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!
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.
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.
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. 😭
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!