The literary sci-fi/fantasy/horror con Ad Astra happened this past weekend. It’s a small fan-run show in its 31st year, and that means it’s completely different vibe from the big comic cons I tend to frequent like FanExpo and the New York City Comicon. Ad Astra is much more low key, relaxed, and full of friendly people who appreciate the genre. There are lots of panels with intriguing topics, such as “Book Binding Workshop”, “Creating Fantasy and SF Languages”, and “Real Space Science”.  It’s one of those shows where you really want to book a room to stay overnight at the con hotel even if you live in town, because the party goes on til the wee hours. I was sad when I had to go home as soon as the dealers’ room (I use that term loosely, because dealers tables were spread all over the place) closed! Compared to most of the large, professionally-run conventions, this one seems hopelessly disorganized. But somehow it doesn’t seem to matter because everyone just takes it in stride. The crowd skews a bit older than the typical Anime con, which works nicely for me. Ultimately, Ad Astra is about having fun with friends. I like that.

Another difference, from my point of view as a vendor, is the “traffic flow” of the attendees. At most of the shows I go to these days there is a constant stream of people wandering by my table. And yeah, often they’re not stopping long enough to look at my stuff, but you never know who might decide to stop and look so I never feel like I can take a break. At Ad Astra there are certainly busy times, but there are also distinct quiet times when everyone is off at one of those aforementioned interesting panels. The result of this is, I had lots of time to do something I haven’t done in a while– produce con sketches!

I guess you can call this cute little chibi-Worf a follow-up to Aria in the ST: TNG suit. When I drew this I was thinking it would be a nice donation for the con’s charity auction… until I realized they weren’t doing a charity auction! Oh, well.

One fellow who stopped by my table asked if I’d ever made any “Triangle 9″ mugs like the ones the Galaxion’s lab crew drink their coffee from. Well, I did paint one for my own personal use, but I’ve never had any made to sell. (I did have it on a button, though, and he was pleased with that.) After that conversation, I drew the above sketch. Makes you wonder how it could be that Aria hasn’t yet learned never to drink the lab’s coffee… I figure she probably agrees to a proffered mug from time to time just to be polite.

There were lots of people in some sort of costume, and a high percentage of them were of the Steampunk variety. Now, Darvin is a rather dapper fellow. Of all my characters, he’s the one I imagine wold most enjoy the chance to dress up in some psuedo-Victorian duds.

Sitting across from me was a group of guys from a Maker Space club here in Toronto, Site 3. They had with them a MakerBot, which I, and lots of other people, found fascinating. I’ve read online about all the cool things MakerBots can do, but this was my first chance to see one in action. Thoughts of Maker Spaces led me inevitably to thoughts of a certain Galaxion character.

I didn’t think too hard about the logistics, not to mention the consequences, of kludging a MakerBot to run on chocolate. I suggest you don’t, either.

At the table next to me was a group of ladies selling corsets, tiny feathered hats, and other items to go with your cosplay wardrobe (Apollonie is the designer’s website). They all got a great deal of enjoyment out of playing dress-up with various Victorian-curious convention-goers who’d never had the opportunity to try on a corset before. They’d take measurements to select the right size corset and then happily lace up their customers, who were thrilled at suddenly having an hourglass figure and a soaring new bustline to match. And all the ladies behind the table would gush– quite sincerely– at how fabulous they looked, and soon after that people pulled out their wallets. Men were not excluded from this experience, by the way– several of them also got laced up and gushed over (“That looks amazing on you!”). It was so amusing to watch that I eventually had to draw the above. If Darvin would be the one to most enjoy dressing up, I suspect Fusella would be the one to most enjoy playing dress-up with her friends.

…And that was my con weekend! Despite all the time I had for the sketches, I did actually have a reasonably good show sales-wise. I didn’t end up selling any of the above sketches, though, so if you’re interested in owning one for $30 (which includes shipping), shoot me an email! Link on the sidebar.