Kerry Hammond recently attended a new Sherlock-themed conference and she’s here to tell us all about it.
You’ve read about a lot of mystery fan conferences on Mystery Playground. We’ve covered Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, and Thrillerfest. Mystery Playground blogger Kim Hammond and I recently flew to Atlanta to attend a Sherlock Holmes conference known as 221B Con, so named after the famed detective’s address on Baker Street. It was different from any conference I’ve ever attended in that it didn’t revolve around just books. Of course, Sherlock Holmes started in print, but the character also exists on the small and large screen, and he and Dr. Watson have been immortalized by numerous actors over the years.
The headliner of the event was British actor David Nellist, who plays Mike Stamford in the BBC series. Stamford introduced Watson to Holmes in the first episode when Watson was looking for a roommate and has been featured in two later episodes, including The Abominable Bride. Nellist participated in a wonderful Q&A session where he talked about the filming of the show, the actors, and creators. He wandered around all weekend chatting with fans and posing for photos.
Nellist even performed a Cameo with the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company as they created a live performance of two stories, complete with costumed actors and sound effects.
Not only does 221B Con celebrate Sherlock on screen as much as in print, but like a Comic Con, it brings in other elements of the characters and offshoots that have been created in Fanfiction. Attendees carried around items relating to Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, England, and everything in between. I found that like ComicCon, there was a whole different language involved in this type of fandom, and I set out to learn as much as I could so that I could follow the conversations and enjoy the panels. Here are some of the terms that I learned.
Fandom – a group of fans who actively follow, discuss, dress as, and write about what they love. In this case, Sherlock Holmes.
Fanfic – (also called Fanfiction) this is something written by a fan that uses the characters or events from a previously written work. So a story about Sherlock and Watson fighting zombies, and of course winning, would be Fanfic.
Canon – the original source of the Fanfic. Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters are Canon.
AU – Alternate Universe, as in taking Sherlock and Watson and pairing them against zombies.
Ship – Short for relationship, and used when you pair two characters from a work together. Lots of people paired Sherlock and Molly (from the BBC Sherlock). The names of the people you are “shipping” can even be combined, in this case to “Sherlolly.”
Cosplay – Costume Play, or dressing up as a character or item you relate to the character.
Tumblr – the place where fans go to meet and discuss their love of a genre. Most people don’t use their real name but have a Handle instead. At the conference, many of the attendees had their Handle written in sharpie on their inner arm so that they could be identified by other Tumblr users.
Conference are great ways to meet people who share a common interest and to expand your knowledge of a subject. It’s really amazing how comfortable you feel in a group of people who you know “get you.” You can find information online for each one, and usually photos from previous events. This will help you determine what that conference offers and how to best prepare. I always buy plenty of books for Bouchercon in order to get them autographed by my favorite authors. Next year for 221B Con, I need to get a costume together.
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