From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Con Report: OutlantaCon (Atlanta, GA) Saturday

OutlantaCon! is a celebration of GLBT SF/F Gaming and Geekiness, in its first year down in the sweltering south. Let it not be said that this convention is jsut for GLBT. There are straight people here. Gay Rights is the Civil Rights Struggle of our generation, and there are few more awesome ways to do your part for the cause than to attend a SF Convention with such outspoken, interesting folks as Andy Mangells, Joseph Carriker, Kiernan Kelly, and Eugie Foster. One of the panels was specifically about embracing straight allies in the GLBT community. Conventions, regardless of Orientation, have always been the place you go to be yourself around other people that accept you exactly as you are. Outlantacon doesn’t seem to be about “being” GLBT. From where I’m sitting, it seems to be a lot more about having as much fun as possible, and celebrating the contribution that GLBT people and characters have made to Geek culture.

So, to all you straight folks out there, don’t be afraid to attend Gay Conventions! At the end of the day, we’re all Geeks, united by Monty Python quotes and an affinity for twelve-sided die.

That aside, let’s talk about the Convention. Let’s see about some notable quotes and panels and stuff…

One thing that I’ve noticed about this convention, is how a panel starts with more panelists than guests. However, every few minutes someone shows up. Then someone else. Then a couple people come in. It keeps happening. By the end of the panel, the room is packed. Initially, every panel begins with the uncomfortable, joking discussion about how the panelists outnumber the attendees. By the time the panelists introduce themselves a few more trickle in. By the time the discussion kicks in, the room has at least a half dozen folks. By the end of the panel, the room will be packed. Then, the panel ends, the crowd disperses, and the trickling begins again.

Kiernan Kelly, Eugie Foster, and Kayelle Allen, threw a panel about humor in gay romance. According to the panelists, visual and physical comedy is more difficult than word humor in fiction, as fiction is a verbal medium. Kayelle suggests that if you tell readers your characters are laughing, generally no one will find the situation funny. Eugie Foster polished off her psychology degree to list out the different kinds of jokes: superiority, incongruity and relief theory. Relief theory is the most effective in Romance and Erotica – only so much stress and tension can be applied before people need some kind of release.

As visual humor is difficult, the panelists suggested visual humorists to look into are Tanith Lee’s YA work, Lewis Carrol, Piers Anthony’s Xanth, and the entire, unintentionally funny subgenre of Slash FanFiction.

Disappointed at the lack of humor, I put all the humor panelists on the spot, asking them all to tell a joke. I was horrified to discover none of these supposed “experts” were funny. Eugie Foster’s joke was the worst of the bunch—sorry, Eugie, but it was—as she merely said “42” into the microphone. Results improved when I asked the panelists to tell us the worst joke they can think of. Kiernen Kelly knows lots of dead baby jokes. The worst joke she knows is this horrifying number: “‘Mommy, mommy, junior has a green spot on his head!’ says the kid, about the baby brother, and mom says ‘Shut up and eat around it!'”

I attended a panel dedicated to horror. Game Developer Joseph Carriker, Jr, Actress Tucky Williams, and producer.director/FX-guru Joe Castro discussed horror in gaming and film. Choice quotes: Joe Carriker said “Terror and horror are not the same. Terror is a quick, sudden burst. Horror is a sense of growing unease”; Tucky Williams suggested that “Schindler’s List” is a powerful horror movie, which I never thought of, but ultimately agree with completely; Joe Castro, “…quoting from ‘Section 9’, ‘Horror Lives in the Minds of the Weak and the Wounded’.”

Guest of Honor Andy Mangells, told a wonderful story about one of his many mediat tie-in projects. Apparently, when he wrote a Freddy Krueger, Friday the 13th Comic, he wanted to get a picture in a torn shirt with Freddy Kreugar, for PR. So, back in 1991, before piercing and body modification became as common as pants and shoes, Andy was ahead of the fad, with his nipple ring. In the PR picture, the nipple ring was visible. Approving this picture for the media tie-in comic book took a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the comic book company. Then, it also had to be approved by New Line Cinema. (Let’s put this in perspective. Freddy Krueger murders children in their sleep while Andy has a nipple ring…). After multiple levels of corporate approval about the nipple ring, publication of the photo in the comic moved forward. You’d need a magnifying glass to see it in the actual photo, of course.

Anyway, the gaming room is definitely where it’s at at this convention. Of the 100+ people in attendance, hanging out in the gaming room is the fastest and easiest way to meet everyone. I’m sitting in the gaming room right now, and it’s packed. We have two console gamers going, and all available tables packed with people playing all sorts of games.

I actually spent a good portion of the afternoon before my reading playing a game invented by a fine DM, named Stephen, who put together a variation on World of Darkness rules to make a GLBT Josie and the Pussycats sort of superhero/rockband/mystery game. I got to role play as a butch lesbian electric violinist/superhero with a severe MacGyver fetish. We had to solve the mysterious deaths and disappearances at a Drag Queen Beauty Contest in Greece. It actually doesn’t surprise me that the gaming room is packed. This convention, in its first year, arose out of GLBT gaming events. This is their first full SF Convention. Though small, and still working out the kinks of running a full con, I already look forward to coming back next year, if only to play as the drag queen lead singer with super-powered vocals and mind-altering put-down powers.

See you folks tomorrow!

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