Monday, September 16, 2019

FLAMING RIVER CON 2019 (9/21/19)

Flaming River Con 2019 takes place on Saturday, September 21, from 10 am to 6 pm in the Louis Stokes Wing of the Cleveland Library’s main branch, 525 Superior Avenue. This is the second annual edition of the Midwest’s first LGBTQIA+ queer geek convention. Founded by Brittney Orcutt, this event focuses on “queer vendors, art, comics books, zines, podcasts, panels, and workshops.”

I attended, albeit briefly, last year’s inaugural event because I wanted to show my support for the LGBTQIA+ comics community. I was warmly received by everyone I spoke to, including a touching shout-out from one of the panels. This year, I wanted to contribute to the convention in a somewhat larger role. We’ll get to that a bit down the line.

Flaming River Con is a family-friendly event. It’s free to attend, though the convention suggests a $7 donation to help finance this and other related events during the year. The library is completely accessible for all.

A recent article on the convention quoted Orcutt: “This year’s con is going to be bigger and queerer than ever. We feel very honored to spotlight our more marginalized persons within geek and LGBTQIA+  communities.”

The convention will be spread out over three floors. Not to worry. There are three elevators and stairs. I’m not sure if levitation is permitted in the library.

The lower level auditorium will host eight presentations. I’ll be appearing on a “Masculinity in Comic Book Media” panel from noon to 12.45 pm. The panel will feature Flaming River Arts Vice President Logan Dorado and be moderated by Cyrano Patton. Here’s some stuff I borrowed from the convention’s Facebook page.

Through the lenses of creator and consumer, respectively, the two will discuss the negative repercussions of toxic masculinity in the comic book world, how representations of different types of masculinity can reframe the popular narrative and what both artists and readers can do to reshape the culture they have immersed themselves in.

Logan Dorado (he/him pronouns) is a queer Filipino-American currently residing in Lakewood, Ohio. Dorado holds a Bachelor of Special Studies in Gender & Sexuality and Creative Writing from Cornell College. In his spare time, he draws comics, is vice president of Flaming River Arts and enjoys debating the intricacies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Cyrano Patton is a Queer n.b. licensed clinical psychologist in NY and CA and a founding member and director of Flaming River Arts. They currently reside in California, where they are a professor of psychology and private practitioner.

Not for the first time, I’ll be the dumbest, most clueless person on a panel. Such is my lot.

Other auditorium panels/presentations will include Drag Queen Story Time; Comics and the Clinic: History of the Comic Book and Mental Health; Afrofuturism 2.0; Children of the Night and Other Bloodsuckers: Coded Queer Representation of LGBTQ+ Folx in Vampire Cinema; LGBTQ+ Graphic Memoir: Book Recommendations and Interactive Writing and Drawing Exercises; Cosplaying While Black; and the Cosplay Contest. I’ll be one of the judges for the cosplay contest. During the day, there will also be photo ops with the cosplayers of Heroes Unites in the auditorium area.

The street entrance first floor will have non-profit tables and the  games room. Presentations in the latter: Basic Figure Drawing; D&D 101; Jeopardy! Spongebob Squarepants Edition; and Versus in 30: Speed Drawing Game. There will also be demos by the Null Space Burritos.

The second floor will hold the vendor hall, panel rooms 1 and 2, and a quiet room. I assume the quiet room is where they’ll send me if I get too rambunctious.

The vendor hall features 53 different vendors from My Baby Hippo to Northcoast Softball. While I recognize the names of some artists, most of these vendors are new to me...which means I’ll have great fun checking out what they’re all about.

The panel rooms have a dozen presentations scheduled. In the first room: Voice and Body Acting for Table Top RPGs; Towards a Typology of Queerbaiting; The Science of Pokemon Presents: Real World Pokemon; Name Change Clinic with TransOhio; Asian Representation in Geek Culture; and Games: Gender Diversity, Troubleshooting, and Difficult Players, Oh My! In the second room: OhioSMART presents: The Flaming River CONsent Panel; Screenwriting 101; Working with Crystals: The Basics and Techniques; Coping at the Con: Managing Mental Illness; Shameless Self-Promotion Superpowers with Ken Schneck; and Crash Course: Competative Battling in Pokemon.

Most of the above information comes from my liberally borrowing the information from the Facebook page and website. This convention is not my typical venue. While I can’t describe it as well as I would like, I am excited to be part of it. I hope you’ll check out this event for yourself.

One more thing. As my regular readers know, I usually charge for my signature at conventions. That won’t be the case here. If you have something for me to sign and can find somewhere for me to sit and sign it, said signature is free. Sure, I would love for you to make a donation to the convention or some related charity/organization, but that’s not required.

Saturday evening, the convention will have a meet-and-greet at the Side Quest, located at 17900 Detroit Ave in nearby Lakewood Ohio. I’ll be there from 8-10 pm or thereabouts.

From the Side Quest’s Facebook page:

The Side Quest is Lakewood's Geek Bar, we are the bar that celebrates pop and geek culture best. The Side Quest is place for everyone, no matter how nerdy, to enjoy the things they love while having a few great craft beers with friends. With an extensive selection of ciders, meads and geeky cocktails, there is something for everyone.

The Side Quest focuses on all things geek & beer. Theme Nights, Geeks Who Drink Trivia, Lectures, Dungeons &  Dragons, Board Games and Live Television Programing are common events.

The Side Quest is a 21+ Venue.

As you’ve probably figured out, I’m truly excited to be part of the Flaming River Con. I hope to see many of my local fans and friends there. We’ll have a blast.

That’s all I have for today, but, as always, I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

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