The Penti-Con is a comic-con style event that happens annually in Penticton. This year was the second year of the con but it’s already grown exponentially. They expanded from one day to two, and even had to change venues this year to accommodate. I was pleased to be part of last year, when I was a Geek Guest of Honour and I presented on tabletop RPGs, and this year I was able to present on my work with the SFWA YouTube channel and the SFF market.
I love this con! It was organized by nerds for nerds. Clearly these humans went to enough cons in other places and decided they wanted one of their own, because they know how it works, and they obviously love what they do.
There was some confusion with the sudden growth — mostly a few hiccups in organizing. I recommend they have more communication with the people who run their social media, because I found it difficult to connect to organize my panel. I will say that it happily worked out in the end, however, and everyone was extremely nice, and accommodating.
There was something for everyone at this con; everything from kids’ potion classes to Cards Against Con, which was understandably an 18+ event. The disabled access was excellent. I mean really excellent. They even featured a “sensory hour” for autistic people and folks who don’t like crowds in the morning on Sunday. They turned down the lights and kept the sounds low. And there was a HUGE Pride presence! Signs posted at the entry said things like “This con welcomes everyone” over a rainbow flag, and “Please respect your fellow con-goers; do not take photos or touch without permission.” I was turned down only once for a photo and was happy to respect that.
The local LGBTQ+ youth group did a couple of fundraising con-related activities, like running a Sorting Hat for $1 and selling nerdy LGBTQ buttons (I got a rainbow D&D logo and a rainbow Star Wars button.)
Outside, the Axe Monkeys held a booth to try your hand at axe-throwing. The 501st Garrison was on site, wearing their fantastic Imperial and Stormtrooper uniforms (and featuring an amazing Boba Fett,) and you could take as many photos as you liked on your own, or get a professional quality photo for a donation to the local food bank (if you’re not familiar, these folks dress up in Imperial outfits and raise money for a variety of charitable causes this way.)
The guest cosplayers were amazing, as were the amateur cosplayers! Most of my photos are some of their amazing work. My favourite were the couple who were dressed in vintage Trek costume, including tricorder. The pros included the Queens of Idol Hell, Stoosh Cosplay, Archetype Cosplay, and Benny G Cosplay.
The guest of honour was Garrett Wang, who of course played Harry Kim in Star Trek: Voyager. He was funny, interesting and entertaining. He spoke about how important it was for him, as an Asian actor, to be cast in a non-stereotypical Asian part; which was a novelty at the time. He was charging a reasonable fee for autographs and my friends got a few (I never did successfully track him down, but autographs really aren’t my thing anyway.) I did get a chance to talk with him briefly with my friend, though.
The other guest of honour was Chantal Strand, who has done voice acting for Dragon Tales, Hamtaro, Sabrina: the Animated Series, Gundam SEED, and Gundam SEED Destiny. She’s currently working on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where she voices Diamond Tiara and her mother, Spoiled Rich.
They also featured Michael Perry, Illustrator and Replica Prop Master, who’s done more work on more projects than I can count; Jeff Klyne, a young actor recently cast in Sabrina the Teenage Witch; digital artist Hidden Rainbows; and Sfe R. Monster, queer comic creator, Lambda Award winning editor of Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Comic Anthology and co-founder of Beyond Press.
There were all kinds of gaming booths available to anyone. My favourite was the Dance Dance Revolution booth, and my best moment was watching two guys in air-supported T-Rex costumes competing against each other. I got a photo but I was at my table at the time so it’s kind of hard to see.
A gentleman in a Mask costume led a conga line for cosplaying kids. He was amazing, doing all the exaggerated gestures and facial expressions of the Mask! I got photos of him too.
And OMG the vendors! There were hundreds of them, selling handmade dragon figurines (Peace in Dragons, who had a table next to me, and I think I made a couple of friends,) crocheted characters, anime and fantasy art, 3D printing, fabulous handmade cosplay costumes, mugs with Star Trek and Harry Potter quotes, buttons, and a million other things perfectly suited to us nerdy types. Bring money if you’re coming next year; you’re going to want it.
I wasn’t the only author, either. They had about half a dozen SFF authors, most of whom were indies or hybrids. I connected to a few of them and their work looks awesome! There was a few high fantasy authors, a dystopian YA author, and more. You can check out L.G.A. McIntyre, A.K. Baxter, and Kris Moger at these links.
I didn’t get to see as many of the panels as I would have liked because I was there alone this time, and had to watch my table, but they had a full schedule of three simultaneously running events at all times, including a metric shittonne of cosplay events, main stage presentations from the featured guests, a Q &A with Garrett Wang, and all-day board games. My presentation “SFWA, the Nebula Awards, and the Changing Face of Science Fiction and Fantasy” was attended by a small but dedicated group, lots of whom asked me questions about SFWA and the SFF market and self-publishing afterwards.
I stayed with my friends in Penticton, and they took great care of me. I was better fed, better watered, and better slept than I’ve been at a con or festival in a long time. They also provided a space for me to do the projects I had going on online over the weekend, including the SFWA channel’s episode of #ThePanel on Steampunk, and a class on writing flintlock fantasy with Django Wexler and Cat Rambo. So shout-out and thank you to Jenn and Dominic!
I will certainly be back next year, and I suggest you go too. It’s still small enough to have a real community feel, but big enough that there’s always something for everyone to do. Well worth it!