07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Monday, January 28, 2013

Overheard at... the public library

“Gah,” (By which, I am sure, the one year old baby who was looking at Calvin and Hobbes meant, “This is hilarious.”)

She was obviously a ComiCon fan in the making. Dressed as her favorite princess, she already had half of the concept covered. The world of Fan Conventions, however, is very foreign to me. But since our February Guest authors spotlight Fan Cons I thought I should do a little digging to better understand the phenomena.

Where else to go for a definition of unique topics, but Wikipedia (which, btw – I just found out has like a 97% accuracy rating. Who knew?) My first aha was that Fan Conventions have been around since the 1930s. Huh? I must have been living under a rock, especially since they were started within the science fiction genre… and I used to l-o-o-v-e science fiction.

My next bit of learning was that they have expanded way beyond science fiction to include all sorts of other topics like Anime, Comics (think Superman), and something called Furry (not even sure I want to know what that one is all about.) In its most simple form, a Fan Convention is a way for fans to share their excitement for and learn more about, their favorite pop-culture genre.  They include speakers and parties and give-aways and yes, fans dressed up like their favorite characters.

But then anyone who has a child will recognize this concept. For years my daughter would only go out of the house dressed as one of the Disney Princesses.  And, if you think about it, what else is Disneyland but one, big, fan con?

It must be the height of authorship to have one of your characters replicated by thousands, or even millions, of fans. So far I haven’t found a contemporary romance fan con, or an inspirational fan con. There is probably an erotica fan con, but again, I am not going to go there.

So it makes me wonder… what would it take for a romance author (outside of the sci-fi, paranormal or post-apocalyptic genres) to build that sort of fan frenzy?

Let me know if you have the answer… or if there is already a pop-cultural romance icon that I missed.

In the meantime, I’m off to read my favorite comic strip; Calvin and Hobbes, of course.


Judith Ashley said...

I will be checking back frequently to read other comments. I also write contemporary and am not sure there is a con out there for this genre - other than maybe Romantic Times?

Paty Jager said...

Great post! My niece draws anime characters and is into it. I've never been to a fan convention other than a reader fan convention. There were only a few crazy dressed people and they were just sporting writer T-shirts and lots of beads.

Linda, I'd love to know the answer to your question too!

Wendy Clark said...

I totally agree that RT is probably the closest to a fan con! Although I've never attended it -- just seen pictures -- I have attended the big Seattle conventions: Emerald City Comic Con, Sakuracon, and PAX.

Usually cons don't feature just one author's world, but numerous different franchises. That's why I think RT is probably the closest.

Most people who dress up are basing their costumes off of a graphic or animated medium. So, for romance authors to leverage that, they need to put their characters in highly identifiable costumes and feature them in graphic novels and/or serial TV shows. Half the fun of public dress-up is the recognition and community-building when someone else recognizes the costume. When someone cosplays, they have to be assured that other people "in the know" will be able to identify them and compliment their skillful portrayal.

Many romance novel covers feature heroines with the wrong hair color, etc. It would be impossible to cosplay based on covers. (Also many of cover models are partially or completely naked...)

Does anyone cosplay at RT or other conventions as the True Blood series? It's paranormal but it's on TV and I assume the characters have some highly identifiable costumes.

I'm going to Emerald City and Sakuracon this year, so I'll be on the lookout.

deanne wilsted said...

I love the comments... I was thinking about the characters of Bella and Catniss. Just recently I saw a mom I know who found a photographer to take character pictures. One daughter was (almost an exact) Catniss and the other was Bella. I could see where some characters... like Elizabeth Bennet, would be hard to distinguish from others though. I guess it may have to be paranormal in order to differentiate it from an everyday person.

I'm very intrigued by RT now. I hadn't really thought of the conference int hat way before.