As an avid convention goer and cosplayer I have this to say about Phoenix Comicon: HOLEE POO! Yes, that is a “polite” way of saying that this con literally blows my mind EVERY year (I have attended for 5 years now). Phoenix Comicon is, you guessed it, in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. It spans two, three story convention buildings and three hotels. It also closes two major streets in the down town area to allow for pedestrian traffic (which there is A LOT of). As one of the top ten Conventions in the United States it boasts around 75,000 members (they do not call customers “attendees” instead they are considered valuable members) and runs over four days. This year the convention is scheduled to start on Thursday, June 2nd and run through Sunday, June 5th.
Now I am not going to speak much more about this convention. If you would like to know more about it then please visit their website: http://www.phoenixcomicon.com. Ok Sam, then WHY mention it? WELLLLLLLLL…because there are a FEW things you should know about conventions as a cosplayer…
- Your contribution to the convention is vital.
- You WILL be stopped for photos.
- When stopped for photos you MAY be given a weird prop and/or sign to pose with.
- People WILL try to grab your props.
- Your cosplay MAY receive damage.
- Your photos WILL be posted online.
- YOU MUST EAT.
- If you are a panelist WATCH THE STAGE.
- HAVE FUN!
What do I mean by that? For starters, cosplayers draw crowds. Crowds draw attention. Attention is directed to the convention through News outlets, Photographers and curious onlookers. These outlets/professionals/onlookers all use word of mouth and/or social media to discuss comicon. This generates more interest which increases revenue for a convention. Yes, it’s a bit of a slippery slope however; it is quite easy to witness when you attend a convention. There are many times where I have gone to a con in cosplay and have had onlookers ask me what is going on. I explain the convention then direct them to registration and, believe it or not, some of those people actually BUY tickets. Curiosity is a powerful thing: take advantage of it and help your local con get bigger!
It’s only a matter of WHEN not if. Some photographers are picky about their subjects but often times you will discover that the excitement for your cosplay generated by just ONE person will bring a deluge of enthusiasm that can last minutes before the photo tornado turns its attention to another unsuspecting subject. Be prepared for people to take your photo WITHOUT permission, most conventions have policies saying you accept this so get familiar with those policies. You DO NOT, however, have to accept ANYONE taking photos of you eating, resting OR being in an inappropriate/uncomfortable situation. Those MUST be reported the convention as harassment and the staff will handle the issue as professionally as possible. Harassment is ANY unwelcome behavior and as most people don’t like photos of them eating or using the restroom (for example) that is considered harassment.
Yes, this DOES happen. It is your prerogative to decide whether or not you would like to pose with said object. Many times the objects are something someone treasures OR they are anti-bullying signs. Whatever the case, if you accept the object be VERY careful with it. Treat it as if it were a part of your costume and take care not to damage it.
Children are often the culprits. They get excited and escape their parents’ before there is a chance for them to explain how fragile the items may be. I have heard horror stories of props being broken during a con by enthusiastic kids who grip or tear at them. If it is not a child then it is an adult who thinks it would be funny to whip the prop around without knowing the stability of the item or how it operates. NEVER GIVE SOMEONE YOUR PROP. If they want to pose with explain that you must be in the picture as well. If you are trusting or convinced your prop is strong then explain how to use/hold the item and hand over the prop at YOUR OWN RISK. I once handed my friend my Fuu Hououji 6’2″ sword and the wind ripped it out of her hands, breaking the hilt. It was in NO WAY her fault. The same would have happened to me but things happen so be aware of the risk involved with passing on your prop.
How, do you ask? For starters there are new/inexperienced cosplayers who may have unsealed body paint. ANYONE in body paint SHOULD NOT be hugged. Ask politely for a hand shake instead or a side by side photo without contact. If you want to risk a hug try an arm around the shoulder instead: at least only your sleeve or bracer/gauntlet will get dirty if the paint is not sealed.
Convention chairs: they are MONSTERS. With as much traffic as a convention center sees over a weekend it’s not uncommon for their seating to take damage. Since most convention seats link together via metal clasps it’s pretty normal for them to become bent out of shape. Check your seat before you take it and be aware of your surroundings.
Peripheral Nightmare: Say What? MANY big armor costumes make it hard to judge distance. As such, you may find yourself running into walls or even other people. To avoid this ask for handler or have a friend accompany you to the con.
Weather: Heat, Cold and Rain are all mother nature’s way of saying “seal it or deal with it”. Seal your armor, starch your clothing, scotch guard your clothing and do WHATEVER it takes to be safe. I have a little convention back pack in my car with emergency items for just such cases.
Again, it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN. If you DO NOT want your photos posted online then DO NOT attend a convention. Seriously, that is your only option. Photographers and Videographers are often paid to attend conventions and capture candid moments that will highlight the excitement at con so it’s not uncommon to find yourself posted on a site’s main page as their article cover photo OR to see your face in one of their press galleries.
I CANNOT stress this enough. At Phoenix Comicon we had a rash of people passing out one year. Some of this was due to the heat (many out of state attendees do not understand the amount of water that must be consumed in the desert) and others collapsed due to malnutrition. Please eat a protein bar, drink a protein shake, drink water OR get a smoothie with vitamin additives to boost your energy and keep your body happy.
Ok…so this MAY not apply to every one of you cosplayers out there but I would like to note it any ways. While hosting a panel at Phoenix Comicon last year I stood up to grab a piece of armor on the table and did not notice that my cosplay armor (which I was wearing) had knocked my chair back. As I finished my presentation and went to sit down I discovered, in mid air, that the chair was no longer present. By some miracle I landed very gracefully and bounced back up without too much trouble. This is not the case with everyone. I watched an incredible Kylo Ren cosplayer face plant at Sabaku Con this month because he was not able to judge the stage properly. I have seen panelists FALL off stage because they were not aware of the space allotted. PLEASE be careful. This is another time where you may want someone to watch you so they can either catch or prevent you from falling.
Your cosplay takes its toll. A lot of times cosplayers do not realize they are exhausted until they get into position for a photo and fall over. Schedule alarms in your phone or write in your guide times where you will just SIT. It may be difficult to step away from the fun but it is entirely necessary.
Do you have questions for our Cosplay Savant? Feel free to email [email protected] with any convention or cosplay questions.