Emily Webb’s Convention Experiences and Memories

By Michal Basford

For the past five years, junior Emily Webb has been attending conventions with her parents Kelly and Chris Webb. At these conventions, they have a booth in which they sell various items pertaining to different fandoms, which are shows, movies, books, actors or characters people are fans of. What they sell usually depends on the convention they’re at. At a Doctor Who convention, like the First Friday event at the St. Louis Science Center on Sept. 4, they won’t sell anime merchandise. On their table, they’ll have an array of Doctor Who items for sale.

In the St. Louis region, she’s been to KAWA Con, Natsu Con, Anime St. Louis, ArchCon and Anime Getaway. In Memphis, TN, she’s been to Anime Blues Con, Anime Remix, Mid South Con and Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention.

“It’s pretty fun because it’s like retail experience,” Emily said. “It’s retail experience where you can call the money currencies occasionally. You can just mess around sometimes, but also, we tagout and walk around the conventions.”

Before Convention

Emily and her mom both prepare things for the booth. Kelly does most of the prep work by making the bags, keychains, pins and crochet characters. Emily helps with the clay keychains, bag straps and macrame bracelets.

When the time for a convention is quickly approaching, Emily will get her cosplays ready, help inventory and help finish up what will be sold at the booth. Kelly gets everything ready for the volume of inventory needed, plans and makes sure everything is packed. Chris makes sure everything is lined up and ready to go. If they’re going to a convention on a Friday, Emily will get her work either before they leave or after they get back.

On the ride to the convention, Emily will fall asleep. Her parents will listen to Nightvale and podcasts as well as talk along the way. They stop often to explore.

Once they arrive, they’ll set up as much of their booth as possible before heading off to bed in the same hotel the convention itself is in. If the booth needs to still be set up, they’ll finish it the next morning before convention starts.

“Beside just the convention stuff, there’s a lot of social stuff that goes along with it,” Emily’s dad Chris said. “There’s a lot of friends that you meet on the road, and you have to kinda hook up with them.”

During Convention

While at conventions, Emily helps her parents with the booth by setting up, selling, conducting market research and tearing down. She usually cosplays but sometimes doesn’t. In the past she has cosplayed as Monokuma from Danganronpa, Dipper Pines from Gravity Falls and John Egbert from Homestuck. These are just a few she has done.

She’ll wander around the convention, finding old friends and making new ones while checking out cosplays. A cosplay is where a person dresses up as a character and can act like that character. Sometimes “restaurant trips” are taken. A group of cosplayers go to a restaurant and hang out. But she doesn’t go to panels. Panels are sessions where a small group of people lead a discussion about a particular topic pertaining to a certain tv show, movie, anime, book series, author or cosplay technique.

For three days, the convention goes on, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday.

“It has given her business experience, social skills, exposed her to a wider variety of people, [and] increased her level of tolerance,” Emily’s mom Kelly said.

After Convention

After making the ride home that is typically filled with sleeping, Emily will head back to school. Depending on where the convention is and how long they decide to stay, she could miss two or three days of school. If the convention was in Memphis, the drive is longer and could lead into Monday if they aren’t ready to leave until after dark. She’ll get the work she missed and get it done as quickly as she can. When she misses both Friday and Monday, it can cause more stress for her.

“It used to be enthusiastic excitement,” Emily said. “While, right now, it’s become kind of like an anxious feeling, not so much for but like eh. You know that feeling, that meh feeling? But I like the cons. I just don’t know [how I feel about going to the cons].”

At the conventions she goes to, Emily has fun. Whether it’s hanging out with old friends, checking out cosplays, meeting new friends or working her parents’ booth, she finds it fun and truly enjoys herself.

“I’ve had so many good experiences at conventions they all just kinda mesh together into one big noodle of pasta noodles of fun,” Emily said. “I’d have to say, while I don’t quite remember how I did it, I’ve met some close friends, and they’re super close in Memphis. That’s what I like the most, the friends I make from them.”