Do you love Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, either in film, on TV, or in the stories that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote more 100 years ago? Then Atlanta’s 221B Con has the convention for you!
221B Con is Atlanta’s yearly convention for “all things Sherlock.” Last weekend, April 1-3 was the fourth of these conventions, held at the Marriott Perimeter Center, and it was a huge success, drawing quite a large number of dedicated fans of the great detective, his faithful friend, the women in his life and his most famous villain, Moriarty.
This audience, unlike many Atlanta fan conventions, skews female, and young (college age and up). However, all gender identifications and ages are liberally represented, with more older people present this year than in the past, which was good news for this writer who has always felt welcome but also like possibly the oldest person present in the past. Most of the attendees still come from out of state, it seems. A casual look around the parking lot Sunday morning showed license plates from New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, California, and a mere scattering of Georgia plates.
No matter where people come from to attend, they all share one thing in common: They love Sherlock Holmes. Many of them are writers of “fanfic,” which is fiction related to a popular television, movies or literature penned by fans and not by the creator of the character It is usually unauthorized and unofficial. And they were there in force at 221B Con, attending workshops and panels geared toward them throughout the weekend.
However, you do not have to be a writer or reader of fanfic to enjoy 221B. The convention covers everything from the original books to the two popular television shows, the BBC’s Sherlock and the CBS series Elementary to movies, with this year’s emphasis on Sir Ian McKellen and “Mr. Holmes.” There was also a great deal of interest in the television series Houdini and Doyle, which is coming to Fox.
There were also panels about costuming and more cosplay this year than this author remembers in years past. This year also brought a delightful guest: David Nellist, who plays Mike Stamford on Sherlock, and he was entirely charming and a great sport.
Another highlight of the event was the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performance on Saturday, which consisted of a rather steamy short play about Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler and a very funny piece that had the audience in stitches. Both pieces concerned the events around Sherlock’s alleged death at the hands of Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls and both were never performed before. ARTC is a very popular attraction at many Atlanta conventions, where they perform plays in the manner of old-time radio shows before a live audience.
Something else that many people enjoyed over the weekend was the Dealers’ Room, where vendors sold handmade jewelry, Victorian clothing, artwork, and other crafts at extremely reasonable prices, mostly but not exclusively with a Sherlock theme.
It was a marvelous event, full of learning, sharing, laughing,socializing and having fun with people who share a common interest. In fact, it was everything a smaller fan convention should be. (That is, one that is less than a thousand people rather than a huge convention like DragonCon, also in Atlanta, which has 70,000 attendees or more.)
Be sure to follow the convention on social media and be prepared for next year’s event!