Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to the Oak City Comic Con in Raleigh, NC. I had never been to a Con before, and wasn't sure what to expect. Overall, I was impressed! The convention center was packed with artists, vendors, and cosplayers who were enthusiastic to show off their products and hobbies.
Although a lot of the booths were the expected "vintage comics for sale" setups, I got a big kick out of looking for items I might not find anywhere else. My personal ridiculous-yet-exciting purchase of the day was a handmade leather bag from A Steampunked Life, a shop in Surrey, VA.
The new bag was my only big purchase of the day, but there were tons of interesting vendors. One young woman made custom stuffed bunnies wearing superhero costumes. A pottery studio called "Klaystation" sold geeky, hand-painted mugs—and might be a future location for a date with my boyfriend so we can make our own!
Aside from the souvenirs, I found some interesting comic books to try. I just finished reading the first volume of Animosity from AfterShock Comics. I also picked up a volume called Black Eyed Kids, which I bought on impulse because the author was there with his kids and the kids were so enthusiastic about their dad's work. It was too cute to resist.
At the Action Lab Comics table, I decided to sample a series called Hero Cats (it's about cats!) and another called PrinceLess, which bills itself as "the story Disney should've been telling for the past twenty years." I loved the PrinceLess cover and would love to see more books like this out there, especially because I am a teacher and I'm always looking for good material to encourage my students to read.
Along similar lines, I went by a booth for a potentially interesting Kickstarter project called Sorghum & Spear, a new fantasy comic starring adolescent women and set in a fantasy world that draws heavily on African traditions. The project has even developed a partnership with craftswomen in Uganda. I'm definitely interested in seeing projects that focus more heavily on young women of color, so I will be keeping my eye on this one.
I also felt inspired when I went by a booth run by an English teacher who is clearly self-publishing a bunch of his fictional work and shopping it at Cons. It made me happy to see another teacher following a dream while educating kids.
My first Comic Con was awesome in part because it's fun to be in the same room with hundreds of other people who love the same things you do. But I think what impressed me the most was the array of small businesses and up-and-coming writers and artists who were sharing so much creative energy. The cosplayers had amazing costumes just for the fun of it, illustrators were showing off work they were passionate about, writers were looking for readers as curious and enthusiastic as they were.
My next goal, of course, will be to get myself to a board game conference. I love gaming, but I haven't ever made it to a big board gaming event. Oak City Comic Con had a few vendors who sold board games, and it was fun to see my biggest hobby integrated into an overall celebration geekiness. But I think I would really love a gathering where board gaming is the main event.