Arts Desk

Intervention Con Returns for a Second Year

Intervention is a local Internet-culture convention that includes cartoonists and other creative types. Last year, it had the bad fortune of sharing a date with the larger (heh) Small Press Expo. This year, it's a week later. Organizer Oni Hartstein answered some questions about the second year of the show for us.

Washington City Paper: What's the theme of Intervention?

Oni Hartstein: Intervention is a celebration of the Internet and its ability to  create a brand new type of unique culture. Online distribution has allowed a wide range of independent artists the ability to distribute their work worldwide–and Intervention is the place to learn about and interact with these artists.

WCP: How is it different than a standard comics con?

OH: While most cons (including Intervention) have "fan panels" where you can ask your favorite creator about their work from a fan perspective, we also offer panels where these creators talk to other artists about how they do their work—the nuts and bolts of the business or development of their art. We are also doing a children's programming track, which is in conjunction with the people from GeekDad/GeekMom, to bring parents and children together to have fun and learn about new geeky things.

WCP: How and why did you start the con?

OH: Intervention has been in development for at least seven years. Ever since [co-founder James] Harknell and I started going to cons as guests we've been analyzing what we liked and didn't like about the experience. We are very grateful to other events that have us as guests, but we realized that there wasn't an event that existed that was directly about what we do, which is online "webcomics". Over time we joined some other events as staff to learn the business side of event coordination, and formed a core group of event staff who we felt were the best in their area. The opportunity came together last year where all of the people we wanted to work with were all available.

WCP: This is your second year for the con, and the first was unfortunately accidentally scheduled against SPX. What lessons did you learn from the first year?

OH: A first year event is always stressful. You have no idea how many people will be coming. Also, both we and SPX signed our contracts the same week and announced practically at the same time, so having an established con opposite us less than two miles away was a major challenge. Obviously we don't want that to happen again, so we've made it a major focus to avoid that type of collision again—this year we talked with SPX and set our date a week later.

The best lesson we learned from the first year was that even under difficult circumstances, we were able to draw over 500 people to the event, and our feedback was overwhelmingly positive. People are definitely interested in what our event has to offer, and many of our attendees from last year promptly purchased pre-registraions for this year's event, so we believe we're on the right track.

WCP: Is there anything special you'd like to mention about this year's con?

OH: Well, I mentioned two new parts of the event already, but other things we're doing this year are the addition of a video gaming room and live bands. We have a whole room dedicated to console and retro gaming, featuring separate Kinect and Rock Band setups. In our performance room we have two bands playing across the day on Saturday, with other live music on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and did I mention the Cosplay Belly Dance troupe that does special dances to Internet meme songs like "Chocolate Rain" or the "Hamster Dance"? And has a full Super Mario Brother adventure dance (in full Bowser/Mario/Princess Peach costumes) they will be doing? Yeah, It's going to be epic this year.

WCP: Any cartoonists you are particularly proud of having come?

OH: All of them. All of the guest artists at our event were picked because they are doing things we like and think are cool or innovative. If you look at our line up the word awe just isn't good enough to describe the experience.

WCP: How about other guests?

OH: We were really happy to expand our range of guests this year into bloggers, musicians, and podcasters. Our goal has always been to make this event about the entirety of internet artistry—webcomics are what we know so they were the biggest part of the 2010 event. This year we are really getting closer to our overall goal to highlight the best artistic work online.

WCP: Do you have any programming that you'd like to spotlight for us?

OH: We're doing so much! We've had people look at the programming list and freak out that they wouldn't have time to eat or sleep to see everything they wanted. We've tried to make everything have strong value. Well, if you want to hear the "behind the scenes" info on Intervention, Harknell and I are doing a panel called "We are Intervention" on Saturday morning (the 17th) where we'll answer any questions on running the event or tips on how to do your own event.

And we love Blue, the musician from Hello, The Future! She'll be doing two acoustic sets at the event with songs about webcomics, geeky things, and possibly even her Intervention-themed songs.

WCP: Do you think you'll reach a critical mass to be able to continue the show?

OH: Absolutely. We're in it for the long haul. Based on our numbers last year, and our preregistration this year, we expect at least a 25 percent growth in attendee numbers, and maybe a lot more. We've already blown well past our con hotel room block allocation and have had to ask the hotel to extend the number they'll give us three times.

WCP: Are you planning on keeping it in late summer/early fall?

OH: Right now we think it'll stay in this timeframe for the foreseeable future. We might bounce around a few weeks forward or back, depending on the schedules of other events. It looks like everyone who runs a show in this time of the year does that.

WCP: People can buy tickets at? and get more information at?

OH: Our main website is http://www.interventioncon.com, and it has full info about the event. We have an App in the iTunes app store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch called "Intervention" which has mobile info for the event. You can go directly to
www.interventioncon.com/register to buy your registration online.

Sept. 16-18, Hilton Washington DC/Rockville, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, from Friday 12 p.m. to Sunday 4 p.m. Registration  $15-$45.

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