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Phoenix Feathers is updated on Tuesday and Friday, but this is a 'Wildercon Special' on Sunday evening

Wildercon was held on the 8th-10th August at a scout campsite near Milton Keynes. There were 68 people there, and we slept in tents. There was a video room, a dealer's space and a lot of other activities. It was more fun than I've ever had at a con before, I think.

The strip above was drawn for the art competition, and put together during the weekend, without a computer (hence my scruffy handwriting). It is a fairly accurate sketch of what happened when we arrived. We were late setting off because I wanted to print some of my CG pictures, and my printer had decided that it was a good time to stop printing black ink. I use a lot of black, so this was not appreciated. When we got to the campsite, it was fairly dark, but we have a bright camping light which we were very thankful for. The tent was brand new, and we couldn't find the instructions (amusingly, we did find them when we were packing it up today!). We therefore set about putting it up as best we could. I have only ever put up one tent before, and I managed to break it doing so. Moonshadow hadn't ever pitched a tent before in his life. We got the poles in the wrong place, we couldn't decide on the right pitch, the gas canister in the lamp died, we couldn't find the doors and we ended up copying a friend of ours who - coincidentally - had a tent with a very similar design to ours. When it was up, though, it was beautifully large. The following day, we were speaking to one of the committee members and she said that we'd looked like experienced campers. Like I said, it was dark.

Anyway, the con. There was an anime room, but only one, shared with the dealers, and it had a different focus from normal. Instead of having several streams and aiming to show most/all of a series (like Shinnenkai did), there was one stream and the first few episodes of lots of random anime were shown. For example, there was Narutaru (Shadow Star), Princess Tutu, Hitsuji no Uta, Gash Bell, Cinderella Boy and E's Otherwise, all of which are not mainstream. I rather liked the look of Narutaru and Hitsuji no Uta, which are the two that I hadn't seen before and wanted to try out. Now we know we're interested, it will not be difficult to follow up on them  ^.^

As well as the lots of anime to try out, there were several events. The main one was Otaku Royale, a hunt-the-tag with water weapons. Basically, several people hid laminated sheets with anime characters on around the site, then all who were participating ran off to find them bearing water weapons. Also present were two hunters, who, if they splashed a searcher, could take any sheets off the searcher and hide them again (they were armed with large supersoakers). Sheets could be left with a keeper, who would record the name of the searcher and the card they'd found; they were not put back into the game. There was a twist in that some characters got positive points, and others negative ones. Games lasted around 20 minutes, and were great fun, although I was useless at finding cards.

The other events were things such as anime pictionary (think of a series and draw it so others can guess it), a treasure hunt (which came to an abrupt end when one of the campsite staff decided to collect litter, including the hunt tags), and, as usual, an AMV competition and a cosplay photo shoot and prize (although there was no actual masquerade).

The events were great fun, but the thing I most enjoyed was just relaxing around the place and getting to know people. The first evening there was a campfire circle, but the second evening it was a little late getting started, and I started on some of this week's Phoenix Feathers, using the gas lamp for illumination. I was joined by Emsie, who drew Dragon Heir (and signed our copy :), and some other lovely people who did some wonderful gift/fan art for me - see here for the drawings. We had a really good time drawing and talking, and later, when it got dark, Moonshadow, Oneiros and I joined the two guys from Otaku Publications and swapped flapjacks for hot sake and talked about conventions, and buses, and trips to Japan. I have never met so many people at a con before, which is weird since this was by far and away the smallest con I've been to.

Moonshadow and I had a wonderful time, and we're going back next year. I am seriously tempted to gopher, which I've never really wanted to do before. It was a first-time con, and there were hiccups in the organisation, but making mistakes is how you learn, and it all worked in the end, even if not quite how it was supposed to. There was a wonderful sense of community and the whole weekend was so much fun and almost completely stress-free (not for the poor committee, though, who were rather overworked). It far exceeded my expectations. I'm looking forward to next year already  ^.^

- Sun Kitten, 10th August '03

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