Bent Con was held at the Burbank Marriot on November 30 to December 2, 2012. This is the second year Scarlet Rhapsody is covering the gay friendly comic book event. This year the team was made up of Jared and Miguel, who came dressed in their “press attire” rather than a cosplay. Our theme this year is “It’s Raining Men” due to the rainy weather and primary demographic of the convention.
Upon arrival we found it easy to pick up our badges, registration lines were not very long and there seemed to be no problems with getting set. The layout was very simple to navigate with the panel rooms down one hallway, the industry and guest lounge down another hallway, and the dealer hall in the middle. Each of the rooms had a sign with an easy to remember pop culture location making it very easy to find what you were looking for at the con. The titles included Vault 101 from Fallout 3, Apokolips from DC Universe, and Woodbury from Walking Dead.
The dealer hall, called the Land of Ooo , was about the same size as last year. For a small convention there was a good amount of vendors offering everything including gay themed comics, clothing, original art, and guests ready to meet their fans. What really set the Land of Ooo apart from other dealer halls is the stage that was set up in the back. It was used for a reenactment of Northstar and Kyle’s wedding from Astonishing X-Men 51 and on the other days it was used as a place for costumers to show off their work and to pose for photographers and artists. It was great to see people practice life drawing by working with those in costume. The mini-stage is something that should stick around for all future events.
There were plenty of panels at Bent Con, often times it was difficult to choose what to see. The first panel we hit was a Web Comics panel added last minute. The panel covered the route from creation to promotion of a web comic. In addition, to that there were discussions of how to hire artists and the miscellaneous costs of running your own comic group. It was an interesting panel and a nice addition to the schedule.
The next panel that caught our eyes was Real Heroes – Coming in 2013, a panel dedicated to the independent film “Real Heroes” a comedic look at the superhero genre through the lens of a reality show. Several members of the cast were gathered, in costume and in most cases in character, with the costume designer and the director Keith Hartman. The panel showed off several shorts created to promote the movie, in addition, Keith Hartman talked to the cast and they answered in character. The “interviews” became even more fun when other characters join in to comment on the given answers. You can tell the cast had fun making this movie and if the shorts are any indication this will end up being a really great comedy. The panel was concluded by Keith telling the audience that they are in post production and he is hoping it will be done next year, but he feels it might be early 2014. We here at Scarlet Rhapsody wish Keith and his team luck with completing this project.
One of the panels that seemed like an odd choice to have in the program listings was “Sometimes a tentacle is just a tentacle: Subtext and Sexuality in the Cthulhu Mythos”, which was an intriguing title, but not something that seemed to connect to the convention, on the surface. However, in the panel went into the strange life story of H.P. Lovecraft and his aversion to sexual behavior. There was some discussion of some stories and how many stories focus on fraternal relationships between men as they discover new things. They also discussed how the adaptations add more sexuality into the story to make them more exciting and marketable. Finally, we got to see some props from a stop motion fan film that all had vaguely sexual implications.
At five it was time for the X-Men panel, which featured a variety of people from the entertainment industry coming together to talk about how X-Men comics inspired them to deal with the bigotry they faced growing up gay. The panel covered their personal stories connecting to the series and how major plot arcs in the story connect to the struggle that gays have had to deal with across the years. This was a very moving panel and it reminded me of the struggles a close friend had to deal with during high school. I hope more panels like this are done at events beyond Bent-Con so the positive message of this panel can be brought to more people.
Our last panel for the day was the RPG panel which featured several video game podcasters talking about their love of role-playing video games. Including their opinions on what are more enjoyable Eastern (Final Fantasy, Tales of…) or Western (Elder Scrolls, World of Warcraft) style games. The consensus was that western style games are better due to the ability to tell your own story. There was talk of how they design their avatar as either themselves or as a person they would like to date. It was great to hear how they would play a blank slate character and add more to the story with their imagination. It was also nice to know that Jared isn’t the only one who remembers the original Bard’s Tale games.
We wrapped up our time at Bent Con by taking some pictures and chatting with some new friends. Then we headed out to get some dinner and watch some Basketball. We had a good time at Bent Con and we wish we had the chance to go on Sunday to continue our Bent Con adventures. Not only to see more panels, but get the chance to meet Travis Richey the actor behind Inspector Space-Time. If there is any great complement you can give to a convention it is wishing you could do everything.
We were only able to hit Saturday due to scheduling and that was a let down for the team as the programming on Friday and Sunday looked really interesting. This is a very small event, yet somehow they pack in tons of entertainment and some really great panels that you will not find at other conventions. One of the drawbacks of being a small con is that the dealer hall is limited in terms of number of booth and amount of product. On the good side it is much easier to meet guests in a small dealer hall. Things have grown since last year and will likely continue to go in the coming years.
Last year Bent Con was held in one big room, with a hand full of panels and a limited amount of booths. This year gave us the new location of the Burbank Marriot allowing for more programming, a bigger dealer hall, and an easier to navigate area. I really like this hotel, it is easy to get around, it has space for growth. The open gaming area works really well because it allows for pick up match board gaming or easily set up rounds of d20 gaming with new friends. If the growth between this year and last year is any indication, Bent Con will just get bigger and better a sign that more people are embracing this unique event.
There is very little negative to say about Bent Con, while it may not appeal to everyone, it is a really good event with great panels and plenty of room to grow. The vibe is nice and light hearted with everyone acting in a mature and thoughtful manner. While, the subject matter may not appeal to everyone, we can hope that more people will find interest in this convention as it grows. Finally, I also hope that some of the panels at Bent Con will make their way to “mainstream” conventions to help show that when it comes down to it we are all just nerds.
The staff of Scarlet Rhapsody highly recommends Bent Con to all California comic nerds because it is one of the most laid back well run comic book conventions we have ever attended. As we close up I would like to thank the following people: Miguel, the Bent-Con staff, Sean Holman, the Real Heroes, H.P. Lovecraft, whoever made those awesome signs, the people posing on the stage, and everyone that supported this event. If there are any comments or questions feel free to (not) contact me (Jared -at- Scarlet-Rhapsody.com). Until next time I give you my short list and ask that you give my love to WeHo.
1. Next year, can we get Marjorie Liu?
2. Well, it was raining at the con…
3. I cannot state enough how awesome the signs are
4. RE: 3 - I know I ended that sentence with a preposition, sorry.
5. Next cosplay: Wiccan from Young Avengers
6. Got to love the trench coat
7. Look up the Real Heroes shorts they are great
8. I need to get back into reading Lovecraft
9. Note to self: watch Reanimator again
10. My favorite X-Man? Psylocke
11. A fabulous ending to another convention year
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