Halifax’s first Ret-Con attracted dozens to the halls of the Brewery Market on Sunday where fan art came to life.
Not quite Comic-Con but more than a market, Ret-Con organizers Erin Tudball and Courtney Janes said the event was a way to bridge the gap between crafty and geeky markets. From prints of Star Wars characters to crocheted earrings, visitors had the chance to discover local artists in a space that also welcomed cosplaying.
“It’s a space for everything but with our flavour of what we’re into,” said Tudball, volunteer co-ordinator and event organizer of Ret-Con. She’s sold art at other markets in the past, but this is her first time organizing a market.
The word retcon stands for retroactive continuity, which is a literary device that encourages exploration beyond a story’s established narrative. Similarly, Halifax’s Ret-Con is a new take or a redo on the typical comic convention or market.
Last autumn, Tudball and Janes asked themselves, “What can we do to make an event as welcoming and newcomer friendly as possible? If we had to organize a market, what would we have done differently?”
The answer was Ret-Con, a space where both artists and geeks, comics and crafters could feel they belonged.
The sound of local band Dim Sum Fund’s live performance filled the air at Ret-Con, while refreshments and valentines crafting materials were provided for those who sought to do more than browsing.
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design fashion student Autumn Foster was selling bows and headbands at the event. She wanted to help others safely discover Lolita fashion, which she described as a “badass” Japanese feminist movement.
“I just wanted to make it accessible for people who maybe don’t want to go full shebang,” she said about her Lolita accessories.
“Everyone should try it at least once … in whatever speed that feels like to you,” she said while encouraging others to “go out with your girls, go out with your friends, dress up!”
Many visitors took the opportunity to dress up as their favourite characters, with Maddy Asbury and Nate Terafuse in full cosplay as Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony and Cruella De Vil.
“Cosplay is just an amazing thing for people to get to do. I’m autistic, so the chance to get to dress up as my favourite character in the world is amazing,” said Asbury. She said there aren’t many chances to cosplay, especially since Hal-Con can be pricy.
This year, Hal-Con ticket prices will begin at $40, whereas Ret-Con admissions were by donation. Proceeds will go towards operational costs, with anything leftover going to Feed Nova Scotia.
Terafuse said seeing everyone’s artwork is magnificent. “Events (like this) are always amazing to see everybody’s good artwork … I like any excuse to dress up as Cruella. I think it’s so much fun,” he said.
Cosplay is a great way to be yourself while also exploring a different persona, he explained. Ret-Con is “a safe space with a lot of queer people in the environment. So, it’s a very nice place to be,” he said.
Other vendors included siblings Katelyn and Alison Robertson. Both NSCAD graduates, the Robertsons are just starting to sell their art consistently. Each have a very colourful approach to art, with Alison focusing on specimens and oddities and Katelyn on cartoons.
“I feel like if I don’t get my creative outlet out somehow, I probably would explode,” Katelyn said. They like to make art from shows they love, and said it’s satisfying to see what they can create on their own.
Nathan Little has been animating for almost 20 years, but this is his first time exhibiting his work at a market. He created Sydney the Song Cat, an animated character that sings popular songs on TikTok, two years ago.
With the character’s popularity growing, he’s expanded his work into comics, prints and stickers. He is planning on pitching a television show with the character, which would feature new music artists.
Until then, Little asked people to “request a song (and) sing along.”
“We just want everyone to feel good about this afterwards,” said Janes.
Tudball said she felt as though events like Ret-Con are a hidden need. “People want to get out … want to embrace the weirdness,” she said.
They said they would like to organize another Ret-Con but can’t say at this point whether there will be another.
About the author
Andie is from Shediac, a small but lively beach town in New Brunswick. She studied history and sociology at the University of New Brunswick and...