FanExpo Boston 2018

FXB 2018 Jewel StaiteDespite living in or near Boston since 2012, I finally attended Boston Comic Con for the first time (recently purchased & renamed FanExpo Boston). This convention was previously held in the Hynes Convention Center, but has moved to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The new location is fantastic! It’s accessible by public transportation and easy to drive to. Lawn on D is outside which (if the weather was nicer) makes it perfect for photoshoots and hanging out. Not to mention, there’s reliable and inexpensive food nearby and it’s connected to a hotel, which is perfect for out of town guests or afterparties. Plus, there’s also TONS of space within the center itself.

However, FanExpo Boston really, really left me wanting.

I reached out several months prior to the event about hosting panels but I received no response. Since Jewel Staite was a guest, my Firefly panel would have been perfect and I have a bunch of solid pop culture panels which have appeared at conventions as big as New York Comic Con.  Despite not presenting any panels, I decided to check it out since it’s close to home and a ton of my friends and Browncoats would be there.  

I spent Friday walking the floor in my Magic Wand Hermione cosplay and got a few chuckles before I left to teach a class at Good Vibrations Cambridge.Magic Wand HermioneOn Saturday and Sunday, I spent most of my time at the Boston Whovians table, except when I attended Jewel’s panel. There just wasn’t anything really interesting for me to check out… The minimal panel schedule went up barely a week in advance and there were only 1-2 panels per hour. While I don’t like having to choose between TOO many good programming options, having almost no programming is worse. It’s much harder to keep up energy and way easier to get bored when all you can do is walk the floor.

Another big issue was how  FanExpo Boston used the space. I can compare their use of space to Rhode Island Comic Con (one state away) and I found myself mentioning this to friends several times throughout the weekend. Both cons seem disorganized for releasing programming. Where RICC gets is super cramped in the Dunkin Donuts Convention Center & arena with big-name guests, FanExpo Boston had mostly mid to low tier guests and so much room that they did nothing with. In terms of programming, the only panel I attended was midday on Sunday and it was so far away that it was practically in the hotel next door. I saw several panel rooms completely unused and  empty, which frustrated me since I offered to host panels. Jewel Staite’s panel room was smaller than panel rooms I’ve been given at similar conventions and, while I’d like to think I’m a little bit famous, I’m not on the same level as the actual cast of Firefly. These things particularly frustrated me because a convention literally one state away needs so much more space and can’t have it, while the BCEC has so much space (and room to spread into the next door hotel if they needed!) going unused. It’s such a waste.

Besides the misuse of space, the show floor was confusing and poorly laid out. I spoke with several artists who expressed disappointment that there was nothing on the show floor to point to the Artists’ Alley. It was tucked in a corner that most people couldn’t make it to. I really dislike conventions that shove their artists in a corner because the Artists’ Alley is one of the coolest and most unique places on the con floor! When it’s tucked in the corner, attendees often spend all their money before even getting to it–if they even make it there at all. Artists’ Alley wasn’t the only place that went unlabeled; several official cosplay meet ups were listed in the program at the ‘Cosplay Photo Park’ but no one knew where that was. If you looked at a small hashtag on one banner, or apparently in the app (which I didn’t download because it kept crashing), you might have figured out that the ‘Cosplay Photo Park’ consisted of 4 background banners set up near the cosplay celebs booths. But most people didn’t figure that out and I was disappointed that the turnout for the Firefly cosplay meet up was low.

FXB 2018 Firefly Meet Up

I was also surprised, given all the space in the lobbies, that there weren’t droves of photographers doing photoshoots. I did meet with Nerd Caliber (which had a spot on the show floor & was making the best of it) to get some awesome shots with them, but I wanted an environment like Emerald City Comic Con, where you could walk out of the convention halls and get tons of great pics in the lobby or the surrounding parks.

FXB 2018 Photo by Nerd CaliberGiven my extensive convention experience, I would put FanExpo Boston on a tier below a convention like Wizard World Chicago. It’s a convention in a larger city with a lot of interest in geek culture but lacked enticing programming and strong guests. It’s an ongoing issue when conventions release their programming late, because many attendees decide whether or not to attend based on available programming. Without knowing the schedule, an attendee won’t know if it’s even worth going. In the case of FanExpo Boston, I’d say not. I kind of want Altered Reality, the company that runs Rhode Island Comic Con, to get their hands on this convention because I think they would actually use all the space to their advantage, but I also know Altered Reality tends to cluster everything up.. I can’t yet say if I’ll go to FanExpo Boston next year, but I am really looking forward to the rest of the conventions I’m headed to this year!

Wizard World Chicago 2017

After missing its 2016 iteration, I was so happy to be back at Wizard World Chicago this year! Like all Chicago Comic Cons, this event took place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL August 24th-27th.

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I attended with my sister, Little Dove Cosplay, who was showcasing a new Sansa dress on Friday & Saturday… but I am getting ahead of myself.

Since we were presenting two panels, we picked up our badges in the ‘Exhibitor/Vendor’ section in Hall B. In past years, we were able to pick these up from the VIP or other sections, but this year we waited longer in line.

On Thursday evening, we walked the con floor and established what we wanted to see before heading to the “Make a Nerdy Living” panel. This panel featured The Pumpkin Geek, Amanda Meyer, Emily Evans, Scott Larson, Onrie Kompon, and later Mogchelle showed up (who was overbooked and hustled from panel to panel with nary a moment’s rest!). Make A Nerdy Living PanelI was really impressed by what The Pumpkin Geek had to say; he was incredibly personable and gave good advice, like how reaching out over social media allowed him to save money traveling to different cons by staying on folks’ couches. Despite the panel being titled “Make a Nerdy Living” (emphasis mine), the majority of the panelists have a “day job” that pays the bills separately from their nerdy passion projects. This disappointed me because I still don’t know how to turn my passion into something that pays the bills. With six panelists, the conversation felt crowded and no one really got enough time to talk. Friday, my sister wore her X-Men: Days of Future Past Jean Grey cosplay, super comfy for a short day at the con, and I wore my coveralls.

On Friday, with an increased attendance, security had folks go through several metal detectors set up outside. Though some lines were dedicated to folks without bags, everyone filed through whichever line they could. My sister was dressed as Sansa in her black, season 6 dress (the one with all the feathers) and had her trusty direwolf purse with her (it’s name is Lady), and I wore my blue silk jacket and flip flops along with my coveralls for more of a pilot episode look. Once we got through security, I hosted my panel on ‘The Expanding Firefly ‘Verse,’ which is always shiny. This year, I incorporated new info on upcoming board games and some rumors about the fabled Firefly Online. AKF and Firefly Cosplayers WWCC17I met with a bunch of other Firefly cosplayers for pictures with them before going to Artist’s Alley. This year (unlike my last Wizard World Chicago in 2015), the Artists Alley had its own huge area between vendors. I think this was a nice set-up, though I didn’t care for the second floor of the convention center being only cars and a haunted house. Oh well, it meant me and my sister didn’t have to crowd on the escalator!

We closed our Friday night watching “Dungeons and Dragons Improv,” featuring a Bloodrager Dwarf named Buttsteak, a punny bard halfling named Matthew McConaughey whose signature tune was “Take On Me” by Aha, and a shapeshifting gnome by the name of Cuddles who could only turn into marbles. These three were on a quest to rid Detroit of the Unicorn plague, fight a Spiderman-o-taur (half bull, half spider-man), and get a lapdance from Striptease the Unicorn, but in the end it turned out they might have been part of the problem. We left the con with tears of laughter streaming down our faces.

On Saturday, we returned bright and early so I could catch a panel called “Intro to Podcasting.” Intro to Podcasting Panel WWCC17Despite several experts (David Vox Mullen, John ‘Bear’ Kolb, Patrick Newson, Paul Hinic, Nick Mataragas) clearly knowing what they were talking about, the panel was not very planned out. The panelists didn’t follow an outline and it was more of a Q&A than an introduction… and they kept pimping their new website which is a podcasting platform. Vox Mullen advocated paying for all of your own things (a website to host, etc.), and spoke most of the time, leaving very little time for Hinic and Mataragas to speak. I don’t think this panel was wasted time, but it definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for or expecting.

Saturday, I wore my screen accurate floral top with my coveralls, and we naturally went to see “One Season and a Movie: A Conversation with Summer Glau & Jewel Staite.” The panel started late, but it was refreshing to hear Lindi of PureFandom instruct everyone in the Q&A line for “No Personal Requests!” When asked where they would want their characters’ stories to go, Jewel answered that she wanted Kaylee and Simon to have lots of babies, and Summer offered River as babysitter. Jewel politely declined.

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Jewel’s favorite episode was “Out of Gas,” while Summer’s was “Objects in Space.” “I don’t know if you can recapture something in the same way,” Summer said, when asked about a Serenity 2 focused on River. “I really respect what the show was.” Finally, if Summer could change one thing about Firefly, she’d wear shoes and brush her hair more. Ha!

After that panel ended, we headed down to Game Of Thrones Trivia, though sadly we didn’t participate (or win). It was a nice way to get excited about the season finale and hear speculations on how it would end. Tess was again wearing her black Sansa dress, and a lot of folks really loved it. After that, we went to the Creative Stage which was at the back of Artists’ Alley near a food station. I really like how this Creative Stage was set up and I think C2E2 could learn a thing or two from Wizard World. Not only was there more than one microphone, there was also an A/V set up to show a powerpoint! This was the first time I presented my panel “Getting Started With Etsy” and I was really glad to have Laura of Rebel Among the Stars Studios alongside to help me. We both have very different ways we use Etsy; they do it full time for a living, whereas I do it to fund going to conventions. We got some excellent questions and I can’t wait to see new Etsy stores that I hope were inspired by our info!

Sunday was a much more relaxed day since we were quite tired! We love that 5 Hour Energy has a booth at cons, because drinking those made us able to get through our last day! On Sunday, I wore my Elizabeth Swann cosplay and met up with friends (Sparrow Style Entertainment & Gormassmuss) who were both cosplaying Jack Sparrow! Elizabeth & 2 Jacks WWCC17Since I was walking around with my sister as Sansa Stark, a lot of people thought I was a Game of Thrones character too. Whoops! I may have to start cosplaying Margaery again! My sister had opted for her pink King’s Landing Sansa dress, which she loves to wear because it makes her feel like a princess.

Overall, I had a really great time at Wizard World Chicago. I was excited to present both old and new panels, while spending time at a convention with my sister

My next convention is New York Comic Con, October 5-8th. Stay tuned for a panel announcement soon!

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Browncoats: The Musical

Zoe is pregnant, Mal relives his glory days, Kaylee and Simon want to take the next step in their relationship and Jayne… wants to become a preacher? Sounds like it could be the long desired second season of Firefly but it’s actually Browncoats: The Musical!

Browncoats Playbill

Produced by Tea Time for Mad Girls, this one-night-only event brought our favorite characters back to life in an immersive theatrical production at the Gemini Scorpio Loft in Brooklyn, NY. Complete with themed drinks and cookies (the latter provided by Simple Sweets by Melissa), the event was a mighty fine shindig!

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Part of the stage set up at Gemini Scorpio Loft

This production took place about 9 months after the events of Serenity, with Zoe preparing to give birth and the crew figuring out what that meant for them in the aftermath of the political climate surrounding the events on Miranda. The musical disregarded the canonical comic Serenity ‘Verse, and instead choose to feature Mal preoccupied with re-joining the war effort. This means different things for each of the members of the crew: though Mal thought he could count on Jayne and Zoe, Jayne wants to follow in Shepherd Book’s footsteps and Zoe wants to be with her baby, even if she isn’t sure how to be a mother yet. Mal wants Kaylee and Inara safe and planetside, and doesn’t really care much where Simon ends up as long as River is expertly piloting the ship (what with her psychic-ness, and all). Simon won’t leave River and Kaylee doesn’t want to leave Simon and, despite Mal’s wishes, Inara wants to fight.

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From left to right: Paul White as Simon, Dava White as Kaylee, Francesca Negron as Mal, Ann Patricia as Zoe, Jen Wu as Inara, Kati Kane as Jayne

It takes the near-death of every crew member and the surprise visit of a beyond-the-grave Wash to get everyone’s head in the right place and keep them together on Serenity where they belong.

Though the set was fairly minimal with small details here and there, it worked as a representation of Serenity where actors ran between stage areas as they would do on the ship herself. However, all the running coupled with a full audience crowding a 2nd floor loft meant the venue was very warm. What’s more, the stages were not set up in such a way that the audience could see all the action. I learned later that the actors had only been to the space for the first time earlier that day. Given that, I was especially impressed with their set-up.

Browncoats: The Musical is a brand new production and that showed. Certain characters were written incredibly well, while others were portrayed superbly. I was disappointed to hear the word “damn” so many times when there’s an in-Verse alternative (gorram!). More complex characters like River and Inara had weaker writing, and unfortunately the actors’ interpretations did not feel like the characters I love.

Inara (Jen Wu) and Mal (Francesca Negron) lacked any real chemistry.

Mal and Inara lacked chemistry, and Jayne felt a bit sassier than I was used to. However, Jayne’s acting choices were some of the strongest, especially because the actor committed to said choices. Kaylee’s writing and performance were spot-on, while Simon fumbling between his sister and the mechanic he loves brought me right back to the TV show. Zoe brought the whole production together, though I was disappointed that she was played by a white actress. At times, the singing was weak, but I do want to note the heartbreaking performance of ‘’Lullaby’’ by a back-from-the-dead Wash, which brought tears to many eyes.

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Laurel Detkin as a heartbreaking Wash

This musical weakness is understandable, since this is a brand new production with little to no budget featuring volunteer performers rather than professional actors. Like most shiny Browncoat productions, the musical was more a labor of love than of cashie-cashie moneys.

Because the singing was rough at times, it did not do justice to some of the more well-written songs, for example, Kaylee’s love song to Serenity. I did like River’s interpretive dance though!      

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At times, the writing for Aleks Kovacevic as River felt too “on-the-nose.”

The production needs to work out some kinks if they hope to perform it again, but I was thoroughly impressed by much of what was provided and performed in this show. Plus I’ve had “Here’s to the Browncoat Cause” stuck in my head goin’ on a few weeks now… I hope to see more done with Tea Time for Mad Girls’ Browncoats: The Musical!

ENDED: AKF + Entertainment Earth Firefly Slippers Giveaway!

I am pairing up with Entertainment Earth to give one of my fans a shiny pair of Firefly slippers! Entertainment Earth was lovely enough to send me a pair to review, which F*ckYeahFirefly helped me out with. Read the review below, and then enter to win your own pair! 

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Inara the cat has a fondness for the slippers

When Entertainment Earth says “oversized,” they MEAN “oversized”! These cozy slippers are roughly 21 inches long from tail to nose. Your foot slips nicely into the top of the ship down to the cargo bay. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sole of the slipper is nice and cushioned! Before I put the slippers on, I didn’t even see the full inch of padding on the bottom of the ship. The plush outer feels like a hug for my feet, with just the right amount of tightness around the middle of my foot so that I don’t live in fear of it falling off. Serenity is keeping my toes nice and cozy. My very picky feet are quite happy with the interior design of the slipper.

The structure of the ship-slipper is pretty much what you would expect: the middle holds your foot, the nose and cockpit extend from the tops of your toes, and from roughly the middle of your feet to the back of your ankle run the engine pods. They stick out of the side of the slippers, so they are the most difficult part of the ship to maneuver with your feet, but after a few steps, you get used to it. They bounce charmingly along with your steps and as long as you watch to make sure you don’t knock into anything breakable (which you should be doing regardless of misbehaving slippers), you’ll be fine.

15354074_10209226077463372_853139025_oThe bottoms of the sole features no-slip rubber grippy dots, which help in maneuvering the oversized slippers, and the rest of the fabric has great detail of our beloved Serenity printed on it. It’s a different design than the Serenity Plushie you might see over at ThinkGeek or Quantum Mechanix: for one thing, the cockpit window is merged and the shuttles printed onto the sides rather than being their own separate things. The print is symmetrical right and left, which means either slipper can go on either foot and you don’t need to worry about remembering which one is which. The fabric itself is a lighter color, too, which means you can see much of the line work better. As you may or may not know, the ship has two designs: one from the show Firefly and one from the Big Damn Movie Serenity. The slippers incorporate elements of both designs – the line work is the structure of the ship from Firefly and the logo that Inara painted in the Big Damn Movie is present on the neck of the ship.

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Kaylee the cat is a little confused about her ship bein’ all small and miniature-ized

The stabilizer (the achilles heel of most Serenity products) is a separate piece of stiff fabric ingeniously sewn on so it can’t catch anything or rip itself off. It is printed with a pattern that fits with the rest of the ship, but is clearly a separate piece in much the same way the engine pods are. When I saw the promotional images online, I have to say I was worried about the stabilizer, but the idea of sewing it on is so simply genius that seeing it in person makes me smack my forehead and say, “now why didn’t I think of that?”

Overall, these slippers are cozy, nerdy, and fun to walk around in. They are one-size-fits-most and large enough to cuddle if that’s your style. I certainly plan to wear mine at every sleepover from now on.

This giveaway has ended.

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