Keystone Con 2018

Been wanting for a while now to get back to writing about my convention adventures with y’all, so after my weekend at Keystone Comic Con, it feels like the time is right. While this was a con that definitely had a rough start (this was its first year) I still had a great time, and being there reminded me why I love conventions so dang much. So let’s get to it!

The People

My favorite thing about conventions is always getting to meet new people. At almost every one I have been to, at some point, I’ll strike up a chat with a stranger, and before we know it, we’re bonding over Supernatural like we’ve been besties for years. This con was no exception.

Despite the vastness of the space and the fact that there were far fewer attendees than originally anticipated, I still managed to make some new friends and talk to the amazing vendors that were there on the show floor selling their wares. I got to geek out with some really great cosplayers while taking a break from walking around in the food table area, and had so much fun talking about a show I haven’t watched in a while, that upon getting home that night, I ended up binge watching a few episodes. Fandom’s such a powerful thing, and I am always reminded of that when I get to engage with geeky people at cons like this one.

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Panel pals!
The Panels

Admittedly, there were far less panels than I would have liked, because ask any friend who ever has gone to a con with me; I love me some panels. But just because they were few, doesn’t mean the ones I went to weren’t mighty.

The two standouts for me were LGBT Geeks Unite and Afro Punks and Blerds, which featured some really fantastic and passionate panelists. At LGBT Geeks, (hosted by Chris Cummins, and Bill Zanowitz of the Comic Book Bears podcast) there was only a handful of us in attendance, but I had such a great time I ended up laughing till my sides hurt with these guys. I’d love to see this panel continue at Keystone next year, and really appreciated the fact that even the panelists themselves expressed that they want to see a more diverse group of queer geeks going forward. And I walked away from this panel with an awesome Riverdale comic, so there’s that too!

Afro Punks and Blerds was wonderful, with the panelists (which included David F Walker, SAMMUS, Ken Lashley, and Jamar Nicholas) discussing how much they love and embrace their blackness and the experiences that come with that, and they spoke on maintaining one’s artistic integrity in the face of an overwhelmingly white and oppressive media environment. This panel in particular is the kind I’d hope to see more of at next year’s con—ones with experts in their field speaking unapologetically on the importance of diversity in media.

Then of course their was the fact that I got to host panels at the con. My fellow NaNoWriMo MLs (the dynamic duo behind Crimson Melodies Publishing) and I were asked to host a few, and while again, attendance numbers we low, it was a delight getting to speak on them. We introduced a few newbies to the challenge, and got to meet someone always on our forums IRL! I even got to giveaway a copy of Unraveling Light which was unreal and terrifying and awesome all at once.

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LOOK AT MAH FRIENDS AND ALL THEIR BOOKS. GO BUY SOME.

Oh, and I saw John Barrowman sing dramatically in a sparkly TARDIS dress and Catherine Tate spoke to me in the audience of her panel. That happened and was beautiful. 😭

The Experience

I’ve said it a few times already—this con wasn’t everything I, or anyone really, was 100% hoping it would be. But the fact that ReedPOP (who put on GREAT shows at NYCC and other spots across the country) are trying to build something in my hometown still makes me excited. The hope is that while things will likely be more scaled down next year, the con will still have the same great people, and more robust programming to fill out the schedule. I for one can’t wait for next August when I get to go back.

Till then, I’ll be excitedly and impatiently waiting for the next big con I’m hoping to attend, PodCon 2019!

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The Convention Kid

Two years ago yesterday, the very first episode of SpeakBeasty debuted, and thus began one of the most remarkable creative endeavors of my life. Since then, we’ve hosted live shows at MISTI-Con and New York Comic Con, we’ve covered the red carpet premiere of the first Fantastic Beasts film, we’ve had one of the show’s four main actors as a guest on the show, and (this one is my favorite) we’ve gotten to meet some of our incredible listeners IRL, and hear their stories about how our show touched their lives or made them smile on a bad day. There have certainly been struggles and conflicts and moments of frustration, but all of them have been outweighed by the staggering amount of good things to come of this show. From professional milestones to profound friendships, it’s been an incredible ride, and we still have so much yet before us with the release of the next four films.

But as SpeaBeasty continues on (our 52nd episode is due out on New Year’s Eve) I’m today starting on a new adventure, and launching my first solo podcast—a new show called The Convention Kid

The Convention Kid was conceived out of a culmination of moments, the first being that my roommate asked me if I’d ever considerered reviewing or talking about the conventions that I go to. I said I wasn’t really sure how I would, but the idea was inception-ed in the back of my brain. The next part, was going to PodCon, which was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. The con was so wonderful and pure and full of infectious creative energy, and all the panels left me with new ideas for new shows I could create. And then, it hit me. A memory from childhood. A sign that maybe this was always where I was meant to end up. Something that goes back to the literal day I was born.

Folks, I was literally born during a convention.

Backstory time—my grandfather was a firefighter chief for years, and so every year in the end of September, my family attended the Pennsylvania State Fireman’s convention. Mind, this was no comic con sort of event like the ones I attend now, but it was still a convention. And so while all my family’s friends were off at the event, my mom was in the hospital having me, racking up a crazy phone bill calling everyone from the convention who wanted to hear how she and brand-new-me were doing. And so each year, when we went to the convention, my mom’s friends would see me and say, “Hey, it’s the convention kid!”.

Apparently, I’ve always been who I was supposed to be.

And so thanks to PodCon, these ideas coalesced into this pilot, called A Rising Tide, which comes from a quote that the hosts of the Spirits podcast said at PodCon that really stuck with me in a big way. The phrase was…

A rising tide raises all ships.

It’s a beautiful phrase, that I think embodies how artists and creators should approach their work. It reminds me that when we uplift others, we uplift ourselves as well, and then together achieve more than any of us could have achieved alone. It made me want to start this new show, so that people like me who love cons and fandom can bond together over our geekiness.

I’m really psyched to start this new journey, and I hope you’ll join me along the way. And if you really like this first episode, definitely consider popping over to the shiny new Patreon page for The Convention Kidwhere for anywhere from $1 to $10 a month, you can support the show so I can keep making more episodes and deliver you an even better show.

So now to the reason we’re here, I’m proud to present Episode 1 of The Convention KidI hope you enjoy the show.