Thursday, 2 July 2015

Archipelacon - quality programme, a small Pride picnic and an extempore masquerade

Koska tapahtuman kieli oli pääosin englanti, päätin taas kirjoittaa postauksen englanniksi, kuten joskus tein Närcon Vinterinkin kanssa. Jos englanti ei suju, katso ihmeessä kuitenkin kuvat.

Derp-tiger on the ferry.
To me and my partner, Roosa, the trip to con began on Friday morning, because of their work schedule. But I was fine with it; Otherwise I would have had to go all alone. We took a Vikingline ferry to Mariehamn. The ferry ride was quite boring really. We bought Oreo chocolate from tax free and ate burgers. And looked at the con programme on their website. It had this cool system where you could tick the programmes that interested you and you could then look what you had ticked under the "my con" tab.

We (or mostly I) had a ton of stuff, but we succeeded in lugging it all to the con venue. Luckily Mariehamn isn't that big. We got our badges, left our stuff in the cloakroom and checked what was next. The atmosphere was drastically different from the type of con I'm used to. There were barely any cosplayers, me being one of them as young Remus Lupin. There were quite a small amount of people in comparison to the size of the venue and everyone was quite calm and grown up about their way of going around. Which I felt was almost... boring? I guess I, at the age of 24, was on the young end of congoers. (Well, if you don't count the small children there with their parents...)

There seemed to be so much interesting programme on Friday though and soon I had no time to feel young and out of place. The first one we attended was a lecture about comics and heroes as tools for resistance/rebellion. It was in Finnish and I found it really interesting, especially the parts on how comics and the fan scene are changing and how comics can be used to oppose many things (adults, misogyny, racism,...) depending on who's using it.

After a bit of coffee we sneaked to listen to George R.R. Martin's reading half way through it. I'm not that much into Game of Thrones/asoiaf, but since Mr. Martin has come here, why not go and listen? My favourite was the fan question part. On later days we also attended an episode viewing with a Q&A with him and it was equally fascinating.

After a break there was LGBT in SciFi/Fantasy panel. The panelists (Cheryl Morgan, Suzanne van Rooyen and Dirk M. Weger) were wonderful and the whole topic was right up my alley. Actually we had to look up the other programmes these people were going to have and we later attended many of those. The panel had a lot of things and themes I had already seen, but I liked the discussion on under what conditions do aliens and creatures qualify as (good) representation.

After the queer panel we went right away to "Zombies, Necrophiles and Spiraling Penises" lecture. It was basically just this excited biologist telling about all the really weird animals and creatures. The baseline was that why isn't there more scifi based on biology since it's already so weird in reality. The lecture room was really full and we sat on the floor.

Last for the day was GoT burlesque (we had to abandon Mad Scientists panel because they were at the same time). The burlesque was different than to what I'm used to. Usually it's more slow building and based on single acts when this was a single mess of multiple characters stripping and getting killed. And the audience wasn't as loud as usually even though there were more people! But it was fun, if not the burlesque I'm used to.

This went better than expected.
Then it was a walk to the floor accommodation with a stop for take-away pizza. The sleeping place was your pretty typical school gym hall. We set ourselves up and ate some pizza. (After crudely cutting it with a spoon, because that was the best thing I had.) 

I didn't sleep too well the first night because of the light, cool temperature and snoring people. But at least I didn't have trouble getting up. Indeed I had to get up pretty early to glue on Bilbo's ears and foot hair. I pre-curled my hair the previous night, but it needed a bit touching up too.

When I was ready, we headed first to a food store for breakfast items and then to a panel on Trolls in Nordic SFF. The panel had 4 people (and the moderator) who have used trolls in their writing. They told about their approaches to the myths about trolls and it was interesting how differently they used the same source materials for their interpretation. Another interesting discussion was about what could be the original point of trolls in mythology. To scare people away from the woods? Or to represent the unpredictable nature? (Compared to the "better" humans.) To explain stuff like sick babies or post-labor depression with changelings?

I found a ladybug!, photo by MMW
Then there was a short break for me. SevenTan, Chooichi, Aisu and MMW came to say hello after they had received their signatures from Mr. Martin. It was nice to see some familiar faces (and other cosplayers). I didn't feel as much like a weird kid among adults. They were heading off to photoshoot and I tagged along. (Roosa went to a panel on music in writing.) We headed off to a park. I didn't want to put my shoes back on, so I simply walked barefoot. It was a hot and sunny day which kinda made photographing a bother. MMW was mostly our photographer, owning the best camera. I had to ask kinda in the middle of the shoot if my photos could be taken then, because I wanted to attend a Pride picnic. Everyone was cool with it and we just took a few. I had bought a ring from Turku medieval fair on a whim and wanted a few photos with it. I do have photos of Bilbo already, so I didn't need that many more. I love the colours in these photos.

photo by MMW
photo by MMW

Lego the Shiba
After photos I waved bye and rushed to the picnic. The con had a rainbow corner that was made to be a safe space. Which is interesting, since I've never thought that a convention generally wouldn't be a safe space. But there I met up with Roosa and followed the rest outside. Everyone pulled out food and sat with their people. I felt kind of shy and didn't really speak much. But there was a man with his shiba and he seemed talkative and chill. People shared their food and it was still kind of nice to get to go to a Prinde picnic since the actual Pride was taking place at the moment too. The shiba, Lego, was really the life of the party, at least for me. Mostly he begged for treats and his other human, Suzanne, decorated him with a rainbow flag.

People started to leave the picnic and we decided to do the same. Inside MMW came to talk with us. She told me all of them had enrolled in the masquerade and encouraged me to do the same. Roosa poked me to go too. I must admit I had already thought about it myself, because there seemed to be so little cosplayers and it would be a shame if the masquerade turned out to be really short. So I marched up to the info and asked if I could still enroll. I gave my name and the character's name and they told me to be by a certain door 15 minutes before the show. I asked a bit more to know that we could do a skit if we wanted, but walking and posing would be quite enough. There would not be any kind of pre-judging or anything.

After this we went to see the episode viewing I mentioned earlier. After that I headed to hang out with SevenTan, MMW and the rest. I didn't want to attend a programme because I wasn't sure if I could then make it for 15 minutes before. And I wanted to fix my make up just a bit. Mostly we played card games though.

The cosplayers started to gather and in the end there was quite a good amount of us. We chatted with mostly some Finnish speaking people. There was Thorin and lady Loki and Brienne of Tarth, to mention a few. And we encouraged a beginning cosplayer dressed as an elf lady to get more into the hobby, because cosplaying is fun after all. Seriously this was one of my favourite parts of the convention, because I got to talk to other cosplayers and new people in general and everyone was so nice. And there were awesome kid cosplayers; I really digged the duo of Bobby Singer and little Dean. (I think she was cosplaying Dean and not Sam, but my knowledge of Supernatural is weak at best.)

Photo by Henry Söderlund
A bunch of GoT cosplayers.
We were then told the particulars. Which was pretty much that we would be called in with a little speak in the order we enrolled. We could just pose or do a little skit or whatever. A microphone would be in use if needed. I had a few ideas of perhaps dropping the ring and then theatrically pocketing it. Or just pretending to find it. But i was kind of unsure. We then packed up to the room leading to the stage. My pulse was pretty high and mostly I was debating with myself on what to do. People before me started going in. We howled back at an ElfQuest cosplayer since she asked us to. Soon it was my turn. I tried to mimic the awkward walk Bilbo makes in the first movie when he's checking whether there are still dwarves in his house. Then I just kind of stood on the spot and posed a little. I guess I kind of chickened out of anything more complicated. It was odd to look at all the people in the auditorium and realize how they were all looking intently at me. I then exited with a tiny bow and it was over. Or well, we were all called back for a group photo and there was an epic sword fight between Brienne, the Hound and a tiny pirate. And I think Arya stabbed someone's ankles at least? It was all pretty fun and gave some sort of entertainment to the audience, I hope.

I met Roosa outside the auditorium and we tried to figure out a place where we could get food from. I was kind of headache-y and wanted to just go already. Turned out it was a bad plan. Everything was either closed, expensive or loud and full of beer sipping alpha-male looking guys. We returned to the con place and Roosa asked the info-people of the con. A local knew that a place called Metropol was still open for a while and we hurried there. I had been in kind of a bad mood due to tiredness, hunger and stuff, but Metropol wiped it all away. Sure it was a pretty regular pizza-grill-pasta place, but the lady who sold us food was pleasant, asked if the con was over for the day, and seemed not at all irritated at our late-ish arrival. And the food was exactly what I needed.

We stuffed our faces and I pretty much crawled out of my costume, took a shower and rolled to bed. Well, and we moved our mattresses next to a now free power socket and further from that one lamp that was on through the night. I slept like a log.

Next morning we really wanted to go to the LGBT superheroes lecture by Cheryl, so I woke up early enough and pulled on Hiccup's clothes. And Roosa poked my face with an eyebrow pencil to make freckles. I succeeded in wiping them away accidentally during the day, though.

We were supposed to go to the store, but it was closed. And we didn't know about another store nearby at the moment, so we just headed to the con without breakfast. LGBT superheroes was really good. I don't even read superhero comics myself, but LGBT representation is close to my heart and I appreciated it that someone else had organized the available information to a neat presentation. (After I have done practically the same thing for my bachelor's degree in biochemistry, I know it's a lot of work.)

For a while there was not much else to do and I chatted with friends and Toothless received many pettings and admiration. By now so many people have asked me if I have an etsy store, that I'm seriously wondering if I should put one up for the summer, since I don't have a summer job. I should first figure out what to sell, though. (The maker of the Toothless-pattern I used, wishes people wouldn't profit from her patterns.)

Next was a set of academic presentation under the title Minds and Bodies in Genre Texts. We only watched the first two, since we weren't familiar with the last one's topic. The first one was on bioethics of making humans better artificially, which is a common thing in SciFi. The second one was on trans representation, and whether it's good or not, in one Neil Gaiman's Sandman-comics. (The latter again by Cheryl, she was just really nice to listen to.)

Toothless craving Roosa's salad.
We also didn't stay for the last one, because we were both hungry. Turns out the store didn't open at all. But we found a place that sold subs and salads and it was good. Little children seemed to be excited about Toothless and I think he got attention in general too. Everyone likes plushies.

After food (and a detour to a toy store) we headed to Dirk's LGBT representation in Star Trek lecture. (What do you mean we went to all the queer programmes? :D) Again I've seen maybe 10 episodes of Star Trek, but it was sad to hear they really suck at LGBT representation. At least many of the actors are trying hard.

Again there was some time for walking around and not doing much. Our next destination was Suzanne van Rooyen and Billy O'Shea reading. Roosa had bought Suzanne's book, I heart robot, earlier, because a book with robots and music dealing with queer themes hit so many marks. Suzanne did read a bit from that book and a bit from another one. I'm sure I'll borrow the robot book from Roosa after they're done with it. Billy O'Shea's book was really interesting too. I really enjoyed the bit's where the characters discovered artifacts from our time and totally understood them wrong. It's just funny to think how easily many of our things could be misunderstood. (And how much do we misunderstand ancient stuff like that?)

photo by Henry Söderlund
Almost right away the closing ceremony began. They would declare the masquerade winners there and I was nervous. I had no idea if I had a shot at winning or not, because I didn't know what were the things they looked at. I knew my costume was made with care, but there were many just as good costumes in the masquerade. We sat down and the winners were among the first things to be declared. Lady Loki was mentioned first and I was not surprised. Her costume was nicely done and had many details. Then, to my surprise, Bilbo was declared another costume to place. I was really happy of course and Roosa hugged me. (And told me how silly I was to be so negative like "I probably don't win though, my costume's not flashy or anything.") I was not particularly expecting to place as I went into the masquerade mostly thinking I just wanted to increase the amount of people in it and thinking there were many costumes as good as mine. Hence, I really was surprised. I got up, but they clearly didn't need me at the stage yet, so I stayed on the side waiting. The last winner was a Darth Maul cosplayer with an awesome make up. There was an awkward moment, where I had to wave around to make myself found. We got to pick a book and chocolate from Mercedes Chocolatier. I hate making fast decisions and gave the cosplayer of Darth Maul the first pick so that I'd have less choice. The book I ended up with was Alistair Reynold's On the steel breeze. And the chocolate had the "live long and prosper" hand sign (vulcan salute?) on it.

Then all the guests of honour got gift bags and said a few words. George R.R. Martin told everyone to consider voting for Worldcon to come to Finland in 2017. Apparently many writers would want to come to Finland and Worldcon would be the best place.

Then the con was over. I talked a bit with SevenTan, Chooichi, Aisu and MMW. But soon we went our separate ways. Roosa had promised to take photos of Hiccup, using my phone. (Which is as good as my camera, so I didn't bother taking the camera at all.) But we soon decided it was still too bright and just looked at all the different photoshoot places. We then wasted time in a Hesburger, which had free wi-fi. I hadn't dared to use roaming much just in case, so I always took the chance for free wi-fi. We also tasted one of the chocolates and it was really nice.

The sun was bit lower and we set off to the sea shore and our photoshooting place. And Roosa added some freckles because the old ones were gone. I wanted a few photos where I was at the mast of a children's jungle gym shaped like a ship. Then we walked to the actual shore and took a bunch of different photos. I'm really happy Roosa was so patient with taking photos and showed me them in between so I could make adjustments to poses. I'm happy with a lot of pictures and I had fun.

We even made a little story/comic.

Then it was time for the floor accommodation once more. (The attendants in there were nice, btw.) Nothing much happened in the evening. We already packed a bit so that there was less to do in the morning. Thus in the morning we just threw on some clothes and I made some tea in my water bottle. We then headed to a store with all our luggage in tow. We ate breakfast in a park and slowly made our way to the harbour. There were a lot of other convention people, but they left a bit earlier on a Siljaline ship. We waited for a Vikingline which was cheaper. In the harbour we also spotted Suzanne the Writer and her husband Mark with Lego the Shiba. But they were really nice and we chatted a bit. (Shibas have really soft ears, btw.)

The ferry ride back was even more boring than the previous one. I updated my diary, the wi-fi was sucky and we bought stuff from tax free. (I always buy wine for my parents from tax free. I bought one that's called Kaiken, which if it was Finnish would mean "everything". Just because I know my dad has just as awful and punny sense of humour as me.)



  1. Very interesting to read about your experience! (I thought the con was very young and had lots of cosplayers!) And your Bilbo was really lovely.

    /Therese aka Bobby (and yes, Hu

    1. ...Hulda, my daughter, was Dean.

    2. Thanks for commenting! Your cosplays were lovely too. :)

      I guess I compared the con to anime conventions I'm most used to and those have more people, more cosplayers and a lot of underaged people.

  2. Nice to hear what it was like at Archipelacon! I must say that I'm really happy that you went to compete in the cosplay competition and it's so awesome that you placed on it, OMG YES! I mean, your Bilbo sure is really nicely done and it's easy to tell that you put a lot of attention onto the costume to make even the smaller details accurate! I remember when you told me that you even made the buttons. :'D Hooray! I'm just so happy for you!

    Also I had no idea that there were so many LGB-themed panels in there, that's cool!
    It's really interesting to hear how the con differed from the usual anime conventions with all the sugar-and-pocky hyped kids running around; it sounds refreshing in a way. :)
    Maybe someday I'll tag along to Archipelacon as well, if they will keep holding it the following years...

    Psst, that last pic is just so adorable. xD
    Oh, and you should really make an Etsy store! It would be awesome!

    1. Sorry my keyboard is derping... ._. Of course I meant LGBT, not LGB – that letter T is important!

    2. Yeah, I'm happy I went in too. Thanks~ :)

      Yeah, I really didn't know that either before we went to the first one and the panelists all kind of advertised their other programmes. They were all really interesting.

      Yeah, it was an interesting difference. I guess I kind of fall between the two con-goer categories. Well, more fun con experiences for me. :D

      Hehe, thanks. :) First I should just get to doing stuff to sell there, I guess.

  3. Nice to hear that you had a good time at Archipelacon and that several panels catched your interest! Wow! That's so awesome that you placed in the masquarade/competition, congratulations! I always liked your Bilbo cosplay and I'm happy to see you achieving something with it! Well done! :)

    I also think it's really cool that they had all of those LGBT activities and that it's getting positive attention from the con. After reading your post about the con, I don't think that Archipelacon would be something that I would enjoy so much, con and programme-wise. But I would definitely consider going there if their Guest of Honor is Star Wars related somehow, like an actor or so and if the programs there speaks to me :)

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I'm happy I took part in it.

      I'm happy too that there were so many LGBT programmes. I can see how the con wouldn't be for everyone as I too felt kind off out of place on occasion. I guess a lot of people now went mainly for George R.R. Martin.

  4. At least in theory Archipelacon was an one-off event but there has been talk that in certain conditions it's not totally outside the realm of possibilities that there might be another. So we'll see...

    It really nice to hear you enjoyed the programme and I would suggest that you should also try come to next year's Finncon in Tampere. The programme in Finncon will probably be very similar with multiple programme items related to LGBT-themes and diversity.

    As Cheryl for example is a regular at Finncon and had previously done the LGBT superheroes presentation there. Suzanne also has done programme in previous Finncon's and said she would try to attend Tampere one too.

    Finncon is free and totally not at all scary!

    - Mikko (head of programme in Archipelacon, part of the programme team in Finncon 2016)

    1. Ok, good to know it might be just one event. But I really enjoyed the international flair the location gave Archipelacon.

      I've been hearing good things about Finncon, I'll definitely consider it, especially since it's free! :D