In recent years, remote events have become increasingly popular all across the globe. Virtual entertainment has come in a variety of different forms and is an ongoing trend. Now, that trend has even reached conventions! During the weekend of February 25-26th 2023, Amaya McCormick (Lexie Dreamstate) attended Virtuous Con on behalf of Hubtaku, and had a virtual experience like no other.
What Is Virtuous Con?
Virtuous Con is an online sci-fi, comic book, and fantasy convention hosted annually during Black History Month. Award-winning and best-selling author, Cerece Rennie Murphy, curated this virtual event space for fans wanting to support their favorite creators, actors, writers, animators, and gamers in a fun and safe environment. This year’s theme “Creating Our Reality” explored everything from how AI-generated art is shaking up the artist community to how some of the most innovative sci-fi and fantasy creators are imagining new worlds for BIPOC readers to revel in.
What Makes Virtuous Con Special?
Virtuous Con, like most conventions, is a great place to connect with other like-minded individuals and learn more about various subjects. Virtuous Con is mainly focused on showcasing art, art businesses, and the creatives. Whereas, conventions like Dream Con are mainly for content creators and social media influencers, and conventions like Crunchyroll Expo are mainly for those interested in the anime media industry. Virtuous Con had online luxuries such as easy access to captivating panels, well-organized Q&A sections, and the ability to visit the convention wherever you were with a stable internet connection.
Besides Virtuous Con being strictly online, this convention was very special for its wide range of information and entertainment. Panels consisted of discussions about fictional media specialized in fantasy and sci-fi, gaming, businesses, as well as social and news media. There were also very well-known and prominent figures in the Black creative community speaking at these panels. Speakers and guests such as Anika Noni Rose, Ali Tomineek, Frederick Joseph, Jasmine LaFleur, and Wanuri Kahiu all made an impact during the convention.
Panel: Shonen vs Everyone: How Anime Has Shaped the Culture
With panel names such as Shonen vs Everyone: How Anime Has Shaped the Culture, Honesty and Integrity in the Age of Meta-Misinformation, and Muslim Representation in Media, Virtuous Con definitely provided a diverse program. For example, towards the end of day one, there were two panels available at the same time: Black Fae Day Is Joy and Black Horror History. During the Black Fae Day Is Joy panel, the founder of Black Fae Day, Jasmine LaFleur and team, discussed what Black Fae Day is and how it can bring a sense of joy and community. Speakers mentioned that the entirety of this movement was for healing your inner child, as well as encouraging creative expression.
During the Black Horror History panel, speakers Brother Ghoulish, Bobby Likes It Spooky, Jazz “The 40oz Connoisseur,” Kat Daddy, and Xero Gravity, all discussed the evolution of Black people in horror movies and books. Each speaker brought up examples of good, Black representation in movies and how it has improved over the years.
There were moments during Virtuous Con where it wasn’t just informative, but also fun and interactive. The convention had family-friendly panels, such as the Children’s Book Reading with Princess Tiana voice actress, Anika Noni Rose, and there were even giveaways. Every panel hosted gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. There was also a Twitch livestream afterparty hosted by DJ Black Icon 1 for those who still wanted to hang out after the official convention.
Reading with Princess Tiana Voice Actress, Anika Noni Rose
Vendors were also present at the event. Virtuous Con had a very interesting platform to make the vending experience unique and just as interactive as an in-person convention. The Vendor Floorshow had digital tables all at your disposal with a different vendor at each one. You could click on the vendor you were interested in and have discussions with the vendor and your fellow attendees at the table through voice and/or video chat. If no one was present at the table you clicked on, you could view a “whiteboard” with business info that the vendor left for you to see and interact with such as links, examples of their work, and more!
Convention Layout Screenshot Provided by Lexie Dreamstate
The event had a wide range of vendors from digital artists and illustrators, to novelists and comic writers. Some of the vendors that stood out were Between Magic and Dreams (Urban Fantasy Novel & Comic), Golden Muse (Digital Art), Andrea Rose Washington (Fantasy Novel & Merch), Otaku Noir (Book and Blerd Collectible Subscription Box), Not So Super Publishing (Publishing Company), and Challenge Games and Comics (Games, Comics, & Collectibles Shop). They all had something in common which was a mystical and fantasy aspect to their creative businesses. However, their differences made what they were selling just that special.
What Could Be Improved?
This is Virtuous Con’s third year running and has already achieved so much success. Yet, with Virtuous Con still being a fairly new convention, there are still some things that can be improved. There were a few difficulties with the Vending Floorshow. The map and table layout was easy for attendees to see what vendor and attendee were at which table. However, once you reach a table, you can’t automatically see the ‘whiteboard’ that the vendor has provided for you. Once you actually click the whiteboard, it can be a bit difficult to look it over without accidentally clicking out of it.
The layout is not as straightforward. It would probably be more helpful to both the vendor and the attendee if the white board was automatically shown as soon as you get to their table. It would also be helpful if the layout was more like a PowerPoint rather than a PDF that you have to drag and zoom out to see. If this was improved, it would be similar to if you were at an in-person event and walked past a poster or banner.
Convention Panel Layout Screenshot by Lexie Dreamstate
Overall, these are just minor cons to the convention and with the excellent variety in guests, panels, and vendors, Virtuous Con is bound to go even farther than this year. Virtuous Con 2023 was a rewarding experience that had a little bit of something for everyone. It highlighted many talented Black artists and businesses, and gave attendees something to look forward to.