Awesome Con 2017- Day 1

Friday, Day 1:
I woke up about an hour later than usual and had a leisurely but efficient breakfast before heading off to the Metro. I began reading Pack Animals (Torchwood #7) by Peter Anghelides on the long ride to the Library of Congress. While walking from the metro station to the LOC building, I passed two women around my age taking photos of a group of people walking across the street, escorted by the police. I have been watching news nonstop for the past two weeks, but I didn’t recognize anyone in the group (and I’ve been watching a lot of news). Looked like it might have been a representative and her congressional aides, but I’ve no clue. Anyway, I got to the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress Building a little before 11.

LOC1The Library of Congress put together a really neat pop-up exhibit only available for a few days, called Library of Awesome. It was filled with parts of the LOC collection, grouped by themes. It was a great reminder that the LOC preserves these parts of culture that are important to fans. The people behind me as we went through the different exhibit rooms were in the most AMAZING Wonder Woman and Black Panther outfits ever. There was also a brave young man in an amazing Fantastic Four outfit. There were so many great comics on display, I couldn’t begin to list them all. But I did take photos of some of my favorites. In one room they had clips from TV shows playing and I walked in just as Buffy was sacrificing herself (feels!), following by a clip of Doctor Who with the Tenth Doctor. It was a surreal to be standing in the largest library in the entire world, watching Buffy and Doctor Who and looking at first appearances of comic book characters in print! There was also a neat letter from Gene Roddenbery to Carl Sagan.

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Milestone issues including X-Men #1 from 1963, Fantastic Four #1 from 1961, and Watchmen #1 from 1986
 
First appearances of Batwoman and Dick Grayson aka Robin!
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Kyle Jinadu & Northstar get married!
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Buffy on screen, popular recent media series on display
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Ralph Ellison collection lends its room to this exhibit
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Library shop even had some geeky things for purchase… including some March graphic novels

LOCLunch2After fully enjoying the exhibit, I went out in search of food. Google said there was a Subway in a nearby building. So I headed to the James Madison Library of Congress Building. I found my way up to the cafeteria on the 6th floor. I wasn’t entirely sure I should be there, among the congressional aides and LOC staff. But the security guard seemed to have no problem with it and a very nice woman in the elevator who worked in the building gave me exact directions there. The view was wonderful, and the sushi was delicious. I read while I ate. I got a little lost trying to find my way back to the elevator, but I made it in the end. Then I headed back to the Metro to get to the Convention Center.

NotReg

It was strange being back in the Convention Center only a few months after #AWP17. It was all arranged differently–our registration hall had been turned into a cool, dark, moody video gaming center! And our bookfair space was where I knew I needed to head for Awesome Con registration. I already had my badge, so I just picked up a program and headed down three floors to the exhibit hall. I had one mission for Friday: find Andrew Aydin and have him sign my copy of March. But when I got to Q1 in the Artist’s Alley, there was a woman selling lovely jewelry in his space instead. Confused, I checked the program and the signs; no changes there. I ran into a friend and chatted for a bit. Then I checked social media; apparently Mr. Aydin was not going to be able to attend due to a personal matter. Well, darn! But these things happen. Hope his family’s okay.

ExhibitHall

So I found myself with a few hours of free time before the first panel I wanted to attend. I wandered around the exhibit hall, sticking mostly to the Artist’s Alley and spending much of that time in Pride Alley, which was new to the con this year. It was a nice little LGBTQ+-friendly space with all sorts of things I wanted to buy. I ended up buying way too much fanart and a graphic novel that is just my kind of thing that I can’t wait to read. I stumbled upon Karen Hallion’s exhibit space and bought a few postcards; it was wonderful to meet her and be able to tell her how fantastic her art is, because I’ve loved it for years and have some of it on t-shirts. I also bought an Outlander book necklace with a dragonfly and a Celtic charm on it. I have ZERO free wall space at home, yet I bought at least 10 prints for myself (and a few as gifts). I even bought an original art piece (done by an artist in from South Africa) that was creative and adorable and unintentionally sexy; I NEVER see my favorite kink portrayed in art, let alone fanart, so I absolutely had to buy it. #NoRegrets!

I had some tough choices to make as far as panels. I ended up choosing so that I’d get a good variety and pack in as many as possible (lots of panel times overlapped) while still hitting the evening Stucky one I knew I definitely wanted to attend.

3:30 PM-4:15 PM Nerdiquette/Anerdomy: Geekdom in Theory & Practice
A nice way to start out the con, talking about geek culture. We began with Felicia Day’s definition of a geek as someone who dares to love something unconventional and moved on to topics like marketing’s role, the nerd culture stigma, the differences between sports fans and the sorts of fans we are, and if it stops being a subculture if it gets too big. The moderator kept diving into much more critical analysis of it all, including ways of testing geekdom’s coherence. I didn’t follow every philosophical reference he was throwing out there, but I enjoyed it anyway. I found the discussion regarding reactionary exclusionism to be especially interesting, as I’d not considered the idea of geeks feeling the need to covet and protect what we are passionate about and keep it as our own because we were excluded/outsiders.

YAPanel

4:30 PM -5:15 PM YA Literature Today
I wish I’d done more prep, because I had two of the presenting authors’ books at home and didn’t bring them! Panelists discussed a lot about the things they like about writing YA (really interesting characters with really interesting problems, can work in any genre, we have all been teenagers but we still wonder who we are) and how to increase diversity in books and creators of books. The best part: they shared info about their own works and shared book recommendations. The worst part: so many good recommendations! I feel like I need to quit my job and just read YA full-time now. For recs & notes from this panel, see my book blog.

5:30 PM-6:15 PM Following Your Bliss: How the Stories We Love Can Help Us Succeed
This wasn’t exactly what I’d been looking for. Attending this felt a little like listening to a motivational speaker. Using himself as a case study and tapping heavily into Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” Russell Walks attempted to inspire us to follow our bliss to find success. “Storytelling is more than just guns and bullets. It’s what we have in here,” he told us, patting his chest above his heart. I was hoping for useful, specific tips rather than inspirational sayings. But I do like the concept that we’re all on our own hero’s journeys and our friends are our goofy, supporting characters. And I can’t disagree with things like “Tell yourself this is what you’re meant to do and don’t give up!”

Afterward, I was going to stick around in the room to attend Whose Roll is it Anyway? (a sort of interactive RPG where the audience controlled the twists and turns instead of the DM), but that was cancelled. This made me shuffle my slots around a bit again. I ended up being able to snag a seat in room 144BC and staying put there for the next three panels! That was both convenient and due to the fact that that room’s programming all aligned with my interests.

Full Spectrum

6:00 PM-6:45 PM Full Spectrum: Why color in comics matters
This panel had a nice balance of identifying current problems and looking at current trends/solutions. I liked the observations that, throughout history, most trendsetters in the comic industry have been indie. I also loved the helpful tip of don’t just yell when there’s something bad, start yelling about the stuff you like! Other discussion topics include: recent reaction to Marvel news (putting out Black Panther trailer then cancelling Black Panther: World Of Wakanda), the difference between making a cast diverse organically and changing characters (reskinning) to make them diverse, how the binging culture changes the way we consume comics (monthly issues vs. TPBs), and how Check Please is an awesome fan-interaction model (it is!). I also loved this comment from one of the panelists (slightly paraphrased because I was writing so quickly) “Lately, people over-complicate things. Just write human beings. Give everyone a chance and diversity automatically comes about.”

StopQueerbaiting1

7:00 PM-7:45 PM Stop Queerbaiting, It’s Time to Be Brave
One of my friends magically appeared beside me just as the panel was about to start, which was a lovely surprise. Another lovely surprise was the panel starting out with a mention of one of my favorite pairings: Wolfcrawler! The panelists were brilliant, passionate, and prepared. But they were also largely preaching to the choir. Sure, an explanation of queerbaiting was a great place to start, and explaining in detail why it’s hurtful, not brave, and insulting was important. But the majority of the presentation consisted of examples and explanations of why it’s horrible. At the very end they did manage to squeeze in a little bit about what we can do (which was mostly, consume the content of the people doing it right). So, by the end of the panel, I mostly felt frustrated and mad at some of those content creators who do this to us.

StopQueerbaiting2

A few things I wrote down include: are the creators/producers really blind to what they’re doing?, they might think they’re doing something nice for us but they’re not, you shouldn’t have the freedom to jerk us around, we need real bravery from our allies, we deserve better, we’re desperate to see ourselves represented as a living main character, makes being gay into a joke, makes gay into a gimmick, there are no repercussions, you can’t be what you can’t see, Netflix and Chill could be Netflix and Educate. My three favorite quotes from the panel were:

  • “Prancing is very intimidating to the straights”
  • Regarding fandoms that have “invisible queers” (creators say that there are totally some queer characters in the world/universe, we just haven’t seen them yet) “SHOW US! Specifically I’m talking to J.J. Abrams about the cute one in the jacket and the cute one that gave him the jacket.”
  • “Albus Dumbledore is the very definition of a peekaboo queer.”
Stucky

8:00 PM-8:45 PM Not Without You: Discussions and Reading from the Stucky Anthology
This was easily my favorite part of the whole day. First, there was a great conversation about what makes Steve/Bucky so appealing and how each of the panelists fell in love with the pairing. It was interesting to hear that so many of them came to it because of Bucky. Second, panelists that came from all over the world specifically to be on the panel. Third, hearing slash fanfic read out loud by the writers themselves at a general con was amazing. Fourth, amazing Bucky and Cap cosplayers sitting in the front row (sorry, I don’t mean to objectify you, but you were sweet and really helped set the mood for those of us seated behind you). Also, someone mentioned a His Dark Materials AU with Stucky that I now I have to track down. I was able to buy a copy of the absolutely beautiful anthology at the end of the panel. I really wanted to stick around and have all the writers autograph it, but I knew that would take a long time and there was kind of a jumble as we reconvened in the hallway. So I ended up just heading to the next panel.

9:00 PM-9:45 PM Trekoff LIVE! -The NSFW Star Trek Comedy Show!
I was a few minutes late, but I don’t think I missed much. This is only my second time attending a live taping of a podcast at a con, and this one was much more lively than the first. The game we played as a group was to figure out how to staff a ship of the most fuckable Star Trek villains. The hosts took us through every entry in the Star Trek franchise, pulling up both well-known and obscure villains and having the audience choose between two at a time to determine who was more fuckable. Some were easy choices and others were more difficult. There were also some pretty convincing creative arguments for and against some of the characters. I was surprised to find characters like the Borg Queen and Evil!Hoshi beating a lot of others. I was surprised characters like Q and the three-some of Kor, Koloth, and Kang didn’t go further. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan made it pretty far but didn’t ultimately win! Who won? I can’t even remember. You’ll have to track down the episode!

I headed home after a long, tiring day and made more progress on my book. When I had to switch trains, it took almost half an hour for the right color train to arrive. So I did get a lot read but I didn’t get home until nearly midnight (at which point I still had a load of laundry to do before bed).

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