As Kawaii Con approaches this weekend, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my panels and reminiscing about my long history as a convention attendee. I threw together a Conventions page to highlight my twenty years of convention attendance.
I was ten years old when I attended my first convention. I don’t remember it terribly well, but I do remember seeing clips from the upcoming episode The Xena Scrolls. Based on the date that episode aired and the location I lived (southern California), I’ve deduced this had to be the Hercules & Xena Convention in Burbank in 1997. I didn’t attend the Hercules day, but I was overly enthusiastic for the Xena day. I remember being in the autograph line and crying when it was my turn to get Lucy Lawless’s autograph. At first she thought maybe I was scared of her, but my mom told her I idolized her. She quickly “aww’ed” in my direction and leaned across the table to hug me. My mom snapped a picture, but I don’t think it survived our many moves over the past twenty years. If that picture ever resurfaces I think I may break down and cry. It’s an extremely fond memory.
When I was in high school I attended Anime Expo in southern California for three years. My mom didn’t really understand anime, so she’d drop me off with money for food and let me have my fun. I often went with friends or with whoever I happened to be dating at the time, but I got my first taste of managing my own convention experience. I learned how to navigate panels and preview rooms on my own, dipped my toe into cosplay, and started exploring online geek culture. From the age of fourteen through sixteen this was the most independent I ever felt. I owe much of my current convention attitude and preferences to Anime Expo and how it shaped me.
I was dormant for many years during college largely due to funds, unskippable classes, and work, but in 2011 I re-entered the convention scene with the grand daddy of all cons, San Diego Comic-Con. I now consider SDCC “my” convention, despite it never really being my “local” convention. I’ve always had to travel for it, which has made the experiences so much more memorable. I’m originally from southern California, but haven’t lived there long term since I started to attend SDCC. It has become not only my favorite con of the year, but a time to catch up with friends and family. This year I’ll be arriving a few days early to go to Disneyland with some friends from my pre-teen years (god, we’re all adults now what happened??), as well as going to the zoo with my cousin and nephew (her son, which technically makes him a second cousin I think… but I’m going to call him my nephew).
Here I am twenty years after my first convention experience and I’m about to become a panelist at my current “home con,” Kawaii Kon. I’ll be speaking in front of a room that fits several hundred people and talk about a geeky topic I’m passionate about. Right now I’m mostly finished with my panels. I’m nervous but also excited. Maybe someday I’ll be a panelist at San Diego Comic-Con. That’d be my ultimate goal, really.
Read more about Kawaii Kon here: