Goodbye Titancon, I’m free.

It is with great sadness I am publicly withdrawing my support for the Belfast SF event, Titancon. I’d been a fixture there since the first in 2011, appearing as a headline guest with Absence and The Magnificent One Day Comics Factory; making financial plans and promotions in the 2013-2014 committee, putting together comics creators who’d drawn Irish Myth: Will Simpson, Paddy Brown and Paul Bolger, teaching people how to self-publish…

Seven great years of workshops, panels, blogging, flyering, readings, camaraderie and making ends meet in Titancon. Then, sadly, in the eighth year with a new committee hosting Eurocon, I became the target of sustained abuse and slander at the hands of their then Logistics Manager. The resulting complaint did little to assuage him, and when I stood up to him, we were both removed. So, my only committent was a panel with one of the star guests, whose trip I’d half-funded. Then, a week before the event (of which I’d planned networking and enjoying) I was asked to organise the comics panels. Except I was outside the communications circuit. I found the dealers I’d brought in with queries. Nothing had been done in my three months absence. My replacement, the Chair, hadn’t even spoken to them. The panels weren’t in place, though the programmer had the decency to apologise. I spent the week apologising to people, directing them, trying to answer questions I didn’t know the answer to, managing guests and giving tech support with no time for myself. It was the worst con experience of my life.

Press Launch for 2011 Titancon: Back row (l-r) founders Bruce Logan, Ian Lawther, 1st secretary Silverjaime; front row guests Paddy Brown, Andy Luke

It was actual fucking trauma. Not hyperbole. Not anything any-one should have to go through. Cumulatively, it took its toll on the relationship with my partner. We’ve broken up, in part due to Titancon’s particular pressure. Then it got weirder. Weeks later I spoke up for a main-stay author who’d been sidelined. This comment, along with the official complaint about bullying, was enough for the Chair to exclude me from returning to the committee. I’d laid down a vision for 2020 which she was acting on, even been proposed for Chair, and the sidelined author given a spot on the committee, but no, not I. And then, the ex-Logistics chief who made my life hell for months in front of the committee, well he was returned to his role. He was indulged by committee. The Chair, having witnessed it, knew well what she was doing as did others. There was no innocence about it. Despite earlier odd remarks badmouthing a founding, having a GRRM-less event (returning GRRM was Titancon’s goal since 2011), and suggesting for our private Coach Trip we refer visitors to public transport. Beyond foolishness, there’s a malevolent interference at play, even an ableist angle.

And that’s as deep as I’ll go for a lot of this is too upsetting for me to recount. This statement may hurt my career or cause people who don’t know better to hurt it. I’d rather people were warned off danger.

Titancon, I don’t regret much of what I’ve given you this decade. It’s been a blast, truly, deeply. I gave so much of me to making Eurocon a joy for others. I played fair when you did not. The reverbstorm of this on my life is still being felt. Some ‘opportunities’ are not worthy of us, traps to suck us up and throw our skins in the ditch. If you feel torn over loyalty to me and the con, it’s not my choice. What do you do? What do I want you do? Honestly? Cut that baby in two. Fuck ’em.  Forget ’em. I hope Titancon has a welcome traffic accident and sucks on a cuckoo’s cloaca.

Goodbye, Titancon. I’m free.

– Andy Luke

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