Lessons in Comicon Cosplay


I had never felt so out of place wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I’m a jeans-and-a-t-shirt kind of girl, so unless I have to dress up for a special occasion, that’s what you’ll see me wearing. And so, that was my outfit of choice attending Phoenix Comicon. Silly me.
I realized my mistake almost immediately. I knew the group I was going with had costume plans, so that was no surprise to see my companions all wearing costumes depicting characters I did not recognize, mostly from Walking Dead, I was told.
We had a primo parking spot in the garage right next to the convention center. Next to us was a family of Star Wars characters getting ready to head into the Con. Cool.
As we walked toward the entrance, dozens, no hundreds of people dressed in classic sci-fi, horror, anime, and fantasy characters swarmed to get into line. There were steampunkers, “furries” (what are those?!!!), and mashups. A Princess Leia with a stormtrooper helmet. A Darth Vader wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. Every Doctor was there, the David Tennant version several times over. One really good-looking, muscular Pandoran with thighs and pecs and abs…. Mmmm.
And there I was, wearing my jeans and t-shirt.
The week before, I was in full steampunk for the Greyhound Gathering Parade, and for several days in February through April, I worked at the Arizona Renaissance Faire in full garb, so it’s not like I’m incapable of cosplay. I really thought that cosplay was the exception rather than the rule at Comicon. I was a Comicon virgin.
We enter, and the costume extravaganza continues, some more elaborate than others. Some downright pathetic, but at least they tried. There was a 7-foot Chewbacca. Ghostbusters. Starfleet oOfficers ranging in age from young adult to 80-year-olds. Superheroes. I walked down a hallway and passed about two dozen Deadpools gathered together, just lounging.
Perusing the booths in the exhibit halls, I noticed that many were devoted to cosplay-related merchandise. One could buy full costumes and accessories for just about any character. Some booths were more specialized. One booth had nothing but fur ears. Seriously! Fur ears! Many specialized in steampunk, and I thanked God I had completed my steampunk costume before Comicon, or I would have spent a lot more money.
By mid-afternoon, I reached a point where I was getting used to the spectacle and becoming overwhelmed at the same time. I knew Alan Tudyk was upstairs signing autographs, and while I hadn’t paid for any celebrity autographs or photo ops, it occurred to me that there could be some interesting people-watching to be had in the line to see Alan. It took me about 15 minutes to span the distance of the convention center, and when I arrived, I was disappointed. Apparently, my timing was off. There were only a few people, and none of them were wearing the Firefly outfits I was hoping to get pictures of. But, hey, at least I got to see Alan from a distance. Lookin’ good, Alan!
Around the corner from Alan, the line was forming for autographs with Dick Van Dyke. That was a line worth seeing. Costumes from Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were well done, and I realized that Dick Van Dyke’s addition to the Con lineup had only been announced maybe three weeks prior. Now that’s some serious cosplay. These folks had whipped these fabulous costumes together in less than three weeks? Wow.
By early evening I was spent but still had to wait for the rest of my group that I rode with. I spent most of the remainder of my time watching a demonstration of body art. Having seen the short-lived SyFy series, Skin Wars, I was familiar with the concept. Nearly nude models pose for artists who paint the models to the point that they no longer look nude. It’s a bit of a different take on cosplay. The demonstration had six model and artist teams, including one artist who had appeared on Skin Wars. The theme was robots, so it was fun watching human bodies being transformed into their artists’ vision of mechanical beings.
By the time I crawled into bed late that night, I was exhausted, but visions of geekdom continued to swirl around in my head. It was quite an experience. Will I go next year? Undoubtedly. One day did not do it justice, and I know I missed quite a few things I would have enjoyed. Will I cosplay next time? I think I have to.

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