Crash Course in Cosplay

So I’m guessing you all know what cosplay is, seeing as it’s been mentioned previously and is a huge part of nerdy convention culture. Regardless, here’s a super fast vocabulary lesson.

  • Cosplay is when people dress up as fictional characters from anything–a TV show, movies, books, comics, podcasts, video games, whatever.
  • Crossplay is when someone dresses up as a character that is not their own gender. (Ex: a girl dressing up as Castiel from Supernatural.)
  • Genderbending is when someone dresses up as a character, but makes the character an alternate gender from what it is in canon. So if you’re a girl cosplaying the doctor, you can throw a skirt on along with your fez and bowtie and make it gender bent! (Recently the Tumblr Social Justice Warriors have taken genderbending into their clutches, saying that it is against people who identify as nonbinary genders in that it is claiming that there are only two genders–male and female. I would love to make a long post telling these Tumblr Social Justice Warriors to stop screaming about how offensive everything is and to stop shitting all over things that people do for fun that don’t hurt anyone. But, alas, that is not what this blog is about. Unfortunately.)
  • An OC is an original character made up by someone. You can throw on a wig and a purple dress and claim to be an OC. These are more for fun than anything else.
  • furry is a person who dresses up in an animal mascot type costume. Usually it’s brightly colored. These are mostly at anime conventions and I have a strange sort of respect for people who have the courage/money/heat resistance walk around in public in thousand dollar, full body, bright blue bear costumes when it’s ninety degrees out. A really, really strange sort of respect.

I’m sure there are others I could go over, but those are the most basic ones I can think of. Obviously, feel free to ask questions or leave comments or just say hello.

Random Musings: Big Conventions vs. Small Conventions

After going to DestielCon this weekend, which was a great con despite the small turnout, I really wanted to talk to anyone who’s listening about the benefits of both small and big cons. 

Small cons are great. LIke I’ve said in earlier posts, you can make so many great friends at small conventions. You’ll see the same people in a variety of panels, so don’t be afraid to compliment someone’s cosplay or ask how they made a fake weapon or prop. 

Admissions prices are a lot cheaper at smaller conventions, and there are likely a lot less vendors there–so smaller conventions will cost you less money. 

There isn’t as much variety at smaller cons. There might be only one or two panels going on at any given time. If neither of those interest you, you’re left without much to do. If it’s something you’re really into, this won’t be as much of a problem. (For example, previously mentioned DestielCon. I love everything about that, and therefore I found just about every panel interesting.)

Small cons can be really nice, definitely. So what about those huge conventions spanning across four hotels and two conference centers, hosting thirty guests and bringing in tens of thousands of people?

It sounds intimidating, I know.

These conventions can be so cool. As mentioned, these ones will bring in some of your favorite celebrities, even if getting an autograph or photo op will be expensive.

Bigger cons, as expected, are pretty pricey. The admissions for one day can cost a lot, plus the vendors room will be huge.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is awesome. All these cool shops to see filled with fandoms left and right, cosplay and wigs for sale on site, those gorgeous steampunk watches I’m ridiculously in love with–

You get the point. It’s awesome, but it will tempt you into spending sooooo much money.

These conventions are also the ones where cosplay is serious business. It’s not weird at all to see a fourteen foot tall alien towering over you, or a full Doctor Who dalek walking around or a girl in a Magic: The Gathering cosplay… made entirely out of Magic: The Gathering cards.

Those are all things I’ve seen first hand, and the latter of the two is possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

Big conventions like those are ones that are harder to make friends at; you’ll likely end up staying by the group you came with, because it is unlikely, in a crowd of so many people, that you would see the same people more than a few times or more than just in passing.

But those are also the ones with so much to do. Take FandomFest in Louisville, KY for example. The first time I went there, I spent a whole day there jumping from panel to panel and having a great time dressed as the 11th doctor (along with approximately a fifth of the attendees), and I hadn’t even realized until I’d gotten home that there had been a whole other section of the convention over at the Convention Center nearby. I’d only gone to panels in the main hotel building after registering over at the conference center and missed a lot. 

There are goods and bads to each side, and I personally love balancing it out and going to both big and small.

Going to Cons: What to Expect

  • Expect lots of people

A lot of conventions are small and don’t have many people. TO me, those cons are most fun. Everyone is automatically a family (as cliche as that sounds) and you can really form great friendships. However, most cons that you hear about from friends or the internet or that a celebrity is going to will have hundreds and thousands of people. A huge percentage of those people will be in cosplay.

  • Expect lots of events

Panels, dances, cosplay contests (Oh my)!

Regardless of the size of the con, there will be things to do al day long. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, you will want to go to at least a few panels to get the whole experience. They’re usually funny and interesting, and you’ll leave learning a lot about your fandom. Outside of panels, I’ve seen only a few conventions that didn’t have some sort of dance at the end of Saturday night. Anime conventions will usually have raves or something similar, and just this weekend I got back from DestielCon, which had a Men of Letters Charity Dance with lots of swing music, twisting, and even a hand jiving contest, all inspired by Supernatural‘s Men of Letters–from the 40s and 50s.

  • Expect lots of things

As in, lots of things to buy. You’ll be tempted to spend every dime you’ve saved up for that super expensive laptop on a perfect Doctor Who t-shirt. Trust me, I’ve been there. There will be lots of things to spend money on.

All that fandom in one place? Yeah, that brings us to…

  • Expect to spend a lot of money!

Plot or Pants: Two Types of Con-Goers

From my convention experiences, I’ve noticed that there are two types of people at conventions.

No, I’m not referring to the actual nerds and the parents they dragged along. I’m referring to…

  • Event-goer

Also known as the plotter. This type will grab a schedule at the beginning of the day or weekend and will circle everything on the schedule that they want to go to, thoroughly schedule the whole convention experience, and stick to that schedule. They’ll hop from panel to panel all day long, breaking for food. This is what I do when I go to conventions. It’s less social, but it’s really interesting and informative.

  • Social Butterfly

Also known as the pantser. This type will go in with a schedule of panels and end up ignoring it, or will just not look at the schedule to begin with. Regardless, a pantser ends up finding a group of cool people in their fandom and latching onto them. They might go to a few panels they were really looking forward to, but for the most part, a pantsers con revolves around making friends with all of the people around them. This is my sister’s style of convention-going. It’s much less informative, but it is really great for making friends and is more social.

Obviously there are shades in between. Anyone can be a combination of this. It depends on the attendee, the people at the con, and the con itself.

Let’s start with the basics

So you want to go to a convention.

Doesn’t matter what kind–could be a convention devoted to anime and gaming, sci-fi and fantasy, a specific TV show, whatever. And that’s awesome! Being a self-proclaimed nerd? Seriously fun.

The problem? Maybe you’ve never been to any sort of convention. Maybe you’ve been to some small ones and you’re about to go to the Great King Holy Mother of all conventions (also known as San Diego Comic Con) and you don’t know what to expect. Maybe your friend is dragging you along and you’re wondering what madness you’ll encounter.

You’re almost guaranteed to encounter craziness at conventions–the best kind of crazy–be it a Minecraft creeper chasing a cosplayer down the hall, or a twelve foot tall alien looking creature, or a rather hairy middle-aged man dressed up as an anime style school girl.

Whether you’ve been to all sorts of conventions or you have no idea what you’re doing, this blog is dedicated to all things conventions: what to expect with various things, preparation, cost, meeting celebrities, cosplay, what people want to see in panels, what people don’t want to see in panels, who’s who and what’s what and why are those people dressed up in pink animal mascot suits when it’s ninety degrees outside?