Sophie and I got to the con around noon the next day. We had decided that the panels where what interested us the most, but we had made sure that we were early enough to walk around a bit and have an over-priced meal in the cosplay cafe. We ate our sushi, squid balls, tayaki and mediocre bubble tea while Princess Peach and a girl dressed as a maid played some rock-paper-scissors-type game where they got to bonk each other over the head with a rubber hammer. Peach won.

Peach looked a little young, so instead you get Classic Joker

We would start with the Steampunk panel, this time it was for Gadgets and Gizmos. The three likable gentlemen were back to show us all kinds of cool and weird devices. The panel itself was mostly on how to make your own steampunk artifacts. The community seems like a lot of fun, and these hobbyists do seem to age well — A little grey is dignified with a steam-whistle top-hat. Sophie took pages of notes, while I daydreamed myself into a steampunk airship and a cool outfit with suspenders and clockwork hats. If I had to make a complaint it would be that the panel might have been better served in French. The dudes spoke clearly, but sometimes dey search for de word, you know? There were some out of towners, but my impression was that nearly everyone there was primarily Francophone anyway.

 All dolled up in PVP gear

Sophie and I had discussed splitting up for maximum note-taking action. The festival guidebook said that Yaoithon was having it’s inaugural year and we agreed that we’d cover the queer events too. In the morning I had arranged an interview with Yaoi artist Hamlet Machine (link NSFW), and before I could say “Wait, the voice of dinobot?” Sophie was off to see the hilarious Scott McNeill, and I was off to Queer Women in Comics. This choice might seem unnatural to some of you, but what many people don’t know is that when I was in the army my mom signed me up for nearly enough Women’s Studies credits to complete a minor.

Companion cube is still a little pissed about the burning to death thing

Going into the panel, I suspected is wasn’t going to be rainbows and fairies. Comics, generally and historically speaking, (and yes, now demographics are different, and current writers know that) are written by straight white men for teenage boys, and I held my breath as I awaited the social implications of embarrassing ignorance. I had already heard of the “gay kiss of death” meme in comics. With few exceptions, a gay kiss spelled the death of a character. You don’t have to be very cynical to deconstruct why an author might want to neuter a character he feels uncomfortable exploring. But why the fascination with red heads? Huh. The panel was held by the bubbly Sophie and Toast. They delivered the panel with a dark wit that belied their deep love for comics. Once again, I found that my initial impressions were wrong and that I should stop judging people based on my prejudices because it turns out there were rainbows after all. The panelists giggled as they described two rainbow-powered super heroines kissing. I learned some new slang, inferred some other, and probably got half of it wrong. At the end of the panel, the girls called out their favourite lesbian match-ups, which was something I was easily able to relate to.

Looking good Armstrong

I was convinced to follow them to the next panel, where I joined back up with 9to5 Sophie for “Where are the Gay Super Heroes?” Once again I braced for gloom — and I wasn’t far off the mark, as we went through the many tragic (broke) back-stories. (I am so sorry) That’s not to say that most heroes don’t, but gay heroes get the rape variety, featuring molestation and incest with the “forever to remain sexually broken” back-story.

Couple that with the previously mentioned Gay Kiss of Death and it doesn’t leave many gay role models in comics. Those that do, struggle with phony and superficial issues. Despite the dark topic, Sophie and Toast got laughs out of us and left us with Northstar. Northstar is notable for many things. He is an original member of Alpha Flight. He is gay. He is a Quebec native and separatist. He had an uninterrupted marriage in a comic book. And most uniquely he has a partner in a gay relationship who hasn’t been killed. Once again, my illusions were shattered like the rainbows before, because finally, Northstar was first introduced as being from outer space. His race? Fairy.

Those Airbenders breed like rabbits

We walked around a bit more. There was plenty to see. Spanning three very wide floors, it was hard to completely take it in. There were soundtrack orchestras and title song singers, kendo demonstrations, card game tournaments and a gymnasium filled with different video game stations. In the gym, a crowd had gathered to watch and loudly cheer a League of Legends game, while nearby, barefoot girls Dance Dance Revolted with stoic seriousness. Sophie and I continued to look at the costumes, and made our way to the merch room. Used books, mangas, videogames and movies, swords, pillows with anime characters on them, chain mail, toys, robots, dice, funny t-shirts, wigs, dolls, action figures, action figures of dolls, and costumes of dolls as action figures. Artisans sold weird jewelry inspired by everything from 8-bit to clockwork, and artists of stripes worked on commissions. All kinds of obscure goods and services were available… Where else can you see a sign that says “Cosplay repairs: $5”?


Sophie in her stupid woman suit.

One more day left for Otakuthon!