The other day I got a call from Conner Cochran of Conlan Press, mentioning that I had won his monthly draw from all the fans who were at the Last Unicorn tour; any one item from the tour page including expensive prints, etc.
Some of the stuff is really pretty, as I recall from buying during the tour.
I said no thanks. And that was that.
It's notable that he basically said Ok and that he'd draw another name until someone said yes. Notable because it means he gets a lot of people saying No, with or without thanks.
An honest business doesn't get a lot of people who went out of their way to get to a special event, purchased stuff there, and squeed all over a longtime favourite author, to later end up turning down lovely and sometimes fairly costly free stuff.
I wish I'd known about just how skeevy his operation was then; it's soured an event I quite enjoyed at the time, and a meeting with Beagle that I felt was nice.
Some people said they found the way Cochran pushed himself forward creepy and felt like Beagle was squished a bit out of his own event. I have to say I was not one of them.
I was clueless. I thought it was the natural way things fall in the teamwork of a born salesman and an introvert, and Cochran didn't give me quite the crawly feeling some aggressive salespeople do. I could see myself and someone with a bit of showmanship striking a similar balance. Beagle was charming and erudite and talked to fans with some pleasure.
I had no idea Beagle was basically being pushed to exhaustion, all the money from the lovely things there filtered away from him and into Cochran's pocket, and that anyone Beagle tried to talk to alone would get Cochran telling them how old and confused he was -- including cutting Beagle off from his own family.
That Cochran, after getting Beagle out from under a predatory contract, turned around and preyed on him all over again.
I had no idea, since I wasn't planning to buy anything that wasn't on the table at the time, that many, if not all, of the people who did sign up to pre-pay for special packages have never received them, that Cochran keeps promising late and later dates. Up to 12 years. (I did sign up to be notified when the tour book comes out, but wasn't going to pre-pay.)
I did find it unfortunate that the e-mail I sent requesting a copy of the photo taken with me and Beagle never got a reply, but I assumed it was because the tour was busy.
Not until the lawsuit against Cochran and Conlan Press was filed last year, alleging fraud and elder abuse.
It's soured me also on some of the stuff I bought there - not that I would lose one word of the books, and the art is lovely. But now I know Beagle, who was right in front of me, never saw a dime. I'd almost like to pay again, cash straight into his hand - and my only hesitation would be the awkwardness of it. (I wonder if the artists get their payments on time, or demand payment upfront before releasing stock? I hope so, but I have no idea. Fans Against Fraud has a reference to one of the artists not having been paid in full, but it's not one of the ones whose work I paid for.)
This isn't hearsay:Beagle's legal Complaint Another legal complaint, from a company that invested in the tour.Fans Against Fraud
(Collects a LOT of pull quotes. gets repetitive, but lays it all out.)
One of the things I got, and it wasn't purchased but won, was a shirt that reads "Damn you, Peter S. Beagle, it's all your fault". It's meant to be referring to the Last Unicorn, and the fact that she's supposedly the first known reference to a female unicorn and unicorns as a feminine thing.
It feels a bit sour now, and I can't wear it.
I have considered marking it with editor's corrections in some form, some red pen to make it better. (The only one I am completely certain about, though, is to strike "damn" and put in "Thank".)
Even then, though, I'm still not positive I could wear it in comfort, and not ever in front of Beagle.
I still like my unicorn wand. I just really wish I knew for sure that THAT artist got her payment.
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