Terri Goes to Madison, a WisCon Report

by Terri

The larger matted prints hanging on their panel. 

The larger matted prints hanging on their panel. 

2016: It was Memorial Day weekend and my phone wouldn't shut up. The weather in Boston was horrible, as was the weather in Upstate New York.* And my best friend in the world appeared to be having the time of her life.

My phone wouldn't shut up because WisCon 40 was when Ariela discovered Twitter. She was tweeting panels and squeeing about the people she was meeting. When she got home, it was all she could talk about for a couple of weeks. I decided that if we could make it work, next year I wanted in on this thing that my best friend loved so much. After all, I'm a feminist. I'm a fan. WisCon seemed a logical fit.

So this year, I boarded a series of planes in order to arrive in Madison, WI on Thursday May 25. I got to the hotel, checked in, unpacked, got a drink,** got my badge, scanned the program book and waited for Ariela to show up. 

When Ariela arrived, we may have broken the eardrums of anyone in the parking lot. It was so wonderful to be at a con with my best friend again. That colored my entire weekend, even the parts where I didn't have as much fun as I was hoping to. "This person might not be very nice, but ARIELA IS HERE! WE ARE TOGETHER!" was a thought that occurred more than once. That being said, Thursday evening was when I began to meet some truly awesome people whom I am glad to know now.

The greeting card and small matted print display.

The greeting card and small matted print display.

On Friday, we set up the art. For this con, since we inadvertently ended up with a significant amount of table*** space, Ariela made a set of nifty cardboard display stands (as seen in the image below on the left). There was so much art to be nervous at (including a debut coloring page - my idea!), but I was good and tried to only fidget with it a few times over the weekend.

As is often the case with conventions that I am excited to attend, there were more things in the various programming slots that I wanted to go to than the laws of physics would permit. There was an amazing Leverage panel, moderated by the fabulous Michi Trota. Leverage is one of my favorite TV shows, and listening to people gleefully enjoy it with the entire room was wonderful. I also attended a great panel about Unpopular Opinions and how to not yuck your friends yum, while also acknowledging that you might not like things that they like. It was wonderfully affirming to be in a room with people who all had things that they didn't like that it was assumed everyone else did.

Ariela on the left with her fabulous blue dress, satin gloves, feathered fascinator and Impressive Makeup. I am on the right with my fabulous dress from Pendragon costumes, purple hair, glittery headscarf and Impressive Necklace. The temporary tattoo on my left shoulder is in the style of a band-aid that reads "I Am Enough."

Ariela on the left with her fabulous blue dress, satin gloves, feathered fascinator and Impressive Makeup. I am on the right with my fabulous dress from Pendragon costumes, purple hair, glittery headscarf and Impressive Necklace. The temporary tattoo on my left shoulder is in the style of a band-aid that reads "I Am Enough."

There was much socializing, a trip to the hot tub, more drinks, my homemade braised minute steaks, and tasty breakfasts with great conversations. Of course, it would not be WisCon without the Dessert Salon and Guest of Honor Speeches. 

This year's Guests of Honor were Amal El-Mohtar and Kelly Sue Deconnick. Both spoke about their relationships to story and storytelling. I'm still processing their speeches, but here are my favorite pull quotes from each speech:

"Every time I try to pin down a truth about myself, about my identity, it's like trying to pin down mercury." ~ Kelly Sue Deconnick

"Why do we talk about losing an argument instead of learning a truth?" - Amal El-Mohtar

I could simply list quotes from the speeches, but that's not what you're here for. Suffice it to say that they were full of hard yet inspiring truths, and they had me on the edge of tears. I think that the best response to those speeches is the tweet Ariela sent out at the end of the con:

"We are getting progressively more angry and intersectional feminist in our art. Because eff 2017. #WC41 #WisCon41." No one is perfect, but we are taking the energy and trying to do our best. 

During what WisCon calls The Great Sign-Out,**** I got the all important photos of the Guests of Honor holding my knitting:

Kelly Sue Deconnick holding the cowl I was working on throughout the weekend. 

Kelly Sue Deconnick holding the cowl I was working on throughout the weekend. 

Amal El-Mohtar holding the cowl I was working on throughout the weekend.

Amal El-Mohtar holding the cowl I was working on throughout the weekend.

I also got an opportunity to meet and geek out about comics with Jess Plummer (who writes for Book Riot Comics, among other things). Mostly we talked about how Nick Spencer is driving Marvel Comics down the drain and into the sewer,***** but I also heard her talk about G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel books and how awesome they are. It's so refreshing to meet a woman comics commentator who is supporting female comic creators and who won't stand for any nonsense in her comics.

Was it a perfect con? Nope. There's no such thing. I met some wonderful women (and a few men), had some conversations I'm still pondering, heard speeches that inspired me to keep working and fighting, and even attended some panels. Will I be coming back next year? You bet. 

 

 

*Memorial Day weekend is typically a small scale SCA war, and we were hoping to day trip Sunday. With rain both here and there, no such luck.

**We stayed on the fancy floors of the Madison Concourse, which entitled us to free cocktails, free breakfast, and other free nibbles during our stay. I am never one to turn my nose up at free alcohol.

***As opposed to pegboard panel

****Instead of having various signings throughout the con, they hold one MASSIVE one on Monday, after all the panels are over. This way no one has to miss a panel to get something signed.

*****We remain a #SayNotoHYDRACap establishment around here.