Conventions, the hardcopy fandom

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Title: Conventions, the hardcopy fandom
Creator: JoAnn Baca
Date(s): September 25, 2011
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast (TV)
External Links: Conventions, the hardcopy fandom, Archived version
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Conventions, the hardcopy fandom is a 2011 essay by JoAnn Baca.

The subject is the value and history of conventions, specifically Beauty and the Beast (TV) cons.

It includes a link to Beauty and the Beast Convention History, a project by fan Deb Fowler.


While we may know many fans through online activities, there are other fans – fans who, for whatever reason, do not participate in online fandom. Some fan clubs still exist, and fans gather monthly or for special occasions in Michigan, Tulsa, Los Angeles, San Diego, the Chesapeake area, and other places in the U.S.

As amazing and inspiring as our online discussion groups and websites are, as immersive an experience as our annual Winterfest Online celebrations may be, and as lovely as local fan club activities are, there’s still something extra special about meeting in person with dozens of other fans from all over the world that other types of fan experiences cannot fully duplicate. For that, we have our fan-run conventions, which bring together fans from all the chambers of fandom.
Imagine going to a convention in the early years of fandom: you must take a leap of faith, crossing the country or even oceans to gather together with fans you may only know through letters or telephone conversations. But you do it in order to be together in one special place so you can experience a magical weekend with people who more than understand - people who share your passion for Beauty and the Beast. Can a computer screen give a hug? Can you light each other’s candles online before sharing a Summerfest meal, then bring that candle home to remind you of the day? The serendipity of a spur-of-the-moment conversation with a fan you’ve just met, the joy of watching one special video, the magic of the moment you reach out to touch Vincent’s cloak or Catherine’s velvet gown…all these things and more are possible only when we gather together in person – at conventions.
Conventions are nothing new to fandoms. They have been around for decades. And in the beginning, Beauty and the Beast was included in multi-fandom conventions held around the country by professional convention hosts such as Creation as well as by small local science fiction clubs. Their guests might include one or two of the stars of Beauty and the Beast, but the focus of these conventions generally was not our show. Slowly, organizations like Creation, as well as local fan clubs, organized Beauty and the Beast-only conventions. But these did not have a national reach, instead looking for local or regional participation by fans.