Every year in Fredericton, New Brunswick, thousands of anime, manga, and gaming fans come to Animaritime, Atlantic Canada’s leading anime and gaming convention. This was the 15th year for the convention, and it was held at the Fredericton Convention Center and the Crowne Plaza Hotel from Friday, June 28 to Sunday, June 30. This year’s theme was Haunted House, and staff were handing out candy and the occasional trick instead of a treat. It was a Spooktacular time!
Each year, they hold a convention game that is open to all con-goers (with great prizes.) It was done differently this year, as it did not go with the convention theme like it usually does. Instead, it was done as a tribute to the amazing master of cameos and creator of superheroes Stan Lee. On the main floor of the Fredericton Convention Center, there was a board with some art and poetry dedicated to the late creator. Staff and volunteers hid a golden Stan Lee Funko Pop! around the convention, and if you found it, you were entered to win the Funko Pop! and a 2020 VIP pass. “Excelsior!”
After the opening ceremonies, where staff went over the weekend’s events, guests, and got everyone excited, the vendor room opened. There were over 40 booths with a wide variety of items people could buy. There were three in particular that I visited multiple times over the weekend.
I was drawn to Isabelle’s An Oddity or Two booth because of the variety of items that her art was available on. You could buy Bob Ross earrings, Star Wars or Star Trek: The Next Generation ornaments, and various fandoms on mugs.
Sensibilitea Tea Company caught my attention with enticing aromas that had this tea lover wanting to know more. Their teas are history in a cup! The tea blends, which the 18th-century reenactors have researched, are from various historical periods and literature.
Who doesn’t love soft plushie cats? That is what brought me to Pincushion Cat Plushies. Vicky’s plushies are identical to the characters they represent. She creates characters from Sailor Moon, Digimon, Pokémon, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Studio Ghibli films.
There were a wide variety of cosplayers this year. Some of the ones I saw were from Sailor Moon, Pretty Cure, Dragon Ball, Star-Lord and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy, The Punisher, Spider Gwen, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Naruto, Pyramid Head, Spirited Away, furries, Deadpool, and much more.
The panel I went to on Friday was a Q&A with artist and author Jeff Russell.
Jeff Russell is a self-taught artist and self-published author living in Atlantic Canada with his wife and two daughters. He has been drawing creatures since he was a child. Russell’s drawing medium of choice is a pencil because he prefers to be hands-on. It has only been in the last few years that he has added color to his drawings, with his previous work being in black and white. Later in the process, he will then scan the images into the computer, where he will touch them up. Currently, Russell is working on another book. To see or order his other two books, you can go to his website here.
During his open question and answer panel, he showed us his designs and creations from two books, Russell’s Guide to Interdimensional Entities Volume One and Volume Two — which he co-wrote. His designs are based upon the many writings of H.P. Lovecraft. All the creature drawings are Russell’s interpretation of what Lovecraft described in his books, or pretty much what you see in your nightmares. The scripture that you see in the background of his illustrations can be deciphered into actual words and stories. Russell created an alphabet using a text creator application, then printed out a page with the created text’s alphabet to be used as a codex to decipher the words. The codex is available if you want to figure out what was written.
I also asked a question during the panel:
For learning different techniques with drawing, did you take any courses or classes?
Russell: I did high school art, but honestly it was learn as I go because I enjoy it so much I just experimented as I go… there’s a lot that traditional learning has to offer and if you’re an artist, I suggest you go through and get your fine arts.
There were many other panels attendees could choose from. Crossplay Tips from Drag Kings was a panel where Justin Toodeep and Vincent Dynamite, two local Drag Kings, demonstrated how to go from girl to Drag King. Masquerades 101 taught attendees who are interested in cosplay competitions what judges look for and other tips. Shelby’s Haunted Gala was a sold-out VIP dinner event for those who are tired of being haunted. If you wanted to dance the night away, K-Pop Dance was where you could get your dance on to Korean pop music.
As a bonus, throughout the weekend there were gaming and movie/television viewing rooms available to attendees.
The gaming room provided a space to play Dungeons and Dragons, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Mario Kart, and various board games. The movie/television room had a wide selection of anime to watch, such as: The Dark Crystal, She-Ra and the Princess of Power, Soul Eater, Inuyasha: Swords of an Honorable Ruler, Pokémon: I Choose You, Castlevania, and much more.
Stay tuned for coverage from day two of Animaritime!