By Derrick Jean-Baptiste

Sometimes you just have to take a chance, so that is exactly what the group Entertainment Stew did this summer.

This summer, I had the wonderfully unique opportunity to present at two conventions in the central Florida area: Tampa Bay Comic Con in Tampa, Florida on Friday, July 28. and Metrocon in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 4.

The group that helped present our panel consisted of Assia Angelini, Ian Hildebrand and John Magee.

To understand just what we did this summer you must understand just what presenting a panel at a convention consists of.

Do you have a particular passion for a very specific aspect of fandom? Do you have a particular TV show such as “Supernatural” or “Firefly” that especially excites you? Do you consider “Rick and Morty” to be as deep and meaningful as Shakespeare and desire to prove it?

Maybe a specific fandom such as steampunk or other things of ‘punk’ variety is a fascination? Maybe you’re an independent or aspiring artist and desire to share great wisdom about your future profession? Would you like the opportunity to speak about it in front of other die-hard fans of the same ilk? Then you should also try and host a panel at a convention.

Panels consist of seminars, presentations and lectures held at comic book and other popular art conventions. These seminars, presentations and lectures are presented by patrons from the fan community rather than an artist, literary or media guest. They are panels that come from a more fan-based perspective rather than a professional one and may not be as polished, but they do exude a passion for the topic discussed.

Fan panels at conventions are as old as the popular arts convention itself and can be traced back as early as 1947 at the original science fiction gatherings. Today, fan panels are just as popular as ever and are presented at all types of popular arts conventions, but especially at anime and more traditional science fiction events; as well as, shows hosted by colleges.

Tampa Bay Comic Con and Metrocon are both examples of typical popular art and comic conventions. Tampa Bay Comic Con had a focus on comic books, film, and video games while Metrocon had a focus on anime and video games.

Entertainment Stew was lucky enough to fuse a few of our most important topics: video games, animation, and philosophy to make both a successful and well-attended panel.

The title of our panel is called “Facing my True Self: Persona and the Nature of the Soul.”

With every panel submission, we were asked to come up with a relatively short description for the specific panel. This panel’s submission was: “In honor of Shin Megami Tensei Persona’s 20th anniversary and the release of Persona 5, we’re taking a look inside ourselves to see the true nature of the soul. Personas, the namesake of the game series and an integral part of the story, character development, and gameplay, have their birthplace in the soul. As such, the soul plays an important role not only in the series but also in philosophy. Join Entertainment Stew as we apply philosophical thought to Persona and see if our true selves really lie in the soul.”

Both panels were surprising hits at both conventions giving Entertainment Stew a positive buzz within the convention scene in Central Florida.

We had a ton of fun at these two conventions and because of that our time at the convention was not a one-time endeavor.

We are expecting to go to one more convention over the course of the next academic school year. In fact, we have our next one later this winter.

We might not have gone that far from our Lakeland stomping grounds, but it was still nice to take a chance and show the world what we got.


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