e did it right on State Street, in fearless joy. 

QTCON 805 on Saturday, February 17th was about comics, science fiction, fantasy, anime, and more. It was about the ways these genres of art and creativity provide us a way of understanding ourselves, our identities, our relationships to others and the world.

In true Color Bloq fashion, the latest iteration of QTCON was about finding new corners of our community canon, expanding the narratives of our communities, and articulating possibility for marginalized people. It was all ages, diverse, safe, and affirming.

The day started with a drag story hour at the Museum of Contemporary Art with Angel D’Mon in Wonder Woman cosplay sharing a children’s book of the origin of Wonder Woman. Parents and families joined in this opening event focused on education, reading, and the power of stories.

Before the next event, members of the Galactic Fringers Star Wars cosplay group dressed as Mandalorians, Twileks, and Jedi Knights — along with cosplayers from the community dressed as a Klingon Warrior, Tifa Lockhart from the Final Fantasy gaming franchise, Wolverine, and the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man — led the drag performers on a mini parade and escorted march from the Artist Alley to the Main Stage and gave the audience a pose-down to remember.

Nearly 200 people watched the drag cosplay performances on the main stage, featuring Angel D’Mon as Wonder Woman, Vivian Storm as Hela, the Bearded Gotti as Poison Ivy, and Samara Sin as Storm. “Queer the fandom” was the theme, and we showed multiple ways of interpreting these classic characters through different framings of gender and performance art.

Immediately after, Samara hosted the community cosplay competition while Vivian, Angel, and the Beraded Gotti sat as contest judges. Giving everyone fair opportunity to strut their stuff and show who deserved the prizes of $250, $150, $100, and $50. In a hilarious run of show, it was the Tifa cosplayer that won the hearts & minds of the judges.

The final event of the day brought us back up to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a panel conversation on fandoms, nerd culture, and how these genres of creativity and expression help us understand our identities, mental health, and sense of self. Taking us on the journey were artist, mental health specialist, and BIPOC transgender activist Kai Roldan, speculative fiction author and editor Karen A. Parker, award-winning author Steven Underwood, and features writer Joel Medina.

Throughout the day, our Artist Alley played host to fans and random visitors alike. Vendors included Didi Anofienem, Karen A. Parker, Sean / Z Maker Studios, Kai Roldan, Bored But Busy, Galactic Fringers Cosplay Group, and Metro Entertainment.

All of this was done in partnership with Paseo Nuevo Mall and the Museum of Contemporary Art, who made sure our community felt safe, affirmed, and free to express ourselves. We are grateful to their teams for their partnership and support.

This, too, is what community looks like. And we did it in the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara, no less.