This past week the DC-VA-MD metropolitan area reveled in Awesome Con. I’ve been to a few conventions in major cities like New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia and this had that familiar feel. There were rows and rows of up and coming artists and writers; along with various comic, toys, clothing, and gaming vendors. There was a large kid’s zone, several food vendors, and very little seating. This convention was headlined by Star Trek, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Hunter, the Original Power Rangers, and wrestling alums. This was obvious given the attire of those who were not Cosplaying. The jeans and t-shirts were mostly Star Trek, Power Ranger, or Doctor Who themed, but my Star Wars friends don’t despair, the franchise was well represented by the 501st Legion as well as the Mandalorian Mercs, and the Rebel Legion. There were photo ops with the groups as well as a light speeder, R2-D2, and a few Cosplayers who did a great job as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and the poor guy/gal in the C-3P0 suit.
Cosplay should be a time when people get to assume a new identity, and spend some time with like-minded folks in the enjoyment of an alternate reality or world. It was fun to see Batman bantering with Harley Quinn on the escalators, but I have to mention those folks that we are not impressed by, but sorry for. We all know who I’m talking about. Starting with the boys in the spandex outfits depicting Deadpool and Spider-Man. My brothers, as you are aware, just like with bicycle shorts, spandex is not every man’s friend. Let us enjoy your outfit by buying or have your Mom or someone buy you an athletic supporter!!! A lot of embarrassed looks could be avoided by something you have to have for gym class. But my sisters, be mindful as we slip into our Black Cat, Catwoman, or Batgirl outfits, that a little support can keep everything in place and those things hidden that we did not intend to display. Having said that, I do want to give a shout-out to all the Harley Quinn Cosplayers. The joker queen outfits are fraught with opportunities to miss spectacularly, but without exception, the 2015 Awesome Con ladies pulled it off with all shapes and sizes represented in leggings, spandex, leather, etc… But I want to send a shout out to one black girl nerd who represented as the goddess of thunder Thor. You go girl!!!!
An uncomfortable number of young, and not so young ladies, were in blue British phone-booth dresses, known by fans of Doctor Who as the Tardis. These Tardis ladies’ outfits often were accompanied by a mini-light-up Tardis on a headband. I know I should have gotten a picture, but at the time there were so many of them, I tried to focus on those more original. One guy really nailed it as that PBS painter guy with the huge Jew-fro. I loved a couple as minions from Despicable Me 2, and there were a myriad of several really nice Batmen, Captains America, and more than a few Doctor Who. One of the best outfits on Friday was Orin and Mera, also known as Aquaman and his wife. Flawless.
The gaming folks seemed to be well represented, as there were rooms dedicated to role-playing games as well as video games-still not enough chairs. While no beta testing for any of the consoles was prevalent the Artemis and Horizon spaceship bridge simulators were up and running. I found the graphics and gameplay quite similar to the PC Star Trek: Empire at War or Starfleet Command games. For the Horizon, there were several simulators available, and it was interesting to see that not every crew saved the day. It was nice to see whole families, including those obviously not gamers, spending 15 minutes to take the tutorial and a spin around the universe. On the Artemis simulator the enemy had destroyed a space station or two before the crew found their rhythm, refueled, and warped to the rescue of another station.
As a comic nerd, I felt underwhelmed. Most of the comic vendors were pushing the easier to find variant covers. The two major publishers are collapsing their universes, but there was no real presence for any of the artists or writers for any of their more popular titles. Image Comics did have Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna, the writers and artists for Alex+Ada, but missed a great opportunity considering the major buzz surrounding some of their new titles like Descender and the Dying and the Dead. There were some interesting opportunities to look at some self-published comics. Unfortunately, the folks promoting the “poop” book are still trying to pass their wares.
On my way to stand in line for over an hour to take a picture with William Shatner, I did run into Black Girl Nerd alum Cerece Rennie Murphy author of the Order of the Seers trilogy. Cerece has dropped the third book in the series The Last Seer. Be sure to check out her website (www.cerecerenniemurphy.com) for the latest. While in line for hours that Friday, and then again, on Saturday to take a picture with George Takei (Ta-kay), I thought of some helpful tips in no particular order, for those making their first homage to this type of convention.
1 – For your first outing, don’t try to do everything in one day, try going opening day to get your bearings. This is typically a Friday and some of the good guests are there and the lines are a little shorter. Also if you are taking small kids, it is less likely that a costumed Deadpool will run over your child;
2 – Review the guest list before you go. You may be surprised that someone on one of your shows is a sci-fi legend for something they did ten years ago and you can get an autograph or you may have a blank variant cover for a favorite artist and can bring it to get a sketch;
3 – Bring some cash with you, some places don’t accept credit cards. For the autographs for Shatner and Takei it was cash only, sorry American Express;
4 – Buy as much stuff up front as you can. What I mean by this is multi-day or VIP passes can go quickly, so if you’ve got the funds get it done, as often if you try to get things at the show it can be sold out or cash only;
5 – Bring a bag with some room in it for the stuff you buy. If you are going to buy comics consider bringing your own bags and boards. Or if you are going for an autograph bring a protective sleeve for your autograph. There is normally someone who will sell these items, but at 3 to 4 times the price if you got them at your local comic book store;
6 – Buy the heaviest stuff, like the entire Order of the Seers trilogy, after you stand in line for 2½ hours;
7 – Saturday at every comic con is the day, so don’t miss it. This is typically the day for the best panels, all the headliners will be there, and the Cosplay is at its best;
8 – Understand the backstory of your character if you are going in costume. Otherwise you may run into some awkward moments should you run into a costumed nemesis, paramour, or frenemy.
9 – Pack a lunch. You are going to get thirsty and hungry. There will be food vendors selling everything for twice as much but fortunately many conventions allow outside food and drink (leave the beer at home). But pack napkins to make sure you don’t destroy your comics; and,
10 – There is very little seating on the sales floor at a comic book convention, so be prepared to sit on hard concrete floors should you get tired and/or hungry. But typically there is a lot of seating at the various panel discussions. So go on in, take a load off, but try to go into the larger rooms so as not to disturb those folks really interested in the topic.
Comic book conventions are where you can get your nerd on, so go ahead put on your Captain America t-shirt, don’t forget to wear your white tube socks with your black shoes, sit back, relax and enjoy the show. And one more thing; don’t ever walk up to the Captain of the Starship Enterprise and ask him to sign your Star Wars comic book. You look like an a$$ and have insulted the Captain and the other 60 people behind you with a clue.
E.Angel is an engineer and holds a BS in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. She is in the process of finishing her first novel, Whistleblower, which deals with the danger of making decisions regarding technology based on politics. She’s a real nerd who loves all things Star Wars and Star Trek, and is an avid gamer. E.Angel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on either game platform as Bunnehs Sister.