Worldcon.
What are you working on right now?
I am 22 days away from Octocon2017 happening. Doors will open in the Camden Court Hotel on the 6th of October. I’ve just spent 2 hours in a google hangout as the programme and panel items are being copy edited and prepped for when we publish them. I have also been sneaking in more Dune references. Well I am chair so I got to try create my dream convention, which is Dan and Nik Abnet as my Guests of Honour, and have panels on themes from Frank Herbert award winning book Dune. I am getting to moderate a panel with Dan Abnett and Michael Carroll as they talk about writing for 2000AD!
We are also working Octcon2018, as the seed for next year is always there as we organize this year.
When is your next convention?
After Octocon, I will be going to Gaelcon which is the October Bank Holiday weekend, to roll my dice, catch up with friends and de-stress.
What is your favourite Irish comic?
Hmmm how are we defining Irish Comic?
If it means created by Irish people then for me it has to be Injection, drawn by Declan Shalvey, coloured by Jordie Bellaire and written by Warren Ellis. One of the protagonists is an excellent Irish character and we see her driving through Dublin. In terms of a completely Irish comic, well I have a soft spot for Leeann Hamilton’s Kitteenies.