Top 10 reasons why Flame Con 2 is still better than NYCC


“The stairway to heaven”

August 30, 2016 -Sara Barton

After the success of Flame Con- (New York City’s first LGBTQA+ comic convention), Geeks OUT raised the bar again with Flame Con 2: 2 Fierce 2 Fabulous! On August 20th & 21st , they doubled the fun: 2 days, 2 mascots, and 2 cosplay contests, 2 portfolio reviews and twice the panels & exhibitors.

Flame Con 2 was held at the beautiful Brooklyn Marriot Hotel located near the historic Brooklyn Bridge. The hotel’s modern space age design mirrors Flame Con’s bright future; as the larger space facilitated an intellectual salon of creative energy and free thinking ideas, surpassing the expectations of a comic convention.

Last year, I wrote the Top 5 reasons why Flame Con beats NYCC. In honor of Flame Con 2, the list has been doubled. [NYCC are you still taking notes?]

{Drum Roll} Presenting….

The Top 10 Reasons why Flame Con 2 is still better than NYCC:

10) The Press Room

As the old saying goes, if you ever want to learn a person’s true character, watch how they treat others. The staff at Flame Con 2 treated members of the Press like royalty. The clever graphic signs guided journalists to the 3rd floor. Press check-in was speedy, efficient and Flame Con staff was super friendly. They brilliantly utilized the Marriot Hotel’s space by reserving a lovely conference room; filled with plush seats and a large water cooler. The best part, you could leave your bags and Flame Con staff offered to watch them for you. I was shocked, I’ve covered NYCC since 2010, this is unheard of.(1)


9) The Water Coolers

Throughout Flame Con, several water coolers were stationed around the Exhibition Hall, Cosplay Corner, and Press Room. A person might not think twice about this. So why did they make our list? Last week’s weather was very hot & humid reaching the upper 90’s, feeling like the 100’s. Although, this weekend’s weather was surprisingly much cooler and the hotel does have air conditioning; it’s important to stay hydrated. Dehydration is a serious safety issue when the weather is extremely hot. At NYCC, The Javits Center sells water bottle for $4, while they’re water fountains; they don’t always work. It’s the thoughtful touches that show that Flame Con truly cares about the safety of its attendees, exhibitors, performers and members of the Press.

8) The Cosplay Corner &  Repair Station

Flame Con 2 was dedicated to the art of Cosplay. In addition, to 2 Cosplay Contest’s there was an expansion of the photograph section and a Repair Station. Cosplayers had extra room for photo shoots against the official Flame Con backdrop. They also included a table with props (similar to a photo booth); it had rubber chickens and the famous “gay defense” shields. However, I was really impressed by the Cosplay Repair Station. The sign featured the new Iron Man(aka Iron Heart), Riri Willson. The table had extra materials, glue guns and other emergency necessities a cosplayer in distress might need. As a beginner cosplayer and as an artist who loves to build props, this was a slice of paradise.

7) Brooklyn SuperHero Supply Co.

The Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Co., is located in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Yes, it’s a real-life store that sells all sorts of gadgets a hero might need. Their booth even had a few specials items for Flame Con 2. However, they’re also a storefront for 826NYC, a non-profit dedicated to supporting students, ages 6-18, with their writing skills.  Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Co’s dedicated tutors, storytellers, and workshop leaders help 2,300 NYC students per year. Take a train ride downtown and try out the Cape Tester, get De-Villainized, but (most important) don’t forget to ask about the secret door! (Hint: 826NYC)

6) Robots, Unicorns and Steven Universe…Oh My!

If Flame Con was meant to have a theme, this would have been it. The Exhibition Hall was filled art, cosplay, and books featuring: Robots, Unicorns, and Steven Universe. There was even a booth selling Unicorn Cookies & comics! Among several artists, we’re  Justin Winslow’s comic, “Robot & Unicorn” and Gay Breakfast’s stellar Steven Universe Fan-Art. While Steven Universe was a hit last year, ever since the series featured more LGBTQ+ themes and Rebecca Sugar came out, it’s popularity has sky rocketed exponentially.  Adopt a Robot, was not what I thought it was. Flame Con 2 also featured a panel on “Gendering  BB-8” -Do robots really have a gender?

5) Activism

A sense of social justice was in the air. Flame Con 2 had already issued a press release banning gun props in light of Orlando and attendees were happy to comply. The convention also hosted a panel called, “Geek Activism”, for those interested in getting involved. Several artists in the Exhibition Hall also exercised their 1st amendment rights. It was fantastic! I found a sticker saying “Make America Gay Again” a parody to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again”. Chaotic Kiss’s booth had a sign saying #TransLivesMatter and talked about positive activism through art. There was P. Kristen Enos’s classic, “Active Voice”, the quintessential piece on LGBT activism in the early 90’s. Last, but not least, is “GUN CONTROLLED” is a zine style anthology book created by the queer comic, cartooning and arts community. It contains art and stories reacting to the shootings that took place at the Pulse Night Club on June 12th, 2016. (Sales will be donated to the Pulse Victims Fund.)

4) Catching up with our favorites & making new friends.

SBR caught up with some of our favorite artists: the famous Brooklyn manga artist, Hiroki Otsuka & his husband, Jason;  Justin Winslow of “Robot & Unicorn”;  Jason Tsang, who’s adult coloring book, “Color Me Queer” was a success! Plus, animator, Tristian Goik representing  ASIFA-East.

What I love most about Flame Con 2 is the communal aspect as Hiroki & Justin became friends, introduced me to the talented fashion artist: A.E. Kieren and his model for the hour, exhibitor, Agent Wednesday; and gallery coordinator, Jeff Beler. There was a surge of creative synergy that Sunday.


3) Sara meets K. Perkins

K. Perkins is the writer for DC’s Supergirl, her many credits include film, television, and plays. As a screenwriting major, Perkins and I talked shop. She was happy to give me career advice and industry tips. When our delightful conversation came to an end; out of the blue, she surprised me with an autographed Supergirl comic. Perkins is a class act and I wish her the best on her future endeavors

2) The 2 Fierce 2 Fabulous Mascots

The Flame Con mascots wore 3 spectacular costumes this year. On Saturday, Mr. Flame Con wore an updated chic and elegant design. The costume had various shades of red, accented with a Flame belt and cuffs. Its sheer simplicity is a reflection Brooklyn Marriot Hotel’s modern yet futuristic style. On Sunday, Mr. Flame Con was dressed to the nines, in a very elegant flame ball gown; reminiscent of the Katniss Everdeen’s dress from, “The Hunger Games” films. That costume was on fire, including the flame-haired wig!  As for Ms. Flame Con, she was rocking last year original costume. The mascots were fierce and fabulous– it was perfect!


Instagram: laimleeny

1) Sriracha Boy attends Youth Day!

Geeks OUT , the dynamic force behind Flame Con partnered with the Ali Forney Center(2) for its 1st Youth Day. On Sunday, August 21st all attendees of Flame Con 2 under the age of 21 were admitted free of charge. Attendees, staff, and exhibitors brought their children. It was a family friendly atmosphere, yet none was more adorable than Sriracha Boy(a toddler who wore a plush hot sauce bottle). Huy Fong’s Sriracha has gone from a popular condiment to a pop-culture phenomenon. This little cutie wandered the convention floor spreading the joy and love of Sriracha sauce to those around him. That day, Sriracha boy became cemented in Instagram history.

Flame Con 2 has dropped the mic (twice), BOOM! – NYCC are you ready?

(1) NYCC Press either has a choice of carrying their gear or paying $3 for coat check (except for NYCC 2015, where Progressive Insurance offered free storage lockers to all attendees)

(2) The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.

The Most: Pokémon Go Sign Countdown!

August 4, 2016- Sara Barton

It’s the mobile app heard around the world as Pokémon Go sky-rockets into a global phenomenon. The game has not only brought joy to the public; it’s increased the shares of Nintendo (even though it’s created by the company Niantic), encouraged fitness, and now local businesses are jumping on the bandwagon.

There are several ways businesses can use Pokémon Go to increase customer traffic. The most popular is checking if your establishments is located near a Gym or Pokéstop then catering to local foot traffic. The second, is to purchase Lure Modules and host a Bar-Crawl/Meet-up. The Village Pourhouse hosts Pokémon Go Parties on Friday nights.


Yelp has also made it easier for players; by adding a filter that identifies businesses within nearby Pokéstops. (available on the app and  It’s called “Pokéstop Nearby” and Yelp users can also identify a business in the vicinity of a Pokéstop by checking in to the location and answering a question that will make note of the nearby Pokéstop. (1)

Before July 20, 2016, businesses could apply to become a Pokéstop or Gym. However, due to the overwhelming number of requests, Niantic isn’t currently accepting anymore applications. (2)

Furthermore, in an effort to attract customers Pokémon Go has brought out the artistic side of many local NYC establishments. While this SBR correspondent was testing out the latest tips and hacks; I discovered some very creative restaurant, bar and business signs.

Presenting: [Drum Roll]…

The Most: Pokémon Go Sign Countdown! 

5) The Most: Sarcastic  [Osteria Del Principe, 27 E. 23 St]

most sarcastic

This sign is sarcastic and funny. Whether it was born out of frustration or the staff wanted to crack a joke about this latest trend. All I can say is; I got a good laugh. Yes, Osteria Del Principe does have a good wine selection.

4) The Most: Helpful [Ampersand, 294 E. 3rd Ave]


If you ever needed help finding a Pokéstop; this sign is it!  It’s direct and to the point. It’s referring to the Pokéstop: TAMA- Tree Planting by Mayor Abraham Beame (located on 23rd & 3rd ave). It’s the 1st of 75 trees that were donated to beautify the community.

The Ampersand is a bar/restaurant located near SVA’s and Baruch’s college campuses. Plus, it’s a short walk from Madison Square Park. Universities and college campuses are popular Pokéstops. These buildings are known to be hot spots for catching certain Pokemon. After following up on a tip, I caught a Vulpix at the Baruch Campus Library Pokéstop.

A few universities have even gotten in on the action. NYU Alumi  posted an article on their website listing its campuses Pokéstops and the university is even hosting Pokétours to attract prospective students.

If you plan on catching Pokémon around these college campuses; the Ampersand is a nice place to take a break and grab drinks or something to eat.

3) The Most: Witty [Amsterdam Billiards, 110 E. 11st]


This sign was created by the talented staff at Amsterdam Billiards. Their signs are known to showcase various pop-culture references (ex. Futurama, Garfield, Peanuts, and The Simpsons) making witty banter involving: pool, alcohol and good times. Amsterdam Billiards is located 1/2 block from the Village Pourhouse. It’s a shrewd business strategy, considering that the Village Pourhouse hosts Pokémon Go parties on Fridays. Can you catch the pun?  (Hint: It’s Pokémon’s famous catch phrase.)

2) The Most: Crafty (literally) [Nanoosh, 111 University Place]


The sign is courtesy of Nanoosh. The restaurant is a great venue from Union Square, NYU, and Washington Square Park, (which each have lures, gyms and several Pokéstop in between.) It’s obvious it was a labor of love. Instead of Pikachu being drawn from chalk, this one is made out of fabric and is an homage to the short film, “Pikachu’s Vacation” (1999).

2) The Most: 可愛い  (Cute) – This one is a tie!
[Milk Bar Chelsea 220 E. 8th Ave] & [Nanoosh 111 University Place]

Milk Bar and Nanoosh both tie for this category. The 1st two signs at are Milk Bar’s new Chelsea location; which isn’t too far from the High-line(a great place to catch grass Pokémon) and is close to the SVA Silas and Beatrice Theater (also a Pokéstop). These signs appeared within a less than 2.5 weeks after the app was released; welcoming tired and hungry Pokémon trainers. The chalk drawings are incredibly adorable and will put a smile on anyone’s face.

1) The Most: Savvy [Spruce, 228 E. 8th Ave]


Spruce’s sign works on a variety of levels. It’s a florist and gardening shop, hence making Bell-Sprout the perfect mascot. Pokémon Go players know that Grass Pokémon will appear in their natural habits, such as: plants, lush fields, and parks. (I caught two Bulbasaurs’ on the High-line.) The artist did a great job. Bell-Sprout is beautifully drawn. Nevertheless, what makes this sign #1 is, that it doesn’t matter if the owner plans to put a Lure Module or is hinting that their establishment is a place to catch Bell-Sprout’s. It’s simply a clever ode to Pokémon and a comic observation of the cultural impact of Pokémon Go.



Pokémon Go Terminology:

Lure Module:  is a purchasable item that attracts wild Pokémon. It’s attached to a Pokéstop of your choosing (several establishments use these to increase business!). They attract a wide variety and large number of  Pokémon. However, they only work for a limited period of time. 

Pokéstop: provide’s players with free items, such as: Eggs, Poké Balls, Potions and can be equipped with items called lure modules. Pokéstops can include: Universities/Colleges, Famous & Historic Landmarks, Church’s, Parks, Trees, Art Sculptures/Murals, Local Businesses and much more. 

Poké-Gym/Gym: are locations where a player can battle the Pokémon belonging to rival teams. The other purpose of Gyms is to train the player’s own Pokémon by getting into a fight with the Pokémon assigned by other members in the same team.