Tuesday, May 18, 2021



Pensacon 2021 will be held Friday through Sunday, May 21-23, at the Pensacola Bay Center and several other venues in that cool Florida city. It’s my favorite convention, an inclusive convention, both in the areas of fandom it celebrates and its welcoming of attendees  representing the diversity of mankind at its best. At Pensacon, you will find guests and presentations from the worlds of movies, TV, comic books, anime, science fiction, horror and more. The event’s guest list gets more astonishing with each new year and 2021 is no exception.

Pensacon 2020 was the last convention I attended before the Covid-19 pandemic forced such events to go on hiatus. Pensacon 2021 will be my first convention since getting fully vaccinated and feeling comfortable with traveling once again. Except for seeing Godzilla vs. Kong in a theater, I haven’t attended public gatherings of any kind in these past fifteen months.

Speaking of Godzilla vs. Kong, one of Pensacon 2021's guests is the remarkable Kaylee Hottle. She played Jia, the young girl who has bonded with Kong. The young actress is deaf and comes from an all-deaf family and gives one of the movie’s best performances in her first movie role. She’s one of the guests I’m most looking forward to meeting this year.

I’m also looking forward to again seeing the amazing James Remar from Black Lightning and many other fine movies and TV shows. His portrayal of Peter Gambi expanded my understanding of a character I created back in 1976 and will definitely figure into any future Black Lightning stories I write. I had some nice conversations with him when I was on the set for the third season finale.

Other guests include Ed Asner, Denise Crosby, Tom Cook, Matt Frank, Arthur Suydam, Antonio Fargas, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Peter David, Patrick Warburton, George Wendt, Mark Maddox, Bill Morrison, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, Corin Nemac, Ashley Eckstein, Thom Zahler, Anthony Michael Hall, Dirk Benedict, Michael Golden, Claudia Wells and so many others to name here.

Let’s talk about Pensacola itself. The city embraces Pensacon more than almost any other city I can name. When you land at the local airport, you’ll find the gates are now “stargates.” Because the Pensacola Bay Center, huge as it is, can’t hold all the wonder that is Pensacon, the convention spreads out to a number of other venues in the city.

The Pensacola night life is vibrant. Several restaurants will adopt themes related to Pensacon. In past years, I’ve eaten at terrific places that looked like scenes out of Harry Potter, Star Wars and Suicide Squad. I’m eager to see what gastronomical adventures I’ll have this year. Though I’m not much of a drinker, I will be trying fandom-theme drinks wherever I dine.

What will Pensacon 2021 look like in new and not quite post Covid-19 era? Masks are required, though they can be removed by those fully vaccinated in panels and other socially distanced events once you are seated. Masks may be momentarily removed for photos with celebrity guests at the sole discretion of the guest. Some guests may require your mask stay on while interacting with them. In cases where the guest allows removal of the mask, it must be immediately put back on after the photo is taken.

Social distancing will be required. The convention is spreading out its guest and vendor areas. There will be more activities outside the Pensacola Bay Center.

Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the Pensacon venues. Surface cleaning will take place throughout the convention.There will be limited seating at panels and presentations. Because of the ongoing risk to the public, there will be no gaming events at this year’s convention.

My personal guidelines? If you are fully vaccinated, you can remove your mask for photos with me. Likewise, knowing how damn huggable I am, I will let the fully vaccinated hug me. But keep it short unless you’re prepared to take me out for a romantic dinner.

Traveling by air always requires me to limit what I can bring to a convention. My current plan is to bring copies of the exclusive-to-me edition of Misty Knight’s first appearance. These were limited to 1500 copies, and are signed and numbered. I’ll have #301-340 for sale at Pensacon.

I’m also bringing some posters and prints. These will be limited in supply as I am phasing out selling them at conventions and garage sales. When the supply is exhausted, that’s it.

I do charge for my signature, though I will sign anything you buy directly from me for free. Otherwise, it’s five bucks per signature and fifteen bucks if you’re having the signature witnessed by one of the comics grading companies. At this time, I can only take cash for signatures and purchases.

I will be appearing on various panels during Pensacon. Download and check the convention app for the latest information on those panels and presentation. Here’s the information I have.

STAR TREK: WRITING THE FUTURE (Friday, May 21, 1:00-1:45 pm)

Description: Star Trek is *the* gold standard for science fiction television that has set the stage for everything that has come after! Join Melinda Snodgrass, Keith Peter David, Keith DeCandido, and Tony Isabella in presenting their take on the bright promise of Roddenberry's future!

Location: I don’t have that information at this time.

STUPID SUPERVILLAINS THAT WE LOVE (Friday, May 21 6:00–6:45 pm, at the Bowden Building Conference Room 1)

Description: Not every super villain is an instant classic.  For every Joker there are 5 Stilt Mans or Arcades, but why do some of these guys stick around so long, and how do some even get a second chance?  This panel will discuss some of our favorites, then open it up to the audience to talk about some of theirs and to try and find out what makes these guys stick around and stick out in our minds. Fellow panelists: Thomas Strange, Tom Boucher.

HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE STEREOTYPES IN COMIC BOOKS (Saturday, May 22, 10:00–10:45 am, Bowden Building Conference Room 1)

Description: Many of us  have come across offensive stereotypes in all forms of entertainment, but what happens in comic books might be more important than mainstream media because of the age of the target audience.   Examining some stereotypes that have occurred in the past and present gives us a way at countering the re-occurrence of these tropes in the future.  From racial and ethnic stereotypes to gender bias, hetero normative narratives, and body prejudice will all be touched upon with an eye towards how to prevent these from reoccurring and how to explain past examples to younger readers. Fellow panelists: Thomas Strange, Tom Boucher.

SUPER HEROICS (Sunday, May 23, 2-2:45 pm)

Description: Superheroes are here to stay and we are seeing them everywhere! Join some of the amazing creators of new properties in super heroics out there and discuss where the genre will go from here. Fellow panelists: unknown to me

Location: I don’t have that information at this time.

In addition to these panels, I was once again one of the judges for the PENSACON SHORT FILM FESTIVAL. My fellow judges are Corin Nemec and Mark Maddox. There were some excellent entries this year, which will be shown during the convention. I don’t have a time or place for that presentation, but I can tell you it’s well worth your time to check out treasures like End of the Rope, Sundown Trail and It’s Okay. The festival winner will be announced at Pensacon.

I’m looking forward to chatting with my readers, seeing old friends and making new friends at this year’s Pensacon. It’s an experience best described as inclusive and joyful. It makes me feel good about my nearly fifty years in comics and the state of fandom. If you can possible attend this year’s event, you should do so. You will love being part of this convention. For more information on Pensacon, go to the event’s website.

That’s all for now, my bloggy pals. I’ll be back with more stuff as soon as possible.  

© 2021 Tony Isabella

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