An article by, Abigael Puritz
This past weekend, the Sheraton New York was completely taken over by the colorful, joyful celebration of Queer fandom known as FlameCon. This was my first year attending, so unfortunately I don’t have other years iterations to compare this one to, but when compared to the other, somewhat more conventional conventions (pun intended) I’ve been to, Flamecon had an energy all its own.
As I began my usual approach of taking multiple laps through the tables, a strategy based on years of attendance at MOCCA, CAB, SPX and the like, I quickly realized two things. One- at this convention merch was absolutely king. As far as the eye could see, there was row after row of mildly NSFW slash pairing fanart, buttons, digital prints, t-shirts, and signs advertising on the spot portrait commissions. None of this would have been out of place at any of the previously mentioned other conventions, but at Flamecon, it almost difficult to find something outside these categories. The second thing I realized was that this convention definitely appeared to skew younger, less established, and perhaps a little geekier than other conventions I’d been to in a long time.
In recent years, as NYCC has become more commercialized and cons like CAB have become more and more popular with the trendy Williamsburg types, this felt like a convention where, had I reverted to my spastic baby queer highschool form, I would have felt right at home. While there was a large contingent of successful comic artists and professionals present, the assortment of vendors, cosplayers, and fans gathered there had a distinctly more DIY, unpretentious vibe.
All of this is also to say, this con made me feel hella old. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten more used to going to more “industry” type events, but I did spend a lot of time running through the aisles, only to find a small handful of hearty, content heavy comics that weren’t easily available in bookstores (no shade). To be fair, Flamecon is not necessarily a “comic” convention, it’s clearly a fandom convention, and as such, it would be silly to be disappointed about the lack of substantive narrative offerings. In any case, if the table fare was a little light on substance Flamecon certainly made up for it with refreshingly practical and prescient panel and workshop offerings, covering everything from advice on how to promote your work and nurture a creative community, to discussions about the current apparent boom in queer animation.
Below, you will find aN assortment of some of my favorite tables/comics/cosplays from the weekend, which was full of the enthusiasm and excitement of queer teens and teens at heart, and while a curmudgeon like myself might have left a with an emptier tote bag than usual, even my pretentious, cranky little heart felt full of big gay nerd love.