Paper and screen, emoticons and emotions.
From day one to 2014 and counting... B&B is not only online


the hardcopy fandom

JoAnn Baca



Even though fanzine publication has, for the most part, given way to fan fiction being posted online, much of fandom’s very best fan fiction is in those hardcopy fanzines and unavailable online. Have you ever held a fanzine in your hand? Then you know what a special experience it is to share The Dream between its pages, knowing as you do that you are part of a decades-long fandom tradition. You feel the spirit of the fans who have been there before you shining through its pages, part of the rich history of a fandom that pre-dates the Internet. While online fan fiction is absolutely wonderful to read, it’s undeniably a thrill to read a fanzine, one that gives you an entirely different experience than reading fan fiction using a screen and a mouse.

Similarly, the online fandom experience is not all there is to fandom.

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.

Have you taken a look at the Batbland Conventions History pages? There’s a wonderful display of convention history there, put together by Deb Fowler, con chair for two fantastic conventions. While you’re there, take a look at Annik’s essay on conventions to get an overview of what you are missing by not coming to one!

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.

Then, in 1990, a group of fans in the Las Vegas area organized what we now know as the first national U.S. fan-run Beauty and the Beast convention: Tunnelcon 1. It included numerous guests and several days of Beauty and the Beast-centric panels. The tradition had begun!

Conventions were, of course, held elsewhere – professional conventions continued to include Beauty and the Beast, and fans in various countries (England, Germany, etc.) held fan-run Beauty and the Beast conventions as well. It’s a testament to the fans’ longstanding love of Beauty and the Beast that conventions continue to be held around the world – most recently in England in 2008, and one for which there is great excitement in Australia in 2013.

Our annual U.S. conventions continue to be a mainstay for many fans. Recently, we celebrated our 23rd annual U.S. fan-run convention in New Orleans, and look forward to our 24th in Dallas in 2012. And little bluebirds have told us that this annual tradition in the U.S. will continue for the foreseeable future, as conventions are in the planning stages already for 2013 and 2014!

While our conventions are no longer hundreds-large affairs with multiple guests, we have kept true to what is the essence of Beauty and the Beast – our belief in keeping the Dream alive for each other, and sharing the light of our love for this very special television show.

JoAnn Baca
September 25, 2011



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