Shots from the 2015 Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo
If you’re a longtime convention goer, the events currently being staged are almost indistinguishable from their forebearers. Once held in hotel basements filled with comic-box covered folding tables where single men – often thought to still be living with their mothers – would crowd the make-shift shops seeking an illusive issue or limited edition toy. That last part hasn’t changed much. You still see the hard-core collectors running from vendor to vendor with their heads down and lists out, seeking the sweet satisfaction one gets from collecting. Everything else, now that’s a different story.
“Comic-Con” or “Comic Convention” no longer captures this magical landscape. What was once held at the airport Hilton is now filling your city’s biggest venue. What kinds of stuff do you like? Movies or TV? Maybe you prefer books – like comics – games or autograph hunting. Fashion, costuming and an unlimited array of shopping might also pass your time. Well, all that and the opportunity to stalk your favorite celeb just start the to-do list. That’s quite the evolution, right? One aspect that might be growing faster then the cons themselves is the under appreciated culture of Cosplay.
Everyone’s seen the Star Wars and Star Trek folks, who are a costume staple at almost any convention, but Cosplay is so much more than costumes. It’s most definitely a year-round lifestyle. Some outfits take hours, others months. They range from the simplistic to the infinitely intricate, costing in the thousands for those chasing the highest level of authenticity. And once you’ve put in all those dollars and man-hours recreating a favorite character’s look, it’s time to show it off.
You only have to walk the convention floor for a few minutes before you spot your first superhero or video game villain. You may notice that camera totting mobs swarm these geeky peacocks, but don’t be afraid. They like it. In fact, they want you to stop them for a photo or to ask about their fabrication process. I know that monsters and cleavage can be a little intimidating, but this proud bunch endure uncomfortable outfits, sweaty fan-boys and flash-photography blindness all to share their work and passion with tens of thousands of strangers.
So while you’re working the convention floor hunting for books or trinkets, autographs or collectables, make sure you keep your head up and have a camera handy. Some of the best things at the con will literally walk, stumble, crawl or roll right by you.
Tell onFiction: What conventions are you seeing this year? And will you be going in costume?