Before I do anything else, I’m sharing my Tumblr. If we met during the con, please follow me. Especially if we talked about Marvel.
Since my first Anime Weekend Atlanta at the tender age of 14, I’ve been to a lot of conventions over the past decade. Some big and some small. However, I think it is fair to say that 221B Con is one of the most singular conventions I have ever attended.
221B Con is the second time I’ve heard of a convention that was strictly Sherlock Holmes themed, the first being the Bay Area Sherlock Con that Kirstie and Amy covered. Lucky for me, this one was right in my backyard and from what I had heard about the previous year, they had actually expanded for 2014.
The first thing that I noticed about the convention was the demographics. Most conventions I’ve been to have either been a 50/50 split between men and women. If women have been the majority, it’s closer to 60/40. That wasn’t the case for 221B Con, which was almost exclusively women for the entire weekend. It was seriously the first convention I’ve been to where the hotel staff had to make one of the men’s bathrooms a women’s room for the weekend. I haven’t encountered that since I was a child at boyband concerts!
These weren’t ordinary women though. Oh no. These were young women. These were smart, enthusiastic women who know what the hell they are talking about when it comes to Holmes canon. These were women who could cosplay circles around me with their fantastic Sherlock, Hannibal, Welcome To Night Vale, Doctor Who, and various other fandom costumes. I was in awe and excited to share in it with them. It also really helped that everyone I encountered was super nice and excited about their fandom.
I just wish I had understood it more!
Despite being a Sherlock Holmes convention, the majority of it really felt like a BBC Sherlock fan meet up. Which is totally awesome, but I’m not a BBC Sherlock fan. I love Holmes, but it’s not my preferred adaptation. So you can imagine that being surrounded by jokes like Tuna!lock and being told by someone I had “Benedict toes” as a compliment, I felt a little out of place.
Which is why I say my greatest accomplishment was drawing a mini-Clyde on the Wall costume and am super grateful to the Rare Pair Train that scooped me up on Friday night when I was without a room for a few hours to find other people with rare pairs and play Cards Against Humanity. Joan/Jamie 4 lyfe!
Even with the fandom slumber party atmosphere, there was still plenty of awesome panels that went on. Considering the fact my preferred adaptation is Elementary, you can bet that I was at both the panels that covered the show. The first was Minorities in Elementary, which was a lively discussion about the depiction of other races and genders in the show. If you don’t believe that fans of Elementary and Sherlock can’t get along, please note that the two women leading this panel were dressed as Mary Morstan from Sherlock.
The other was titled Elementary, My Dear Watson and covered more aspects about the show. I think it could have easily been called “The Marcus Bell Appreciation Society” because as soon as one of the panelists said he was worried about Bell, there was a coo of agreement and appreciation across the room. Me included. The panel wasn’t as well attended as the fan fiction AU panel that was before it in the same room, but the panelists were extremely smart and managed to keep the discussion going with the audience about the show.
Another one of the panels I attended that weekend that ended up being one of my favorites was the From The Baker Street to the Holodeck panel which was about the parallels that can be drawn between Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes. Trek has never been my preferred sci-fi franchise, but I have an unreal appreciation for the show and what it means for genre television and modern fandom. So when I say that the panel about the history of both lead by serious fans of both tripped a lot of feelings for me, I do not say that lightly. If this panel returned in the future, I would definitely welcome it.
Out of everything I attended, I think the most educational panel ended up being the Basics on Hollywood and Publishing panel lead by Daniel Corey. No offense to the Legalities and Ethics of Fan Works panel, but it was super helpful to hear from a comics professional who has a book published with one of the formost indie houses about how to get your work out there. I still have notes on my phone from it and you’ll bet I’ll be referring back to them after Killer Queen gets published.
It wasn’t just panels though. There were tons of talented artists who’s works made me squee with delight. Like Meg Daunting’s Dex-Starr print or the amazing watercolor portraits Chris Schweizer did of anyone wanting a Night Vale Community Radio badge. There was the amazing TARDIS with working noises and changing interiors. There was the tea party… that I didn’t go to because I was uncertain if press was allowed in and I was too anxious to ask. That’s on me, folks. Sorry about that.
There was also the costume contest and The Extraordinary Contraptions show! Or as I called them, “adventures in reducing blur on my new camera.” As much as I tried to get pictures of everyone’s awesome costumes at the contest, it was really hard to get steady ones since everyone seemed to constantly be in motion. It was a bit personally frustrating since I was taught the pose pageant walk for costume contests, but maybe it was just me and my camera. Also, as entertaining as Lyndsey Faye was on her panels, I don’t know if she was right for MC-ing the contest. She was not very aware of the all ages aspect of the audience and there was a lot of awkward that happened as her and Corey tried to fill time. I know 221B Con is still a young con and trying to work out all the kinks, but maybe find MCs that know how to keep an audience engaged for future contests.
As for the Contraptions, I am a little biased because I work for them and live with half of them, but they put on a massively entertaining show that not a lot of people got to see. Even my favorite guest performer Sacha Dzuba made an appearance to play saxophone on a few songs. I wish the con had hyped them up a little more, but I understand that it was a last minute booking. At least they were helpful in sending minions to help them load out! That’s always a plus.
Even when I felt like a fish out of water, 221B Con was an amazingly fun con that I would definitely go to again. Enthusiastic fans, smart panels, and fantastic art populated it and for a small con in their second year, they were running smoother than a lot of larger, older cons I’ve attended. I hope that going forward, they will be more embracing towards non-Sherlock Sherlock fans and book their entertainment a bit earlier so they can push the shows a little more.
Also, props to everyone who brought their 3DS that weekend. I got further in Find Mii than I ever had before and got the special accomplishment of “Met Five Female Miis in a row.” And who says girls don’t play video games?
If you’d like to see more of our pictures, visit our Facebook album for more. If you spot any pictures you don’t want to be in, please let us know and we’ll take care of it ASAP. For more information on 221B Con including memberships for next year, visit them at 221bcon.com.