Flame Con was held at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott in Brooklyn, NY on Aug 19 & 20, 2017.
WHAT. A. BLAST.
Being an LGBT-focussed comic con, Flame Con greeted me at the door with an immediate feeling of inclusivity, celebration and joy. The staff were all “superheroes”– they all had capes tied at the neck with velcro– meaning the capes could be shared with volunteers, making anyone associated with the con immediately visible and identifiable. Clever, fun and reassuring!
Steven, one of the people who directed us to the registration line had a rainbow beard. “Now I know I’m in the right place,” I said.
Billing itself as the “Largest LGBT Pop Culture Convention in New York”, it’s easy to believe– last year’s attendance boasted over 3, 400 people and this year was apparently larger, though no numbers were available at the time of this writing.
The greatest thing about this convention is also the most fundamental and basic: I never once had to explain myself, my comics, or the art prints at my table. Not once did someone flinch as they saw muscular men in speedos, or an A to Z of superhero groins. No one turned up their noses at Cyclops embracing Iceman, nor did they look uncertain as I described my LGBT superhero, Spectrum, or for that matter my tongue-in-cheek comic, Diaperman, where all the heroes and villains are fetishists. Heck, I didn’t even have to define “fetishist” to anyone.
In short: Everyone at Flame Con “got it.” All-inclusive. We Are Family. In The Club. That sort of thing. And the feeling– it’s amazing. It’s knowing you belong, knowing you’re doing something that appeals to people, hearing feedback on your work that’s very positive.
Speaking of which, I met gay comic icon Paul Charles, the Gay Comic Geek (Warning: Link NSFW) who read Spectrum and gave this amazing review!
I would describe my convention experience as a success: I sold out of Spectrum, and my now-famous Superhero A to Z groin posters. Other popular prints were Hogwarts Swim Team, and Jeremy’s female Gambit. Our comic Twilight Detective Agency also sold well!
Too, there was a Saturday Night shindig at a local bbq joint/bar where Exhibitors got in free after 9:30; It was called Camp Fire and there was a themed comic-and-pop-culture drag show which was fabulous (but when they did the Bette Midler number from Hocus Pocus– “I Put A Spell On You”— I was having none of it! I have secretly choreographed that number in my own living room for years, and I was not gonna let someone else do it (so I quietly did it in the corner of the bar for an audience of one, as Jeremy found my antics amusing).
I got to meet Greg Fox of Kyle’s Bed and Breakfast, a fantastic series of excellent graphic novels about a gay B&B; he was our table neighbour. We traded graphic novels and I read his stuff on the plane ride home (review to follow at another time).
Challenges for this show were: Travel, primarily. Schlepping the con gear and merchandise across the US Border is ALWAYS tiresome, troublesome, and downright inconsistent. On this particular trip I was told I wasn’t allowed to transport merchandise by air, though by ground was fine. They let me through anyway, but it’s just another inconsistency in the grand world of US Customs.
The second was cost: New York City is a spendy, spendy place. The hotel convention rate was $300 US a night, which was just not in the budget for Jeremy and I. We ended up staying further away, still in Brooklyn but at a nice little pseudo-B&B slash hostel called “J-Stel.” Three floors, each floor had a shared bathroom; air conditioned rooms (thank God). I didn’t mind it; I’d stay there again.
Warning: DO NOT TAKE A CITY CAB FROM THE AIRPORT TO DOWNTOWN. I used Uber (which is always wonderful, I love Uber) and paid $40– Jeremy took a cab and paid $197.00. Almost two hundred dollars! DO. NOT. USE. CITY. CABS. Period.
The con was extremely well-run, and well-organized; check-in took us maybe five minutes and they had time slots prepared for those folks that needed to use the loading dock so as to avoid congestion. It was wonderful. Also, the staff were always checking on the vendors, seeing if we needed anything, being around and being visible.
And the music– god yes, the music. They played fun, light, pop music from the 70’s and 80’s in the dealer’s room with various famous gay anthems and fun songs, which really brightened the room– and had me dancing and singing all weekend. What a way to improve the mood and interest of the crowd and potential buyers! Anytime I can groove to the Go-Go’s is a happy time indeed.
I want to support this convention and return next year, as it attracted an excellent calibre of creators and fans; it will take some consideration though, as the travel and costs are prohibitive. Definitely will require consideration. However, if you can get to New York, you owe it to yourself to experience this joy!
Life’s a rainbow,