EagleCon blasted into its 10th Anniversary Convention focused on Speculative Fiction and Futurisms at Cal State LA from October 18, 2023 to October 20, 2023. Taking off in the University Student Union, numerous panels with students filling halls awaiting new world possibilities and real world opportunities. EagleCon attendees were able to meet professionals working within the industry, scholars, and student presenters who are often underrepresented in scholastic representation. From women, LGBTQ+ peoples and People of Color, to professionals and professors, the panelists at EagleCon deliberately embodied the opportunities that Cal State LA students need to see represented in the speculative fiction industry.
To that effect, EagleCon attendees packed the Alhambra room at the U-SU for the Science Fiction and the Future of Anti-Racism panel, where speaker and Cal State LA alumni, Lando Tosaya, discussed Afro and Indigenous futurisms and how both genres greatly influence science fiction. Emphasizing the ways that Afrofuturism was created to address Black and African American themes and concerns, Tosaya referenced the quote, “Afrofuturism is an intersection of imagination, technology of the future and liberation,” by Y. Womack; to depict the ways that Afrofuturism is a space to honor history, while simultaneously creating space for fantastic futures and possibility. Tosaya also explored Indigenous futurisms, connecting the popular sci-fi storyline concept of moving in and out of time, with its influence and tradition of Indigenous peoples holding the past, present, and future all at once in their daily lives. Similar topics were explored throughout the convention in panels such as Race, Utopia, and Dystopia in Comics and Radical Sovereignty: New, Old, and Emerging Roads to Indigenous Futurity with speakers from the Department of Theatre and Dance professor Carolyn Dunn and graduate students expanding on topics on Indigenous futurisms and marginalized peoples impact on sci-fi as a whole.
Leading in representation were Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, prominent creators in the early alternative comics scene, who were awarded the 2023 Prism Award followed by a presentation of their work and background. Jaime and Gilbert’s Love and Rockets highlighted Latino and Chicano, unapologetic Women and Queer protagonists. This reflection of their everyday life in Los Angeles translated into authentic representation of real people in their prolific comics. As the characters in their comics grew and aged just as they did, so did the LA latino punk scene evolve and relate with the diversity of today. So too are young creators at Cal State LA. The Space Babe Queer Podyssey live podcast recording and panel centered gender and sexual diversity in science fiction. Showcased in their presentation were the ways in which LGBTQ+ people influenced iconic characters and science fiction storylines of the past. Via topics such as the metaphor of the “other”, with that of “queer coded” aliens, androids, mutants and monsters, The Space Babe Podyssey panel highlighted how sci-fi is a space for inclusion and possibility for expression and identification beyond social constructs and expectations. Experiencing the Hernandez Brothers and the young thinkers at Cal State LA in parallel panels illustrated how inspired and forward thinking students at Cal State LA are.
Many professional opportunities to connect and converse with leading contributors in industries spanning game design, graphic design, production design, illustration, music composition, and many more were available to EagleCon attendees. Martin T. Charles received the 2023 Imaginator Award and conducted a conversation about his extensive experience of graphic designing in a long, shiny list of box office films. Fantastic art provided by the Art Directors Guild Exhibition (ADG), storyboards from Black Panther, GhostBusters and more, were on full display for EagleCon goers to enjoy and interact with. Interacting with these creators and original storyboard pieces provided a special opportunity for students to gain insight into the hidden world of the behind-the-scenes in their sci-fi universes. Tabling at the convention, vending comics and sci-fi art was Anson Jew; a storyboard and concept artist, who’s film credits include Curse of Chucky, and Anacondas, and Frank Forte; an accomplished designer, storyboard artist himself, whose works include Bob’s Burgers and Guardian of the Galaxy. Alex Haidu, production designer for Lucifer gave an in depth presentation on the artistry behind the successful program. These artists’ presence at Cal State LA, amplified the value and mission of EagleCon, by making the seemingly unattainable, attainable.
It’s clear to see that throughout EagleCon’s 10th Year Anniversary Convention, the intentional balance of excitement, career enrichment and scholarly insight was centered in each panel offering. Professionals from across the industry supported EagleCon attendees, and the unsung organizers of the convention as a whole embodied its mission to encourage Cal State LA students and the wider community to soar higher in their individual creative, scholastic, and human-centered journeys. Without this access to experts looking to inspire the next generation of young creative thinkers, EagleCon would serve no purpose to its attendees. That is precisely why at Cal State LA and the College of Arts and Letters we aim to continue to build, transform, and enrich the vessel of opportunities that is EagleCon for all to envision the possibilities and futures that lie ahead.