Report on: ConBravo 2013

The internet in particular is home to a new generation of self-made celebrities, a generation of stars who market themselves and don’t rely on the mainstream media to reach the people who appreciate them. Within this category of celebrities, on-air personalities like Doug Walker and musicians like Brentalfloss were the centrepiece of Conbravo 2013, which is the best place to see them under one roof. This year’s convention was held July 18-20 at the Hamilton Convention Centre & Sheraton Hotel.

For all pictures from this gallery and more, check out TdotComic’s facebook gallery for the event.

For a report on previous year’s ConBravos: 2011 | 2012

ConBravo 2013 was a three dimensional experience, including not just a multilevel (and slightly labyrinthine) venue but also tons of interactivity. Guests didn’t just do a Q&A and sign autographs; they played games and interacted with each other in ways beyond the typical YouTube uploads that made them famous. James Portnow relaxed and connected with his audience casually (right). Internet icons shared stage space with each other and local convention icons like the 404s and Dr. Holocaust.  But the convention offered a lot more than just the big names who showed up.

Needless to say, Cosplayers showed up by the bus-load to show off their latest costumes, dressing up as comic heroes or cartoon characters or anybody else. And some people just adorning piles of accessories to look exciting.


The dealers’ room was where many regular vendors, like Conspiracy Comics, set up their displays selling all forms of fandom exotica. The neighbouring artists’ alley had, as I understand, a few technical issues which can be attributed to the Convention Centre not being prepared for the kind of crowd ConBravo draws.

The gaming room was used to host tournaments and also had free-play systems for people to just come in, sit down, and make friends playing Smash Brothers, a traditional tabletop game, or the always fun Cards Against Humanity. On Saturday night a few members of the 404′s opened up a deck and played with talent that really showed what makes them professional improvisational entertainers.

When not wandering around between friends and displays, attendee time was occupied by hundreds of events, like fandom panels, Team Fortress Live, concerts from musicans and groups like The Blast Processors. Imported from Youmacon was Live Action Mario Mario, and to appeal to comic book fans, “Mr. Kitty” claimed a room to highlight some hilarious terrible comic books.

Later on Saturday night, as the rooms began to close and the Homestucks had thankfully gone back to their caves, DJ Janos turned on a dance party which had everything a dance party should have, except a pyramid stage. There were tunes loud enough for even the shyest, most awkward people to want to move around and get hot. Plenty of Aqua was played, not because of some nostalgic factor, but because it’s great dance music that everybody knows. There’s no better example of the distinction between a niche brand convention like TFcon and an open-concept party con than the dance.

With ConBravo, what started as an experiment in ‘Can we run a convention using what we’ve learned from other conventions?’ has grown into its own being and become self-aware. Most of the organizers are people I consider close friends, and a huge factor in showing up is the chance to see so many of my buddies in one place. Every time I hang out with enough of them, the specter of the climactic weekend lurks overhead. I would have enthusiastically joined them as a volunteer if not for an unfortunate circumstance that weekend. Getting to Hamilton from some other convention is also a huge hassle, but just like last year it was worth it. And as long as the city is host to ConBravo, I can forgive Hamilton for existing.

-Michael S Ryan, August 13 2013.

FanExpo is how soon?

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Report on: Canadian Toycon March 18th, 2013