Artist Guest of Honor
Dan Voltz is an independent science-fiction artist who specializes in spaceships and dinosaurs. (Yes, people have suggested putting the dinosaurs on the spaceships—but, hey, artists can be a stubborn lot.)
Dan has enjoyed science fiction for nearly their entire life. The very first episode of Star Trek they watched was a rerun of “The Doomsday Machine”—and it hooked them at age 8. Dan started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation every week afterwards. Around the same time, Jurassic Park was stomping (and roaring) into theaters. Those two passions took root and never stopped growing.
For Dan, spaceships, dinosaurs, and other science fiction themes represent visions of an enriching, humane, and optimistic world. In Dan’s paintings, starships allow people to explore across lightyears. Dinosaurs represent a more balanced approach to living with nature (and a reminder to cherish the nature that’s in our backyards)…
By bringing their artistic vision directly to fans, Dan hopes they’re making a tiny corner of the world a slightly brighter, possibly more optimistic space that’s inclusive and welcoming to everyone.
Visit Dan’s website at https://danvoltzart.com.
Author Guests of Honor
T. Aaron Cisco is an Amazon Bestselling author, a multi-award-winning TV producer, and even a former touring musician. Working primarily in the genres of contemporary Afrofuturism, science fiction, and fantasy, Cisco crafts narratives that are as captivating as they are groundbreaking. Cisco sees his work as a megaphone for the overlooked and marginalized—giving voice to characters, themes, and stories that challenge stereotypes and upend prejudices. When you dive into a T. Aaron Cisco tale, you’re not just reading a story; you’re engaging with an art form that treats identity and equality as its narrative backbone. From his debut work, Teleportality, to his latest enigmatic pieces like The Unbanished, The Unrested, and Before Asleep You Fall, you’re stepping into worlds where the merit of each character—be they male, female, white, or non-white—is not up for debate; it’s simply a given.
If you find Cisco’s storytelling unusually concise yet potent, there’s a reason: His origins in the frenetic world of television have sharpened his craft to a fine point. Back in his news and talk show days—and later as a writer of snappy marketing copy and compelling commercials—Cisco learned to captivate an audience in a handful of minutes. This experience has shaped his unique literary style, making each book a tightly woven tapestry of intricate but compact storytelling. Add to this a childhood love affair with the works of Edgar Allan Poe, a master of the novella, and you get a literary style that delivers each story like a well-aimed arrow; short, piercing, and on target.
From Minneapolis by way of Chicago, Cisco has achieved much, not just as an author but as a cultural influencer. His works have frequently adorned Amazon’s bestseller lists, with The Unbanished, Rod String Nail Cloth: An Afrofuturist Mixtape, and Black Nerd Blue Box: The Wibbly Wobbly Memoirs of a Lonely Whovian clinching the number one spot. But his influence extends far beyond the printed word. His work has been showcased across various media platforms, including NBC, ABC, KSTP, TPT, Insight News, Axis of Logic, and Twin Cities Geeks. A collection of accolades decorate his career—local Emmy awards, international speaking engagements, the MN Society of Professional Journalists Page One Award, a distinguished spot on Hennepin County Libraries’ Minnesota Black Authors list, and a title as one of the Ten Black Change-Makers Influencing the Twin Cities Arts Scene. More than anything, T. Aaron Cisco is an ardent advocate of the simple yet profound concept he calls “squee”—the utter joy and excitement that comes from sharing stories and life with others...
Michael Merriam is an award-winning author, performer, playwright, and screenwriter. He is the author of the steampunk and Weird Western series Sixguns & Sorcery, and his essays and stories have appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Cast of Wonders, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. His latest novel from Queen of Swords Press is Last Car to Annwn Station. He has published a dozen books and over 100 pieces of short fiction and poetry. His scripts have been produced for stage and radio, and he has appeared in the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Not-So-Silent Planet, StoryFest Minnesota, and over the air on KFAI and Minnesota Public Radio. Like most artists, he has worked a variety of odd jobs over the years, including short order cook, late night radio disc jockey, international freight specialist, Rock-a-billy bassist, and manager of a puppet troupe. He lives in Minneapolis, MN, with his wife, housemate, an elderly dog, and two exuberant cats. Visit his website at www.michaelmerriam.com.
Comedy Music Guest of Honor
Andy Merrill is a comedian, voice actor, writer, and multi-talented creative known for his significant contributions to the early years of Cartoon Network, Williams Street, and Adult Swim. Merrill’s breakthrough role was as the voice of the lovable and eccentric character “Brak” on the groundbreaking animated talk show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. Premiering in 1994, this show was a pioneer in adult-oriented animation and played a crucial role in the establishment of Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block, Adult Swim.
Merrill continued his work with the character Brak in Cartoon Planet, a show which started out as a showcase of classic cartoons from the Turner library with interstitial segments featuring Space Ghost (George Lowe), Zorak (C. Martin Croker), and Brak. With the popularity of the interstitial comedy sketch segments and funny songs surpassing the classic cartoons being shown, the show switched to being composed entirely of their sketches and songs, some of which were improvised. On both Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Cartoon Planet, Andy’s comedic timing and distinctive voice brought Brak to life in a way that resonated with audiences and contributed to the show’s success. Cartoon Network released three albums featuring music from both Cartoon Planet and the two-part variety show special Brak Presents The Brak Show Starring Brak, which are prized CDs of any comedy music fan. Dr. Demento has played many tracks from them on his radio / internet show since the mid 90s.
In 2000, Merrill went on to create and star in the Adult Swim series The Brak Show, a spin-off from Space Ghost: Coast to Coast that focused on Brak, his best friend Zorak, Brak’s Mom and Dad, and their daily sitcom adventures. The show continued the tradition of having excellent funny songs and musical episodes, and ran for 3 seasons. Merrill expanded his involvement with Adult Swim, lending his voice to various characters in popular shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force where he played the recurring role of Oglethorpe the inept alien invader. As the years progress, his voice work continues to extend to notable shows like Adventure Time, where he brought his unique style to James the Ice Cream Bar.
Merrill showcased his musical versatility by covering the Suicidal Tendencies song “Institutionalized” in character as Brak on the 2018 album “Dr. Demento Covered in Punk”. Some people (or at least some people named Luke Ski anyway) say it is the best track on the amazing collection.
Andy makes regular appearances at conventions in the midwest, as well as performances in stand-up clubs where he brings his ukulele and cracks up the crowds with his hilarious jokes and catchy songs. We at the MarsCon Comedy Music Track have been wanting to have him as our guest for many years, and we are very honored to have him join us as our 2024 Comedy Music Guest Of Honor. All hail Brak.
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March 8-9-10, 2024
Hilton Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport
3800 American Blvd. E. / Bloomington, MN 55425
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