Thursday, August 7, 2014

Leaky Con 2014!

Last weekend John and I went to three different conventions in three days, each drastically different from the others. It was fascinating to compare and contrast the geekdom this way -  and, of course, total blast.

So let's jump right in with Leaky Con, the Harry Potter convention we attended on Friday - as Death Eaters.
Photo by The Blonde Swan - who makes the most fabulous hats, and is well worth a follow on FB. 
(So many great convention pics!)

Easily the most unique fan convention I've been to, Leaky Con has its weak points, but its strengths keep loyal fans coming back every year, spending hundreds to over a thousand dollars on travel & tickets just to be there. (We met fans from all over the country, and even Canada.)

If you've never been to Leaky Con, then here's what you need to know:

- It's small.

According to security, Leaky Con had about 4,500 weekend registrants on Thursday night. By contrast, MegaCon - which is held in the same convention center here in Orlando -  averages around 50,000. The building was practically a ghost town.

This main event room had chairs stretching over 100 feet behind us, but only the rows you see were occupied - and this was for Hannah Hart's panel, one of the biggest events.

The Good: No lines, no crowds, and no worries about missing panels. It's a perfect first con, especially for anxiety sufferers. You're also more likely to rub elbows with the celebrity guests, since they roam the vendor room & halls freely.

The Bad: If you're used to bigger cons, you may be singing Ariel's lament. ("I want to be... where the people are!") The vendor room is pretty small, and there's very little cosplay - although what you do see is incredibly inventive and/or well done.

This Hogwarts Express handed me a free ticket to Platform 9 3/4. :)

- It is unbelievably expensive.

This is a major sticking point for me, and definitely Leaky Con's biggest drawback. A single day pass is $60, roughly triple what an average con charges, and even THAT won't let you see all the panels or guests.

If you want to see the authors - which, to me, were the biggest draw - you'll have to pony up $125 for a special "lit pass." For the whole weekend? You're looking at $275. This when the biggest headliners were Amber Benson from Buffy & Hannah Hart from My Drunk Kitchen. (John Green was also there, but again, you couldn't see him without the more expensive pass.)

You tell 'em, Myrtle.

By contrast, a weekend pass at Dragon Con - which has dozens and dozens of A-list celebs and open panels regardless of your pass type - costs less than half that at $130 for a weekend pass.

The Good: Technically your pass includes free autographs & photos ...

The Bad: ... but not really. What it actually includes is admission into a lottery for free autographs & photos. And you're only entered if you show up at 8 o'clock in the morning. So, get up early just to see if you maybe get the autograph(s) you want. Yikes. No, thanks. I would much - MUCH - rather pay for autographs and have a lower admission charge over all.

- It's attended by mostly young women.

 Adorable Luna is adorable.

The Good: The vibe was so relaxed without guys around! I almost felt like I was at a big geek girl slumber party. No fights, no posturing, no subtle competitions for photographers' attention - everyone seemed at ease, friendly, and ready to chat. And the guys who were there (mostly vendors & older adults, tbh) were there with women, so you don't have packs of ogling lurkers around.

The Bad: If you're NOT a 16-25 woman you might feel a little out of place. That said, there was a small band of older cosplayers & fans about who were absolutely delightful - and obviously welcomed & included - so I wouldn't worry much on this point.

I asked if we should be fighting or getting along. Dumbledore immediately replied, 
"We're all friends here."  D'awwww.

There's also a larger chance of being accosted by roving bands of giggling girls at Leaky Con, but to be honest, if you're in the right spirit that just adds to the fun. (There was some kind of photo scavenger hunt going on, so we were asked to play along several times.)

[Click "read more" for the rest - this post got kind long. ;)]

- It's for a very specific fan niche

Well played, Leaky Con. WELL PLAYED.
(If you get this joke, you probably belong at Leaky Con.)

Just being a Harry Potter fan isn't really enough; to get the most out of Leaky Con you need to be plugged in to the extraneous Potter fan stuff as well: the Tumblr communities, Youtube celebs, & music scene, for starters. (What's that? You didn't KNOW there's a Potter music scene? *tsk tsk*)

For the past few years Leaky Con has included other fandoms as well, like Supernatural - but next year it is reverting back to ONLY Harry Potter. (A spin-off convention, Geeky Con, will be staying here in Orlando, and will feature a variety of fandoms like any other con.)

Supernatural panel with two of the writers, Amber Benson, & Alaina Huffman.
 (Sorry for the terrible cell phone pic!)

The Good: You wanna discuss Puppet Pals during a Tonks & the Aurors concert? THIS IS YOUR PLACE. Or, you could find new areas of the fandom you'll love, since everyone here seemed ready to share.

The Bad: If you're "just" a Potter books & movies fan, you'll be pretty lost a lot of the time. (Me. I was lost. So, so much. The guest list was a mile long, and I only recognized three or four names! o.0)

Ok, I think that's everything on the need-to-know front. And on a personal note, other than Dragon Con, I've never met so many Epbot readers in one place before! It. Was. AWESOME. John and I kind of seamlessly went from one reader to the next, as people called our names.

Bobbi here (dressed as Tara from Buffy, aw yeah) even made us something amazing:

It's John as Dreamfinder & me in my Figment outfit! How cool is that?!

(So last weekend we gave Mark Sheppard a doll and then got our own! That's geeky karma for ya. :))

Another big draw for me at Leaky Con was artist Karen Hallion, so I was thrilled to finally meet her - and find out she's a Cake Wrecks & Epbot fan! Woot! And, you guys, she is so, so nice. It's like she has no idea how famous she is. (Even if you don't recognize her name, I bet you have one of her shirts!)

Anyway, if you know Karen's work then you know scoring an original Karen Hallion sketch card is almost impossible; they sell out in seconds online. So when I saw Karen working on a Harley sketch I started begging. Happily she let me reserve it, and ...

It's mine! ALL MINE!! Muah-ha-haaa!


For most of the day I couldn't have my camera on me - which was painful - so John used his phone. Then for the last hour we changed out of costume and I grabbed my camera. Here's the last batch of what we took:

You can definitely see your steep ticket fee at work here: fanciest stage set-up I've seen at a con ANYWHERE. It looked more like the set for a broadway play than a panel!

A stunning Bellatrix & hilarious Gilderoy Lockhart - who was actually a vendor, and with a beautiful shop.

Remember when I said the costumes were inventive?

 She's the CAR from Supernatural! Complete with working tail lights! Ha!

 Beautiful Elphaba from Wicked.

 We were there on Friday, but on Saturday Karen Hallion posted one of the most brilliant couples' costumes I've ever seen, so I have to share:

 You guys. It's Snape with his patronus. 

[Kermit flail] AAAAA!! He even has a light-up LE wire connecting them! AAAAA!!!

Also on Saturday, there was a Gilderoy Lockhart with one of the best props. Here's a photo from The Blonde Swan again:

 His book has a video screen in it, so his author "photo" can wink and flirt at you. SO FUN. I've seen a video of it in action on the cosplayer's FB page, but now I can't find it again to post. Poo. Anyone have a link?

UPDATE: Aha! Gilderoy is actually a friend of a friend, and his name is Lon Smart. Here's a video of him in action - you're gonna love it!

Ok, I think that does it for Leaky Con! If you want more, though, then head over to Inside the Magic for lots of pics from the vendor room, celebs, & more great cosplay.


  1. Omg Lockhart's video screen book! That's such a cool idea. I need to find a reason to make one, like, now!

  2. Love Snape and his patronus. And so jealous that you got to meet Karen Hallion!

  3. Wow although it has some drawbacks it looks like a fun event! Also jealous that you got to meet Karen Hallion. I love the Harley sketch

  4. WOW!!! Totally jealous of your Karen Hallion sketch. I absolutely love her Doctor Who/Disney mash-ups. I have about a dozen of her designs on t-shirts and cards. Love her.

  5. It's nice to see pics from Leaky Con, I've always been curious. Thanks. By the by, it's Hannah Hart not Hana.

  6. So fun!
    That first picture made me laugh. That lady's expression is priceless.Thanks for sharing, Jen!
    --Piper P

  7. It actually wasn't too bad snagging wristbands this year. A large percentage of people didn't even bother trying to get wristbands so they still had so many for almost every signing that they just gave them away. The only one that tends to be crazy is Starkid. Don't get between the teens and their Starkids. I donated to the HPA charity last fall and got a "Witchband" that let me into every signing automatically. I don't mind paying more up front for a smaller con, nicer people, and an honest chance to meet any special guest I wanted! Again it was such a treat seeing you both, definitely petitioning my crafty dad to help me tackle your wand tutorial
    -Kristen Brown

  8. This is fantastic. I roomed with the Bellatrix in your photo. Too bad I didn't see you there.

    The LitTrack was really amazing though. Definitely worth the extra cash. They had such fantastic programming all weekend and all the authors were very well known. Most of my time was spent at LitTrack programming. I highly suggest it if you read any YA books.

  9. A Karen Hallion t-shirt was the shirt that started my obsession with geeky t-shirts! I love her art and I am very jealous you go to meet her. I seem to keep missing her at the conventions I go to (as in I go to the cons she goes to but not the same year lol)!

  10. Great summary! I find it hilarious that actually a lot of hp fans complain about Leaky's lines and how many people there are now. They have no idea how huge cons work and your comparison really opened my eyes. I cannot fathom a con of 50k people! Our lines are probably nothing.

    Aaaaand I'm the patronus in the snape/patronus photo! Thanks for liking it :) Was so nice Karen posted it- I had people multiple people tell me she posted that throughout the day lol.

  11. Thanks for this post. I get major anxiety around people (even just going to the grocery store freaks me out), but I've always wanted to go to a con and see people that also love the things that I love. I'm a huge fan of all things Potter (I'm currently wearing my "Slytherin themed" outfit and have a Potter fanfic in my other tab :P ) especially the musicals done by Starkids and the Potter Puppet Pals videos so combining that with the fact that this con seems very small compared to all the others makes it look perfect for me. I definitely want to start saving to go to one.

  12. Can't believe I am finding this, I am the girl that CosPlayer Elphaba. The fact that people loved it was beyond doubt one of the nicest things I ever experienced. Elphaba is incredibly important to me...thanks you guys <3

  13. I am dying over Fleur(?)'s shoes. Want. Want so hard.

    1. You're not the only one! Wonder if I can photo stalk her costume and see what she used as a base to create my own...muahahahaha. *Epic hand rubbing*

    2. -Rises from the depths of the sea as Jaws theme plays- Or you can just check out the tutorial once I put it up, ya know, if thats easier for you guys then photo stalking me .... -Slowly sinks back down-

  14. My friend went last year and she was disappointed in it. You pretty much said exactly what she said. Very teen-centric. I just want to go for John and Hank Green. I've been a fan since 2007.


  15. my daughter is interested in cosplay. We live in St. Louis. How do we find cons for her to attend?

  16. Darn! I was hoping to click the link and find out that you're a die hard Starkid fan! Not your scene?

  17. I'm just boggled at the idea that 4500 people is a *small* Con! My home Con averages 2000 people and I've attended Cons of 300 - 500 people.

    That said... Amanda Y., my home Con is Archon in St. Louis! (O.K. Technically it's in Collinsville, IL...) It's a costume heavy and costume friendly Con. There's a fairly serious "party scene" at night, but during the day it's pretty family friendly.
    Check out the Archon website:
    Or feel free to contact me directly: DainXB (at) SBCGlobal (dot) net I love to talk to other fans!

  18. So jealous that you met Karen and got a sketch card!!!!!

  19. I love when you recap the cons you go to since I no longer attend any. :) And I had to laugh this time because I was one of the people who didn't know Karen's name, but did in fact have a t-shirt LOL Embarrassing hole in my knowledge which I will now throw myself into overcorrecting.

  20. where did you acquire the wand with the green light???? i have to have it


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