Here at Nola Nerd Couple Headquarters, Star Wars makes up a large part of our lives. We have made trips to the West and East coast because of Star Wars. We collect everything Star Wars from figurines to calendars to games to clothes. We are keeping up with new Star Wars canon by reading the Marvel Comics. Cristina was a big fan of Clone Wars (which I have not seen) and started watching Star Wars Rebels as soon as it came out. Star Wars Rebels takes place about five years before the events of Episode IV. I did not plan on watching Star Wars Rebels, often doing something else while Cristina watched. It was hard to not pay attention. It has great stories that match the talent level of its cast which includes Freddie Prince, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Jason Isaacs, Dee Bradley Baker, and David Oyelowo. However, it was the character of Ezra Bridger voiced by Taylor Gray that really drew me in.
We spent last Saturday at Bayou Con 2016 in Sulphur Louisiana. Sulphur is about a 3-hour drive from the Nola Nerd Couple Headquarters.
Bayou Con was held at the West Cal Event Center. It was a perfect size for Bayou Con, which is a small growing convention. After being to Space City Comic Con and Wizard World Philadelphia in the past month, the smallness of this con was kind of a shock. However, I wouldn’t judge Yoda by his size, so I won’t judge a con by its size.
The main attraction for this year’s Bayou Con was Taylor Gray from Star Wars Rebels, who will feature it a separate blog. Bobby Clark, a veteran stuntman, was signing pictures of his most famous character Gorn from Star Trek. Robert Axelrod has done tons of work especially in voice-acting. Both men were funny and seemed to be enjoying themselves at the con.
There were plenty of authors at Bayou Con as well. We ended up purchasing books from two. Henry Melton mainly writes science fiction. He spends more time on the road than off which inspired his young adult fiction series, Small Towns, Big Ideas. The book we purchased, Emperor Dad, is part of this series. This book, which is set in the author’s hometown, has a few autobiographical moments according to the authors website. You can buy his books at his website.
The other author we bought a book from was Blake M. Petit. Blake is the host of one of the longest running comic book podcasts, All New Showcase, and often contributes to the website of our local comic book store, BSI Comics. The book we purchased was Opening Night of the Dead. The story takes place on Halloween night during a monster movie shoot when zombies start attacking. You can purchase Blake’s work here!
Bayou Con also had plenty of vendors for a con of its size. We bought some really nice magnets from The Inkling Girl, who has a ton of cool jewelry, magnets, and paintings, and superhero mask from a cool vendor whose name we unfortunately did not remember. There was tons of action figures, some fantasy weapons, steampunk accessories, and knitted goods. All of it was reasonably priced. There were also plenty of fan groups there willing to discuss their organizations including the 501st and a Live Action Role Playing group teaching people how to nerf sword fight.
We attended the Meet Aaron Roberts panel. Mr. Roberts is a voice actor who is most known for his work in Anime. The crowd asked some interesting questions including how he preps for roles, what does he eat before doing voice work (he sticks to protein shakes the day of recording), and his personal preference for software when recording himself. He was entertaining throughout and I look forward to keeping up with his career.
My old illness hampered some of our activities for the day. We did plan to spend the night and attend Sunday, but we decided against it due to me not feeling that great. Our only better-if about the con is that it was a little too small to stretch over three days, at least for us. There are only so many times you can walk through the vendor area. There were plenty of panels, however, and that’s mostly what we did during our time there. If we would have thought to bring one of our table top games we could have spent more time in the very crowded gaming area. Again, this is a small con, and hopefully it will grow and be able to have more things available.
For a small con, there were quite a few good cosplayers. Also, the audience ranged all ages. Bayou Con allowed for an audience who can’t find transportation to the bigger cons in New Orleans and Houston, namely teenagers. It reminded me of the Star Trek Conventions that used to be held in a convention room in a hotel in the early 90s. Those were some of the best cons I ever attended because it allowed me to be a nerd without judgment. It allowed me to find people with similar interests. It gave me a sense of community. Bayou Con provided that for its attendees. It allowed people to find others in their area who have similar interests who might not have known each otherwise. It provided a place for young people to learn that you can make a living from acting, writing, and drawing.
Bayou Con shouldn’t be judged by its size. It should be judged by how it brings people together. And by that measurement, it was a great con.
We have attended Comic Cons all over the place. We have been to Star Wars Celebration in both California and Florida. We have even attended the London Film and Comic Con. We love New Orleans Comic Con by Wizard World and look forward to Pensacon every year. Dallas and Houston have great cons. One of the best cons we ever attended was in Galveston. We haven’t been to San Diego…yet. However, we have learned from each con on how to make the most of them.
Comic Cons can be stressful for an introvert. I have social anxiety. Large crowds in a small space stress me out. I don’t like it when people bump into me. Most people that attend Comic Cons, though, are introverts themselves. Remembering this reduces stress of a con. This is a safe place for nerds and geeks and it allows us to assert our extroverted side. We often run into former students at Comic Cons. Often, they were the quietest students in our class, but when they are cosplaying at con, they are stopping every five seconds to take pictures with strangers. Cosplaying allows people to step out of themselves and be someone else for a day.
Another source of stress of attending a Comic Con is trying to do everything. You can’t. There are too many things limiting you, mainly time and money. To have a successful con, figure out what is a priority. If you love collecting autographs, you may have to miss a panel. To help with this, study the website of the con. Figure out what people are going to be there on specific days. For example, at the upcoming Pensacon, Natalia Tena (Tonks from Harry Potter) is appearing Sunday only. If we didn’t read the website, or follow on twitter, and we only planned on going on Saturday, we would have been disappointed.
Making a schedule can also lead to successful con. You can’t be in two places at once. You have to figure out what your priority is, and schedule everything else around that. For last year’s Star Wars Celebration, our priority was getting autographs. Our schedule was based around that. By not scheduling a panel in front of an autograph, we met everyone we wanted to meet. Remember you have limited time at a panel, so planning helps.
Finally, budgeting is important. Besides paying for autographs and photo-ops, there is many other things on which to spend your money. I always describe Comic-Cons as “jewelry shows for nerds.” Planning helps. If you really want to get autographs, budget the amount of money you want to spend. Most cons list the prices of autographs and photo-ops on their website. Of course, you are going to make impulse purchases, just make sure you spend your cash on what you planned on spending it on as well. In fact, bring cash. While Square is appearing more often at Cons, cash is often the quickest way to do some transactions, and in some cases, the only way.
The most important advice we can give for a successful con is to have fun. Make small talk with the celebrities, ask the artists questions, attend panels. Most of us attend cons to remind ourselves of that little person inside of ourselves. Let that person out.