#Flashback Friday: Top 10 Reasons Why Flame Con 2 is still better than NYCC

"The Stairway to Heaven"

After the success of Flame Con (New York's first LGBTQ comic convention) raised the bar again with Flame Con 2: 2 Fierce 2 Fabulous! On August 20 and 21, doubling the fun: 2 days, 2 mascots, and 2 cosplay contests, 2 portfolio reviews and twice the panels and exhibitors.

Flame Con 2 was held at the beautiful Brooklyn Marriott Hotel located near the historic Brooklyn Bridge. The hotel's modern space age design mirrors Flame Con’s bright future; as the larger space facilitated an intellectual salon of creative energy and free thinking ideas, surpassing the expectations of a comic convention.

Last year, I wrote the Top 5 reasons why Flame Con beats NYCC. In honor of Flame Con 2, the list has been doubled. [NYCC are you still taking notes?]

Presenting [drum roll]...

The Top 10 Reasons why Flame Con 2 is still better than NYCC:

10: The Press Room

Images: Sara Barton

As the old saying goes, if you ever want to learn a person's true character, watch how they treat others. The staff at Flame Con 2 treated members of the press like royalty. The clever graphic signs guided journalists to the 3rd floor. Press check-in was speedy, efficient and Flame Con staff was super friendly. They brilliantly utilized the Marriott Hotel's space by reserving a lovely conference room; filled with plush seats and a large water cooler. The best part, you could leave your bags and Flame Con staff offered to watch them for you. I was shocked, I’ve covered NYCC since 2010, this is unheard of.(1)

9: The Water Coolers

Images: Sara Barton

Throughout Flame Con, several water coolers were stationed around the Exhibition Hall, Cosplay Corner, and Press Room. A person might not think twice about this. So why did they make our list? Last week's weather was very hot and humid reaching the upper 90’s, feeling like the 100’s. Although, this weekend’s weather was surprisingly much cooler and the hotel does have air conditioning; it’s important to stay hydrated. Dehydration is a serious safety issue when the weather is extremely hot. At NYCC, The Javits Center sells water bottle for $4, while they’re water fountains; they don’t always work. It’s the thoughtful touches that show that Flame Con truly cares about the safety of its attendees, exhibitors, performers and members of the Press.

8: The Cosplay Corner and Repair Station

Images: Sara Barton and Flame Con

Flame Con 2 was dedicated to the art of Cosplay. In addition, to 2 cosplay contests there was an expansion of the photograph section and a Repair Station. Cosplayers had extra room for photo shoots against the official Flame Con backdrop. They also included a table with props (similar to a photo booth); it had rubber chickens and the famous "gay defense" shields. However, I was really impressed by the Cosplay Repair Station. The sign featured the new Iron Man (aka Iron Heart), Riri Willson. The table had extra materials, glue guns and other emergency necessities a cosplayer in distress might need. As a beginner cosplayer and as an artist who loves to build props, this was a slice of paradise.

7: Brooklyn SuperHero Supply Co.

Images: Sara Barton

The Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Co, is located in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Yes, it's a real-life store that sells all sorts of gadgets a hero might need. Their booth even had a few specials items for Flame Con 2. However, they’re also a storefront for 826NYC, a non-profit dedicated to supporting students, ages 6–18, with their writing skills. Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Co’s dedicated tutors, storytellers, and workshop leaders help 2,300 NYC students per year. Take a train ride downtown and try out the Cape Tester, get De-Villainized, but (most important) don't forget to ask about the secret door! (Hint: 826NYC)

6: Robots, Unicorns, and Steven Universe…Oh My!

Images: Sara Barton

If Flame Con was meant to have a theme, this would have been it. The Exhibition Hall was filled art, cosplay, and books featuring: Robots, Unicorns, and Steven Universe. There was even a booth selling Unicorn Cookies and comics! Among several artists, we’re Justin Winslow’s comic, “Robot & Unicorn” and Gay Breakfast's stellar Steven Universe Fan-Art. While Steven Universe was a hit last year, ever since the series featured more LGBTQ themes and Rebecca Sugar came out, it's popularity has sky-rocketed exponentially. Adopt a Robot, was not what I thought it was. Flame Con 2 also featured a panel on "Gendering BB-8" Do robots really have a gender?

5: Activism

Images: Sara Barton

A sense of social justice was in the air. Flame Con 2 had already issued a press release banning gun props in light of Orlando and attendees were happy to comply. The convention also hosted a panel called, “Geek Activism”, for those interested in getting involved. Several artists in the Exhibition Hall also exercised their 1st amendment rights. It was fantastic! I found a sticker saying"Make America Gay Again" a parody to Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make American Great Again." Chaotic Kiss's booth had a sign saying #TransLivesMatter and talked about positive activism through art. There was P. Kristen Enos's classic, Active Voice, the quintessential piece on LGBT activism in the early 90s. Last, but not least, is Gun Controlled is a zine-style anthology book created by the queer comics, cartooning, and arts community. It contains art and stories reacting to the shootings that took place at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016. Sales will be donated to the Pulse Victims Fund.

4: Catching up with our favorites and making new friends.

Images: Sara Barton

I caught up with some of my favorite artists: the famous Brooklyn manga artist, Hiroki Otsuka and his husband, Jason; Justin Winslow of Robot & Unicorn; Jason Tsang, whose adult coloring book, Color Me Queer was a success! Plus, animator, Tristian Goik representing ASIFA-East.

What I love most about Flame Con 2 is the communal aspect as Hiroki and Justin became friends, introduced me to the talented fashion artist: A.E. Kieren and his model for the hour, exhibitor, Agent Wednesday; and gallery coordinator, Jeff Beler. There was a surge of creative synergy that Sunday.

3: Sara meets K. Perkins

Images: Sara Barton

K. Perkins is the writer for DC's Supergirl, and her many credits include film, television, and plays. As a screenwriting major, I talked shop with Perkin. She was happy to give me career advice and industry tips. When our delightful conversation came to an end; out of the blue, she surprised me with an autographed Supergirl comic. Perkins is a class act and I wish her the best on her future endeavors.

2: The 2 Fierce 2 Fabulous Mascots

Images: Sara Barton and Flame Con

The Flame Con mascots wore three spectacular costumes this year. On Saturday, Mr. Flame Con (aka Flamey) wore an updated chic and elegant design. The costume had various shades of red, accented with a Flame belt and cuffs. Its sheer simplicity is a reflection Brooklyn Marriot Hotel's modern yet futuristic style. On Sunday, Mr. Flame Con was dressed to the nines, in a very elegant flame ball gown; reminiscent of the Katniss Everdeen's dress from The Hunger Games films. That costume was on fire, including the flame-haired wig! As for Ms. Flame Con, she was rocking last year original costume. The mascots were fierce and fabulous — it was perfect!

1: Sriracha Boy attends Youth Day!

Image: Instagram: laimleeny

Geeks OUT partnered with the Ali Forney Center(2) for its 1st Youth Day. On Sunday, all attendees of Flame Con 2 under the age of 21 were admitted free of charge. Attendees, staff, and exhibitors brought their children. It was a family friendly atmosphere, yet none was more adorable than Sriracha Boy (a toddler who wore a plush hot sauce bottle). Huy Fong's Sriracha has gone from a popular condiment to a pop culture phenomenon. This little cutie wandered the convention floor spreading the joy and love of Sriracha sauce to those around him. That day, Sriracha boy became cemented in Instagram history.

Flame Con 2 has dropped the mic (twice), BOOM! NYCC are you ready?

(1) NYCC Press either has a choice of carrying their gear or paying $3 for coat check (except for NYCC 2015, where Progressive Insurance offered free storage lockers to all attendees)

(2) The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.

Originally published August 30, 2016 via Samurai Beat Radio
S. A. Barton's picture
on December 23, 2016

I'm a journalist and host for Samurai Beat Radio, the founder of The Pocky Campaign and in my spare time, I love to draw comics. I'm psyched to be a part of the Geeks OUT team.