The third annual Bent Con has come and gone a month ago now though it seems like just a few days ago with all the things that have happened afterwards for me. Yeah, most of them were not anything to be envious over. My friend Robert Nunez started talking it up to me after last year’s event. My plans for both C2E2 and Comic Con fell through this year in unspectacular fashion so I was feeling an urge to get away and be around other geeks and nerds. To be honest I wondered if my often skeptical nature would be squashed by Robert’s Bent Con accolades and I’m happy to report finally (I know! Better late than never though!) that the weekend was a blast and worth the trip!
In the span of just three years Bent Con has grown from its first venue in an empty storefront to the Buck Rogers hotel basement to the bright and airy feeling convention center of the Burbank Airport Marriott. That’s quite an achievement and I think it speaks to the need and desire of LGBT comics fans and pros to be in a safe, fun, and queer space and the commitment of con organizers Sean Holman (AKA The man whose smile conquers all) and Jody Wheeler. Any new venture likely experiences issues, as Post Modern Barney Dorian Wright, a panelist on the Understanding The Gay Fanboy (and Fangirl!) panel I shouldn’t have missed except I really needed food, briefly alludes to seeing though from my attendee point of view I didn’t notice anything. Sunday’s closing panel was Making Bent-Con Yours was a forum for fans to speak up with suggestions and concerns for making future cons a better experience. An attentive Jody Wheeler and Sean Holman left me with the impression they take seriously all suggestions and criticisms about improving the con.
Robert had a long day at work so we missed Friday’s events with a re-enactment of Northstar and Kyle’s wedding as the high point against a fabulous backdrop that you’ll see in some pics when it was used elsewhere. Along with Robert’s roommate and friend John De La Vina, we had a relaxing dinner at Tender Greens and a walk through West Hollywood that included a stop to see the library’s murals, nightlife spilling out onto sidewalks, a visit to Chi Chi Larue’s adult store (something you won’t find most places), and a stop for frozen yogurt. Pomegranete is great! Surprisingly, I ran into a Dickie, a big Alan Scott and Earth Two fan who I know of thanks to the Gayleague’s Facebook group. Robert and John probably think I’m a little crazy after talked turned to the paranormal and I mentioned once living in a haunted house in Chicago. At some point Friday night we wandered into a clothing store and I picked up this Archie tshirt because it struck me with multiple layers of irony. No, alcohol had not been drunk that night.
Friday looked like one big night of social activities with movies and costume karaoke happening after 9:00. A full forty panels – far too many to list here – took place in four different rooms over Saturday and Sunday! On the con floor were 25 booths. To name a few: Yaoi 911, Prism and Northwest where Dylan Edwards talked about and signed Transposes, Fanboys of the Universe, Tom of Finland Foundation, and Class Comics run by Patrick Fillion and Robert Fraser. To one side was Artist Alley with 30 tables featuring the likes of Jeremy Owen, Sina Grace, Steve MacIsaac, Joe Phillips, Absolutely True Tales of Lesbian Drama, Butch McLogic, Jd Saxon and her partner, both of Scuttlebutt Inc, Brad Rader, David Berger, and William Tyler and David Paul Brown – and 21 more! Gamers (or is it gaymers?) could spend time with Magic – The Gathering, Pathfinder, Mage Wars, or Dungeons and Dragons and was grouped in an visible area out in front. One room was a pro/ guest lounge with a nearby area filled with bean bag chairs. And the rest rooms! Never, ever a line and they were always clean!
Movies and a Tournament of Nerds were a big part after the con floor closed Saturday night too. We opted for Tournament cohosted by Jordan Morris and Marc Andreyko with Christopher Rice, Phil Jimenez, John Hennigan, and Jeffrey Reddick as judges. And what is Tournament of Nerds? It’s where nerds take on the costumes and personalities of characters and then debate in pairs, until there’s one nerd left. Yeah, that doesn’t do it justice. Just go here and watch a few videos and remember people: NSFW! Tournament was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while!
Then we wandered over to the movie room and caught the end of campy friEnD aD d 4 short. Travis meets Joanna, who has some psychic power and is somehow related to Travis, and the pair team up to stop some bizarre hookup app that’s gained sentience and lures men so it can commit bizarre murders. Yes, it was as campy as it sounds! It’s a masterpiece in comparison to Malice in Wonderland – The Dolls movie! Here’s a clip if you dare! You may have a better opinion like someone else we talked to afterwards, and I’ll probably catch hell for saying this, but it ranks as one of the worst movies I’ve ever sat through – and sitting through all 75 minutes is exactly what I did, unlike half the audience who left.
Bent-Con had hotel arrangements with the Burbank Airport Marriott which was a really good option for out of towners. We stayed Saturday night and let me say it was really nice to walk a short distance from the con to the hotel room. A very different experience from Comic Con! The only restaurant on premisis I noticed is a Daily Grill, which is really nice, but can be a little pricey if you’re watching money. A quick walk across the street were a McDonald’s, Denny’s, Del Taco, and several other fast food establishments to stretch the budget.
Of course scheduling and mounting a con takes more than a couple people, even for Sean and Jody. The following folks were also essential in getting the con up and running it over the weekend: Pk Eiselt (assisted with Talent and making sure the Bent-Con team was on the same page–Communications), Michelle Lagos (assisted with Panels & Programming), Viktor Kerney (Press/Media, Public/Vendor Outreach), Wendy Farrington (Volunteer Scheduling/Coordinating), Guillermo Noroeste (Gaming Area), Salvador Hernandez (Gallery Area, Model Coordinator for the Live Drawing), Dave Davenport (Graphics, Gallery, Branding), Brian Siegel (Registration).
Sean tells me Bent-Con intends to make its home at the Marriott again next year, which I take as really good news! Make a note, mental or otherwise, to think about making Bent-Con one of your trips this year! I hope to see you there, and please, introduce yourself if I fail to overcome my social anxiety. Yes, please!
Now I hear you asking “What about pics?!” Okay, here are some for you! Though I swear I think I took more, not counting the out of focus ones.
Who can resist these smiling hunks? That’s Justin Hall on the left and Sean Z (Sean Holman). Justin was uber excited Sunday when this was taken because his No Straight Lines book had been reviewed in the New York Times
Jeremy Owen, the guy behind Burly Press and Burly the comic is on the right with his partner Bob Koenig by his side. This pic doesn’t do Bob’s stache justice! You can check out Burly Press and the Facebook page.
Jd Saxon is next here. Jd and her partner Dusty Jack, who I think I missed meeting, own Scuttlebutt Inc together. They make fan badges, make art commissions, and create the manga-y, LGBT, comedic Mahou Shounen Fight web comic that’s also available in regular print comic format.
Alex Woolfson is the guy behind Yaoi 911 and the writer responsible for a handful of web comics like the completed Artifice and the current Young Protectors. After Artifice had finished as web comic, Alex launched a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for a print edition. I have to mention that it is a truly beautifully printed book and the story is top notch too. The guy Alex is hugging is his partner and I have to apologize for either not remembering his name or not getting it.
Al Qaeda’s Super Secret Weapon is the creation of David J. Zelman. The super secret weapon is Mahmoud, sent by Al Qaeda to infiltrate the post Don’t Ask Don’t Tell US military’s openly gay soldiers and bring America to its >ahem< knees. But you know what can happen to the best laid plans, right? And so Mahmoud has serious doubts about his mission and starts identifying with the very elements of gay American culture he should oppose. This graphic novel was slated to be printed by Soft Skull Press who passed on it, but worry not because it’s been picked up by a different publisher.
Everybody probably knows Ted Abenhein who’s been the Prism Events Chairperson, and now is its President. Ted’s also a cosplayer in his own right. I’m still amazed at the memory in my head of Ted as Metamorpho a few years ago at Comic Con.
And speaking of cosplayers….
Nightwing back to back with Captain America. This backdrop was used Friday night for the Northstar & Kyle wedding re-enactment. The man responsible for it is Oscar Cervantes. Oscar does event design and production at his company Tikal Details. Sean tells me his friend Oscar is also on Facebook, but there are several guys with the same name in the LA area.
And then there’s Spider-Man and Thor, who had me completely distracted at one point when he had his top and cape off because he had a nice butt.
Tournament of Nerds cohosts Marc Andreyko and Jordan Morris with judges Rice, Reddick, Hennigan, and Jimenez in the background.
And the players… Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from Dune
Robert Brady of the Brady Bunch, resurrected from the dead
Peppermint Patty on the left pitted against the towering Baron
Apologies for some of the pics turning out blurry!