Sunday, August 03, 2014

I Survived Tampa Bay Comic Con 2014: The Epic

Ah, to revel in the geekdom of comic books, science fiction and fantasy, costume roleplay, gaming, and walking.  Lots and lots of walking.

Shall I sing to you the song of Saturday comic conventioneering?  Too bad, I can't carry a tune.  I shall narrate my journey instead...

always begin your journey with a Selfie...
With many thanks to Mom for sewing this Jedi outfit for me back when I was thinner (2006).  Unfortunately, I thought I had safety pins but didn't and I ended up not going with the samurai-esque shoulder pads to complete the Jedi effect.  I DID have a belt on which to hang my plastic lightsaber though...

This is my... sixth attendance of the Tampa Bay Comic Con, and the second that they've held at the convention center itself - I mentioned earlier how previous Tampa cons were at an undersized hotel near the airport - and while this year the hosts have done a better job preparing for the turnout, there's still an issue with lines to get in.

On the downside, had to wait in a long line - even with advance ticket - outside the convention hall this year due to the growing turnout.  On the upside: growing turnout.  You know your convention is getting popular when the lines circle half of downtown...


That was the line forming behind us at that same spot I took the earlier photo...

Inside, I asked about at some of the shopping booths to see if any had any safety pins for the Jedi robe I did wear: I had a clip trying to keep the V-neck together but it wasn't holding.  Turns out there is a cosplay assistance group - the International Cosplay Corps - that helps out with wardrobe malfunctions at a con, so many thanks to the Mending Mistress standing with me (I regretted leaving the Jedi shoulder pads behind...).

LOOK KIDS!  IT'S JIM STERANKO! (applause)

 Cosplay can become a deliriously detailed and complex work of art sometimes.  Also very life-consuming and bulky.  This guy - I think that's a Warhammer outfit - is on stilts wearing a body armor suit taller than I am, with a cumbersome gun to carry, a sweltering helmet covering 85 percent of his normal vision, and he stands there 90 percent of the time letting everybody get pictures of him.  This takes dedication.  And a lot of stamina.

The more successful your cosplay, the more likely you're going to be standing all day getting pictures of you posted everywhere.  I dressed up this con and... no requests.
The other part of a convention on display: model working, crafts, costumes for sale, artwork for sale.  This booth was just a display of someone's hobby making detailed models of famous SciFi spaceships.  The hand-painted touch, the eye to detail... incredible.

If you do cosplay: do it in a group.  Themed costumes draw a lot of attention.  This foursome are a steampunk version of Batman, Batgirl, Scarecrow and Catwoman.

Another thing that helps with cosplay: GLOWY LIGHT THINGEES.  Oh man, if I can find a reasonably priced glass-blue-neon lightsaber on the market... sigh.

This Dalek tried to photobomb those Jedi!  Foolish Dalek...

It's Mike Maihack!  I'm a geek for his fanart involving Batgirl-Supergirl, and was hoping he'd have his most recent work - see the bit I wrote about Batgirl's new outfit at the end of this blog for more - but it was too recent for prints to be available.  I got his first Batgirl-Supergirl print instead, still a good one to get...

It's JC De La Torre!  My fellow Buccaneer fan, at the comic con in the Artist's Alley promoting his Star Mage (IDW) series.

There are TARDISes everywhere.  But that's okay, because space-time is this kind of timey-wimey ball of... stuff.

As always, it's R2-D2 and he's working this convention like a pimp uh BOSS.  For some reason, this little droid wants to hang out with the ladies in the R2 tank tops...

Together, R2 and I will fight to save the Republic!  Either that or rescue Luke, who's fallen down a well or something...

It's the cosplayers for the Game of Thrones show!  Quick, name the ones playing characters that are still alive (so far...)  (P.S. I saw people cosplaying GRRM.  Seriously?  Why deal with the grief of people coming up to you screaming "WRITE FASTER, GEORGE!"...?)

A Tampa Bay Rays Stormtrooper made the rounds - mostly near the benches in a far corner, basically one of the best open spots for cosplayers to gather for poses - and I asked about how the trooper felt about the recent David Price trade.  The half-laugh half-cry of a damned soul I heard was all I needed to know.  Yeah, it was painful for me too...

During my patrol of the lower level - waiting for a presentation / open chat about publishing in comics - I spotted some professional-looking cosplayers coming out of the convention's work areas.  Including a fellow dressed up in a Wookie (might be Tarfful) outfit.  A massive, fur-covered outfit.  IN FLORIDA.  Even in an air-conditioned conventional hall, THIS TAKES COURAGE PEOPLE.

Unfortunately, I failed to take care of one thing during this: I bumped into two young women who remembered me from last year's convention from the pre-opening wait line, where I and a few other nearby geeks explained the tips and tricks of comic-cons (it was their first).  One of the ladies took my tip of cosplay to heighten the experience, as she showed up as a female (distaff) version of Han Solo.  And there I was, wearing a Jedi outfit... and I never once thought to get a photo of us posing.  /headdesk  I completely forgot to get a shot of her posing with the Wookie as well (granted, my smartphone battery was getting close to fading out, but still I had some juice...).  And damn me for a fool, but I'm lousy at remembering names...

Back to the Artist's Alley, where late in the day I come across Bernie Wrightson!!!  When I was eight-ish, we had a few comic books in the house, one of which was a special re-issue of Swamp Thing #1-2 by Len Wein and Wrightson as the artist.  He's the guy for gothic horror graphic art (his work on illustrating the story of Frankenstein is classic).  He's also (in)famous for his version of Batman... where he's wearing a bat-cape that's twice as long as humanly possible.  As a fan of both Wrightson's work, Swamp Thing, and Batman, getting a signed print from Mr. Wrightston was a huge treat.

Ahhh, Deadpool, my old nemesis.  Actually, nemesES.  A plurality of Deadpools are a given for any convention.  And every year they are driven by the same madness: to find a veteran actor of the Power Ranger series and worship him/her like a GOD.

This year it was a Red Ranger.  Go figure.  For some reason they got The Eleventh Doctor (see the fez?) to join in the ritual...

Alyson Larkin as Batgirl
Finally.  Last photo I was able to take before the smartphone powered down.  I spotted a cosplayer in an excellent version of Batgirl's new outfit! (UPDATE: According to the tumblrs out there, her name is Alyson Larkin) Let me clarify my own little geek-out here...

When I did MegaCon earlier this year, it was just after Frozen had become the Number One ZOMG fan-thing, and I expected to see a bunch of Queen Elsas in her Ice Queen costume.  Sadly then, only counted about four of them (in a cosplay crowd of thousands).  This month, with time to craft the outfit, I counted about nine, maybe ten of them (I saw more Maleficents though).  I digress a little, but the point is when there's a new thing for costuming to do, I'm hoping to see how quickly the response is and how pervasive (in 2009 for example every other male cosplayer was Rorschach and every other female cosplayer Silk Spectre).

It was announced about two weeks ago that a new comic book team for Batgirl was giving her a new re-design.  The response to it was - via the fan art - huge.  Nearly everybody went ga-ga over it.  So when I went to the Tampa comic con, I was keeping an eye out for anyone with the new outfit - practical boots, leather armor, and the SNAP-ON CAPE - to see what the response would be for cosplay.

I kinda knew the shortness of time - two weeks - made it unlikely to see one... and yet, thank you Batgirl Cosplayer of Tampa Bay, you made it!  And you did a great job of it!  Thank you.

That said, here's that Maihack print I hope he gets printed up soon for the next comic con:

And next year?  I need a simpler outfit.  How much are Wookie suits?

4 comments:

The Superhero Method said...

Nice review! The Comic Con was bigger than we expected - and the cosplay was really fantastic all around! Check out our Tampa Bay Comic Con pictures here.

The new Batgirl really stood out for us - she turned that around so quickly and the boots! the jacket! the snap-on cape! Amazing!

Hope to catch you at the next con!

Andrew Gomez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Gomez said...

Hey,
I'm the Steampunk Batman in the group. Not only does cosplaying in a group draw big crowds, it also alleviates a bit of the stress when doing your first cosplay. That was actually the first cosplay for the whole group, and we made the costumes in a little under 2 weeks. I was extremely happy wiht hte response we got from the crowds. Thanks for the feature, it means a lot to all of us.
-Andrew

Paul said...

to Andrew, glad you liked the photo! Congrats on a great job with the costumes, especially for your first time doing it. Hope you and your group have plans for the other comic and scifi cons in the area like Orlando Megacon next year.