In case yall couldn’t tell from our barrage of selfies and excited squealing this past weekend, BLP had an absolute blast at Arisia. We came, we sold stuff, we met a whole ensemble of really rad people and came away with our heads full of new ideas. In this Going Around we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the most meaningful moments and events that happened for each of us during the weekend.
Sunday took the cake at this year’s Arisia! Our group had finally found its footing, and we were out in full force!—attending panels, manning tables, and meeting all kinds of new and friendly faces. That afternoon, I had the opportunity to attend two events that left me grinning from ear to ear:
The first of these events was a panel entitled, “Gate of Truth – Revisiting Fullmetal Alchemist”, with panelists Ben “Books” Schwartz (moderator), Colin Janson, Zachary Clemente, and Kate Nepveu. The panel discussed Hiromu Arakawa’s now classic tale of two brothers on a journey to obtain the Philosopher’s stone, in high hopes of being able to move beyond the mistakes of their past. Tracing my personal following of Fullmetal Alchemist back to 2003, I was positively thrilled to enter a space where I could share in celebrating a piece of work that has undoubtedly had a lasting, and positive influence on my life. There was this surreal quality to hearing the passion and enthusiasm each panelist brought to the discussion—almost 17 years after the initial release of the Fullmetal Alchemist Manga in Monthly Shōnen Gangan! It filled me with a sense of pride and joy to know that even after all this time, there are (several!) people like myself, who still find rhyme, reason and value in discussing and sharing the colorful world of Fullmetal Alchemist. Just don’t let anyone make the joke that, “The real Philosopher’s stone is the friends we made along the way!” (Yikes!).
The second event I attended Sunday afternoon was the “Gender Non-Binary Mixer & Safe Space”, moderated by Ben “Books” Schwartz, & Cody Lazri. Aside from being my first year at Arisia, this was also my first experience attending a Non-Binary meet-up. I won’t expand on the details of the event in order to maintain the dignity of the meet-up as a safe space. What I can tell you is the importance of events like these. I got to spend a whole 75 minutes in a space meeting wonderful people from all over the state, and never once was my identity called into question. I felt happy, supported, and visible, even though a lot of my interactions involved chatting about little things like lipstick and cute cat photos. I’d love to see this mixer return to Arisia next year, and see events like this one become a more commonplace event in the convention circuit.
Worth a notable mention was Sunday night’s “MonsterHearts Live!” where Brian Liberge, Ben “Books” Schwartz, Lauren M. Roy and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry pulled more than a few laughs out of the crowd during a two-hour, “MonsterHearts” one-shot. I had no history with the game prior to the event, but after attending this goofy romp, you can bet it’s on the top of my “to play” list!
Nagi: I’m not much of a panel-goer at cons, so getting to even one was exceptional for me. I attended How to Be Inclusive, a panel
delivered by Diana Hsu, Benjamin Chicka, Jacqui B., Kat Tanaka Okopnik, and Cody Lazri, a group whose collective experience and expertise with social justice and advocacy of many marginalized groups is simply staggering. Even during the prickly incident of being faced with potentially-hostile ignorance, I had the privilege of watching Kat, Jacqui and Cody eviscerate the “gotcha-logic” of some red-pill strain troll, further driving home the points their panel was supposed to make. I tried to take adequate notes, and hope that with them I’ll be able to help make BLP an organization that “walks”, rather than just “talks” in matters of inclusivity.
Other than that, my fav part of the con had to just be sitting behind our table up in the mezzanine, watching the foot-traffic of excellent cosplays come and go to panels, and occasionally having someone approach us and be excited about our products before we even introduced ourselves; it turns out people are actually starting to know about us? That’s a wild thought for me. I even got to talk about my new Kamen Rider Calliope project with a mutual KR fan. I think I’m still catching up on sleep even now, but those four days were worth their weight in gold (and friendship, which is metaphysically proven to actually be the densest substance in the known universe).
Feryx: I have to agree that being at the table and taking everything in was a pretty fantastic experience. While I was there, I even had the delight of selling a substantial number of Tarot readings to con-goers along with Scriv. Tarot is a practice I’ve been working on to greater and lesser degree for just about a decade now, but this may have been the first time i’ve ever read for strangers in any significant capacity. It was really fun, and made me feel super good knowledgeable! It also led into a lot of interesting discussions about Tarot and its significance. I really could talk about occult stuff until I’m blue in the face (and have become emboldened to maybe write up some articles on the subject here), and just being around others who share or at least are curious about my interest is a wonderful thing.
Scriv: I love the whole process of doing an Event–the early wakeup after not much sleep the night before, the scarfing of breakfast, the charting of a course to the venue, the double- and triple-checking of all the gear. Getting to do all that with my BloodLetterPress cohorts was exhilarating–echoing what Nagi said above, Arisia 2018 cemented BLP as an institution for me, transformed it from a group of people with a blog into a living, breathing creative force. “There are people,” Nagi said on the ride back to Amherst, “who think we know what we’re doing!” In my opinion, we’re certainly getting there.
But we’d be way, way less close to that feeling if it weren’t for some incredible mentors who took time out of their con experience to come to our booth and lend us some of their expertise. We briefly crossed paths with Brian Liberge of Beer Star Games at JiffyCon 2017, but were not expecting him to work his way up to our table three levels above his, allow us to pitch him several of our offerings, and then give us personalized advice on what he liked and how we could continue to develop our ideas. Brian went out of his way to hand us networking gold, and the giddiness he instilled us with carried us into Monsterhearts Live, where the shenanigans of his group had us roaring with laughter. Before that event, though, I had the privilege of having dinner with Joshua A.C. Newman, who has been making games since before I knew what a d20 was and whose keen, compassionate mind I got to see at work at the Roleplaying Without Violence panel earlier in the day. Joshua took me to the best dumpling place I’ve ever been to, and we talked about fighting games, the ethics of hunting, the rise of the Western Mass tabletop community, and our mutual fascination with mythology and epic poetry, by way of his new game The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze. Brian and Joshua both took time to welcome us scrappy youngsters into a scene of successful, forward-thinking creators, and gave us the advice and tools we needed to make us feel like we were going places. I speak for BLP when I say that we are so, so grateful to both of them.
Apple S: I absolutely loved the one day I got to spend tabling at Arisia. My favorite part of the day was the
actual tabling and the encounters that came from that. Our table was in a place that got a lot of traffic from attendees on their way from one thing to another, and we really got a cross-section of con-goers from all walks of life. We had a huge variety of things for sale, from miniature RPGs and comics to earrings and necklaces, and people took an interest in all of them. To me, BLP is about creators supporting and appreciating each other, and it was amazing to see that circle of support and appreciation expanding.