I have only good things to say about Nijicon. ^_^
Nijicon, in it’s second year, is still a small con, but gets top marks on friendly and engaged staff and attendees. All of the panels had small, but very attentive and interested audiences and the questions for panelists were thoughtful and intriguing.
The dealer’s room had far more diversity than I expected and, while BL was strongly represented, there were still very some fun Yuri-related items. Nijicon was running a tricky-tray raffle for baskets of manga and goodies that were a delightful mix of Yuri, BL and gay media, the proceeds of which went to an organization that supports Philadelphia-based LGBTQ homeless youth. I was pleased to see offerings from Seven Seas, Vertical, Funimation, SuBLime (Viz) and other anime/manga companies. I really appreciate when they help out with charity prizes.
Nijicon’s current location in the Philadelphia suburbs, means it is most accessible for folks with cars but, it’s got room to grow and they had folks coming in from Canada, including creator of The Young Protectors Alex Woolfson, and the folks running a new con in Toronto, Yaoi/Yuri North , so it’s clearly off to a good start.
I would like to thank manga researcher Fujimoto Yukari-sensei, who was kind enough to spend the day with us, and my wife for many things, including driving me to the event, being my keeper, a ringer, a prompt and extremely cute. ^_^
And I definitely want to give many thanks to the staff of Nijicon, especially Lauren and Lyndsey, who were just fabulous ladies, classy and kind in every way. And they get what being a panelist is like, as you can see in this lovely gift basket they gave me: It included caffeine, protein, sugar, water, and Tylenol. I loved this so much. ^_^ I strongly recommend every con consider doing this. Its says “we know how hard you’re working to make this con fun, panelists. Thanks.”
Overall, I felt that Nijicon made a very obvious good-faith effort to be LGBTQ-conscious and friendly and not at all just BL-focused with a side of Yuri. Panels included discussions of trans-positive titles, Yaoi fandom and feminism, as well as a broad and really fun conversation about the future of LGBTQ comics. And the attendees were also a nice mix of BL/Yuri fans, male/female, LGBTQ/straight, cis-/trans.
I’d recommend Nijicon for folks interested in the weird intersection where western LGBTQ fans meet Japanese BL and Yuri in all their uncomfortable tropes and the occasional glimpse of honest representation.
Once again, I come home from a con thinking that the future looks bright for LGBTQ audiences and comics. Thanks, Nijicon! Hopefully I’ll see you again next year. ^_^