One of the Gulf Coast's longest running conventions, CoastCon, is a volunteer run organization with a focus on community in fandom that's been around for more than 35 years. Many of the attendees at CoastCon have been faithfully coming out for years, and that makes this con feel vastly different from, say, a Wizard World convention. There's a great deal of hugging, hand-shaking, and casual conversations among friends who may only ever see each other at CoastCon. It's a very friendly environment overall, and quite a welcoming place for families as well (even vendors and artists have been known to bring their kids with them). That's not to say that there isn't fun to be had for those of us sans children, though! This con may have a cozy feel to it, but it's still large enough to have plenty of interesting things for fans of all ages. So, from heart-warming interactions with kids to panels about human decomposition, to random belly dance routines, follow along as I run down some of the things I saw at CoastCon 38!
In addition to the normal convention stuff like panels and photo ops, there were some fun, random things happening in the main hall that provided a nice backdrop to all the gaming and helped bring attention to the fan table area. I found it to be a clever way to add content without having to charge additional fees or schedule even more panels into an already packed weekend. I'm certain these were all scheduled somewhere, but I'm rubbish at keeping up with programs, and since they announced everything over the PA system, everyone was aware of their existence. For me, they turned out to be like little convention Easter Eggs that randomly popped up to keep things rolling. There was a Klingon weapons demonstration, a classical fencing demonstration, and (my personal favorite) a random belly dance routine from these four lovely ladies:
One of the things CoastCon prides itself on is the organization’s dedication to literacy. The Harrison CountyLibrary not only had a large, prominent table in a well-trafficked spot, they also had several panels throughout the convention (including a panel entitled Formidable Females with Harrison County Library which is phenomenal if you ask me). In addition, there were plenty of panels for aspiring authors to help hone their skills. Two of my favorites featured local authors expanding on how to write believable fiction:
|The Rob Cerio|
Steam-Tech with Rob Cerio was not the panel I was looking for, but turned out to be the panel I needed. In addition to being a fantastic author, Rob is also a friend of mine, so when I was looking for a place to shovel some food into my face I decided to tuck myself away in the back of his panel. Now, I had no clue what this panel was about (and had no intention of reviewing it), I just wanted to steal away a corner in which to eat. The next thing I know, I’m enthusiastically participating in the creation of a steampunk, rocket-powered airship on a mission to steal gold from the moon. Turns out his panel was designed to illustrate how much thought should go into the creation of even the most fantastic of stories in order to present them in the most believable and enjoyable way to the reader. We all spent the better part of an hour debating how large the ship’s cargo hold would have to be, if they should use helium or hydrogen as a fuel source, what kinds of cargo our explorers would need to survive this impossible trip, and whether they would be attempting to steal the moon gold via brute force or psychological cunning. In the end it was decided that our group of steampunks would be invading the moon via a hydrogen fueled airship (equipt with rockets for the space portion of the journey, of course), with the intent of pacifying the people of the moon with Netflix, basic crops, and porn in order to abscond with their gold. It was completely insane, and easily one of my favorite panels ever.
Another panel for authors that managed to weasel its way into my heart was My Life in the Morgue with Diana Rowland, all about the importance of accuracy when writing about crime scene procedure and morgue operations. Rowland is a former Sheriff’s Deputy, crime scene technician, and morgue tech turned author, so she knows how important it is to get your facts straight when writing about law enforcement procedures. As a former crime scene technician myself, I can attest that we do, in fact, notice and judge you when you get this stuff wrong; clear, plastic “Evidence” bags, for example, make me cringe. Complete with visual aides (including photos of decedents in varying stages of decomposition and/or autopsy), this was an entertaining, easy to follow, and informative panel that I'd love to see offered at more conventions.
|Rebecca Smith & Allie Henson's Feminism in Fandom panel|
Equally of note were the multiple panels offered with a focus on women's issues, and positivity in cosplay: In addition to the aforementioned Formidable Females panel, fan Guest of Honor Rebecca Smith shared a panel on Feminism in Fandom with mechanical engineer and co-owner of the +1 Gaming store in New Orleans, Allie Henson. Cosplay guests Destine Magique and Awkward Cosplay Girl had a great panel on Cosplay Etiquette (I was honored to have been added as a panelist on this one, and could not have asked for a more receptive and open audience), and they also held a roundtable discussion on Cosplay and Body Image that I heard wonderful things about (it was scheduled opposite the Feminism panel, and it broke my heart to have to choose).
Despite offering so many great panels, my only gripe with CoastCon was actually with their panel scheduling. I was added to two panels during the con, both were scheduled to start at 10am (one on Saturday and one Sunday). Unfortunately, the convention doors didn't open until 10am as well, so everyone on a 10am panel had no choice but to start their panel late to give their audience time to funnel through the doors and make their way to the panel rooms. We had to start our panels 15 minutes late each morning, and we had such great discussions going on that we really felt that lost time.
Before I dive into the cosplay and vendor photos, I wanted to showcase the most heart-warming moment of CoastCon for me:
This adorable, little Hulk completely lost his mind over this amazing Lego Wonder Woman cosplayer. I happened to be there to witness him squeel with delight when he saw her, and then drag his mother over to her calling out "Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman!!" It was hands down the best moment of my time at CoastCon, and possibly one of my favorite con moments ever. Who says boys don't like female superheroes?!
As always, I scoured the Dealer's Room floor for some talented artists and vendors, and was not disappointed! Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):
1. Airship 67 - Their handcrafted leather goods caught my eye!
2. Axiom NOLA - These ladies craft awesome chainmail pieces, including the adorable dice bags!
3. Divine Delphi FX - In addition to jewelry (read: sonic screwdriver earrings!), she creates these fabulous hats!
4. Silverblatt - Husband a wife team of talented etchers. They make their own stencils, y'all!
5. Bone Shaker Boxes - Handmade from the ground up; these boxes start off as simple pieces of wood, and end up as fantastic pieces with individualized stories!
6. Pink Hearts Fund - If you're like me and prefer not to support that other famous organization that collects hair for wigs, the Pink Hearts Fund is a great alternative! 100% of the hair donated goes to create wigs that are 100% free for children with illnesses.
...and now everyone's favorite part, Cosplay!
|Even K-9 decided to cosplay as his beloved Master!|
|This family brought a homemade, 80% scale, remote controlled Dalek! Winning!!|
|I still don't know how he fit into that pot...|
|I LOVE when families cosplay together!|