Last month saw the second ever Avalon Expo. And while there was some interesting highlights there was also a lot of duds. Here’s a look at what was good and what was bad.
When my brother and I showed up that first day of the convention the very first thing we saw was my rather unhappy aunt. This was because the venue- the Ecole Grands-Vents- had not informed my aunt (who was running a summer camp there) nor the convention that two events were booked for that Friday. Avalon Expo had lost the cafeteria for that day and my aunt probably had a whole host of problems to deal with such as a lack of parking for her camp staff.
John and I spent that first day just looking around the site and scoping out the rooms. I was there to host a panel that John was supposed to film. We saw the one big advantage this new venue had over last year’s: actual rooms for panels! However, these rooms were tiny. I also didn’t like the layout of the convention. The vendor room was okay but there was a big stage right in the middle, creating two rooms. For a school the cafeteria was really small and the outdoor space was kind of small as well. All in all, the French school is not as nice a venue as the Remax center. At least the Remax center had a swing set right next door. At the same time though, you could close the doors to the rooms the panels were in so that you couldn’t hear the vendors in the school so that was a plus.
The panel I had on the go that day was on the web comic Romantically Apocalyptic. I totally fucked it up too. I had wanted to show an official music video for the comic but the school hadn’t provided a guest wifi connection. I think there was wifi for Saturday and Sunday but fat lot of good that did me. The only time I needed internet access for the rest of the con was to post things on facebook and I have a data plan for things like that. That Friday seemed like the Friday that everything that could go wrong did. It didn’t feel like Avalon Expo was on the ball when they couldn’t get the wifi set up- and that had been going on for at least an hour- and then the tv/computer hook-up in my panel didn’t work. Of course, when nothing tech was working, my game was thrown off so then all the fuck ups were on me. I forgot what I had written in my speech and lost all ability to act natural. The problem with not acting natural was that I was actually supposed to be acting. I had written the panel so that main character Charles Snippy- the character I cosplay- was giving the speech. Because the hook-up wasn’t working right, John had to work my short power point. I had planned to man the power point myself but that wasn’t happening as the person manning the computer also had keep the connecting cord between my lab top and the TV firmly in my computer. So we had no cues set up either. John’s friends filmed it but I so do not want to see that footage. At least only a handful of people saw my failure.
Things that did go well in the panel: girlpuck and her bf (my Captain and Pilot) were there in full costume and did not break character. Pilot was a right proper nuisance by throwing paper airplanes and Captain was Captain. I think it was an interesting take on a panel to have the characters there to actually interact with the host/audience.
Nothing special really happened on Saturday. I went as my original character Lady Kisara. She’s a necromancer/queen of the dead type magic user. The actual costume did not look exactly like how I usually imagine Kisara’s queenly wardrobe but that’s because it’s nigh on impossible to find silver clothes or fabric. And Kisara has a solid silver theme on the go. However, I did get my make-up done by Jenn as Sephora in the Avalon Mall. She did an amazing job and I loved my face. I asked everyone if they loved my face.
Sunday was the final day of the convention and my last panel. It was time for speed dating. That panel I really wasn’t pleased with at first. John and I were ready, we had a plan, we had supplies, we were down to throw an amazing event.
We didn’t know where our event actually was.
The room the panel was slated to be in on the official schedule was the room that all the gaming stuff, Steampunk Newfoundland and Escape Quest was set up in. We were told that all of that stuff was going to be moved into the cafeteria Saturday morning and would be a panel room. That was not what happened. Swarley Pilgrim’s Harry Potter panel was right before ours and in the same room so he had the same problem. The things that were supposed to be taken out on Saturday morning so he could do his panel later weren’t. So he went and found out that his panel would be on the stage that separated the room he was supposed to be in from the room the vendors were in. So my speed dating panel was on the stage too. That was when I started to think that I would seriously have to cancel the event because speed dating is scary! A person is putting themselves out there to multiple people in a very short span of time and that’s hard. No one wants an audience for that. However, when we arrived there on Sunday, the make-up artist guest was on stage. Swarley had to go find out what that meant for his panel- which had been moved to the cafeteria- and so John, who was there when Swarley asked, found out that our speed dating event was also moved to the cafeteria.
Of course that change wasn’t in any of the programs.
That was when I was certain I was going to have to cancel the panel because who the fuck was going to show up? No one knew where we were!
But through some insane miracle we had eight men and eight women show up. We set up and it went smashingly if I do say so myself. I mean, I have never been to a speed dating event or had any experience with them except for TV shows or commercials. I did like two seconds research. As far as I know it was the first ever speed dating event at a geek convention in Newfoundland (I know it was the first in St. John’s but I don’t know if Corner Brook’s Atlanti-Con has done one). However speed dating events are staples at other conventions like New York Comic Con and Fan Expo. In the end I was super pleased with how the speed dating panel turned out.
Sunday’s costume was Undertaker from Black Butler by the way. Mad Maddox Cosplay and girlpuck joined me as Grell and William.
So we saw a lot of negatives in this didn’t we? I hated the venue, there was a lot of times I was bored and I wasn’t pleased with the wifi issues or the fact that my speed dating panel had seemed to move so much.
Were the positives? Why yes, there were. The venue changed failed horrifically in my opinion but I think it’s a good sign that Avalon Expo was willing to try a new venue. The Remax Center was great for the vendors but it was awful for panels. The school was much better panel wise but the vendor space was tighter. The school also had terrible flow and everything was really small. So it wouldn’t work for next year in my opinion. Yet this is still a good thing because it means Avalon Expo is experimenting. Let’s remember that Avalon Expo now only has two conventions under it’s belt. It’s in the learning stage. Venue hiccups are acceptable so long as Avalon Expo doesn’t get complacent like Sci-Fi on the Rock did with the Holiday Inn.
What else really stood out as a positive about the con? It was the guests for me. I personally wasn’t interested in any of them but there was still a great variety. There was the make-up effects artist- a great choice as lots of cosplayers are into that sort of thing. Then there was Northern Belle Rouge who is a Canadian celebrity cosplayer. Her panels and insights would be interesting to anyone that cosplays. If I followed cosplayers I think I would have been all over that. I did speak to her though and she is super sweet. The final guest that comes to mind is Robert J. Sawyer. Sawyer was an excellent choice of guest because he writes science fiction books. The original cons and fan groups were created over science fiction so it’s like going back to the roots of the geek convention. I meet him because a friend’s father wanted autographs but I came away really impressed. I even checked out Sawyer’s panel. It was super informative!
All in all there was stuff that worked and stuff that really didn’t. But the potential is there for greatness. Keep at it Avalon Expo! I want to see what you attempt next.
PS. Who wants to see speed dating at Sci-Fi on the Rock? If they give me panel time I’m going to try to have sessions for gays, lesbians and straights. Bisexuals, asexuals and so forth welcomed to any of these that meet their fancy.