When they said to me, “Nathan, trying to cram 17,000 people into a single Waffle House just outside the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex of northern Texas might not be the greatest idea,” I scoffed. “The show must go on!” I exclaimed in response. Just like DashCon, Fyre Festival, and—just last weekend—TanaCon before it.
Perhaps, though, I was mistaken. I write to you from the roof of said Waffle House, a glorious American institution whose greasy griddles hum an inspirational tune of hope and heartburn. We’ve barricaded the doors and windows, but frankly, I don’t expect them to last much longer. You’d think that standing out on hot tarmac in 105-degree temperatures for the better part of a day would have sapped the dehydrated hordes of their strength, but they seem to have caught a second wind that verges on superhuman. Just minutes ago, a teen Instagram celebrity hurled an old pancake she found by a dumpster so hard that it remains embedded in the wall mere inches from where I was standing at the time.
On a somewhat related note, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that I am officially canceling NathanCon 2018.
I take no pride in this decision. All I wanted to do was create a convention for the masses—one where everybody was equal in the amount they spent on VIP badges and meals that would have recouped the cost of this whole thing in literal seconds. There would have been plenty of time for people to thank me for being so gracious while salivating over my cool life and famous friends, but that was just icing atop the proverbial waffle stack that I am now consuming as my last meal.
NathanCon, more than anything, was about the community.
It all began when Comic-Con, E3, BlizzCon, Fanime, Vidcon, Gen Con, PAX, Magfest, Fantastic Fest, TwitchCon, CES, the sex convention that always runs adjacent to CES, BronyCon, Midwest FurFest, several conventions dedicated entirely to the show Supernatural, Sakura Con, WonderCon, Indiecade, A-Kon, DragonCon, Star Wars Celebration, the official Star Trek convention, and Yu-Gi-Oh Duelist Invitational declined to invite me as a guest of honor. Me! After all I’ve accomplished in my years of professionally talking about the things I’ve accomplished!
I’d had enough. It was time for action. In a manic blaze, I began organizing a convention where everybody could be a guest of honor at Yu-Gi-Oh Duelist Invitational. There’d be panels for people of all types: my fans, my haters, and Waffle House employees.
I’d learned from my forebears, too: I decided to set the con in Texas—the biggest continental state—so that nobody could complain about being “trapped on an island” or whatever. With Waffle House providing food, attendees couldn’t gripe about “starving because alleged luxury meals turned to sand between their fingers,” either. And yeah, I’ve heard more than my fair share of DashCon horror stories, which is why I set my sights on having two ball pits instead of just one. It was fool-proof!
But then, after a couple hours, I got bored and realized it’d be easier just to sell a bunch of tickets and play it by ear. That spirit of improvisation, innovation, and disruption is what I think made NathanCon so special.
Thousands of people bought tickets. The con was, by all available measures, a rousing success until it actually happened. That’s gotta count for something, right? Perspective is key here, and once this little PR kerfuffle blows over, I think a lot of people are gonna look back fondly on NathanCon. Was it everything it could’ve been? No. Are people using their own bodies as battering rams to get at me? Yes. Is a separate, no less angry group of people clambering atop each other in clever human pyramid formations to get at me? Yes. Have people made it onto the roof? Absolutely. And they did it by working together. Truly, NathanCon was about the community.