Considering all of the conventions I’d been to before have had a very wide scope of fan bases, I was very interested to see the turn out to the Sherlock Seattle Convention. My friend Erika flew up from Kansas to cosplay the gender swapped version of BBC Watson to my Holmes. Considering around 80% of my tumblr is dedicated to the BBC version I was pretty sure I would enjoy myself no matter what, but I was still nervous. What kind of crowd could I expect? Many of the panels were 18 and older to enter. The post card set given to VIPs featured BBC John and Sherlock wandering the streets of Seattle, solving crimes or making out in the alley. Would the whole convention be geared towards BBC’s version? Would it just be a bunch of tumblr fangirls?
The short answer is mostly. Looking back on all the people we saw I lost count of how may purple shirts and bad christmas sweaters I saw. There was also a fallen angel with black wings and a man in a fez walking around with a girl in a brilliant blue dress. But, to be fair, there was a fair share of bearded men with pipes chatting outside wearing deerstalkers and women in extremely elaborate dresses, too.
The convention took place at the Broadway Performance Hall next to a small community college. We decided to check out the merchandise vendors first, and after making the rounds we went to the third floor to check out the fan artists. I am a sucker for fan art. I dragged Erika around from booth to booth, buying book marks and posters and buttons. I even had a fan artist, Evelyn Clemente, who was so in love with my handmade Tunalock backpack (yeah, I’m one of those fans) that she drew me a picture of Tunalock doing ballet!
We attended a panel titled “Cosplay Connection” (Eddy Dughi, Lyra Ngalia, and Chelsea Robinson) where the panelists talked about the reasons people cosplay and shared personal experiences of both crafting costumes and cosplaying them at conventions. The main point I got from the discussion was “cosplay what you want.” They talked about the pros and cons of crafting costumes and buying store bought ones. Cheap costumes off of eBay are usually a sort of gateway drug for people who like to cosplay. First come the alterations, then comes the tutorial scouring on youtube, then comes creating your own patterns… and then you never stop.
After the Cosplay panel Erika and I decided to wander around Seattle. We looked completely normal until people saw the dead, stuffed fish hanging limp on my back. “There must be some kind of convention or something,” I heard someone whisper as we walked past. “I saw someone earlier covered in blood and carrying a harpoon!” (a scene from The Blind Banker).
When we returned the place was pretty deserted. We found the only event listed, a play called “Vicious and Vulgar,” and headed to the theater to see it. The play featured a disgruntled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was agitated about all of the audience members who liked Sherlock Holmes enough to come to a convention for him. He ranted about how awful the character was and decided to create a different version of Watson and Holmes, meeting earlier in their lives, a friendship destined to fall apart before it began. The story was set in present day, with a female Watson character who was obsessed with BBC Sherlock and wrote gay slash fanfiction for fun about them. She meets another girl who is remarkably like Sherlock who has never heard of him. Hilarity ensued. The play was extremely well done. The costuming, done for less than $100, was carefully picked and fit the characters perfectly. The lighting, staging, music, and video were all used extremely effectively. The cast and crew for the play were: Andy Davidson, Alison Lurs, Samantha Scott, Ben Stahl, Bill Woodland (lighting), Kyle Levien (sound), and Kelsey Bujacich (costume/hair/makeup).
After the show and the discussion with the cast about how the show was formed there was a panel I was very excited and nervous for: “The Elements of Slash.” (This panel featured Liz Eckhart, Chelsea Robinson, Ben Signpost, Songlin, Lori Summers, and Berlynn Wohl). I figured there were a lot of ways the panel could go horribly wrong but I was pleasantly surprised. The focus of the discussion (involving a huge panel of fanfiction readers and writers) was “what makes a sex scene good.” Overwhelmingly the answer was that it reflected the characters accurately and that it had some sort of emotional meaning, or relevance to the story. Of course, they were quick to point out, some stories were just sex for sex sake, and that was fine by everyone.
On Saturday we got to the convention in time to see the panel I was most interested in: “Sexuality and Sherlock” (featuring GOH Lee Eric Shackleford, Liz Eckhart, Songlin, and Berlynn Wohl). The panel discussed the changes in society’s perception of sexuality over time and how that plays into the way we view the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. They also discussed things like queer baiting (where a show will hint at a relationship between a gay couple and then add, in contrast, conflicting statements over and over “I’m not actually gay,” in an attempt to lure in a gay following while maintaining its heterosexual one). They talked about the potential problems of having Irene Adler claim to be gay and falling for Sherlock, saying that it could be taken as “she’s just a lesbian because she hasn’t found the right guy.” The fandom takes the line a better way, though. Irene falls for Sherlock even though she’s a lesbian, just as John loves Sherlock even though he’s straight (John’s love can, of course, be taken as platonic). Discussions arose during the Q&A about Holmes being asexual, gay, straight, etc.
“The Weapons of Sherlock” panel (featuring Gordon E. Frye and James Romnes) showed off many of the old revolvers and pistols used around the world during the time of the Sherlock Holmes canon, along with weapons used throughout his various incarnations. It was interesting hearing how they evolved and where they originated. (I missed half of this panel because I had to stand in the back and my feet weren’t having that).
“Cosplay 101: From Closet to Convention” (featuring Eddy Dughi, Lyra Ngalia, and Chelsea Robinson) talked about similar topics as the Cosplay Connection panel on Friday. This took place following the Costume contest so nearly everyone there was dressed up. They talked about how fans interpret costumes (like the color schemes of costumes shown in black and white comics, characters that don’t even exist in the show yet like Sebastian Moran, and fan fiction characters). The panelists talked about Cosplay etiquette, what was okay and what you should ask permission to do. They said cosplayers should by all means play the character, but that they should also gauge the situation to when playing that character was appropriate or not given the people in the area. When it comes to things like touching someone or posing for a photograph they said you should always ask for permission.
The winners of the costume contest were announced. I love costume contests with so many categories! The costumes at the con were pretty awesome and it was great that so many obscure characters could be played and get recognized by everyone there.
The final event was titled: MST1895, basically a Mystery Science Theater of the 2010 version of Sherlock Holmes. The narration was performed by Katy Morgan and Berlynn Wohl. I’d suggest to everyone reading this that if you haven’t watched this movie… that’s probably for the best. It is SO stupid, but thoroughly enjoyable to make fun of. If you’ve ever wanted a Sherlock movie with Iron Man, Dinosaurs, Metal Dragons, and the Kraken, this is the movie you’ve been waiting for.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the Sherlock Seattle Convention. The only down side I saw to the event was that there were sometimes periods of up to an hour when nothing scheduled. The good news (bad news for my wallet) is that the room with the fanartists featured a revolving group of artists, so there was nearly always something new to buy. It also gave us time to walk around Seattle and grab some ice cream! I’ll definitely be attending next year, I’m looking forward to all the new material Season 3 will bring!
KayCee is a disco ball. Sometimes the disco ball opens and inside is a small, sad kitten. She’s holding a big plush Millennium Falcon. She feels very bad about having inconvenienced whoever is looking at her at the time.