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Behind the Scenes at #SkepchickCon

Warning: This post is full of pics and even more packed with awesome.

What really happens behind the scenes at SkepchickCon? Thanks to Hero Machine 3, I can finally reveal the true identities of the volunteers in a form that does some justice to how amazing they were (with permission to unmask them, of course).

Posting this today (finally) is just coincidence, but it’s a welcome coincidence to remind us that we are not defined by the assholes in our community. We–writers, readers, and especially volunteers–define what this community is and what it can be, and from where I’m sitting, we are pretty fucking amazing.

This was my first year organizing SkepchickCon, my first year organizing anything, really, aside from the occasional shower or party. I had no clue what I was doing, but Kammy Lyon, the previous organizer, Obi-Wanned me through it and threw kick-ass pre- and after parties for volunteers and panelists.

Kammy raised the bar exceedingly high with past cons.
Kammy raised the bar exceedingly high with past cons.

Melissa Lee and Niki M. are veteran volunteers, and they ran the party room like pros. Melissa took charge of organizing the volunteers online and through texts with the power of her MIND. Niki was not only helping in the party room, but she tabled for Rebecca and Amy and videotaped panels with Don Scurlock that the main videographer, David McConnell, couldn’t do because of overlap. Don helped out with the heavy lifting as well when we were setting up the party room.

When I told Melissa I was doing something special in a post for them, she asked if it was a Kickstarter to buy them all a pony. Wish granted.
When I told Melissa I was doing something special in a post for them, she asked if it was a Kickstarter to buy them all a pony. Wish granted.
Comic Niki
Niki in SkepchickCon master control, getting shit done.
Don helped out with heavy lifting as well as videography.
Don helped out with heavy lifting as well as videography.

David and his kids took on a huge amount of work videotaping nearly every single panel in the SkepchickCon track as well as some of the sandboxes and Anne Sauer’s demonstration, not to mention some of the video editing and long uploads of files that might have crashed his computer if he weren’t part cyborg. (I mean, he has to be. He was recording almost nonstop for four days.)

Comic David
David took on the monumental task of video recording ALL THE THINGS.

Chris Pederson was a new volunteer this year, and she completely astounded me. She helped with everything, from heavy lifting to washing test tubes to putting up fliers. She thought to call before leaving home in case I needed anything, and now she’s given our permanent party room furniture a new home in her garage. And she’s been doing the lion’s share of video transcription. She is amazing.

Comic Chris
Chris’s superpower is everything.

Returning volunteer Megan Press is always a huge help in the party room, particularly covering the bar, as well as tabling for Rebecca and Amy when they had panels. She was joined by another new volunteer, Erica Mahlum, working long hours mixing it up for science.

Comic Megan
Every year, Megan is on fire in the party room.
Comic Erica
Erica learned the party room chemistry in no time.

Beth Newmaster not only helped out a ton in the party room but she drove me to get supplies mid-con when I couldn’t safely drive because I hadn’t really slept for days. This meant risking her sweet parking spot. We were amazed it was actually still there when we got back.

Comic Beth
Beth could kick the asses of all Transformers put together without even nicking her paint job.

Mel Springer is a professional set designer for the Guthrie Theater, and he designs our party room every year as well as the Freethought Blogs party room, right next door. The hotel doesn’t even ask us to pay for the busted wall because they are too intimidated by his buzzsaw hand. (OK, we didn’t actual damage the room. But he totally has a buzzsaw hand.)

Mel transforms our party room every year.
Mel transforms our party room every year.

Corey Van Meekeren is another veteran volunteer, always there when we need him, especially to help with the lifting. Dan Berliner was new to the team but somehow managed to magically appear whenever I needed him, to help in the party room, putting up fliers, and tons of heavy lifting.

Comic Corey
Corey is incredibly laid back for someone so busy helping people constantly.
Comic Dan
Dan can bend the laws of physics to help out with anything and everything.

Ted Meissner, who also helps us out every year, was the picture of calm amid the chaos of the party room, along with new volunteers Steve Theiss and Mark Hinterthuer. All three guarded and carded at the entrance to the bar area, and Steve helped out with some of the Sandboxes.

Comic Ted
Unflappable Ted is unflappable.
Comic Steve and Mark
Steve and Mark left no ID unturned.

Our volunteers weren’t alone in doing all the behind-the-scenes work. When I mentioned that we needed more help loading and unloading, Stephanie Zvan rallied the troops. She and Ben Zvan, Jason and Jodi Thibeault, Corey and Dan all met up with Mel at the magical warehouse of set pieces. (This is seriously the coolest warehouse ever.) Jason has also helped a ton with video editing and effects.

Comic Steph and Ben
Steph and Ben did not shy away from heavy lifting.
Comic Jason and Jodi
Jason and Jodi jumped right in to help at the warehouse.

The Myers clan, led by Mary Myers, and other Freethought bloggers arrived the next day to help finish setting up the party rooms. Skatje Myers and Kyle Hughart served up delicious brains throughout the con, and Connlann Myers, Alaric Myers, and Vicki Anderson didn’t hesitate to help tear down the rooms and head out to unload at the warehouse after the con was over.

Comic Mary
Mary is the FtB party room overlord, quietly running everything behind the scenes.
Comic Skatje and Kyle
Skatje and Kyle mastered the FtB party room.
Comic Connlann
Connlann dove right in to helping out in the FtB party room and with the party teardown.
Comic Alaric and Vicki
Alaric and Vicki joined forces with us at the warehouse.

Many other Skepchick Network contributors and Freethought Bloggers pitched in:

Comic Jamie
Jamie Bernstein took photographs throughout the con and auctioned her photography to help fund-raise. Plus, she helped with tabling!
Comic Brianne
Brianne Bilyeu helped out with airport pickups.
Comic Deb and Heina
Deb Goddard and Heina Dadabhoy helped unload the alcohol, then helped me get rid of all the boxes of empty bottles.
Comic Olivia
Olivia James helped with party planning and setting up the official SkepchickCon Twitter account.
Comic Chris and Mindy
Mindy Townsend and Chris Tucker ran some crucial last-minute errands for me.
Comic Lux and Degon
Lux and Degon Pickel helped out with party room setup.
Comic Miri and Robert
Miri Mogilevsky and Robert Arnow helped with tabling.
Comic Ashley
Ashley Miller and her ukelele of justice helped out in the FtB party room.
Comic Bug Girl
Bug Girl was a backup videographer and is always the most awesome Safe Space enforcer. Plus, she fed me. <3
Comic Nicole
Nicole Gugliucci helped table.
Comic Beth and Katie
Beth and Katie from MAL brought the paper doll scientists and party hats to share in the party room
Comic Ryan
Ryan Consell helped with fundraising and brought his dragon and fairy bones to display in the party room.
Comic Amanda
Amanda Marcotte was an amazing impromptu DJ in our party room.

Last but far from least, a special thanks to Anne Sauer. You all know about the demos she did in the party room, but you probably don’t realize that she helped out in a ton of ways throughout, with fundraising, setup, helping me keep my thoughts organized, and coming up with great ideas (like asking Amanda Marcotte to come back and DJ again after the first night’s impromptu, and very popular, performance).

Comic Anne
Anne Sauer was an Amazing Skepchick Cure-All

Of course, all the panelists and special guests were also wonderful, and many of them helped a lot with making our programming the best it could be. This post is focused on volunteers who were on the ground doing the work that too often goes unrecognized. My gratitude is immeasurable.

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer living in a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband, two kids, dog, and two cats. When not making fun of bad charts or running the Uncensorship Project, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and putting out random dumpster fires. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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  1. As the creator of HeroMachine and a big SkepChick fan, I am delighted beyond words to see this wonderful use of the program. Thanks for all you do and I hope you had fun making your characters. Keep up the great work!

  2. Sorry to all my fellow volunteers, but I gotta say my superhero alter ego is the BEST one! Great job Melanie, I really enjoyed this… it has given me a great idea for a new outfit for next year… any excuse to buy me some rockin’ purple boots :)

  3. Damn, those rockets would have been super useful today on the roads…

    But seriously, it was fun as always, so let’s do it again next year!

  4. MELANIIIIE This is so awesome thank you <3 Also next year I won't get into a car accident a week before Con and become incapable of doing anything useful.

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