Hypericon | Nashville, Tennessee

A weekend popular arts conference; festively uniting creators, makers, and performers with those who appreciate and aspire to their craft.

Guest Bios

Award-winning author and filmmaker Stephen Zimmer is based out of Lexington, Kentucky. His works include the Rising Dawn Saga, the Fires in Eden Series, the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections, the Harvey and Solomon steampunk stories, and the Rayden Valkyrie Tales, which includes his most current release, Heart of a Lion, Book One of the Dark Sun Dawn trilogy.

Recently, Stephen completed a success drive on Kickstarter for a Rayden Valkyrie TV Pilot. 187 backed the project, which will go into production soon. Stephen currently resides in Lexington, Kentucky. For further information on Stephen please visit his site at www.stephenzimmer.com.

Mitch Foust discovered a passion for Fantasy, art, and history at an early age. He started his art career producing comic books in the black and white comic boom of the 1980’s. Foust has gone on to produce many illustrations for comics, book covers, role playing games, and t-shirts. Mitch has developed a fascination with textures and details in his work. He strives for as much realism as possible, creating his own unique look to his fantasy paintings. Since 2009, he has compiled his work into an annual Yearbook. These Yearbooks contain all of the work produced in the previous year. These books sell out fairly quickly. His work may be found online at mitchfoust.deviantart.com.

Gogo is your friendly, neighborhood geek, chic, supefreak – a sexy nerd who will rock your world. An award-winning cosplayer with a performance background in burlesque, gogo dance, variety, sketch comedy, and emceeing and a multi-published writer and author in the world of geek culture and costuming, she’s been performing live for nearly twenty years in New York City, Nashville, and beyond. Gogo is an expert coach on the basics of performance, turning an idea into an act, and carrying yourself with confidence in cosplay, photoshoots, and life in general. As a member of The Cosplay Alliance, she’s committed to fostering “cospositivity” in the cosplay community. Stressing that cosplay and burlesque are for everybody and every body. She is a regular, featured performer with Hotsy Totsy Burlesque in NYC, which produces pop-culture flavored shows with specific geeky themes.

Based in Nashville, Rick Prince is a world-class special-effects makeup artist who has risen to international prominence since the fifth season of the SyFy Network’s competition series Face/Off in 2013.  Subsequently, he continues to be a featured artist and celebrity judge at conventions around the world.  Rick has two decades of experience crafting ingenious special effects in every imaginable medium, for such clients as Walt Disney, Hasbro, Sony/BMG, Universal Studios IOA, and others.  He has created animatronics, robots, wearable puppets, and makeup effects for a wide variety of entertainment productions. Rick has just finished realizing his lifelong dream of writing, producing, and directing his first feature film, a fantasy horror story called “LWA – All Saints’ Eve”.  To see Rick’s creations and to learn more, follow “Rick Prince – Artist” on Facebook@ /MaliceinMind, Twitter @rickprinceMUA, and Instagram @RickPrince.MUA

James appeared on the show Steampunk’d on GSN last fall. He and his wife Sara are purveyors of high quality steampunk items. James works with metal, wood, leather, and electronics. She makes jewelry and kinetic sculptures. The couple has created a lineup of original steampunk cosplay, utilizing their combined skills in the genre.

Mr. Neathery lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Sara and their two children. He began working on leather projects as a hobby in early 2011, focusing on steampunk and dieselpunk, and founded Starboard Sky that summer. He started out making leather watches and cuffs, but has since expanded his lineup to include items of all sorts- holsters, belts, flasks, masks, electronic gadgets and bluetooth speaker sculptures, entire suits of leather and brass armor, and the world’s first hand tooled leather and brass corset. His goal is to make “everyday steampunk” – comfortable, wearable, stylish items that are suited for nearly any budget, but with quality to last a lifetime. His work landed him a spot on the TV series “Steampunk’d,” where 10 makers battled it out for $100,000 by making steampunk creations out of everyday items and repurposed parts. His work has been featured in many steampunk publications and forums and several of his items are on display at the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. You can see James’s work online and follow him at on Facebook!

“Big Daddy Cool” Johnny Dellarocca is a walking talking reminder of a time long past. He is a tough as nails ex-gangster turned entertainer and Chicago night club impresario supreme.

Step back in time to the swing-era, and swing hard, baby! Big Daddy Cool Johnny Dellarocca is the performance persona of award-winning actor, singer and magician John B. Pyka. He is a lifelong comic reader and collector, a Star Wars freakasaurus, pro wrestling personality, and movie fanatic, but is best known for his work onstage as a new vintage variety artist, fusing music and magic with comedy and dance in a 1920s – 1940s style in what is described as Dieselpunk. He can be seen performing in theaters, at festivals and cons around the country. He has been seen previously as an official guest/performer at Geekonomicon, Midsouth Con, Indy Pop Con, Nashville Comic Festival, River City Comic Expo, Fandom Fest Louisville, GMX and many more!

Big Daddy Cool is also the subject of the Dieselpunk pulp adventure series, Tales From the Flip-Side from Pro Se Press and the star of the upcoming web series Big Daddy Cool in the 21st Century! In addition, he is a manager personality with NWA Wrestling and can be heard on the Diesel Powered Podcast, THE Voice of Dieselpunk on iTunes and Stitcher, which consistently is ranked in the top 10 performing arts podcasts!

U.S. Army Infantry Veteran, Actor Santiago Cirilo from AMC’s The Walking Dead, TNT’s Memphis Beat, USA Network’s Wild Card, Oxygen’s Snapped, Investigation Discovery’s Your Worst Nightmare, Movie Country Strong, The upcoming Tv show The Nephilim Chronicles where Santiago plays the half Angel half human hero, the newly released film Paranormal Chasers “Legend of the Black Cross” as the lead villain Vampire King DREAD DRAKE, this summer’s Hallmark Movie JL Ranch, and next year’s movie release Old Chicago Souls.

Cirilo is currently working on A Veteran’s Homecoming, a film which aims to raise awareness of the issues that veterans face when they return home from active duty.

Michael Bielaczyc

Who the hell is Michael Bielaczyc?

Michael Bielaczyc has been making art his whole life.

He has been selling and showing work since 1995, when he self published his own comic book. Going back to college at 23, he decided that art was going to be his main focus in life.

In 2001, he started an art company, Aradani Studios, with his brother Paul. Together they have shown and worked in shows across America selling both their artwork and costuming. While Michael has worked for such popular role-playing franchises as Dragonlance and Castlemourn, his real passion is for his personal work. He works in mediums from oil paint to latex prosthetics, video to graphite. You can see his work at www.aradani.com/artmb .

The Artwork of Michael Bielaczyc

Michael works in various media, but his favorites are oil paints and video. Always having to be in the middle of twenty different projects, his studio is often littered with the starts of illustrations, masks and paintings. A reflection of this, his videos are a combination of media brought together by a common theme.

His personal work often reflects observations of his surrounding culture integrated into historical myth.


At first, it was Michael’s brother Paul who was most interested in costuming. As time went on and the costuming became an integral part of the business, Michael began to develop more and more costumes. This interest eventually manifested itself in Michael’s performance work, specifically within his art videos.


Art and fiction have always been part of Michael’s world. One of his first memories of art is writing a fantasy story about a barbarian and then illustrating the story. For many years he kept his fiction close, allowing only his friends into such worlds. Last year, he decided to work on a public novel in his free time, posting it to worldofuteria.com. He continues to develop and build his fantasy world through fiction and art.

Melissa Gay

Melissa Gay is a critically-acclaimed, genre-spanning artist of the Imaginative Realism style. Starting her career as a scientific illustrator doing ink drawings for botany manuals, she later used those same skills to do black and white line art for roleplaying games, her true passion. Her award-winning work has since appeared on the covers and interiors of many games, books, magazines, academic publications, and even a tarot deck, while her original paintings are in the hands of private collectors around the world. She loves featuring people of diverse genders, colors, sizes and ages in her illustrations. Whether depicting criminal masterminds, comic book heroes, historical fiction, eldritch horror, child mermaids or sentient bugs, she tries to imbue her scenes or subjects with a sense of dreamlike wonder. She has worked with publishers such as Mythopoeic Press, Llewellyn Worldwide, Hay House, Apex Press, Pelgrane Press, Evil Hat, DOJ, Margaret Weiss Productions, Third Eye Games, Blackwyrm Press, Accessible Games, Immersion Press, Lone Wanderer Productions, and more.

Her game credits include illustrations for the multi-award-winning Dresden Files RPG, HERO 6th edition, Fantasy HERO and its supplement Book of Dragons, Trail of Cthulhu supplements such as Dreamhounds of Paris and Soldiers of Pen and Ink, the Firefly RPG supplement Freedom Flyer, the Crimeworld Fate Core supplement, the ENnie Award nominated Mermaid Adventures and Camp Myth, Part-Time Gods and its supplements, Psi-Punk and its supplements, the Dungeon World supplement Plague of Storms, The Algernon Files NPC superheroes sourcebooks by Blackwyrm Press, The Elves of Uteria and its supplements, and Infestation: A Game of Bugs and Heroes. Her speculative fiction book covers include Sara M. Harvey’s Penemue trilogy (Apex Press), and HebrewPunk (Apex Press) and Jesus and the Eightfold Path (Immersion Press edition) for World Fantasy Award winning author Lavie Tidhar. Recently she has branched into children’s illustration with Cathy Coley’s Felix the Comet.

D.G. Driver

D.G. Driver grew up in Southern California only 30 minutes from the beach. As a girl, she used to dream that magic would change her overnight into a beautiful mermaid. Alas, that never happened, but her love of the ocean never diminished. Even though she is landlocked in Tennessee now, she still only needs one whiff of sunscreen to bring her imagination alive. Thanks to the support of her husband and a sweet drawing of a mermaid done by her daughter that was taped on the wall above her desk to keep her motivated to finish, Cry of the Sea became her first published Young Adult novel. She is a member of SCBWI Midsouth, and has had many books published under the name Donna Getzinger. Her story “The Jamaican Dragon” is featured in the pirate anthology A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder, and her new YA novella (a ghost story) Passing Notes was released in January, 2015. Learn more about her writing and career at www.dgdriver.com

Cosplay Collective

Cosplay Collective is a Nashville-based Cosplay club with a mission to build real community through events and appearances.

Tommy Hancock

Steeped in pulp magazines, old radio shows, and all things of that era’s pop culture, Tommy Hancock lives in Arkansas with his wonderful wife and three children and obviously not enough to do. He is Partner in and Editor in Chief for Pro Se Productions, is an organizer of the New Pulp Movement, works as an editor for Seven Realms, Dark Oak, and Moonstone. He is also an award winning writer for various companies, including Airship 27, Mechanoid Press, Pulpwork Press, Dark Oak, and Moonstone. Tommy works as Project Coordinator for Moonstone as well as produces and hosts two podcasts – Pulped! The Official New Pulp Podcast and Pro Se Presents: The Podcast. He is also the man behind Gumshoe Research Consultants, a company providing research services to writers of all types.

Loren Damewood

“My name is Loren Damewood, and I am a professional knot tyer. For over thirty years (since 1980), I have been creating wedding rings, bracelets and other jewelry by tying silver and gold into intricate and beautiful knots. I tie knots in materials ranging from simple cotton twine to stainless steel wire, but my favorite is pure silver, the whitest and brightest of the precious metals. Most people order gold for their wedding rings, and I generally use 18K in various colors. I have a DVD available and host workshops as well. Find me at your next convention!” — http://www.golden-knots.com/

Conquest Gaming

Conquest Gaming was established in 2000 by a trio of gamers who sought to blend aspects of their favorite games into their own game designs. In 2008, after nearly a decade of offering expansion type games, Conquest Gaming embarked on creating their first fully published board game, Warlords of Europe, which was a finalist for the 2010 Origins Award for Best Historical Board Game. The success of Warlords of Europe enabled Conquest Gaming to publish Stelcon: Infinity in 2013. Conquest Gaming is a member of the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

Elonka Dunin

Dunin, a CSM/PMP (Certified Scrum Master, Project Management Professional), is a lifetime member of the International Game Developers Association, Chairperson Emerita and a founding member of the IGDA’s Online Games SIG, and a co-Director of the Global Game Jam from 2011–2014. For over two decades she was General Manager and Executive Producer at Simutronics in St. Louis, Missouri, making award-winning multiplayer, social, casual, and mobile games such as GemStone, DragonRealms, Modus Operandi, Alliance of Heroes, CyberStrike, Tiny Heroes, and One Epic Knight. In late 2014, she started at Avatar Software in Nashville, Tennessee to build a new game studio, Black Gate Games, where she served until 2015 as Chief Operating Officer and Studio Director.

Born in Los Angeles, Elonka studied Astronomy at UCLA, and then joined the United States Air Force. She was stationed at RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom, and Beale Air Force Base in California, where she worked on the SR-71 and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. Along with her other achievements, Elonka is a world-traveler who speaks several languages, and has visited scores of countries around the world. She has visited every continent including Antarctica, which she traveled to in 1999.

Elonka’s lifelong interest in cryptography became public when in 2000 she was awarded a prize for being the first person to crack the PhreakNIC Code, an up-until-Elonka unsolved puzzle created by the hacker group se2600. After the attacks of September 11th, Elonka helped out with the war on terrorism by teaching government agents about cryptography and what types of codes that Al Qaeda might have been using. In 2012 she was invited to be on the Board of Directors for the building of a new National Museum of Cryptology. In 2015 she was elected as (volunteer) Chairperson of the Nashville 2600 Organization, a Tennessee 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation.

Elonka is co-founder and co-leader of a group of cryptographers who are working hard to crack a code on the famous Kryptossculpture at CIA Headquarters, and led the international team that cracked the related KGB Cyrillic ProjectorCipher in 2003. She maintains a list of the World’s most famous unsolved codes on her elonka.com site, and in 2006, published The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms. As of 2014, her www.elonka.com website has had nearly 5 million page views. In 2009, author Dan Brown honored Elonka by naming one of the characters in his Da Vinci Code sequel, The Lost Symbol, after her. “Nola Kaye” is an anagrammed form of “Elonka”. In 2009, she authored two articles in Secrets of the Lost Symbol, a collection of works by academics and other experts discussing the fact and fiction of Brown’s latest novel. Elonka is also an avid Wikipedian, having been elected to administrator status in 2007, and written or expanded over 500 articles on Wikipedia

As a public speaker, Elonka regularly gives talks on her favorite subjects: Games, Wikipedia, cryptography, medieval history, and geocaching.

Cosplay, Inc.

Cosplay, Inc is a group of professional cosplayers dedicated to bringing interactive exhibits and one of a kind props to the cosplay world, while at the same time using their resources to help out local communities with food and clothing drives. They own The Mystery Machine, the Jurassic Park tour vehicle and also travel with a baby triceratops. Their services aren’t limited to just photo ops and displays however,  they also play the role of characters from the films of Jurassic Park, Inspector Gadget, Scooby Doo, various anime, video games titles and more. Autographs,  hand-crafted souvenirs, artwork, and 3-D prints are also available at their booth!

Infinite Dreams Gaming

Infinite Dreams Gaming was established in 1994 as a retailer of tabletop games. The company’s founders, M. Shawn Smith, II, and Michael Aldridge, were pioneers in the collectible-card game (CCG) market, being among the first in the industry to perform the valuation and pricing of individual cards for Magic: The Gathering. Almost 20 years later, Shawn and Michael have taken their love of tabletop gaming and their knowledge of the retail tabletop gaming industry to create their first board game, which is based on a popular Syfy series. They are currently in negotiations with NBCUniversal for the licensing rights.

Glen Cook

Cook was born in New York City. His love of writing began in grade school, and in high school he wrote the occasional article for his school’s newspaper. After high school, Cook spent time in the United States Navy and later worked his way through college, leaving little time for his writing endeavors. Cook began to write in earnest while working for General Motors at an auto assembly plant in a job which was “hard to learn, but involved almost no mental effort”, writing as many as three books per year. It was during this time that Cook wrote The Black Company, a novel published by Tor Fantasy in May 1984. It inaugurated a gritty fantasy series of the same name (or Chronicles of the Black Company) that follows an elite mercenary unit through several decades of its history. As of 2014, it comprises 10 novels published in three subseries plus recent short fiction. It has become something of a cult classic, especially among current and former members of the military.

Cook is also well known for his Garrett P.I. series, which tells the haphazard adventures of hardboiled detective Garrett, and his Dread Empire series, which highlights Cook’s earlier published work. Cook is currently retired from his job at GM, living with his wife, Carol, in St. Louis, Missouri. Although he can now devote himself full-time to his writing career, he feels he was actually more productive while he was still employed at his old job.

Michelle Nickell

Michelle Nickell has always had a little magic in her world. Growing up a military brat, the one constant in her life were her loving and fantastic parents. Her father read her stories from Tolkien and many other fantasy novels, rather than the typical children stories. Her mother, an amazing artist, encouraged her to express herself through art, and to always use her imagination. It was this upbringing that would encourage her to delve into the magic of that imagination. Though she wrote many short stories and poems growing up, it was not until after she became a mother that she decided to start writing her first novel. She always had the story in her head, but it was time to put it on paper.

Sadly, she would not get the novel published until after the loss of her mother to heart failure, but the loss cemented her need to follow her dream and make her mother proud. On her mother’s birthday in 2011, In Their Eyes, the first installment of the Donallo Vampires, was self-published. On most days, Michelle can be found with her nose in a book, writing a book, playing Dungeons and Dragons, playing Everquest II, or world-building. She is never too far from the magic that inspires her to write.

Louise Herring-Jones

Louise Herring-Jones writes speculative and historical fiction as well as humor and nonfiction. Her stories have appeared in anthologies, most recently “Googi” in Luna’s Children: Full Moon Mayhem (Dark Oak Press, 2014) and, expected in 2015, “The Twittering of Sparrows” in Asian Pulp (Pro Se Press) and “Moundville Revisited” in Ruins Excavation (Hadley Rille Books). She is a veteran reporter for The Daily Dragon Online. An advocate for constitutionally protected freedoms, she practices law in Alabama. Visit her website at http://www.louiseherring-jones.com.

Bryan Stancliff

Raised in a reenacting household by maniacal crafters, Bryan spent his formative years surrounded by half-finished projects and deadly weapons. He has amassed a sizable knowledge base on useless subjects including, but not limited to, edged and projectile devices from around the world, European footwear from prehistory through the Viking era and, disturbingly enough, the cannibalistic practices found among the Pre Columbian Americans. He is also a well versed artist who is skilled in wasting paper, destroying perfectly good pieces of wood and becoming unreasonably sullen. He is currently working as a semiprofessional leatherworker and has more than 20 years of experience in both modern and historical leatherworking techniques.