I’ve recently returned from the thoroughly enjoyable “Nine Worlds Geekfest” – a friendly, highly inclusive, mixed media / mixed genre geek/fan convention.
Whilst I was there, I spent many of the panels I attended scribbling some sketchnotes. For me, sketchnotes are a way to force what I hear in panels to go through different bits of my brain, and to stay in my head better than they would if I just listened.
This post is going to be a con report, but unlike any other con reports I’ve written, I’m going to include scans of my sketchbook pages. So you have some context… my sketchbook pages are roughly 12.5cm wide by about 17.5cm tall. If things look a bit fuzzy on bigger screens, it’s because they’ve been blown up a bit in scanning.
So – on to the programme items for Friday – Saturday & Sunday will follow.
10am – “Here Be Dragons” Official Competition Screenings – Experimental and ‘Arthouse’ Shorts
This was a screening of a collection of short films – some of the official selections from the “Here Be Dragons” film festival. This set was labelled “Experimental and ‘Arthouse’ Shorts” – meaning it was the slightly weirder, more conceptual stuff.
I enjoyed the slot, although several of the selections really needed some discussion after them, which we didn’t really get a chance to do in the slot.
I also have no idea what I’d have said in such a discussion.
11:45am – You’re in our world now:
The invention of myths for a modern audience
This panel managed to be both good and disappointing at the same time. It was good because it was an interesting discussion from a very knowledgeable panel, but it was bad because it didn’t really live up to the title.
Early on, it leapt with both feet into the subject of old, established myths and finding new variations of them in the telling. An interesting subject, but not entirely the one I’d wanted.
I had a question I’d have liked to ask (because it fitted in with the panel-as-was and the panel-as-titled), but didn’t really get a) opportunity, b) the nerve at the right time or c) the brainpower to turn it into a proper question.
Mostly, I wanted to know what the panel thought of things like “The Wicked and The Divine“, where trappings and names of ancient mythology are taken… but pretty much only the trappings and names. Those trappings are then beamed firmly through a modern pop-culture lens to deliver a vibrant and youthful take on those myths played out with teenage sensibilities.
It’s youthful, superficial, transitory and momentary fame writ large with real young life and insecurity sitting right behind it.
It wears it’s musical influences on it’s sleeves throughout, and draws firm parallels between the temporary godhood of the pantheon and celebrity. One of my favourite pastimes with the comics is trying to identify which bands or celebrities are being used as the basis for which gods – sometimes easier than others… or perhaps I just have gaps in my musical knowledge.
Where that question would have fitted quite nicely was when the discussion turned to how stories stay alive and relevant by changing to suit their times.
There was a brief discussion of how most fairy tales are childrens fears – with Pied Piper stories as an exception. A tale that preys on the adult fear of the loss of a child – clearly designed to get the wandering storyteller paid.
Finally, there was some mention about how stories evolve because there’s always that discrepancy between the version the writer wrote, the consumer consumed, and the version that remains after the previous two have met.
3:15pm – Rebellion, Outsiders and Group Dynamics – Three talks on outsiders and relations to authority
No sketchnotes from this panel.
The first talk focussed on mental and physical disability in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series – I joined this one part way through, having failed to fit into another session (a common theme of the weekend, alas).
It’s an interesting topic – given how often the Vorkosigans and their associates diverge from what would stereotypically be considered “normal”. Everyone in that series has their issues, which are well portrayed, complex, and (in most cases) far from restricting or disabling the characters.
The second talk focussed on the “America” arc of Judge Dredd, which is quite a rare one as it overtly portrays Dredd as the outright antagonist, rather than the more common portrayal as “inevitable-but-horrific-protagonist”. I don’t think there are many times you can refer to him as a hero, but protagonist usually fits. In America, that’s not the case.
The third session discussed the concepts of self and other in Battlestar Galactica. I must admit that I switched off a little – I wasn’t entirely on-the-ball by this point, and have heard BSG discussed to death over the last few years… but a few bits made me sit up and pay attention. Mostly the parts that looked at identity, and the concept of cycles of slavery.
5pm – Video Games and LGBTQ+ Representation
The fact that people might wonder that is part of why I go to this kind of panel. It should not be weird for me (a relatively vanilla straight white male) to want to see more representation and visibility of not me.
I’m not going to dwell on it much more than saying “there are some examples of good representation up there – the fact that there are only that few says a lot”.
6:45pm – Arcadia or Armageddon – An Exploration of Utopian and Dystopian Futures
Food was required. I highly recommend the Murgh Karahi from the Harlington Tandoori… along with whatever-the-hell-else we ordered. It was all delicious. If you’re at a con within walking distance of it and want to leave the venue for food, go there.
10:15pm – Roundup Of The Year’s Fanvids
We only made it to this in time by dint of technical difficulties. It was meant to have started before we got there, but the sound daemons had escaped from their technological prison and the tech wizards had to be summoned to bind them again before we could proceed. One day I should try to learn to drive sound kit again, so I can help with such things. My hearing’s not up to it, but if I can at least tell if things are plugged together correctly, I can be useful.
But back to the programme item:
As often happens when I go to fanvid panels, I felt a little bit out of place… but less than I have in the past. I still love what fanvid creators do – it’s a vibrant bunch of folks. I love the transformative and subversive aspects of their work, as well as the way that they can make those transformative and subversive aspects just plain fun.
They don’t always work without a bit of explanation (of the fan[vid/fic] crossover tropes, usually), but usually they do… and when they do, I really admire both the craft and the creativity.
It’s like painting whole new pictures using existing media as a brush. Not easy, but often effective.
Having bounced firmly off the written fanfic scene when I was a teenager (despite having written & drawn a bunch of terrible fic as a child), the fanvid scene has felt much more accessible. Katrina (my fiancée – something I still like saying) introduced me to it a while back – I’m still only a passive consumer rather than an involved contributor, but hey – I have to start somewhere.
Long may these fine folks continue!
You can see a list of what was shown here.
(It’s the list headed “Friday: Fanvid Showing – Amy returns with a roundup of the year’s fanvids” – it’s probably best to not watch them at work.)
At this point, I turned back into a pumpkin.
I had planned to go to the Duke Mitchell Film Club Party, but I was wiped, so went and crashed instead. I regret missing it, but I figured that being a complete wreck for Saturday would have been… poor.
If you want to know more about the con in general, go to the Nine Worlds website.