The Big Con: Convention Accounts
221B Con 2017 Review!
Another year has come and gone for 221B Con. I attended for my fifth consecutive year, and it was just as amazing as it has been in the past.
221B Con is a fan convention celebrating all versions of Sherlock Holmes. They cover everything from the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, BBC Sherlock, House, Psych, Elementary, the Granada series, the Russian silent movies, the Guy Ritchie films, and everything else in between. They’re also very aware of other fandoms and how they tie into the Great Detective. In the past, they had panels for The Hobbit when Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch were part of the franchise. They have panels for Doctor Who since the Sherlock creators are show runners for the time traveling series. They even had a few Harry Potter panels this year.
What sets 221B Con apart for me more than any other convention is the fact that the majority of the attendees are female, and it’s super LGBTQ+ friendly. I would say about 80% of the con goers are women. Growing up in fandoms and conventions, it’s so rare to see a con with the majority being women. I can’t recall a space like this, and I know that I always feel welcomed here.
I’m going to share some of my favorite moments of 221B Con from the panels, the guests, and karaoke that turned into #221Betty.
Of course there was a ton of Hamilton and Yuri!!! on Ice too.
Seeing the convention through new eyes
One of the most exciting parts for me is I roomed with two of my longtime friends. I’ve gone to 221B Con every year, but this was their first 221B Con. Half a decade will make you forget how it feels to attend for the first time.
One friend went to an all women college several years ago. She said she hadn’t been around so many women in one place since then. It was welcoming, and she never felt intimidated or put out. Also, she attends other conventions like Dragon Con. She told me that panels at Dragon Con don’t mentally stimulate her anymore, because it’s become such a huge con. Most panels now are for fan servicing and not constructive in thought. At 221B Con, she loved almost every panel. The care, thoughtfulness, and dedication to the subject matters truly stimulated her. She is also a writer, and she told me she wanted to get back into fandom again. Whether that was meta writing, fanfiction writing, or just enjoying fandom antics, she wanted to get back into it.
My other friend also attended a women’s college and also shared the same sentiment of being around so many women. She told me that in the past she felt put off by fandoms at times. They can be quite combative when it comes to things like ships. She stopped talking to people on the internet or at conventions about shows she loved because of people picking fights with her. At 221B Con, she felt comfortable enough to discuss shows, fandoms, and ships she loved once again. She said it was a safe space to have thoughtful conversations even when people disagreed. They respectfully discussed their differences. She personally thanked me for inviting her and wants to enter fandoms again too.
Both of my friends plan to return next year.
221B Con has welcomed some wonderful guests in the past. We’ve had Ben Syder from Asylum’s Sherlock Holmes and David Nellist from BBC Sherlock. Many others too! You know it’s a great convention when past guests send video messages wishing everyone well.
— 221B Con (@221bcon) April 8, 2017
This year, 221B Con brought us Curtis Armstrong from Revenge of the Nerds and Supernatural, Martin Powell who is an Eisner Award winning comic writer, and bestselling author and original member of the Baker Street Babes podcast Lyndsay Faye.
Sadly, author Michael Sims had to cancel at the last minute. Multiple severe storms in Georgia and across the country cancelled or delayed many flights the day before the convention. Several attendees joked about #DelayCon2017 when their flights got postponed. In fact, one of my co-panelists arrived a day late because of the delays. Hopefully, Mr. Sims will have the chance to return next year.
It was wonderful to spend time with Curtis Armstrong. I got to sit in on his panel with Geek Verses Week podcast which you can hear here. He spent the weekend promoting his new memoir Revenge of the Nerd: Or . . . The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger. Sadly, I didn’t get to attend the panel where he read parts from the book. In his panel with Geek Verses Week, he discussed his favorite parts of playing Metatron in Supernatural and what scene made him cry. He had wonderful stories from his time in Risky Business and Revenge of the Nerds as well as a great anecdote about Kevin Smith. You can probably hear me in the background cheering when Mr. Armstrong mentioned Rapheal Sbarge who we love here at What the Fangirl having featured several articles for his non-profit Green Wish.
I highly suggest listening to Mr. Armstrong’s panel with Geek Verses Week. It was a lot of fun!
I really enjoyed getting to know Martin Powell over the course of the weekend. We first spoke in his Q&A when we discussed the state of comics for kids and the lack of them. My day job is working in a comic book store, so I know first hand what’s accessible to children. Afterward, we talked at a surprise birthday party for him in the Homeless Network convention suite. He was kind enough to sit down with me afterward where we discussed writing. Mr. Powell’s mentor was Ray Bradbury which he had wonderful stories about. Mr. Powell also spoke about Sherlock Holmes always seemed to pop up in his career when he needed it most. I joked that Holmes was his spirit animal.
I really enjoyed getting to know Mr. Powell, and I can’t wait to meet him again.
If you need to know anything about Lyndsay Faye is that she’s one of the most kind, funny, and amazing women you will ever have the joy to meet. Unlike the other guests, I’ve known Lyndsay for a few years now. She’s a brilliant writer that I’ve looked up to for years. When we sat down for my interview, it was more catching up with a friend like no time had past. She talked about her book Jane Steele and how it had been optioned for a movie. I asked what exactly that meant. She laughed and said, “Nothing! It only means that someone is interested.” What always strikes me most about Lyndsay is how modest she is. She also encourages other artists to go after their dreams. We discussed how I’m writing the first draft of my novel. She told me to own it and don’t be afraid to have pride in my work. It was something I needed to hear.
I was lucky to interview all three guests over the course of the weekend. Unlike my Ben Syder interview that took me two years to get out, I intend to write up these interviews relatively soon for you to read.
I wish I got to more panels, but 221B Con is a rare time where so many of my out of state friends are in one place. I spent a lot of the convention catching up with different people. There were a few panels that stood out to me.
I’m not tooting my own horn, but I immensely enjoyed The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child panel I was on. I’m kicking myself that I left my tablet in my hotel room and didn’t record it. We discussed the polarizing play from different points of view. One of our panelists never read a Harry Potter novel and only saw a couple of the movie. Still, she was lucky enough to see the Cursed Child when the show ran in London last fall. She said when you walked in, the stage was a black box theatre with no curtain. There weren’t any props or set dressings on stage. When the show started, she said the entire stage transformed in the first minute into the world of Harry Potter. She also gave wonderful insight on the character of Delphi who the fandom either loves or hates. Everyone in the room including me read Delphi acting like the Potter character of Nymphadora Tonks. My co-panelist went, “No! The actress plays Delphi in the beginning like Luna Lovegood! She acts like Luna up until the point she reveals her true intentions.” It blew everyone’s minds as we all suddenly saw the character drastically different. Also, we all agreed that Scorpius Malfoy was the best and needed to be protected at all times.
I ended up leaving the Cursed Child panel loving the play more. I immediately wanted to reread it again with new light.
My other favorite panel I got to see was World Building for Writers. As I mentioned, I’m in the process of working on my first novel. We touched on a variety of points that makes the world in a novel rich and strong. A world should feel lived in. While it might be new for a reader, it’s not new for the characters in the book. A character’s routines and what seems mundane to them can help sell a new world to the reader. Social strata is important in every novel even if it’s set in modern times. The world isn’t just the buildings and object. People are part of the world as well. The line I took away from the entire panel is the one that struck me the most:
We live deeper than we think.
Meaning, we don’t think about every single action we do. We don’t actively consider every moments of our day. The characters shouldn’t do that either.
Again not to pat myself on the back, but I enjoyed the How to Podcast panel I was on. With me was Tony from Geek Verses Week Podcast, Caroline from Three Patch Podcast, and Shannon from the Incomparable Network. This is always a fun panel as we walked people through what equipment we use, how to get started, what’s the best way to host it, and everything else in between. It’s one of my favorite panels to be part of. I love meeting other podcasters. Podcasters are some of the best people around, and we’re always willing to help out other people.
I’m going to take this opportunity now to plug my current podcast. I’m on Jaig Eyes and Jedi, a weekly podcast covering every episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. We’re currently in season three!
One event that I enjoyed attending was the Hamilton Sing-A-Long. One of the people who put it on explained to me that they were just a group of enthusiastic cosplayers lip syncing to the Hamilton soundtrack. I ended up missing the first half of it, because it ran during one of my panels. I really wanted to see if they would tackle “Guns and Ships.” It was so much fun, though! They didn’t do every song, because they only had so much time to perform. Complete with homemade costumes, the group that performed really had a great time, and I loved watching them.
I didn’t get any videos of the actual Sing-A-Long, but the cast did perform “My Shot” at karaoke. I recorded a bit of it.
Last minute wrap up things
Karaoke is ALWAYS a great time at 221B Con! This year was no exception. It really got started when Tony from Geek Verses Week podcast got up and said one of his copodcasters, Betty, broke up with him. He sang a breakup song to her. The Casey from Geek Verses Week got up and dedicated a love song to his new girlfriend Betty. For the rest of the night, everyone dedicated songs to Betty until #221Betty became a thing.
Yuri!!! on Ice is an anime that came out last year, and it reached extreme popularity in a short amount of time. If I may say, I recently watched it and loved it! The anime had a panel this year at 221B Con, and it also made it’s way to karaoke. At one point, the DJ said they needed to reboot the program. She passed the time by playing some classic Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, and “History Maker” which is Yuri!!! on Ice‘s theme song.
221B Con is always amazing every single year. Whether you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes or just want to hang out with some of the best people in the world, I highly suggest you attend next year.