2013 has barely started. But this weekend just might have been the best weekend of the year. Which is good, because it was a long time in the making.
My second year at the best nerd convention in my hometown was hands-down better than the first. Which is saying a lot, as last year I came off such a high of cosplay and Captain Jack that I thought nothing could be better. But it was.
The con is still a pretty new one--this is only its fourth year. But it’s expanding hugely. Supposedly, there was a crowd of 53,000 this year. Trying to squeeze around on Saturday, I could believe that. The convention floor this year was much bigger, the layout extraordinarily more helpful. Aisles were on the whole wider, and organization of vendors was much more intuitive. Artists Alley wasn’t front and center, but it was by no means shoved to the very back of the hall like it was last year (that was the autographing tables, which, let’s face it, if you’re going there, you’ll make a beeline for it). Big publishers had booths by the entrance as expected, but so did an exhibit of The Hunger Games movie costumes, a personal favorite of mine. Seeing costumes in real life is always such a cool experience.
If you’re a comics fan, then this is still truly your con--although the rest of us are definitely welcome too--a majority of the guests are artists, and it’s pretty great. But there’s plenty else--Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day were among this year’s big guests. And if you’re a fan of Doctor Who as I am, there’s plenty here for you, from guests to cosplay to merchandise to art and handmade crafts.
The panels this year were also really great, although most of the phenomenal ones were stacked on Saturday, making choices pretty difficult. I only ended up attending two--Futuristic Fright, which featured sci-fi authors John Scalzi and Alex Hughes. The topic was supposed to be the imagined future, but ended up just being a really nice conversation that ranged from the real future to the imagined future to the future of sci fi and the future of publishing. Just a wonderful hour spent with two wonderful authors! And then they did signings, so I have my own signed copy of Redshirts. Yay.
And then there was Peter Davison’s Q & A on Saturday night. I’ve only seen two Fifth Doctor stories (and one of them is The Five Doctors), so I was debating if I should go see him or not. I’m very glad I did. He took every question that was asked so seriously, and answered them so earnestly. After all these years on the convention circuit, he seems to really still love his fans, and the show, and even Chicago! (He’s been here a number of times in the past few years.) He fielded questions about filming, his companions, his career, and acting, among many others. He declined to answer which other Doctor was his favorite--though he did say that his grandson’s favorite is David Tennant (and his grandson’s third favorite is him. Awwww). He talked about David Tennant quite a lot, actually, because they’re pretty much related now. I’m much more comfortable with the idea now, and I can’t help thinking that family reunions and holidays must be a blast in the Davison/Moffet/Tennant household. And best of all? His favorite thing about fandom is that it’s all-inclusive! If the Doctor says it, it’s the truth. So stop that gatekeeping, y’all!
Really, though, the most wonderful feeling of the weekend for me was just wandering the show floor. It’s that incredible feeling you get when everything around you is marketed to people like you, when all the people around you love things just as passionately, and when there are endless numbers of cosplayers to admire. And it doesn’t hurt when you are one of those cosplayers, and you get asked to pose for pictures.
If there was one thing that I had a problem with, it was the size of the panel rooms. While the show floor was undeniably better, the panel rooms were unquestionably half the size that they were last year, which is a big problem when the panels are on the whole better and more popular. It was particularly a problem with our panel. Which, don't worry, there will be a separate post on that!
It was a wonderful weekend. Hung out with great friends, met great new people, and just enjoyed the supportive atmosphere of thousands of nerds.
Check out the gallery for my pictures--and those by Michael Silberman of Great Eye Films--below.