Panel season quickly approaches. In a few weeks, I have to pack up my costumes, presentations and wigs into my tiny car and drive several hundred miles to put on a show for a room full of people who want to hear me put on a show. And in the waking moments at night where I am concerned about panel lengths and while I’m concerned about how grammatically correct my panels are: I ask myself a question sometimes.
Why do I do this?
Today, I want to talk about what a panel is, why I love being a panelist and what it means to me.
Now, to briefly explain: a panel is a presentation that is put on by a panelist. There are plenty of different types of panels at anime, sci-fi and comic book conventions. The type I normally run are focus panels. What’s the main focus of my panels? Writing. I love running writing focus panels as a writer and Fangirl myself. These panels can be short, long, medium. They can be family-friendly or a little less than family-friendly. Sometimes I can fill a room and sometimes it’s a small show where I get to jump off the stage and just talk with the few fans that showed up.
And those moments, I adore. I love being able to come off of the stage or sit on the table and just talk for a little while. That is why I love being a panelist. I grew up in a time where the fan world was not always kind. Back when the dinosaurs roamed in the early 90s, fans were the most inclusive and unapproachable communities ever. Fans had (have) strong opinions and conversations often got heated. Fan cultures across the media spectrum were rude, blunt, and demanded a level of knowledge in their particular fandom that would be at best unrealistic and at worst darn near hazing. I have vivid memories of having to almost Legends of the Hidden Temple-like answer increasingly more difficult trivia questions as I tried to pick up a comic book from the local comic book shop.
And that desire for inclusion, knowledge and a platform to share my passion is why and how I fell into paneling. I’ve been running anime and Japanese culture clubs since I was in high school and I brought my desire to be an effective communicator and my love of writing, characterization, archetypes and various aspects of nerd culture from comic books to anime even to TV shows and books and wanted to give people a place to learn something, have a conversation and most importantly: feel welcomed.
I love paneling because every single time I’m on stage or at convention, I get to share my passion and knowledge with everyone. I get to learn something new. I get to have opinions expressed, shared and even changed. I get to bond with friends, connect with people and make people laugh, cry, clap or hell, even be offended (I have had only one person walk out of my panels, which I think is not a terrible track record). I love answering questions. I love being stumped by a difficult question! I love sharing opinions both popular and unpopular. I love the discussion. If I can make one person walk away from a panel of mine feeling something then as far as I am concerned, I’ve done the best job that I can. That something can be positive or even negative but I want to illicit a response: a change, a new way to look at things. That’s my goal as a panelist.
So, if you are so inclined, you’re welcome to see me at a local convention! I’d love to hear from you. My panelist name is AichiYume and I even have a Youtube channel. It’s a work in progress but it’s a great start to see exactly what kind of panelist and fan that I am.