Fan conventions and why I love themPosted: May 23, 2013
So, I’m back now from What The Fur? 2013, an anthropomorphic (a.k.a. furry) convention in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was the 4th year for the convention, and my 3rd year attending.
Conventions like these are mostly for people who identify as furries — that is, people who don’t feel that their true species is Homo sapiens, in some spiritual or emotional way. There isn’t a hard-and-fast ruling on what defines a furry. Some say you need a non-human avatar to represent yourself (a “fursona”). Others say that just liking anthropomorphic animals in stories is enough to qualify. Personally, I might not have a lot of regard for humans as an overall species but I’m pretty sure I am a human, and I consider myself simply fur-friendly. Which seems to be perfectly acceptable in the convention-going community. I like fantasy stuff that the mainstream considers weird? Cool! Furries do, too! We can spend a weekend hanging out and celebrating it!
(Some costumes, such as Kanthara’s character Vivienne in the above video, have a loose lower jaw that opens when the wearer opens their mouth. A relatively simple rig, mechanically speaking, but isn’t it amazing to see a “real” non-human speaking like that? Whenever I ask a fursuiter if I may take their photo, I’m extra delighted if their costume’s mouth moves when they say, “Sure.”)
So clearly enough, events like these are a far cry from the type of convention where suit-clad businesspeople talk about marketing. What The Fur? always has some organized events such as discussion panels — and I sat on a few of these panels this year, trying to make intelligent points about fantasy fiction without the use of a Backspace key. But this convention is basically a many-faceted social event. The whole point is for people to get together with friends old and new, show off their costumes, play some tabletop games, buy and sell personalized artwork, and speak the excited language of fandom. I go to What The Fur? to sell my books, but also to chat with other adults who consider it normal for a talking weasel to have something to say.
Since I was a teenager, I’ve been attending fan conventions with this same general attitude. At first, it was anime conventions such as Otakon and Anime North (which tend to embrace other media forms such as American animation, and video games). I loved the costuming most of all, that aspect of bringing your favourite character to life. As I began nosing around the publishing industry, I added a few literary conventions to my experience, beginning with Worldcon 2010. Those were alright, if a little …calm by my standards. Now, I’m mostly setting up my dealer’s tables at furry conventions. Anthropomorphism is a concept I enjoy a lot, and there are few greater joys than sharing enjoyment with other fannish folks.
- Time to pretend (tech.mit.edu)
- Interview with Indie Author Land: Render (heidicvlach.wordpress.com)
- The role of emotion in Aligare magic (heidicvlach.wordpress.com)