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Questioning Fandom: The Convention Experience

3 min read

Conventions are an interesting bit of the lifeblood of every fandom since it’s one of the ways many people used to get together when they had little other option and precious little long distance communication. You know, before the days of the Internet. Now you have so much instant communication that the convention experience is something altogether different, though in the end it’s much the same. Having been doing anime conventions since an Otakon back in 1998 and doing comic conventions and science fiction conventions in the 80’s and 90’s, I do like that so many things relatively stay the same. The dealers room is always the place to be, there are almost always a few interesting panels and there’s something to be said for… admiring the cosplayers, to put it politely.

This year was an interesting experience for me at Anime Boston as my eldest daughter attended with me and at age twelve, it was something that had several of her friends very, very jealous of since they’re all part of an anime club together in middle school. I practically had to drag her out of the dealers room, but she did panels, had pictures taken of various cosplayers and got to do the whole overnight experience (all past con attendances since the age of 2! were done just as visiting for a few hours). So while she had a blast, I got to take in the con from the daddy perspective and watched the bevy of young women and girls in attendance in how they all glom on to each other after knowing each other either only online or other long distance friendships. And while it can be annoying when they all squeal with delight when they see each other, I have to admit that it’s also good to see because it’s a fandom that really does draw together when you get down to it. (Internet divisiveness notwithstanding!)

While anime itself isn’t something I’ve become jaded to, I can say that conventions are. Having done it for so long and the experiences predictable in a way, it’s come down to a moment in time where I personally go to see friends, trade stories and press the flesh a bit. I love doing my panel and this year was a blast since it was the first under The Fandom Post. There are many friends that I only get to see in these instances anymore so they become the treasured moments. I haven’t bought anything for myself from a dealers room in nearly ten years. So what I want to know is, if you do attend conventions, what drives you to go? The dealers? Panels? Friends? A chance to cosplay? Sheer mockery of all that you see? And if you don’t go, what do you think it’d take to get you to go to one? A particular guest or music experience? And are there limits to the size of a convention you’d go to? Small and sociable or a massive festival where you can’t believe that many people can fit into that size space?

Sound off in our comments section below (via Twitter, Facebook and other services) or drop in to our forum for the subject and let us know. No registration is required for that particular section, though you can certainly register and you can connect via Facebook as well to post.

Questioning Fandom appears every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with different topics where we want to know where the fans stand on them. Check the forum for past topics and join in the conversation. You can also suggest topics in there as well!