KillerCon 2018: A Recap

I count myself lucky to be part of a diverse group of literary scenes. Because of this, I’ve been able to attend events as varied as BizarroCon, Spanish-BizarroCon, the World Horror Convention, NECON, Hippocampus, Miami Book Fair, Brooklyn Book Fair, and AWP. I’ve been a published writer for a little over five years now, and all throughout those years the one con I kept hearing good things about was KillerCon. That it was the best con if you’re into hardcore or transgressive horror. I kept hearing from people like Jeff Burk and Brian Keene how they couldn’t wait to go back.

Fast-forward five years and I am finally checking into KillerCon, wondering if it can live up to the hype.

Let me say right off, it lived up to the hype. If you are fan of Splatterpunk, hardcore horror, Bizarro Fiction, and love the idea of a gross out contest—you need to start planning your trip to KillerCon 2019.

How did it live it up to the hype? I come from the Beavis & Butthead school of criticism where something is very cool, cool, eh, sucks, or really sucks. On that scale, KillerCon was very fucking cool. Why is it so cool? It wasn’t that different than most of the other cons I’ve attended, so the only answer I can give is that it's the people. Everybody at KillerCon is super fucking cool.

Everybody at KillerCon is super fucking cool.

It’s funny; the healthiest, kindest, and most inclusive literary scene I’ve witnessed is the hardcore horror scene. For all the decapitation, castration, rape, murder, and bukkake death these writers write about, they are the nicest, least petty, and most accommodating group.  

As a humor writer who loves and writes horror, it was awesome to see my favorites like Edward Lee, Brian Keene, Carlton Mellick III, Joe Lansdale, and Ryan Harding. There is nothing better than being able to talk craft with your favorite writers and then hear them read. These days I feel more like a publisher than a writer, and I love that KillerCon is a great place to sell books. We were able to sell enough books to pay for the trip and get our authors' work into a bunch of new reader’s hands. KillerCon was my first experience at a three-day con where Friday actually generated a ton of sales. It was great because there were writers and readers eager to buy books that aren’t part of mainstream publishing.

But what made KillerCon go from a really good con to something truly special was the Deadite Gross Out Contest. I love events like this or the Bizarro Showdown because they really show the personality of a con. The event is exactly what it sounds like—a challenge where writers must tell the most fucked up, gross story possible in the most creative way. I competed as my alter ego, Mandy De Sandra, and I used props that I definitely can’t share on LitReactor.

I got a specialty award from Edward Lee, which meant a lot. The gross out competitors were truly amazing, and the three that placed were some talented sickos. All I can say is I will never watch a Godzilla film in the same way and I’ll leave it at that.  

Hosting and being part of the CLASH Books reading block was another highlight for me. I got to see writers we’ve published read from their debut books. Our reading featured eight different authors and was an eclectic mix. We heard about dinosaurs attacking from Jeff Burk, tapeworm girlfriends from Brendan Vidito, Charles Austin Muir’s horror fanboy dreams, deals with the devil from Drew Chial, and a fake Hulu TV script from Max Both III. The reading closed with Wrath James White reading from his twisted erotic horror poetry collection, If You Died Tomorrow I Would Eat Your Corpse.

All the readings were great, not only because of the writers, but because every reading had a good amount of people in attendance. This was due to the way the con was organized to prevent events from overlapping or overshadowing each other, giving new writers the best chance for a generous audience.

It’s hard to throw a perfect con, but I've got to give props to KilleCon organizer Wrath James White. He threw the perfect con. Good food was within walking distance and I got to have some of the best Crawfish Étouffée I’ve eaten since I was a teenager in Louisiana. The hotel was affordable and the Austin area in general is pretty cool. Everything I wanted and needed from a con experience was there, but in the end it was the people that made the con special, and the reason why I’ll be returning to KillerCon in 2019.

Christoph Paul

Column by Christoph Paul

Christoph Paul is the Managing Editor and owner of CLASH Books, who have published over 60 books and have been covered by NPR, Poets & Writers, Rolling Stone, Believer Magazine, Oprah Magazine, The Observer, Fangoria, and Publisher's Weekly. The press has had books translated into Spanish, French, and Italian. He has been editing books in almost every genre for over a decade. As an author, he won a humor award and had viral cult success under a pen name. He is the lead singer and bass player of the rock band The Dionysus Effect, who have received positive reviews in Loudwire, EARMILK, and Red Rock Magazine. He sometimes writes songs about the books he publishes because even artists are inspired by their day jobs. Follow him on Twitter @christophpaul_ @clashbooks @dionysuseffect.

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AnnieNeugebauer's picture
AnnieNeugebauer from Texas is reading Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 5 September 7, 2018 - 9:17am

This has only recently popped up on my radar, but I see I've been missing out. Thanks for the great recap; maybe I'll be able to catch this another year!