This weekend is the weekend I look forward to all year. This weekend is the weekend I work toward all year.
And again, Archon 42 did not disappoint.
Last year, the best part of Archon 41 for me were the panels. I spent all day in panels, one after the other. (You can read about Archon 41 here.)
This year, I had a focus on seeing all my friends from last year. I’ve interacted with them online, and I couldn’t wait to see in person. I also participated in the Masquerade this year, which was an amazing experience. It was a lot of time, but completely worth it. If you haven’t seen an Archon Masquerade, you really should. But more about that later.
You can skip to certain descriptions by clicking on these links.
Enjoy the rest of my experience with Archon 42!
Friday I debuted my very first River Song cosplay! She got a great reception and, to my great elation, lots of people recognized her!
I got to the con about 3 in the afternoon and immediately went to sign up for the Masquerade. I was provided lots of information on how to be successful and signed up for a tech time and went along on my merry way.
The second order of business was to peruse the vendor hall.
Most conventions have a place where artists, authors, crafters, collectors, and more can sell their creations. It is one of my favorite parts of conventions.
St. Louis Cosplay Photography
I was absolutely thrilled that on her first debut, River Song attracted the attention of a cosplay photographer!
Devious Hearts Crafts & Arts
I was minding my own business, walking down the hallway. I stopped to look at a Hufflepuff Hat that was ACTUALLY YELLOW, and the guy behind the table said, “You should feel it.”
Like a fool, I reached out and touched the softest yarn ever created. Long story short, I now own the most perfect Hufflepuff Hat and scarf set.
The Art of Mitch Foust
This is another story of walking. And minding my own business.
But this is story of a beautiful piece of art, not a person, reaching out and speaking to me. As I passed Mitch’s booth, I was literally drawn back by a painting of a woman crouched by a river.
I stopped and had a great conversation about conventions with Mitch. As I flipped through his artwork, dozens and dozens of pieces spoke to me. I would have gladly taken the entire booth home. The next best option was a book containing a collection of his work so far in 2018. And, of course, a print of the picture that drew me in.
Art by David Lee Pancake
If you would like to see the CUTEST dragon sculptures and the most EPIC dragon eye jewelry, you have to check out this sculptor.
I adored his Tiny God statue, but ended up taking home a beautiful dragon pin which I could show off.
Author Gerald Welch
As I was walking around I had a great conversation with Gerald Welch. He encouraged me to never give up writing if it was something I really loved and that eventually one day it could be a full time gig.
This was his first con and he said he was really enjoying it and coming back next year!
You can see his books on Amazon.
“Panel” Programming at convention includes having professionals or people experienced in their field come share their knowledge in individual presentations or on a panel of experts. See my archon 41 article for more details on how archon runs their programming.
Cosplay Sewing School
My first panel of the con, and one of my favorites from Friday, was presented by Ariana Bauer. Ariana Runs Cosplay Sewing School. She managed to take complicated concepts and explain them simply and made me feel like I could actually do what she was describing.
Science, fantasy and magic
The next panel I attended was on the magic in both sci-fi and Fantasy. I have to say, I have spent a year pondering, acting on, and remembering the fabulous panels from last year. I was a little afraid I had exaggerated them in my head.
That was not the case. All of the authors were engaging imaginative and informed. It was a really fun conversation about if there was any real difference between extreme high tech and magic.
Hallway Cosplay Contest
Once I finished the magic panel, I hustled over to the neighboring hotel where the Hallway Cosplay Contest is held. I was one of the first in line, so I was pretty excited.
The way Archon does their Hallway Cosplay Contest is pretty slick. They have a professional photoset up. Everyone lines up and gets their pictures taken. Then those pictures are posted on Archon’s Facebook page for people share and have their friends vote for them. (This was different from last year when the voting was done at Archon and limited to Archon attendees.)
Most people that I have talked to do the contest to get a nice picture of their cosplay. Sure, it would be great to win, but everyone wins when you get a free professional photo of your cosplay!
After the cosplay contest everyone went to room parties and the like, but I am old, so I opted to go home and sleep.
I wore my Hufflepunk. A lot of Saturday was taken up by thinking about the Masquerade that night. I did get a lot of good panels in and got to see some awesome people.
Joan Marie Art
This colorful lady is hard to miss! her art seems to be an extension of herself. The colorful dragons and kittens and rainbows were stunning and would probably make Lisa Frank jealous. (No disrespect, I have been a HUGE fan of Lisa Frank since I was five.)
I read Henry’s first book on my vacation to Oregon. The whole time I was thinking, “I really wish this were a TV series.” I loved his writing and any chance I get to see him on a panel I always enjoy it and come away with great ideas.
Van Allen plexico
Another friend from last year! I got to see his new mystery book and I got three new books from him. The second book in his series I am reading now, the first book in his second series, and his standalone mystery/heist book.
He always has a way of expanding my To Be Read list.
Star wars elephants
I fell in love with Simply Kitt’s set of four star wars elephants at Mighty Con St. Louis
I finally got a set of the four pins for my Hufflepunk outfit! I think Yoda-phant is my favorite, but I also got a sweet little dragon and a Wonder Woman teddybear pin too!
I got to meet this talented author Saturday morning. His description sounded so awesome I had to find out more and got his book!
The first doctor
I got to meet an amazing cosplayer, Momma D! She and I connected over a mutual love of Doctor Who.
But then we also bonded over a love of cosplay. This fabulous woman has been cosplaying since high school and has some tantalizing stories.
We also bonded over animals, and a lot of other things. We got to hang out at the Masquerade and I got to scream really loud when her Omega costume won an award!
Panels, panels, panels
Here I want to give a shout out to Erin, the Archon panel chair. I tell everyone I talk to that the number one reason to go to archon is the programming. It is not easy, and she and her team do it really well.
Of course, it was great to see Vito again as well. I always love any panel he is on!
Panels on Writing
The next three hours I spent in three consecutive writing panels. The panels covered a wide variety of topics including giving and receiving criticism, point of view, and why you write.
I spent the three hours learning from experts including Christine Amsden (Facebook, Twitter), Ethan Nahté (Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest), Van Allen Plexico (see links above), Henry Melton (see links above, and Marguerite Reed (see links below).
I wish I could brain dump all of the amazing things I learned during these panels. I wish I could give everyone the feelings of determination, hope, and inspiration that these panels gave me.
But I can’t.
So I am going to say again, Archon is worth every penny.
After the panels it was time for the Masquerade.
A cosplay masquerade is a competition based on the cosplayer’s overall appearance and presentation skills. Archon also includes a workmanship competition as well where you are judged on the quality or creativity of how you made your costume.
The Masquerade at Archon 42 is one of the most professional, well oiled machines I have ever seen. And I have been backstage at a lot of different venues and performances.
And it is run strictly by volunteers.
The director, Sheila Lenkman, has been handling it for about 20 years and has it down to an artistic science. She seemed invested that everyone on stage feel confident and look their best, and wasn’t afraid to take a little extra time to ensure that happened. But the schedule was never far off. A remarkable feat.
Not only was it almost an easy experience (speaking as a performer) but everyone was happy and super helpful. I know all the technicians must have been busy, but if I needed something or had a question they were always genuinely happy to help and seemed to be enjoying themselves.
A perfect example of this was when I realized I had made a pretty big mistake thinking I could scale myself into my costume before the performance.
Two links, no problem. Right?
My “team” getting me into my costume. Thanks guys!
But luckily a member of the crew is almost as crazy about armor as I am. We bonded durning my tech rehearsal over scales and he came to my rescue not once but twice, to attach both the skirt and the mask. Assisted by the awesome lady who was in charge of emergency fixes.
Yup, it took 2 people to get me in my costume, but no one complained or said anything about it, except how awesome I looked.
Have I mentioned the Archon team is the best?
The performance was exhilarating. There was a great crowd and they cheered for everyone.
The evening was basically laid out like this.
We hung out with our “dens” and our “den mom” kept us informed and relaxed throughout the process. We signed up for a time for our cosplay construction to be judged (different category than the performance) and had our picture taken.
Shoutout to “Den mom #6” who put up with my constant questions and angst about the technical judging! She was fabulous.
Then we lined up for the performance, were flowed through backstage, performed and flowed back to the waiting area. There were people all along the way to guide and encourage you. There were also monitors so we could watch what was going on while we waited.
Once the show was finished they had a Photo Call where we basically repeated the same process, but instead of performing, we walked on stage and let people get pictures. This was to fill the time while the judges made their decisions. Genius. And a whole lot of fun.
I was the last to get my costume looked at, and the judges seemed impressed.
Then we were able to watch the show, while stuffing our faces with some really good sliders, fruits, veggies and cookies. Then came the awards ceremony which I felt was the perfect balance of quick and allowing everyone time to feel recognized for their wins.
Every costume was stellar. You really should go check them out on the PM EVANS Photography page
It was a really long night, no doubt about that. But thanks to the amazing crew, it was tons of fun and 100% worth it!
Sunday I was only able to attend for the last few hours. I wore my casual wonder woman cosplay for the first time. Everyone seemed to like it and it was as comfortable as wearing pajamas.
I spent the last hours of Archon soaking up more wisdom from two more writing panels. I would say they were the best panels of the weekend, but they we’re all so amazing it is impossible to compare.
The last two panels
Writing what you know nothing about
This panel covered everything from cultural sensitivity to making up believable fantasy items and more. It seemed like everyone in the room wanted to make the most of the last few hours of Archon.
The panel was made up of three powerhouse authors, Jimmy Gillentine, Donna J.W. Munro, (Facebook), and Marguerite Reed (Facebook). Setsu Uzume (Twitter), an expert from a few of the panels I attended joined in and gave their thoughts from the audience.
Paths to writing
The last panel, lead by George Sirois (Facebook, and Twitter), Camille Faye (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), Brad R. Cook (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), and Debbie Manber Kupfer (Facebook), was well over an hour and packed with personal experiences from every kind of publishing that exists.
I finally understand the difference between starting your own publishing house and simply self publishing a book.
The wonderful thing to see in this panel is none of the authors took even close to the same path to publishing, and yet all of them were successful. Simply that fact alone was inspiring.
This article is a lot longer than I expected it to be, but I barely scratch the surface of everything provided at Archon 42.
There were huge rooms I never entered. Tons of panel sessions I could even think about going to because they were all at the same time.
Is Archon worth it? Every penny and every second.
Please keep in mind that these are purely my opinions and should not be taken as undeniable fact. I’ve also used a LOT of links in this article that will be taking you from my page. I do not have any influence or direct knowledge of these links beyond simply being an observer.
I am not an affiliate for any of these people, or Archon. I just happen to be a huge fan.