I cannot believe it but it seems twenty years have passed since I joined fandom. Unfortunately I somehow missed the date. I should have been celebrating on 2nd March as my first convention – DOJIcon 2 took place March 2nd 2002. Twenty years – who would have thought? Certainly not me those twenty years ago.
Starting from the Conventions
I described a lot about my fandom beginnings in the post created to celebrate my 200th convention and in a second one about fanzines. I don’t want to repeat myself too much (yet this will obviously happen). The truth is that my great fannish adventure started with convention – DOJIcon 2. Or to be more precise it started before the con through meeting Kifle who showed the fandom to me. Still DOJIcon 2 is the moment which I consider as my fandom beginnings. It would be too difficult to determine which of the conversations I had with Kifle was the moment I became a fan. And first convention is a pretty nice moment in time.
I was involved a bit with the first convention. I had access to photocopying machine which we could use to make the programme table. We only had to bring our own paper and make the copies ourselves. It was way cheaper than any printing/copying place. So I spent the time copying this programme table. I remember that then I visited Mózg (my future friend and fellow conrunner) with a pile of the copied programme booklets. I am not sure whether this was the moment we met for the first time but I think so. Unfortunately after the con I threw away my copy of the programme table. It would be good to have it in my collection. Later at the con I knew no one apart from a few people running it. So somehow I ended up helping in the cloak room. Of course I also spent time watching anime, attending programme, and talking with people.
DOJIcon 2 was my first convention but not the last. Half a year later we had the next one – DOJIcon 3. And the year later I attended eight conventions. Among them was my first SFF con (rest were manga cons). I won’t be describing what came next – till this day I attended 245 conventions and I have plans for more. Congoing was my first fannish activity and remains the most important till this day.
I would not be where I am now if not for the DOJI Team. People I mentioned above – Kifle and Mózg were members of this informal group. And I joined them! One of the things we did were conventions. This one was the one I was mainly involved in. Yet we also published a fanzine. The print run was small when I joined – around 20-30 copies if I recall correctly. The exception was issue 26 – we made over 100 copies as it was given for free to members of DOJIcon 3. I wrote some articles to DOJI – the first appeared in issue 23 from June 2002. It was called “Is Lina a Hobbit?”. I was looking at similarities between anime Slayers and works of Tolkien. The text is naive and not well written… Well I was young and it was the first thing I wrote that was not prepared for school. Our last activity was preparing Polish fansubs to anime. We were translating from English fansubs so the final effect was not always the best.
The time I spent with the DOJI Team is extremely precious to me. They taught me what is fandom, how conventions are made, how one can enjoy making a fanzine, and many more. Thanks to them I moved from enjoying one anime series to being a fan. And I mean here a big shift both in terms of how many new shows and mangas I saw and in terms of understanding what fandom is and how it works. Would I become a fan should I not met Kifle at school? Hard to say, yet for sure it would be years later.
Meetings and Clubs
Someday in my early fannish days I started to attend Spotkania mangowe (Manga meetings). This was an initiative started by a professional M&A magazine – “Kawaii”. They encouraged fans in different cities to meet on regular basis. In Kraków we had our meetings weekly on Saturdays. The gathering point was Main Square (near the city hall tower). Once we gathered there we moved almost 2 km to Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology. This was not a formal club of any kind. We were simply meeting each other and talking.
Thanks to those Manga meetings I learned about SFF fandom. A friend told me that there is an SFF convention in Kraków – Imladris. When I heard about it I had to attend it. And so I went to Imladris in 2003. I also learned about local SFF club – Galicyjska Gildia Fanów Fantastyki – GGFF (Galician Guild of SFF Fans). Unfortunately here I made a big mistake. I was discouraged from joining GGFF as I was told people are arguing a lot and that the atmosphere is not nice. At that time I had no inclination to join any formal club (it stayed that way for many years). So it should not be surprising that what I heard prevented me from joining. Now I regret it. Some of the people from GGFF are now among my closest friends. It seems that the atmosphere there was way better than what I was told.
At some point I stopped attending Spotkania mangowe and later we ceased to run DOJIcons. I was completely “clubless”. Of course I kept meeting people. I even was a member of unofficial M&A conrunning group (concentrated in Silesia region). Still I was not in any, even unofficial, club. And I didn’t miss it. I was completely happy with attending conventions – it was enough for me. Yet late in 2013 I had strong feeling that we are missing a local SFF club in Kraków. GGFF was long gone at that time, and the younger KSF – Krakowska Sieć Fantastyki (The SFF Network of Krakow) stopped regular meetings. I was not the only one who had such thought. In early January 2014 Fundacja Historia Vita (Historia Vita Foundation) held an inaugural meeting of the new club. The name was Krakowskie Smoki (Dragons of Kraków). I became a chair of the club and I stayed at this position for some time. We had weekly meetings and I have many fond memories from those times. Yet at some point I had to resign from my function. The club worked for some more time and then it ceased to exist. Only the pub meetigns survived longer. Later on I joined KSF and after some time I became a chair and we got back to organizing regular club meetings. We are not yet where I would like to see us. I hope that once we will get back to in-person meetings we will grow.
All those years
Over the years I participated in many fannish activities. I worked on many convenntions. I even chaired or co-chaired some of them. During these twenty years I wrote to some fanzines – “DOJI”, “Smokopolitan”, and one article to “Spotkania Losowe” (Random Encounters). Since 2021 I am publishing a new fanzine – “A~Zyn”. And I even was one of the editors of “Scavenger’s Daughter” – fanzine we made as part of the Scavenger Hunt at Punctuation 2. And last but not least I am writing this blog.
Those were good years. I am happy that by pure coincidence I learned about fandom. Joining it was a thing that changed my life. I have no idea where I would be now if it won’t be for fandom. I am not saying that my life would be worse – yet it would certainly be completely different.
What I did so far gave me a lot of satisfaction. Don’t understand me wrong. I made many mistakes – no one apart from me knows how many. Yet I am happy with some things I managed to accomplish. I hope I will do some more good stuff in the future. Over the years I received recognition for what I was doing – the biggest one was becoming a GUFF delegate in 2018. I owe a lot to fandom and I hope that what I am doing is at least partially repaying the community.
So twenty years passed since I joined the fannish community. I still cannot believe it. It was just “yesterday” when I was anxious about attending DOJIcon 2. How it is possible that so many years flew by? I don’t know. But what I know is that I want to remain here. I want to keep being an active fan and still loving this.