ImagiCon was an enjoyable multi-fandom science fiction and fantasy convention that I attended in Birmingham, Alabama on Friday, May 21 through Sunday, May 23, 2010. This is a description of the highlights of my ImagiCon experience.
Friday, May 21. Upon arriving at the McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham, I met Hugo-award winning science fiction author Timothy Zahn, best known for his novels set in the Star Wars universe. He was very friendly, kind, humble, and polite; I would definitely say that he is one of the nicest authors I have ever met. He autographed my copy of Vision of the Future, which is one of my all-time favorite Star Wars novels, and he posed for a few photos with me. It was a pleasure to meet him.
My autographed copy of Vision of the Future
I took quite a few photos of the costumers at the convention, including members of the Star Wars costuming groups, the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion, dressed as Stormtroopers, Boba Fett, Princess Leia, and various Mandalorians. I also snapped photos of superhero costumers Green Lantern and Spider-Man. In addition, I got some great shots of the posters in the Star Wars panel room and of a multitude of Star Wars collectibles in the vendor’s room.
The Harry Potter Tri-Wizard Ball was where I saw the best costumes from the wizarding world, including various Hogwarts students, Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa Malfoy, and Professor Trelawney. I went dressed as Hermione Granger, of course. The party also included lots of Steampunk costumers, a Jedi couple, and few pirates. You just can’t have a party without pirates. (“Where’s the rum?”)
Saturday, May 22. I wore my Gryffindor robes again for Saturday’s many adventures, which included meeting many more costumers from around the “galaxy” of Alabama. I took many more photos of these creative fans in costume. There were several Starfleet officers, pointy-eared Vulcans, fierce Klingons, funny Ghostbusters, and young Hogwarts students. The superheroes in attendance included DC Comics’ Green Arrow, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, and Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, and Ms. Marvel. One of my favorite costumes was a Little Red Riding Hood, who was toting a rather large gun in her little wicker basket, presumably used to shoot the Big Bad Wolf on the way to Grandma’s house. In addition to the usual Star Wars Mandalorians, there was a Steampunk version of Boba Fett. Other Star Wars characters I met included a Jedi Knight, a Rebel Alliance X-Wing Pilot, and an Imperial officer who volunteered to choke himself for me. (Why isn’t Darth Vader around when you need him?)
Someone in Vader's fleet just got a promotion...
The Han Solo I met was also a Harry Potter fan. His little daughters were dressed as Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood. (Who knew? And does Princess Leia know about these offspring?) I also met a Mara Jade and as soon as she arrived at the con I told her where to find Timothy Zahn’s author table. It’s always kinda surreal when a character gets to meet her creator.
The Star Wars panel Q&A with Timothy Zahn was fascinating. I asked him to talk about my favorite Star Wars couple–Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker, of course. I wanted to know who decided that they would end up together and when the decision was made. I was wondering if it was Zahn’s idea or Lucasfilm’s, and I added that Star Wars fans were writing Luke/Mara fanfics right after the Thrawn Trilogy was published in the early 1990s. Timothy Zahn said that he made the decision to have them become a couple back in 1993. He also wanted to end the war with the Empire, and if Lucasfilm wouldn’t give him those two things, then he would not write for them anymore. He got what he wanted, and I applaud him for standing up to Lucasfilm like that. Zahn rocks! Anyway, this panel made me appreciate my autographed copy of Vision of the Future even more.
The Harry Potter Books vs. Movies panel discussion was led by Denise Eichhorn, Jean Alexander, and myself. We got really great audience participation and had a wonderful discussion. The time we had just flew by, and I think all the panelists and the audience members had a great time. One topic that we covered was the casting choices made for Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, Snape, Sirius, etc. In general, Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore was not well-liked, but Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Alan Rickman as Severus Snape were much-loved by the fans indeed. We also talked about scenes from the books which were omitted from the films, and how some of the omissions were detrimental to the plot of Prisoner of Azkaban. We had so much more to discuss, we could have gone on for another hour.
Artwork for Whomping Willow Harry Potter Programming Track by Jean Alexander
Jean Alexander, I discovered, is a very gifted artist. We watched her paint a portrait of Severus Snape in acrylics on a huge canvas coated with black gesso. She really captured the emotions of anguish, sorrow, and regret in Severus’ facial expression, especially in the areas of his eyes and mouth. I viewed more of her Star Wars and Harry Potter artwork in the fanart gallery on the second floor, and later looked at more samples of her work online at www.artworksbyjean.com. She is incredibly talented!
Severus Snape by Jean Alexander
On Saturday I also met fantasy author M. B. Weston. I bought a copy of her second novel, Out of the Shadows, and she autographed it for me. She is also a very nice person and a great public speaker. She bought a copy of The Lord of the Hallows from me on Sunday, much to my delight. M. B. Weston is a Christian and a fan of Harry Potter, Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, etc., so I think she will enjoy my book. She told me she does a Bible study using Harry Potter to teach the lessons. If you are curious about her fantasy novels, visit www.elysianchronicles.com.
Sunday, May 23. I took some photos of the Harry Potter panel room, which was conveniently located next to the Star Wars room. I loved that fact! My favorite photos of the day were of the 501st Legion.
Most LSU fans think that Alabama is part of the Evil Empire.
The banner on their fan table read: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Bama, and one of the Stormtroopers posed for me holding a cardboard sign which read “MY FAMILY WAS KILLED ON THE DEATH STAR.” Gee, is everybody in the Bama 501st a commedian? I loved those guys.
Bama 501st Legion, you rock!
The very last event for me, which took place just before the Harry Potter programming track ended, was my presentation, “The Lord of the Hallows: J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling as Sub-creators of Christian Myth.” The ladies from the Harry Potter and Star Wars panel rooms who were helping me to set up were having some technical difficulties with my laptop connecting with the huge widescreen TV monitor, but never fear, Timothy Zahn came to my rescue. He was preparing to do another panel in the Star Wars room next door, heard that we were having trouble with my old laptop, and then he came in the Harry Potter room and fixed the problem right away. What a guy! Anyway, my lecture was a success. I spoke on the surface similarities between The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series, the similarities between Sauron’s Ring of Power and Voldemort’s Horcruxes, the effects on sin upon the immortal soul in the fiction of Tolkien and Rowling, the theme of death in both narratives, Frodo and Harry as Christ figures, Tolkien’s and Rowling’s similar views on the eternal nature of evil, and Tolkien’s “eucatastrophe” and where it occurs in Return of the King and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I also explained how an understanding of why the Biblical verses from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6 and 1 Corinthians 15:26 were quoted by Rowling in the seventh Harry Potter book. One man who heard it said it was the best event in the entire convention, and two people told me when it was over that it made them tear up a few times. I was really touched by these admissions.
I am back home in Louisiana today. Comments are welcome!
EDIT: I have posted some photos I took at ImagiCon at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=12635&id=110146322349729&saved#!/pages/The-Lord-of-the-Hallows/110146322349729. Please join The Lord of the Hallows on Facebook if you haven’t already.
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