[AniFemTalk] Convention Panels

Summer convention season is upon us! As throngs of fans gear up for LineCon and pack extra water and deodorant for those long days, we want to know: what are your thoughts on panels?

  • Are panels an important part of your con-going experience? Why or why not?
  • What draws your attention to a panel (excluding obvious big draws like celebrity panels)?
  • What have been some of your favorites over the years? Your least favorite?
  • What kinds of topics would you like to see covered in a panel, but just can’t seem to find?
  • Have you seen feminist-themed panels in the past, and have their approaches been more helpful or harmful?

And hey! If you’re going to be at Otakon, you’ll be able to say hi to a lot of the staff there. You can even see our own Caitlin‘s “Awesome Women Making Anime” and “Romance and Abuse in Shoujo Manga” panels and Lauren‘s “Gunpla is Freedom” panel!


At this stage, we have raised enough money to be able to pay for contributed posts, behind the scenes admin, and audio editing for weekly podcasts. Our next goal is to pay the editors who have worked on AniFem as volunteers since before launch, making enormous contributions for no pay. Help us pay them for their work at a rate of $15 an hour by becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month!

  • Panels an important part of my con-going experience? It depends on the con. I prefer the typical approach of broad-spectrum sf conventions, which is to get a pile of ideas, a pile of volunteers, and match them up. It’s more work for the programming department, but it results in substantially better panels and can support a much higher ratio of program items to attendees than the “submit an idea and round up your own panelists” model.

    The broader conventions also have a broader range of topics available to them, of course. So for those, panels are a major part of my con experience. At an anime con, they’re a much smaller piece of the puzzle.

    What draws my attention?

    * Will I learn something interesting or useful?
    * Otherwise, does it look entertaining?

    Favorites and least favorites? So many panels at so many cons, I can’t begin to pick favorites. But I can list some of the things I specifically avoid:

    * “Ask” panels. I’m just not into improv.
    * Panels where the title is a question that I feel can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.
    * Anything that looks likely to degenerate into competing political rants.
    * Panels that are highly specialized to an audience other than me. (E.g., sf conventions typically have a number of panels about various aspects of the business of fiction writing.)

    Topics that I would like to see covered in a panel and can’t find? My local anime con is close to 100% ask panels at this point. I’d settle for pretty much anything actually discussing anime at this point.

    Have I seen feminist-themed panels? Not at any anime cons. They show up here and there at sf cons, and the ones I’ve seen have usually been handled well. Wiscon, an entire feminist sf con, is on my bucket list.

  • I rarely go to “Fan” panels, but that is usually because I find i only ever see about %30 of the things i plan to go to anyways, due to lines, and my simple joy of just walking around cons in costume. Because of that I usually prioritize the special guest panels over the others. My biggest reason to actually go is if I know who the panelists are, or if friends are going to it. Otherwise the name/topic description better be a compelling one to even make me consider it. I prefer in depth discussions, industry talk, and practical/teaching panels myself.

    All that said, I once actually was signed up to do an Fullmetal Alchemist Ask Panel as I was Cosplaying Van Hohenheim at my local con. I had answered a call for volunteers on facebook, but after the initial discussion I’m sure i only heard from the organizer once more before the con. I was surprised to find the panel was still on the Con’s itinerary, so thus i dutifully arrived early for the panel in order to meet my fellow panelists, panelists who it turns out never appeared. Apparently the panel had been canceled that morning, though the volunteers had failed to update the panel room’s calendar to reflect that. However not being one to at least attempt something i had come prepared for, I ended up running the entire panel by myself as a 1 man improv show. It was kind of nerve racking, since i was hoping to have other people to help cover up my own inexperience in comedy or inprov. However I somehow managed to keep the 40ish (if my memory is correct) member audience for more than an hour, until we were kicked out for the next panel. I was glad that the audience really appreciated it, though the experience of doing something like that alone by the seat of my pants is not one i hope to replicate anytime soon.

  • AsteriskCGY

    My old plan was just hop in anything that sounded interesting. I’ve been in a Sushi making panel and one for flower arrangement, both at earlier AX. But the last few years the lines to any panel, regardless of subject, has piled up to the point just wandering in is no longer an option. Might not be a problem if I actually just plan these things.

  • Caitlin

    I’m sorry you can’t make it! Last year’s slides are posted on my blog http://www.heroineproblem.com – hope you can make it if we do it again in the future