Review Pensacon 2017: Something for everyone

By Tom Moore
Staff Reporter

Welcome to Pensacon, Pensacola’s premier comic con. Pensacon 2017 was my fourth Pensacon, and by far the most interesting. When the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred beyond recognition, and the laws of the known universe are completely defied, the result is Pensacon.
“I have attended Pensacon since the first year,” said Angel Matthews, a local cosplayer and hardcore player of the hit video game series “League of Legends.”

“My character, Tatianna, is the kind of woman I would like to be,” Matthews said. “She’s strong, she’s beautiful, and extremely self-confident. She is the type of girl you call when you need some serious backup. When I put on my armor and become Tatianna, I feel like I can take on the world.”

Congoer Andrew Stevens said, “That is the beauty of Pensacon compared to the other cons in the area – there really is something for everyone.”
This year, celebrity guests represented almost every genre, including Star Trek, Star Wars, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, the original 21 Jump Street, Jem and the Holograms, Power Rangers and The Lord of the Rings.

The activities were just as well-rounded, from Captain America fighting Wonder Woman, to themed parties at downtown restaurants, to a Princess Leia photo shoot to honor the memory of the late great Carrie Fisher.

Panels were offered on just about every topic imaginable, as well as a tour of the Institute Human and Machine Cognition Robotics Division.
Be it science fiction or science fact, Pensacon had it all. And that is what I love about it. I like cross-genre discussions. I didn’t read the comics, so I’m not hung up on all the “canon,” or rules, from the comics. (I know. Now all the die-hard comic book readers are going to rise up and attack me.)

But at the same time, I feel like it allows me to be a bit more objective to the overall picture from the point of view of a convention connoisseur. I always try to be as objective as I can, because I know, as a writer myself, somebody has put a lot of time and work into the story, and the characters derived from it. All the characters whom we have come to know and love started out as the glimmering of an idea in someone’s mind. Instead of quashing that idea, they allowed it to grow, and flourish, and pretty soon, that idea sprang full force out in the universe, giving many other people ideas to enjoy and think about as well. To me, this is the beauty of any convention.

When people bring their ideas together to discuss them, the ideas will flourish and multiply. When fans share their ideas with other fans, they get that gleam of excitement in their eyes. When fans bring their characters to life and share them with other fans, this is the true essence of the convention experience in its purest form.

There is a camaraderie about this concept of sharing ideas that many people do not get to have, and it is this level of experience that make cosplay conventions unforgettable.

One of my friends, Kelly Senft, posted this on her Facebook page after the convention, regarding a panel her daughter and friends hosted for the children of Pensacon:

“I was asked to take photos of panels that my daughter and her friends were part of at Pensacon. I see these young adults dress in cosplay every year, several times a year, and I think the cosplays alone they come up with are amazing. This weekend turned my eyes to something else, though. As I sat snapping photos of them doing their thing, answering questions about the particular show they are representing, giving away artwork that was made by them, dancing, singing, then I turn and see the smiles on children’s faces, people being open about their lives and how cosplay has changed them, made them feel accepted in a world where they sometimes don’t, due to their sexuality, interests and many other things. What they do is almost a therapy for some and magic to others. If you have a child or even a friend or family member who wants to cosplay and you just don’t get why… Take a moment to follow them around … Learn … It’s not just about dressing up and becoming someone else for a day. It’s seriously about changing people’s lives.”

Her words touched me deeply, and I thought, yes, this is what Pensacon is all about. This is the essence of what Pensacon brings to the community. The celebrities are great, the events are super, but it is the people that make the experience. Pensacon cultivates that intimate sharing of ideas and experiences.

As yet another Pensacon comes to a close, I would like to take a moment to thank the Pensacon staff. You guys are awesome, you brought another amazing experience to the geek community of Pensacola. Thank you all, and see you next year.

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Photo by Tom Moore.