Art for ConCarolinas, Copyright 2010 Ed Beard, Jr.
ConCarolinas was this past weekend (May 30 – June 1). It is a convention of all things sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and related genres from the worlds of writing, comics, art, gaming, costuming, film, and music. Really, it features just about anything fun, geeky, and pop-culture related.
The venue, a Hilton Hotel in Charlotte, NC, had a great outdoor area with a large pond and walkway leading to an area filled with restaurants and bars.
Everything you could hope to find at a similar convention was present. A dealers room with vendors sold all types of merchandise based on sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and other properties. For instance, a Medusa knit hat, original jewelry, original Game of Thrones artwork, and painted wooden carvings of things such as the Master Sword and the Keyblade from the Legend of Zelda and Kingdom Hearts respectively.
There were tons of fun and interesting panels such as: The New Star Wars, Comics & Webcomics, Doctor Who Trivia, Space Exploration, and I am Sherlocked.
There were writing workshops such as: What are Editors Tired of Seeing, Writing for Anthologies, and Is YA Really Just for Kids?
There was a Sci-Fi Whose Line is It?, a comedy show from Pineapple Shaped Lamps, and live music from Valentine Wolfe, The Ropers, and Mikey Mason.
There was a short-film festival, as well as airings of films such as Knights of Badassdom.
There were rooms for tabletop gaming.
There was a costume contest:
A Sith Lord
Three contestants in the costume contest.
Costume Contest Winners
There were great panels of authors discussing and reading their works, autograph sessions, and of course the author guest-of-honor George R.R. Martin speaking on all three days.
Some other guests included:
- Media Guest of Honor: Anthony Montgomery (Actor — Star Trek: Enterprise)
- Artist Guest of Honor: Tommy Lee Edwards (Illustrator & Comic Book Artist)
- Music Guests of Honor: Valentine Wolfe (electronic music group)
- Gaming Guest of Honor: Christine Stiles (RPG Writer and Editor)
- Filk Guest of Honor: Bill & Gretchen Roper (Musicians in the filk genre)
- Some of the Special Guests: David Weber (Sci-Fi and Fantasy author), RJ Haddy (Special FX artist – Face Off), Lara Parker (actress – Dark Shadows), Kathryn Leigh Scott (actress – Dark Shadows), Jonah Knight (musician), Pineapple Shaped Lamps (sketch comedy troupe), DJ Spider (Cosplay and Costuming), Rich A. Molinelli (illustrator)
Red Baron Snoopy
WILD CARDS AND BEYOND
At one of George R. R. Martin’s panels, he discussed his Wild Cards series. It is about an alien virus unleashed upon humanity in WWII. The virus deforms and debilitates the majority, while a handful are granted superpowers and maintain their normal appearance.
Other than its engaging and original concept, Wild Cards stands out for being a shared-universe. While Martin edits and writes for the series, many other authors contribute stories that take place and tie into the Wild Cards universe while standing on their own as well. Although there are about 23 volumes, it is not a strictly ordered series such as A Song of Ice and Fire, and there are a few different jumping on points if you do not wish to read them all.
Those familiar with his A Song of Ice and Fire will appreciate some realism and grittiness applied to this fantastical world. In fact, Martin commented that he wanted to construct the world with even greater realism than it has, but many of the authors wanted to write more flamboyant stories. So, it seems a balance was struck.
He also talked about his other works, such as Fevre Dream, Martin’s take on the vampire story. Set in 1857 in Mississippi, a riverboat captain is entangled with a mysterious, aristocratic vampire. Other topics discussed were his short stories, movies in development for his other works, and working with many different writers as an editor.
ICE & FIRE
At his A Song of Ice and Fire panel, he read from an upcoming coffee-table book consisting of original, new material about the history of Westeros, available October, 2014. Some of what he read covered the origins of house Lannister and their wealth, the progression of leadership from Tytos to his son Tywin, and the fateful Rains of Castamere. The book will be comprehensive, illustrated with family trees and maps, and most importantly of all contain new and original material.
If you have never been to one of these conventions, you will not be disappointed if you decide to go. Especially for newcomers, there is the presence of fun and excitement as if discovering a new world. A world as layered and in-depth as the fictional worlds from the works of the authors and artists present there.
The conventions are filled with fans as passionate as the creators themselves, such as the groups of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones cosplayers, and as kind and welcoming as old friends, such as the friendly faces you will meet at the hotel bar.
Everyone is eager and accommodating to strike up a conversation, whether it be while waiting in lines or sitting next to a stranger in one of the panels. Likewise, the authors and artists at the tables filling the halls are very approachable and willing to discuss their works and answer your questions. And, it’s always an added pleasure to see these familiar faces throughout the rest of the day.
Terrific Star Wars cosplay
Some of the employees are dressed up, and all are kind, efficient, and accommodating. For instance, George R. R. Martin’s second panel reached capacity, and quite a few people were not going to be able to see him. That is until they, on-the-fly, opened up another room and added a bunch of chairs. Fortunately, everyone got to see him.
Activities seemed to run all night as there were screenings of movies as late as midnight and tabletop gaming probably until dawn. Also, fliers alerted everyone to the parties in the hotel rooms that would take place late into the night.
ConCarolinas was simply fantastic through and through, and should definitely be added to your calendar for next year, May 29–31, 2015!
For upcoming Sci-Fi and Fantasy Cons, check out http://www.upcomingcons.com/science-fiction-conventions