SulkCon '81

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Fanwork
Title: SulkCon '81
Creator: Susan R. Matthews
Date(s): 1981
Medium: print
Fandom: multifandom
External Links:
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SulkCon '81 is a parody fanwork by Susan R. Matthews.

Warpedspace45-9.jpg

It is a satiric flyer printed in March 1981 in the zine Warped Space #45, two months before the very first MediaWest*Con.

The flyer was for a imagined convention, one which poked fun at cons in general, and specifically MediaWest*Con. At least one fan, made the accusation that it was also a request by Matthews for support and votes for her to be the recipient of that year's SF/Media Fan Fund.

While this fanwork did not address the subject of fannish loyalties to shows, specifically the major rift between many Star Trek and Star Wars fans, the topic none-the-less was hotly debated with this fanwork as a springboard. For examples, see the many letters in Interstat #45, 46, 47, and 48 (and Star Trek and Star Wars) for much heated debate.

Excerpts

ARE YOU tired of never being able to go to cons?

WEARY of reading about the great times everyone else had at the last one?

FED UP with all your friends who come back from a weekend's fannish fun and merriment with all those stories they make you listen to?

AND PISSED TO THE ULTIMATE MAX at having to watch your mailbox, waiting for those great new 'zines that everyone else is talking about--that everyone else picked up at the last con?

SULKCON '81 IS FOR YOU!!

SULKCON '81 will be held in Seattle, Washington, the Black Hole of the Greater Pacific Northwest.

Programming features reruns of I Love Lucy and The Six Million Dollar Man, along with the CBS Late Movie. We are negotiating a guest appearance by several thousand pounds of Mt. St. Helen's ashfall. [1]

ONLY SUPPORTING MEMBERSHIPS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

Make checks payable to Susan R. Matthews (or we'll send his Excellency Andrej Ulexeievich[2] after you, and no, Regina, that is not a promise, it's a threat).

Proceeds will go into the Fund to Move East Lansing Ml to New South Wales. If I can't go to the con, by ghu, I'll see to it that no-one can!

Members of SulkCon '81 will receive a copy of the new 'zine EGOBOO, in which we will say only nice things about each others' zines, artwork, stories, politics, and general moral fiber. EGOBOO will feature a very high quality of blank newsprint, and be the first 100% recyclable fanzine in fanhistory. Even the title will be pencilled in.
In the event that the Fund to Move East Lansing Ml to New South Wales lacks sufficient funds to accomplish its mission it will convert automatically on MediaCon Weekend to the Fund to Send Susan Matthews Out to Dinner. A full report and accounting may be obtained by writing to the management of the Funky Off Broadway, Capital Hill.

Controversy

At least one fan, Barbara Gordon, felt it was a serious attempt to sway voting. Gordon wrote a letter to Interstat in July 1985 complaining that it had been a pitch for votes for the fifth year of the SF/Media Fan Fund, a contest that Matthews had ultimately won. Gordon's letter also highlighted her unhappiness with the change in the fan fund's focus away from Star Trek: TOS, something that echoed many fans' tensions with "other" fandoms. See Star Trek and Star Wars for more on that topic.

From Gordon's letter:

Susan Matthews has won the 1981 Fan Fund (according to the MediaWestCon Progress Report #3), and will be attending MediaWest Con. Not surprising, unfortunately. Was anyone as disturbed as I was by that slightly disguised full-page ad for S. Matthews that appeared in WARPED SPACE #45? The other contestants were not given full-page ads. They did not advertise themselves either openly, or in such a camouflaged fashion. This kind of conduct is extremely unfair to the other contestants and should be grounds for disqualification. If the Fund can't be run fairly, it should be abolished.

Also, the decision to convert the Fan Fund from Star Trek to multi-media was made unilaterally by "media" fans, without consulting Trek fandom. Wouldn't someone in fandom like to organize a real Star Trek Fan Fund that can't be perverted to something else — and that is run fairly?
The editor of Warped Space and one of MediaWest*Con's two main organizers, Lori Chapek-Carleton (who was given Barbara Gordon's letter ahead of time as a courtesy by Interstat's editor, Teri Meyer) replied to Gordon's letter:

You are paranoid, aren't you? Susan Matthews sent me "SulkCon '81" in a letter, as a joke. I, being an editor, thought it would make a lovely submission to the 'zine, and asked her if I could print it in WARPED SPACE. She agreed.

Not everyone who signed up for MediaWest*Con subscribes to WARPED SPACE, so I do think you over-estimate the 'zine's influence just a tad. I wouldn't know what "advertising" any of the 1981 Fan Fund contestants did, either "openly" or "in such a camouflaged fashion." I did not, and do not, consider "SulkCon '81" to be a full-page ad for Susan Matthews—anyone running for Fan Fund, I suppose, if they are an active fan and participate as authors or artists in 'zines, or have their names associated with cons, would, I suppose, have their names thrust before fandom at large whenever they contribute to anything.... And I'm sorry, but since the Fan Fund has been associated with our series of conventions since its inception, I suppose it is true, in a way, that the decision to convert the Fan Fund from Star Trek to multi-media was made by "media" fans. I.e., the fans who attended Mos' Eastly last year and who were interested enough to show up at the meetings held to discuss that very question. You yourself told me that the thought of supporting a "warry" (by which I presume you mean a Star Wars fan) made you sick, and thus were reluctant to vote and contribute your $1 to the fan — don't you know that Susan Matthews is also a Star Trek fan? Don't be so quick to label people, Barbara, at least not until you know the facts! I know, everyone nominated this year for Fan Fund is involved in varying degrees with Star Trek fandom!
While Susan R. Matthews did not address the flyer directly in that same issue of Interstat, she did make comments about the voting, and in fan fandom allegiances:
The fandoms have gotten rather polarized. I simply don't read much Trek fiction any more. So that I have changed my mind about the media-fiction awards. When the idea first came up I rather snickered at the Trek-fans so insecure about how Trek-lit compared with other media lit that they wanted to have their own little True Value awards. I changed my mind about it at MediaWest, and [Crystal Ann T's] letter said it as well as I could. Meaning no disrespect to anyone involved, it's my conviction that our two major media fandoms have gotten so big that to put them both on one ballot comes down to de facto if not de pure discrimination — and not based on quality. I can either vote just for what I am familiar with — the Star Wars fiction, for me — or not vote at all.

References

  1. Mount Saint Helen's had erupted less than a year earlier, on July 10, 2008.
  2. "Andrej Ulexeievich" is a nod to "Andrej Koscuisko," an original character in Star Wars fiction by Susan R. Matthews. See My Master's Patronage, see A Personal Statement from Susan Matthews...