Archon was my very first fan-run convention. It was also my first con I planned in advanced, created a costume, and planned classes to go to. My experience with Archon 41 was overwhelmingly stellar.
The only issue I had with the panel/ lecture/ training was I couldn’t split myself in two, or three. I had at least 2 events I wanted to attend every second. That doesn’t count checking out the vendor room, the artist hallway, or author hallway.
The classes/panels were organized into tracks so you could easily find panels of interest. Author – Craft Track, Costuming Track, General Track, Media Track, Science Track, and Fandom Track, just to name a few. And I do mean just a few. I focused on the Author and Costuming Tracks, which was more than I could take in.
There was programming for everyone. From panels like “Worst Ending Ever: Why Does Hollywood Always Ruin the Last 10 Minutes?” to Author Readings to “What If? Leia from Tatooine and Luke from Alderaan?” to “Writing YA Fantasy”. From the serious to the playful, no one could be bored at Archon.
The Author track had panel upon panel of giants in the industry. There is no way for me to pick just one as my favorite. Each panel had a wonderful mix of indie/trad published authors who brought massive amounts of experience to the conference.
The authors/ editors were full of helpful tips to prepare you as much as possible for the realities of writing and publishing. They gave so many links and resources it will take me years to go through them all. There were local authors such as Jennifer Stolzer (www.jenniferstolzer.com), Van Allen Plexico (Plexico.com), and Ryan P. Freeman (www.ryanpfreeman.com). They also brought authors in from all across the country like Christine Amsden (christineamsden.com), Claire Ashgrove (www.claireashgrove.com), who together run Finish the Story (www.finish-the-story.com) and Henry Melton (www.henrymelton.com) from Texas. And a complete side note, I left with more reading material then I could hope to finish this year.
As with the Author track, I can’t pick just one panel. Every single one of the cosplayers/costumers were knowledgeable, serious about their craft, encouraging, and open about wanting to support other cosplayers. The practical information I got from these panels was priceless. It saved me from many mistakes. It also connected me with amazing industry professionals I would have never had a chance to meet otherwise, such as Tonya Cosplay (tonyaldemarco.com).
One of my favorites was the session on chainmail by Yvonne Williams (www.youtube.com/user/yvonne007bgu). It was very hands on and the teacher was patient, incredibly knowledgeable, positive, and relatable. I have tried to teach myself chainmail for months (I taught myself scalemail, how hard could it be?). She easily taught me the basics in less than an hour. I now follow her videos.
While this was significantly smaller than my experience at Comic Con, it had plenty for me to spend my money on. And there were no large commercial vendors. Almost the whole room was full of handmade items. I could have easily put myself in the poor house with all the amazing items in that room. As it was I left with a few Pokemon washcloths (Christmas gifts) and a few other things.
I wandered up and down this hall several times. This was mainly because of the placement. I HAD to, to get to all my different panels. I loved it! I was able to really take in everything without missing any of my scheduled events. I was able to have several great discussions with an artist named Coarey Trim (facebook.com/CoareyTrimCreations/). He drew me this amazing rendition of my day one hallway costume.
Hallway Costume Contest
This was an amazing part of the con. Archon brought in a professional photographer who took pictures of anyone who wanted them taken. The next day people voted for their favorite picture. It was a fun process, much less intimidating for newer cosplayers than participating in the masquerade, and there was the added bonus of a nice photo of your costume.
Overall, Archon 41 was an amazing fan-run con. I can’t wait for Archon 42!