blogging / Guest Blogger / writing

Guest blogger Susan Lundberg – “Convention Life”

It is 8:27 pm

This was originally sent to me in July by my friend Susan (aka Black Canary). Why I haven’t run it until is beyond me. Susan and I were talking about comic conventions on Twitter and she said her husband and she attend quite a few every year. Some are huge and others are on a smaller scale.
I asked her to write about one of her convention outings and so she graciously did and I ungraciously didn’t run in a respectful manner. For this I am deeply sorry,I am actually pretty good at running guest entries,I just completely dropped the ball this time….but please,enjoy Susan’s writing and maybe even share a convention story of your own in the comment section below!!



Convention Life

I have been blessed to go to several conventions this year, as well as a few artist events at our Local Comic store.  When asked to write about conventions, though, probably a favorite is CONvergence.  It takes place the first weekend in July. 

Unlike your average comic con, which focuses on comics and comic/geek-related media (or sometimes wrestling, for some reason), CONvergence is a horse of a different color.  It’s billed as a sci-fi/fantasy convention, but encompasses so much more of geekdom in general.  It’s a four-day party with 6,000 of your best geek friends.  It is a non-profit,  fan-owned and fan-run convention that focuses on panels, cosplay, and evening parties.

There are guests of honor every year, but you have to know your genre to be completely stoked by them.  This year we had writers Wesley Chu, Nicole Dubuc, Charlotte Fullerton, Lee Harris, Jennifer Ouellette, Toni Weisskopf, and Bryan Thao Worra;  theatrical and movie set designer Chad Frey; and  puppet designer/puppeteer Gordon Smuder.  The cool thing is that many of the guests of honor like it so much that they return.  Authors Paul Cornell, Lyda Morehouse, and Kelly McCullough have been back several times, as has archivist Lynne M. Thomas, actor Trace Beaulieu, scientist James Kakalios, and artist Ruth Thompson.

It takes place at the Double Tree Hilton in Bloomington, MN, and while everyone can’t stay there, there’s a shuttle service to 5-6 other hotels so that you don’t have to drive or find parking (always difficult).  There is programming starting at 12:30pm  on Thursday, and generally daily from 9:30am through 11:30pm daily, with the convention wrapping at 6:00 pm on Sunday.

The Consuite has rice, PB&J,coffee,  pop, fruit, and soup going all day and all night, so if you’re hungry and spent your money on your room and costumes, you won’t starve.  They’ll even bring in pizza or sandwiches some nights, and rolls or muffins in the morning.

CONvergence always has a theme – this year, it was Dystopia; previous years have seen British Invasion, Steampunk, Villains, Creatures, etc. – and a mascot Connie, a friendly feminine robot.  She has a sister, Connie Mark II, who is an evil version.  Mark II reigned over this year’s convention.

Opening Ceremonies celebrated the Dystopian future, followed by one of my favorite presentations: The Smackdown.  This year, it was the Evil Overlord Smackdown, where a panel of guests and Con regulars decided who would win in a fight.  Going through such evil overlords as Sauron, Emperor Palpatine, Doctor Doom, The Queen of Hearts (from Alice in Wonderland), Baron Werner Ünderbheit, Queenie (Queen Elizabeth as shown in Black Adder), and Darseid, the winner was Jareth, The Goblin King.  The decision was done with much hilarity and debate.

Throughout the weekend, I attended 4 panels on writing (ending a series, tips, etc.), two panels on Doctor Who, one on the Whedonverse, on DC comics, three more comedy-based panels, one on mainstreaming geekdom, one on the worst possible ending to humanity, and some others I don’t recall.  My husband got to a few I didn’t – on comics beyond DC and Marvel, and one where real Brits taught him to play cricket.  Our friends went to a “How to hook up at a convention” panel, and a couple on taking over the world using science.  There were also panels on Agents of SHIELD and Orphan Black that looked interesting but conflicted with other things I wanted to see.  The panels were all well-organized, with working sound systems and a panel that moves right along.  I tend to focus on my interests – writing and my particular geekdoms – but there really is something for everyone.  The evening panels tend to be more humor or adult themed, as they have one called “Drinking with Geeks,” a sing-along with the “Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” podcast recordings, a panel on polyamory,  and the Killer B’s improv show.

There are themed parties in the rooms around the pool on both first and second floor (and some on to the 4th floor as well) every night, usually from 9pm-12, 1 or 2am.  Some of the themes were Star Trek, Anime, Pirates, Star Wars, Tolkien, Doctor Who, Steampunk, Campaign Convergence (vote early and often), Pokemon, the 70’s, Space Lab, Fans, and a delightful room known as the House of Toast.  Most of the party rooms have hors d’oeuvres and beverages, some of them of the adult nature.  They scrupulously check ALL ID’s to make sure that the face coming into the drinking area is old enough to be there, and the drinks are generally small and not strong.  Tipping is strongly encouraged at all parties, since every room would have to obtain a food and liquor license to charge for anything.  The idea is to mingle, relax and make some new friends.

Beyond the panels and the parties, there are two movie rooms that show movies throughout the convention – one showing more mainstream movies geared to the theme ( so this year had Escape from New York, Logan’s Run, Gattica, Demolition Man, etc. ) and the other is all Anime.  There was a show of cosplay (called Masquerade) on  Saturday night at the main stage followed by a rave, a room that had live music (although they utilized one of the partner hotels for it), and the lounge on the  top floor of the hotel ran games (board, RP, CCG, other card games) all day and all night.  If you’re bored, you aren’t really trying. 

Everyone is just…nice.  We’re all super supportive of other geekdoms, and I always discover a new show, new author, new movie or something every year.  I take a lot of pictures of really amazing cosplay, and have time to mingle.  It’s a fun, stressful, busy, noisy, relaxing awesome experience.  They’ve just about outgrown the facility, but moving it from a hotel to a convention center means no parties in rooms, and half the joy is that you can hang out with these delightful people as long as you wish.  You don’t have to leave the convention floor and make other plans. 

So while not a typical convention at all, CONvergence is one of my favorite conventions – a geek immersion camp, if you will.  The level of involvement is up to you.

Thank you again Susan for a great guest entry and I am very sorry it took so long to run this.

If you are on Twitter feel free to follow me @Jinzo_2400 and you can also follow Susan @black_canary02

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