Last weekend, Nerdophiles bloggers Amy and Kirstie spent the weekend at Bay Area Sherlock Con in Santa Clara, CA. Between the convention on Saturday and the tea party on Sunday (which we’ll write more about in an upcoming post), we met a lot of cool Sherlockians, took in the glorious art and cosplay, and learned about everything from the canon that started it all, to the fanfiction born from the stories and their adaptations. Now back home in the Central Valley, we’d each like to share some of our favorite things about BASC, and maybe convince you to check it out next year!
A Convention of Cosplayers
The day after I got home from BASC, I was in the midst of telling my friends about my experience when they suddenly asked, “So, what did you do at this thing besides hang out with people and take pictures in costume?” I patiently explained the convention, but all the while I was thinking, “Isn’t that the best part?” I normally cosplay alone, so I was thrilled when I (dressed as John Watson) met up with my accompanying Sherlock (pre-determined via internet), who was immediately and brilliantly in character (until her transformation after lunch, that is). There were dozens of cosplayers present, donning costumes from the traditional to the original, bought to handmade, and all were fabulous (recently-dubbed Sasscroft was a personal favorite). Cosplayers Ace and Penny from Cake and Bees were in attendance as Guests of Honor, with several of their cohorts in tow. They later hosted the Cosplay Contest (which turned out to be much larger than expected), so I think it’s safe to say that the convention’s many cosplayers were one of the highlights of the weekend.
Cake and Bees Presents: Sherlock Cosplay
Earlier in the day we were graced by the presence of several members of Cake and Bees, a Sherlock Cosplay Collective. Sherlock, John, Kitty, Mycroft, and Moriarty–both in and out of character–answered questions about cosplay, gave advice to aspiring cosplayers, and offered tips to those already familiar with the practice. Helpful topics included wig styling, costume creation, and chest binding. They also touched on topics of how to deal with discrimination at conventions, and how to maintain a positive cosplay mentality. The intimate classroom setting and the honesty and openness of the panelists is what set this panel apart.
Guest Artist Alley
There was no official artist alley at BASC, but there were tables set up in the theater lobby for the convention’s Guest Artists. This turned out to be one of the prime hangout and meetup spots during the con, as people mingled near the artists’ tables, chatting about their recent purchases and favorite pieces. I even got a chance to meet up with Taco, who I interviewed recently, as well as a chance to speak with Cara and Anna (also interviewed by Nerdophiles pre-con). The convention’s featured artists included Reapersun, Cara McGee, Alice Zhang, Anna, Taco, and Blue, all of whom donated works as prizes and as official convention swag. Thank you, ladies!
A Study in Paint…Among Other Things
Guests of Honor Anna, Blue, Cara, and Taco took the stage after lunch for an artist panel, and started the hour off with a game of (rather unconventional) Sherlock Pictionary. The artists took turns standing at an easel, hastily sketching their interpretations of random phrases on slips of paper. These ranged from “deerstalker” to “Greg Lestrade taking inappropriate photos,” which by the end had the entire theater howling in laughter. Those who guessed correctly received a small prize from the artist as well as the sketch itself. Pictionary was followed by a Q&A, during which con-goers asked the artists about their experiences as artists on Tumblr, and about their favorite fandoms (there was no shortage of Welcome to Night Vale references, partially thanks to Anna’s superb Cecil cosplay). An informational panel, but mostly loads of fandom fun and crazy artist antics. And that’s a good thing.
What Generation Gap?
Whether you rode into the world of Sherlock Holmes on the 1970s resurgence caused by The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, or on Robert Downey Jr.’s coattails in 2009, you are a Sherlockian and BASC recognizes that. So does the Baker Street Irregulars contingent that graced the con stage with a glimpse at their extensive knowledge of the original stories and pretty much every adaptation since. Michael Kean demonstrated the BSI eye for detail in his presentation on wines and spirits in the original stories. Marsha Pollak discussed some of Holmes’ incarnations on screen, and even brought audio of Steven Moffat expressing his gratitude to the BSI in London for their support of his endeavor with Sherlock. And Randall Stock shared some rare original writings and what we could learn about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s methods from them (check out more at his website, The Best of Sherlock Holmes). Brief as each presentation was, I certainly feel more knowledgeable, and am grateful for the BSI’s participation at this con.
AU Where It’s Cool to Discuss Fanfiction
Fanfiction is something I consume quite a bit of, but rarely get to talk about or hear others talk about. BASC’s “Fanfiction Matters” panel brought together writers makokitten, professorfangirl, and sashaforthewin to talk about the importance and legitimacy of fanfiction as a creative platform, and generate a discussion with the audience. As put by sashaforthewin, fanfic writers are the “punks of the literary world.” They can get to the heart of storytelling and self-publish the stories they want to tell, which are often stories they’re not seeing elsewhere. It was a conversation I was happy I decided to sit in on. Have I been inspired to try my hand at writing fanfiction? We’ll see…
Inter-Fandom Party Time
Before even entering the convention, I’d already picked a favorite pair of cosplayers. The thing is, they weren’t even Sherlock Holmes related – they were the darling-est Cecil and Carlos I’d ever seen! The Welcome to Night Vale fandom was alive and well at BASC, from the numerous cosplayers, to multiple references to the podcast, which were clearly understood by a lot of attendees (Nerdophiles is happy to report that no doubles were killed at BASC). And then of course, there was the Sunday tea party, which I spent the better part of swooning over a Newton Geiszler cosplayer. It’s wicked cool that so many of us were able to come together over a shared love of Sherlock Holmes. It’s even cooler that, for a lot of us, that wasn’t our only point of connection.
Shout Out to the SoCal Sherlockians!
BASC did a fantastic job of facilitating a fun and friendly space for Sherlockians. We met a lot of amazing, wonderful people, who we certainly want to stay in touch with. I wanted to give a special shout out to our new friends from the SoCal Sherlockians, who we spent a lot of time with at the convention, and had dinner with afterwards as well. The SoCal Sherlockians are a group of enthusiastic, super fun folks who are normally active in the greater Los Angeles area, but made the trek up to our neck of the woods last weekend. If you’re looking for good people to geek out with in Southern California, check them out on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.
Where in the World are My Joan Watsons and Moriarty-Irenes?
I heard that there were a couple of Joan Watsons in the house and I’m sad to say I missed you! I did snap a photo of an awesome Elementary!Holmes and his trusty turtle friend Clyde, but unfortunately, there just weren’t as many Elementary cosplayers as I’d hoped for. Had I run into a Natalie Dormer Moriarty/Irene, I probably would have tripped over myself trying to ask for a photo. I settled for rocking some super cute Elementary buttons made by the artists as my dose of the CBS show for the weekend. But this list is about things I liked, so I was definitely excited to see Elementary among the adaptations represented in a lot of the artists’ work, and the few cosplayers I did see (at the convention and in photos online afterwards) were lovely. Maybe next year, I’ll have more time to put together a Jonny Lee Miller-Holmes outfit.
All in all, we would consider the convention an absolute success and an experience we will never forget. Special thanks Joanie Chew, Rachel Mhoon, and all the hardworking organizers and volunteers who made this convention possible. All proceeds from the charity raffle will be donated to the Undershaw Preservation Trust and the Speculative Literature Foundation.
Interested in attending Bay Area Sherlock Con next year? Check out bayareasherlockcon.com for more information about this year’s con and to get an idea of what you might expect next year. We had a blast and are looking forward to seeing all of you for year three!
(Note: If we have posted a photo of you and you would like us to remove it or attach your name to it, drop us a line and we’ll take care of that for you! More photos to be posted at nerdophiles.tumblr.com).