Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Chainmail Chick’s Convention Compendium

It's come to my attention that waaaay too many geeks and geeklings are in the dark about great conventions, both local and out of state. So I have taken it upon myself to do a quick write up of different shows. Get ready to mark your calendars!

But first, bookmark this page. Seriously. It's your quick handy-dandy guide to the southern fandom scene -- it's got most every con in the southeast listed by month, with a link to the website, and it's the easiest and best way to scope out what's going on around ya. 

Also, I stole pretty much all of my links from them. <3! 

January 13-15 -- illogicon -- Raleigh, North Carolina
*this is an up and coming show in Raleigh, so I have no review for it, but it's run by cool people and their mascot is a giant plushie cat named Professor Schrodington*
Logic melts in the face of adorable kitties. 
Feb 4-6 -- WhatTheHellCon – Greensboro, NC
This is a great show for: People who like FREE events where you are bound to make a few friends, college kids, people who like objectifying geek boys (they have a geek auction!) This con is a favorite of Jennie Breeden (author of the webcomic "Devil's Panties") so you know it has to be good. Held on Guilford college campus, it's a laid back event that has tons of fun events, from College Iron Chef to fire dancing performances -- and of course, the infamous Geek Auction, where audience members can bid on geek boys (and sometimes girls!) to raise money for charity.  
Geek auction, bidding on Captain Jack Sparrow!
February 17-19 -- MegaCon -- Orlando, Florida
This is a great show for: Costumers, anime fans, comic fans, people who like to see famous movie stars, people who like big conventions. Costumes and media guests abound in the Orlando convention center - it's a pretty big con and attracts some pretty big names! Not to mention all the unrelated touristy stuff you can do while you're in Orlando. Not as much after hours events as I'd like, but always a fun show with lots of cool people. 
I just adore this picture.
March 2-4 -- StellarCon 36 -- High Point, North Carolina
This is a great show for: People who enjoy a chill con with fun after parties. This was one of the first NC cons I went to, and while it fluctuates a bit each year with different administrations, overall it's always a great event. This year, they're going to have some AMAZING writing guests, including Michael Stackpole, Timothy Zahn, and Patrick Rothfuss (author of my current favorite fantasy series EVER, Kingslayer Chronicles) Enjoy browsing the dealer and art rooms, which usually boast some great local talent, and then hit up the different room parties at night. 
That's about the face I'd be making if I were posing with him too. 
May 4-6 -- Outlantacon -- Atlanta, Georgia 
This is a great show for: People interested in LGBT issues in geek culture, relaxed conventions. By day, it's intellectual discussions of everything from Dr. Who to romance novels, and how LGBT folks fit into the fandom. By night, it's drag shows and band performances! Also, this con had some of the best hospitality suites I've ever been in. Let me put it to you this way -  the con kicked off with a chocolate-themed meet and greet. 
This terrible blurry cell phone picture does not do justice to the chocolatey goodness 
May 12, 2012  -- Fanaticon – Asheville, NC
This is a great show for: Costumers, comic fans, families. A fun FREE one day show at the Asheville Art Museum that boasts a pretty sizeable turnout and some really cool vendors and guests. And, after the official day events are over, the local clubs sponsor some fun geek-themed nightlife. It's a drive out to Asheville but it's so worth it. Plus, Asheville is beautiful that time of year!
Signs posted inside the art museum

May 24-27 -- Animazement -- Raleigh, North Carolina
This is a great show for: Uhm...Anime fans. Duh. The costumes are absolutely fantastic, the dealer room is loaded with treasures, and the con has been steadily growing. Bring some Pocky and you will instantly make friends! And if you're not an anime person, don't worry, quite a few comic book and Star Wars costumers make an appearance every year.
Picture from this guy's blog
May 30-June 3, 2012 -- Origins Game Fair – Columbus OH (last weekend in may/first weekend in June)
This is a great show for: Old school gamers! Origins has a ton of board/card/pen and paper/dice/train/etc games, and you basically get to come and binge game, as well as vote on the best games of the year (you can even check them out from the "library" and play them if you hadn't tried them out already) and there are plenty of people to play with. There's also a ton of gaming companies, big and small, demoing and promoting their games, so it's a great place to try new games. (and then you can tell everyone you liked it before it was popular)
In case you're wondering, all the people are tucked away in the gaming rooms already
June 1-3 -- ConCarolinas -- Charlotte, North Carolina
This is a great show for: everyone! Bring the kids! Bring your costumes! Bring your dice! Be it gaming, partying, zombie walking, droid hunting, or costume-contest-ing, ConCarolinas has something for everyone! They've done a wonderful job of attracting all sorts of interesting guests to a North Carolina con,  and there's a great selection of panels covering everything from paranomal events to writing sex scenes to costume building. The Mando Mercs and the 501st both run events and there's an awesome dealer room to browse through. 

June 21-24 -- ConTemporal – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
*this is an up and coming steampunk con in Chapel Hill, so I have no review for it, but HOLY CRAP this is their first year and they have some amazing guests! Definitely don't miss this one*  

August 16-19 2012 -- GenCon – Indianapolis, Indiana
This is a great show for: Gamers, but everyone else too! GenCon is similar to Origins but with an additional focus on electronic gaming and cosplay. It's a really cool location, right in downtown Indianapolis (parking sucks) and there is tons to do, whether it's gaming, attending one of the concerts, going to the parties, or doing the epic True Dungeon event (a live action puzzle solving, monster fighting dungeon). 
Tardis love!
August 23-25 2012 -- Celebration VI – Orlando, Florida
This is a great show for: Star Wars fans and families! Hands down, C5 was one of my favorite shows. For a Star Wars fan, there's nothing quite like seeing the life size sets and scaled set pieces and the myriad of absolutely amazing costumes from all corners of the galaxy! I walked around as giddy as a kid in a candy shop. If you get tired of shopping for memorabilia and gawking at costumes, they have Stormtrooper Laser Tag. Or the Hoth-themed ice bar. Or the droid museum. Or the movie/tv show screenings. Or the panels. 
Pikachu held up for size comparison :P
September 2-5 2011 -- Dragon*Con -- Atlanta, Georgia
This is a great show for: everyone, unless you can't handle huge crowds. It's getting kind of expensive and tricky finagling the hotel reservations, but Dragon*con is a classic. The level of craftsmanship (and creativity!) in costuming is off the walls. And it's a non-stop party for 4 (going on 5!) days. I think everyone should make it out there at least once! 

Oct 8th-Nov 20th, 2011 -- Carolina Renaissance Faire - Huntersville, NC
This is a great show for: Ren faire lovers, pirates, belly dancers, knights, anyone who likes meat on a stick. While it's not technically a convention, the CRF has become one of my favorite fall events. Between the dedicated and hardworking cast and a location transformed into a medieval village, you really feel like you're temporarily stepping back in time (but to an alternate reality where everyone had all their teeth and no black plague)

November 11-13 -- MACE -- High Point, North Carolina
This is a great show for: Gamers! A small local convention that features a full weekend of nothing but gaming. Good way to meet people and get your gaming fix, whatever that may be! They have larping, miniatures, rpgs, video games, card games, and board games. MACE is run by Justus Productions and has been helping run gaming events in the Carolinas since 1996, so trust me, they know their stuff. 

December 18 -- Charlotte ComiCon -- Charlotte, North Carolina
This is a great show for: Comic book collectors. It's a very small one day show but it's cool getting to talk to the artists there one on one, and it's a good place to buy/sell/trade comics. 

The following are cons that I have not personally attended, but friends have said great things about them!
January 5-8 -- Ichibancon -- Charlotte, North Carolina  (anime)
January 5-8 --  Mag Fest X -- National Harbor, Maryland (music and gaming)
February 17-19 --  SheVaCon 20 -- Roanoke, Virginia (Multi-Media Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror)
February 24-26 --Mysticon -- Roanoke, Virginia (general geekery)
March 16-18 --  All-Con -- Dallas, Texas (general geekery)
April 4-6 2012 -- PAX EAST -- Boston, Massachusetts (gaming) 
April 13 - 15, 2012  - RavenCon – Roanoke, Virginia (Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror)
June 22-24 -- HeroesCon -- Charlotte, North Carolina (comics)
November 5-6 -- NCComicon -- Morrisville, North Carolina (comics)

One last note -- people frequently ask me how to cut down their convention costs, so they can maximize their con attendance. Here's my quick tips:
1) Volunteer for the con. For local cons, this is a great way to get in for free/cheap. Check out the con website and see what the requirements are, but in exchange for a few hours of helping out, you can get a reduced price badge! If you don't want to lose precious nerding hours, buying your badge in advance can also save you money.
2) Go with friends and book through to reduce the costs of hotel rooms. Also, carpool.
3) Eat at the con suite (lots of small local cons tend to have one of these) and bring your own sandwiches and snacks.

Now, with all of that said... I hope to see more familiar faces at cons!