For our annual con-going experience, Hubble and I attended Mid South Con 32 in March 2014. We cosplayed as Unikitty and Benny, characters from The Lego Movie. I became something of a Lego nerd since seeing The Lego Movie. We got a bit obsessed, in fact. We now drink out of all eight of these regularly:
Here are pictures of us in the gaming room. We played a three-hour board game! Tip: if you want to be comfortable in your costume all day/night or during a three hour game, don’t wear grease paint. It’s itchy and icky. I’d stay away from any face paint in general and use real make up in bright colors. I really don’t like bad textures on my face.
Make sure your husband’s space helmet allows him to see from his periphery. If you skip that detail, he will still look cute, but you will have to assist him in turning around corners. Despite poor vision, Hubbernaut enjoyed himself, saying “Spaceship!” to unsuspecting passersby.
Southern conventions, I learned, are unique for their friendly and warm atmosphere. People go back year after year. When you return, you will see a lot of familiar faces. My husband went to Mid South Con for five years until 2007. My convention experience before this year is Comic Con San Diego 2009, 2010 and Wonder Con 2013. I had several fun conversations that went along the lines of “When I went to Comic Con in San Diego…” “Well, aren’t you lucky.” It was a pretty big jump for me from a convention so huge.
At Comic Con, you go to see things that you usually wouldn’t see. It’s kind of like Disneyland in that way. You see celebrities, pay $50 for Stan Lee’s autograph if you are lucky enough to get a spot in line, see pre-release exhibits from big companies, hunt for free swag, and shop.
Comic Con San Diego and Wonder Con, pics or it didn’t happen:
There is participation at Comic Con. The artists want to talk to people who come to their booths, the cosplayers like to pose for pictures (Always ask. They have their rights to privacy), and there is much to learn from the panels. But, at a convention as big as Comic Con, it is hard to be heard from.
I observed that smaller cons, like Mid South Con, are better designed for fans’ interactions with their fandoms (table top gaming, video gaming, science fiction, anime, rabbit husbandry (wha?), the list goes on.) At a small convention, you have more opportunity for dialogue between fans and professionals.
Mid South Con had this awesome feature that I had never heard of, the “Con Room”. The con room served as a place to relax, mingle, and eat free refreshments. I said free! I had never heard of this before, but it turns out it is a pretty common practice to have a room with snacks and water for convention goers. At one point on the second day, they served a limited amount of free hotdogs. Along with keeping myself alive on cheesy puffs, I sat down and even met a few new people. I also ran into people I already knew, like the owner of the gaming shop where Hubble, Usagi, and I play. Professionals and fans can mingle in a mutual setting. One con-goer told me George Takei attended Mid South Con a few years back. It was a pretty big deal. As usual, he was super nice and everyone wanted to meet him. I wish I had been there for that!
Small cons can offer opportunity for involvement. I hear that it is fairly easy to sign up to run board games. The people who run panels are experts in their fields; some are published or have other claims to fame. But, some panelists are fairly normal, not-famous people who researched and put together a quality program on their fan expertise. At the size of the panels, there is room for give and take in conversation. That all depends on how the panel is run, of course. Panels are primarily lecture format or a conversation between the panelists.
Mid South Con provided a lot of interactive features. In their Southern Fandom panel, in which convention coordinators discussed Southern conventions, they explained that they wanted con-goers to interact with each other.
Say you are a fan of Sailor Moon (like me!). You spend time with your fandom. You watch episodes and movies, read manga. You look wistfully at Ebay for vintage DVDs and toys. Perhaps you make fan art. A convention is a time for you to meet other Moonies, take pictures of each others Sailor Scout costumes, and exchange gossip about the new Sailor Moon anime expected in July 2014.
For video gamers, the con set up a gaming room where tournaments happened. For table top gamers, two rooms for board and card games were full of tournaments, drafts, and games just for learning. At 12:00 after the first night, they screened the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Audience calls from all three regions rang loudly around the room.
I attended a panel on husbandry (a panel on caring for rabbits). There is little connection between rabbits and geek fandom, unless you like Sailor Moon. But, the bunnies were quite popular. The couple who ran the panel had a lot of good information about rabbits and they allowed us to pet the bunnies! They also ran a booth selling all-natural products.
I thoroughly enjoyed all three days of Mid South Con. By the end of the third day, I was absolutely exhausted. Although I loved the grandeur of Comic Con and Wonder Con, I appreciate the personal experience of a smaller convention. There is a lot to be gained where you can talk to people and make friends. If circumstances allow, I will be back next year, and the year after.