Before going on, I've found out that several people have found this page by looking for Pennsic videos. Well, the Duckball Home Video Pennsic XX (20) documentary has been re-released in a 10th anniversary special edition with added footage and features. Go to the Watch This Space catalog page for a complete description and ordering information.
And now on to the article...
PENNSIC XXV EXPERIENCE
You can see me here. I'm the blond squire in green and white kneeling with his back to the camera at the bottom of the picture.
The year of 1996
was an eventful one for me. I graduated college, (BFA in illustration and
cartooning School of Visual Arts), worked 2 jobs, had photos published
in a national magazine, assisted in the making of a student film, lost
one girlfriend and gained another (that I eventually lost), and actually
went to The Pennsic War for the first time in four years! This essay is
only regarding the latter event.
Upon the event
of my graduation, I hosted a party at my home. Among the folks at this
party were many people in the SCA. This being late spring, of course
one topic of discussion to come up was "how are you getting to Pennsic?"
various plans were brought up, but the one that stuck was renting a large
van or truck and going out as a group. So, come August, my lady at the
time Giovanna, my squire brother Derek, and friends Dugal, Jeffery (Otto),
Mori, Lazaro, and I piled into a large rental box truck and headed
out to Butler county, Pennsylvania.
We got out to Pennsic in the middle of the night. We were early, in fact, I think there was still a day or two until the event began in earnest. I had begged an extension on one assignment from Walter Simonson, The graphic novel teacher at SVA, so I had to finish two pages of comic art at the war (or at least try to). I spent much of those first two days working on that. Well, I didn’t exactly finish them, but I did enough work on them to be able to finish them quickly at home after the war (hey, why don't you check out those pages?).
The bunch of us
were all camping together with the Crown Province of Ostgardr that year.
When we got there we found that we had been stuck in a tiny little corner
of the encampment to the side of a Grimm’s tent next to the swamp. With
the several other men in this little encampment of ours, we were referred
to as "Testosterone Central," with my lady as the "token estrogen." Otto
had made a fire dish and tripod and all manner of useful things for us.
He was a fine arts student at SVA and was using the sculpture shop there
to make armor, weapons, and all sorts of things. The expression was soon
coined "Otto made it" when anything new and nifty was spotted.
Some time before Pennsic, I had spotted an ad in Tournaments Illuminated for a photo book that was going to be published of the War. Now, I almost always have a camera with me at events. I love taking pictures. I love showing the pictures to other people. I had been involved with a major visual recording of Pennsic before, Duckball Home Video’s documentary of Pennsic XX. I decided that I would like to be a part of this new project. So I contacted the producer of it, one Valdis of Gottland, and he told me the deal was that he would supply the film, and I would go and take pictures. He also took pictures, as did several other folks. One of these folks just took his free film and disappeared, but hey, there's a bad apple in every barrel.
Having the camera
and the duty to take pictures did get in the way of some things. I had
suggested to Valdis that he print up releases for the people we photographed
to sign, and Valdis wanted us to keep a journal of what each picture was
so he could give credits and descriptions in the book. So either before
or after every picture I had to whip out the release form and get
signatures and jot down something in the journal. This would get awkward
if I was doing it in the middle of a battle that I had already been killed
in or if I was escorting my lady to the food court because I was hungry
and I suddenly saw the one-in-a-million picture I had to take.
As could be expected, after four years of college with only sporadic practice, my stamina and skill in the battles was not as good as I would have hoped. My equipment, also, was not perfect upon arrival. I had to spend a good part of the third day fixing the little things that were not working. A strap here, a buckle there, etc. In one terrifying moment my chin strap had even stretched and slipped so when I broke through to the Calontir backfield in a bridge battle my helmet came right off!
The unit I fought
in, Ostgardr, had been trained at the Tuesday night fight practices by
my squire brothers Derek, Tadg and others. They had worked hard to learn
how to fight as a unit in battle and to give the enemy hell. In the Southern
Regional war practices, We had shown that we were a unit to be well considered
on the battlefield.
Here’s a picture of Ostgardr and the king before a battle.
At one of the bridge
battles we were given the honor of being the opening "hand grenade."
When the cannon went "boom," the entire line of green and white charged
forward. We covered more than half the bridge, flattened the enemy "hand
grenade," and engaged the enemy line, giving our forces the time to set
up their line at an advantageous position on the bridge. What I mostly
remember was charging forward and getting immediately impaled on a spear.
My stomach stopped in space while momentum continued carrying my feet and
my head forward. UGH! Then gravity caught up, and the fatal spear wound
up between me and the ground. The poor fellow who owned the spear struggled
mightily to withdraw it. Unfortunately, I was in no position to help him.
My blue plastic cuirass did protect me from a potentially life threatening
injury, but I just didn't feel like getting out of my nice, safe fetal
position under my shield with all that ruckus going on overhead.
This is a
moment in a bridge battle where one small unit found itself between two
enemy units. Rather than surrender, they chose to fight it out. It was glorious.
I also have pictures of the Passage-of-arms at Pennsic XXV!
And even more Pennsic Pix!
Stay tuned! There's more to come!
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