DragonCon 2013, Continued

Before I start writing about the last half of my Dragon Con 2013 experiences, I forgot to mention one of the coolest parts of Friday evening. When I was talking with the trio about face casting, I noticed a Doctor Who-themed family, making some late-evening fixes to their Cassandra prop (which was absolutely fantastic). Most of the family were dressed as Cassandra’s attendants, but the youngest was dressed in circa-1940s style clothing, with a gas mask. She was walking around asking “Are you my mummy?” and basically scaring the bejeezus out of people. I goofed around a bit with her, running and hiding behind other people, as her mom called out “Look! You’ve scared the boogie man!” It was enormously fun and always makes me feel good about the future of cosplay.

Saturday

For the past few years, Saturday at DragonCon has involved hurriedly gathering together the day’s costumes, getting dressed, grabbing whatever granola bar or other baked item was handy, and running down to the staging grounds for the annual Dragon Con parade. The past few years have seen us in a He-Man/She-Ra group, cleaning up the end of the parade dressed as Sci-Fi Janitors, and high-kicking our way through Atlanta’s streets as the Three Ninjas. In fact, Heather’s only experience with the Dragon Con parade has been as a participant. She’s never had the opportunity to just be a casual observer.

As fun as it is to walk in the parade, I think it’s important to sit back and watch it from the sidelines, at least once. It’s a tremendous showing of all the many and varied arenas of geekdom. The parade is actually the reason Dragon Con first appeared on my radar. I was still new to conventions – I’d only been to two (FanExpo and Polaris – both in Toronto), when I found myself looking through pictures of the massive 501st turn out in the Dragon Con parade. Row upon row of stormtroopers, some of them in attire that was a little less “standard”, marched down the streets of Atlanta, followed by Rainbow Brites, and Spartans, and monsters and so on and so forth, and I found myself longing for that experience.

Cut to about six years later. This year, as Maggie and Heather set out to find a spot to watch the parade, I went about my new morning routine of slowly getting out of bed, gingerly stretching my back muscles, and hunting down my small sewing kit. I still had a few finishing touches to put on the darn dragon (adding claws and fixing one of the wings), so I hunkered down on my bed and got to it, while DCTV played in the background.

I could hear the bands in the parade playing, down below our balcony-that-doesn’t-open, and part of me longed to go see what I was missing out on, but I knew my back wouldn’t be all that fond of the jockeying for position that I’d have to do, just in order to catch a glimpse of the parade as it went by. So I stayed in the room like a shut-in, sewed my dragon hands and feet, and proceeded to get dressed.

When Heather and Maggie got back, we assembled our various How to Train Your Dragon costumes. Just getting in and out of Toothless requires help from a handler. We managed to get everything together. I made the decision to carry the wings, instead of putting them on, so we could get in and out of the elevator and through the halls a lot easier. That didn’t last long, though, as people saw a dragon walking through the hotels in search of food and everyone wanted pictures.

Eventually, we made our way to the Peachtree Center food court, and availed ourselves of the extremely delicious falafel and creamed spinach at Aviva by Kameel. Oh, the food there…I am so upset I can’t eat their falafel every day. It was SO GOOD! If you have a chance to go there, take it. Everything I had there was absolutely delicious, the service was fast and friendly, and the prices were probably the best of any of the places there. I am in awe of the hours they were open, too. It was something like 10am-2am. I’m sure they made a killing in business. The place was always packed and, by the end of the weekend, they were starting to run low on some items.

Anyway…what was I saying?

Ah, yes. We wandered around the food court seating for a few minutes, looking for a place to sit, when a man flagged us down to let us know they were leaving and we could have their seat. That’s one of the things I like about folks in the food court – we’re all kind of in the same boat, and we try our best to look out for each other. We settled in at the table, and I enjoyed getting to unzip the top of the costume and lay my giant dragon head down for a moment. Folks wandering by stopped to tell me the costume was awesome, and several folks asked if I was broiling inside it.

I’m actually surprised at how not-too-bad costumes like Toothless and Kowl are. When people learn that they are made out of felt, they assume they are going to be ridiculously hot, but the felt actually breathes a lot better than many other fabrics I’ve worked with. my biggest complaint is that it tends to be a little scratchy and stiff, and therefore isn’t as cuddly as I’d like to be when dressed as a character from a children’s show or movie.

After lunch, we started to head back towards the Marriott, where we would be meeting up with other members of our How to Train Your Dragon group. I heard a voice shouting behind us and, when I turned around, there was a young man dressed as Hiccup! We posed for a few pictures and told him where we would be around 1pm that day, and encouraged him to show up and pose with the rest of us. He had a friend who was dressed as Astrid that day, and we said to bring her along as well.

Wearing the extra viking helmet

Wearing the extra viking helmet

Back in the Marriott, Maggie split off to go back to the hotel, so Hunter could change into his costume (it was originally for Maggie’s cousin, Danny, but he was unable to make it this year), and hand out helmets to the other two folks who would be joining us. Heather acted as my handler during this point in time, and did an absolutely stellar job of making sure I had a place to sit, stayed hydrated, knew when pictures were being taken, and made sure no one ran into my wings.

When the group met back up together, we wandered around the different levels of the Marriott for pictures. We started up on the top level, near the back, and were set up there for a while. Eventually, we started moving more towards the bit of carpeted space that surrounds the block of elevators, though we did occasionally have some trouble with other groups taking over the same real estate. This happens. You get used to it. We did get stopped and asked to participate in the DragonCon music video.

I’m a little unsure of just how long we were in the hotel, taking pictures. Time does funny things when you’re in a giant costume head and have no access to your cell phone. I will say that, near the end, I might have started getting a little crabby with some adults. People had a tendency to lean on the costume head a bit more than they really needed to (HTTYD group and random con-goers alike), which gets kind of painful, when you are the individual whose head is being impaled by the wire skeleton of said costume head. Also, if you are acting as a handler for someone who can’t see (except out of a small hole, offset from where there actual eyes are), you might have to narrate what is in front of them. Tell them what might be around them, so they are aware of the people doing potentially jarring things, should they stumble into their circle of being. It’s also not all that fun to be grabbed and pulled into the right position for a picture. If the costumed person can’t see in the first place, they a) don’t necessarily know it’s their handler grabbing them and b) still need to know if they are about to be yanked from their original position. In my case, any movement that I wasn’t planning – being pushed on from behind as people posed, being pulled into place from any direction, etc. – aggravated my back.

Unfortunately, being a dragon made me a little fussy and grumpy, which I think is understandable. One of my favorite things about being in costume is the chance to interact with other costumers and the public…especially the little ones. It was difficult to do that in an event the size of DragonCon, with crowds pressing in on all sides, and an inability to hear any direction my handlers might have been giving me. When you’re encased in a costume like Toothless, your ability to have fun is going to be hampered a bit, unless the people around you are engaging with you, which is, again, all too hard to do in an environment like DragonCon. In the end, I felt more like a prop or a piece of scenery, which people were moving around, instead of the cute dragon I wanted to be.

All that being said, I did get to have some fun. There were no small number of people shouting “Toothless!” while I was in costume,

Double the dragons, double the fun!

Double the dragons, double the fun!

and there were several kids who came up and wanted to have pictures taken with me. I even stumbled across another Toothless cosplayer, and got to goof a little around them.

At some point, later in the afternoon, my back finally let me know that it had had enough, and I went back to the hotel room to change out of the dragon suit and ice my muscles for a bit. I pulled out my Kaylee jumpsuit, found my boots, and I was ready to go!

Comfortable and relaxed, I headed down to the first panel: Folklore in Fantasy. I was the only non-author on the panel (well, the only author who hasn’t been published in the genre of fantasy. I’ve had other things published), but I didn’t feel all that out of place. The discussion touched on the folklore of a number of cultures, not just the Germanic and Celtic literature that everyone is so familiar with, but also Yoruba, Japanese, Native American, Creole, etc. It really was a fantastic panel, and I was even asked – by the audience/panelists/facilitator – to tell the story of Skywoman. For a storyteller, that was a true high point of the evening. It is such a rarity to have people ask for a story that, when it happens, I sometimes feel like crying.

I took a short break after the folklore panel, and ran up to my hotel room to take my contacts out and change to glasses for the rest of the night. The trip upstairs and back down filled the time between my two events that evening and, before I knew it, it was time to head in for my second panel of the Con.

Me and JayneQuite honestly, I was a little surprised that I sounded like I knew what I was talking about in the Human Wave SciFi panel. Of course, I suppose I was still running off my endorphin high from earlier in the evening. I don’t read nearly as much sci-fi as many of the other folks in that room, but what I do read tend to fall more towards the optimistic side of the spectrum. When we introduced ourselves at the panel, we were encouraged to talk about why we read that. Why is it something that we are drawn to. I looked out on the audience (noticing a few familiar faces from the previous panel I had been in), and mentioned that, in addition to my usual biography – folklorist, traditional Native storyteller, etc. – I also happen to be an ordained minister. I like to read human wave scifi, when I read scifi, because I deal in ministry. I hear stories about people’s days, good and bad, and I try to be a steady, comforting presence when friends and family and complete strangers alike are going through rough times. I read to provide an escape, most times, and I wouldn’t really be escaping much if all I read was dystopian doom-and-gloom, now, would it? I am, at heart, an optimist. I like to believe in the better nature of people, and that good will, for the most part, win out over evil in this world.

That’s not to say I don’t recognize that there is bad in the world, or that things sometimes go to shit. I am a realistic optimist. I know very well that people can be awful to each other, and many times for no other reason than that they can or want to be. People look at non-dystopian literature and think it’ll be boring because…where’s the conflict? But non-dystopian literature doesn’t negate the possibility of conflict. It just means the conflict in a story will come from a different direction than being kept down by “the man,” a la Brave New World, or 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale. The author will just have to make an effort to create believable conflict from another arena. Which is entirely possible. After all, most of us, I would think, aren’t really living in an oppressive dystopian society (no matter what Fox News would have you believe), and we have plenty of conflict in our own lives. Human Wave scifi is all about how humanity can use its better traits (curiosity, intelligence, adaptability being among them) to deal with problems which might arise with interstellar travel, interspecies/alien interactions, and advancing technology.

After the panel, a number of people came up to chat, expanding on a few other topics we had all touched on during the discussion. One of the men had mentioned a book he had given his pastor to read, and suggested it to me. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced the paper I wrote the title down on. 😦 I believe it was an Ursala LeGuin book, but I’m not sure.

As we filtered out of the room, I met up with Maggie and Heather again. I proclaimed my desire for some celebratory pie (it had been a good night), and we went up stairs in search of delectable treats. It took asking around a bit, but I finally tracked down a miniature pecan pie in the convenience store in the corner of the Hyatt. It was super-sugary (and so I couldn’t eat the whole thing), but it was pie and I was happy. We wandered around a bit longer, chatting with random people and having a good time, before I decided I needed to head back to the room for a shower and some decompression time. I watched some DragonCon TV, and swiftly fell asleep.

Sunday

Several years ago, I made the costume worn by Alanis Morrissette, at the end of Dogma. You know the one. It’s got a fluffy white skirt, a shiny corset and jacket, boxer shorts and a pair of flip-flops. It is, hands down, the girliest costume I have ever made or worn. And I love it. I don’t wear many skirts (except for this summer, for reasons which don’t have anything to do with this post), and the ones I do wear tend to be pretty basic. Not this one – dubbed “the God skirt,” simply because it’s part of my God costume.

Since it was Sunday, I figured it was the perfect costume to wear around for the day. I didn’t have anything immediately on my schedule for the day, so Heather and I headed back over to the labyrinth that was this year’s Dealers’ Area. As we wandered into America’s Mart, I remarked to Heather that I like wearing the Dogma costume, because I don’t get stopped all the time. A lot of people just don’t recognize it. Of course, as soon as I said that, the woman behind us drew even with us, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “Excuse me. Are you God, from Dogma?” Heather and I burst out laughing, and I told her that her timing couldn’t have been more perfect. She mentioned that she originally thought it might have been the shortened prom dress from the movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but then she saw the flip-flops, and that I wasn’t wearing a leather jacket.

The best part of wearing that particular costume that day is that we could wander through the dealer area better, without having to worry about a costume head, and I could actually carry stuff. I picked up some cool makeup pens that glow under blacklight, and bought a Hufflepuff Quidditch sweater (Badgers, represent!), and just generally enjoyed spending some time with my sister. We went back to the Hyatt and Heather and I splurged on lunch at the in-house restaurant, “Sway.” It was absolutely delicious! They had the best iced tea, and the sandwiches we got were tasty and unique and well worth the visit.

My final panel was at 5:30pm, over in the Westin. I didn’t have anything else on the schedule for that day, so I headed over to the hotel a little early and found a nice soft spot to sit for a while. I noticed that there was a sizable group of furries present, so I sent Heather a text (which thankfully got through, despite the signal black hole that is DragonCon), to let her know. As I sat on my fuzzy cushioned seat, it soon became apparent why the people fully-encased in fuzzy, cumbersome costumes were hanging out in the Westin…the lobby area was FREEZING! My legs and flip-flop-attired feet were so cold! Thankfully, my Dogma costume comes complete with a jacket.

A lady passing by with a stroller spotted Heather and I as we sat and chatted, and asked if she could take our picture. She oohed and aahed over both of our dresses (Heather was wearing her TARDIS dress, which always gets a number of compliments), and wished us a good rest of the convention.

Shortly before my panel was scheduled to begin, I headed over to the furries to chat for a few moments. I talked to a gentleman dressed as a cheetah (who, when he learned that Robert grew up in Kenya, told me to pass on the greeting of “Asanta sana” to him), and one of the handlers, who was dressed in some absolutely wonderful steampunk gear.

Eventually, it was time to head to the last panel on my schedule. The room it was in was the complete opposite of the Westin lobby, and some people found it too warm. I was rather early to the room, and so was the second person to arrive. Deirdre Knight beat me to the front. I sat down next to her, we introduced ourselves, and swiftly fell into comfortable conversation that somehow managed to include the front few rows of the audience. As other panelists trickled in and assembled, the conversation became even weirder, wide-spread, and absolutely lovely. Leanna Renee Hieber happened to pick a chair down near my end of the table, and I want to thank her. I got to admire an absolutely beautiful costume. It seems many of us on the panel and folks in the audience came to the con just as much for the costumes, so I felt right at home. There were a few young women in the front who were admiring my costume. They, too, remembered it from Dogma. I remarked to them, Deirdre and Leanna that I had chosen it because I’m a minister and it was Sunday, so I felt it was appropriate. When Alethea Kontis (who had been one of the panelists at the folklore panel on Saturday) came in, Leanna told her the reasoning behind my costume choice. She turned to me and said “I knew I liked you, yesterday. That just clinches it!”

I honestly can’t tell you how much fun I had at that panel. There are no words to explain how comfortable and at ease and welcome I felt on that panel. We talked about the things from folklore that scare us (mine are things like the chindi, which I find scary because it’s all connected to how you treat the other people you interact with in this world, and holds you accountable for the horrible things you might do or say to people), and how urban legends reflect the societies and times they spring from, and how there are so many connecting themes between different cultures and their stories. What touched me most was that I was able to talk about folklore from a storyteller/scholar point of view – from the point of view of someone who knows the theory behind performance and story tropes, and enacts these same stories from a non-scholar point of view. I got to engage in some serious discussion about one of my first loves – the stories we tell, and why we tell them – and I was reminded why I chose to go into that field.

It’s wonderful to be reminded of the things I love and why I love them, and this year’s DragonCon gave me the opportunity to do that. I got to be a scholar! I got to be a storyteller! I got to sit in a room of people interested in the same things, and talk about things like liminal places, and the fear of the other as represented by tales of alien abduction. And, more importantly (from a storyteller’s point of view), people listened. There are so many times, every day, when I get frustrated by the inability of so much of the world to listen. And I’m not talking about just listening to me. I mean listening in general. Listening to the other side of an argument, and recognizing that they have a valid point of view. Listening to another personality type, in order to find out how they process tasks and ideas. Listening to each other talk about the mundane parts of our day – which, in the end, are generally a lot more important than they might at first seem.

At the end of the trip, this year, I found myself pondering many things. I reveled in the glow of three excellent panels for a few days, and wondered if, next year, I would be back at DragonCon.

That seems a gasp-inducing statement, I know. I love costumes and conventions and geeks and fandom and all of that. How could I even consider not going back to DragonCon next year? Quite honestly, the reason is how successful the event was for me this year. I was reminded of how much I love the research and writing (yes, scholarly writing) that I was so heavily involved with throughout my graduate studies. I’ve missed that, these few years. I’ve touched on a little of it through work, this year, as we ready an exhibit, but I miss working in the folklore field, and I think next year is time for a little change in my schedule.

The American Folklore Society will hold its annual meeting next November, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and it is my intention to attend…and possibly present. DragonCon will, naturally, be on hold, as I only have so much vacation time per year, as well as funds for travel to and from the conference. I think I’m okay with that, though. DragonCon has plenty of other people wanting to attend, and I think they’ll understand if I miss a year here and there.

I hope to include some DragonCon panel-spurred topics of discussion here in the future. I’ll do my best to keep updating, with a more regular schedule.

The Great Southern Trek – aka Heading to DragonCon 2013

Wednesday

This year’s trip to Atlanta began with throwing my back out, as I had previously mentioned. Wednesday morning was filled with excruciating pain, assistance from a much loved and wonderful man, and trying to drive to work with as little jostling as possible. Not long into my workday, it became apparent that this wasn’t just going to go away, and that I needed to see somebody about it before I drove several states away for an extended weekend. That would have been no bueno.

So I called around, left a lot of messages (apparently, most of the chiropractic offices around here have really weird hours, compared to my other doctor offices), and finally got lucky with a call to the Evergreen Chiropractic Office, right around the corner and down the street a bit from my house. They were taking new patients, had an opening that evening, and took my insurance, but they were only open until 6pm. Since that’s usually the time I get back from work in Southern Maryland, I wound up taking advantage of some of my sick leave. Some of the pain had abated by the time I got to the doctor’s office, but I still couldn’t really move much without pain in my hip that, at times, radiated down my leg.

After a little consultation with the doctor, it was determined that I had classic symptoms of sciatica. Oh, the joys of getting older! Since I had never had an adjustment before, the doctor didn’t want to do too much, but he put some electrode things on my bag (which felt weird but awesome), combined with some wet heat (no heating pads! Apparently they’re the worst thing you can do for sciatica – try ice instead), and then he cracked all the joints in my spine. I was expecting a jolt of pain when he popped the joint in my left hip – I don’t know why…perhaps just because pain had become the standby feeling for that area – but when it popped I almost cried in relief. At the end of the treatment, I wasn’t immediately 100% better, but I was able to walk and stand without feeling like someone was digging knives into my hip and butt. I walked out of the office thinking “Chiropractors are magic!”

Onyx insisted that he should come along

Onyx insisted that he should come along

After the appointment, I went home to pack. I was able to move things around a lot better – fetching some bags from my closet, lifting small weights on and off my bed. I had made my packing list while at work, so I wasn’t running around in a frenzy, trying to figure out what I needed to get together. Mom had done me a big favor and painted my Oogie Boogie dice, so they were all ready to go. All the costume gear got packed up in a convenient plastic tub (mine was green, to differentiate it from Heather’s and Maggie’s), and “regular” clothes got packed into my smaller bag.

Maggie came to my house, so I didn’t have to worry about packing and unpacking and re-packing my gear in a car, and we headed to her place for the evening. Usually, we spend the night before Dragon Con-roll out working on last minute fixes to costumes, and general trip-fretting. This year, because of my back (and following Robert’s instructions to not stress out), I decided that all my little tasks could be done down in Atlanta, each night. So, astoundingly, we got to sleep at a fairly early hour. Maggie was kind enough to let me sleep in her bed that night, so I didn’t have to try to haul myself off of the air mattress on the floor the next morning.

Thursday

Thursday morning came and I was surprised that my back was still feeling better from the visit to the chiropractor. We loaded the last of our stuff in the car, stopped by the coffee shop for drinks and ice for the cooler, and hit the road, heading to Heather’s house. The stop there was pretty quick, and we were on our way again (with a brief stop for stretching, tater tots and limeade slush drinks at Sonic).

This year, we wound up with a room in the Hyatt, thanks to our friend Hesa. We checked in relatively early, in a room next to Hesa and herhyatt from balcony friends, and then went down to line up for our badges. The line looked long, but moved fairly quickly. Random line neighbors continue to find me hilarious. There was a group going through the registration line with a boombox and a nice mix of music. Every time we passed them, I danced (as much as I was able, while retaining the “neutral spine” the chiropractor told me to use), and they commented that the only people who knew all of the music they were playing were mid-to-late 30s. I was sad for a moment, remembering my lost youth (yes, I know I’m not actually all that old), but then I remembered…being in my 30s is a lot more fun (health and budget concerns aside) than being in my 20s was.

Badges in hand, we headed over to the Peachtree Center food court to grab some dinner. We opted for Yami Yami, as it’s usually super-crowded during the con and we hadn’t yet had a chance to try it. Eh. It was alright. I think I would have ranked it higher if I actually ate/liked sushi. After some post-dinner wandering, we retreated to the hotel room again to work on a few costume fixes.

Maggie was gluing Hunter’s armor back together after a slight mishap with the costume being left in a hot car (something we learned ourselves the hard way, years earlier…if you’ve got hot glue holding parts of your costume together, DON’T leave it in a hot car!), while I worked on finally attaching the eyes to Toothless. I was bending over slightly, trying to glue things, when I felt my back pop. And not in a good way. I immediately put down what I was doing and went to lay down for a bit on the bed, with an ice pack pressed against the offending body part. I figured the rest of the fixes on Toothless could wait another day, and set to work installing a pocket in Oogie Boogie, and making little holes for my hands in the side of the sleeves. Afterwards, I wound up taking some stuff for the pain later, and conked out for the evening.

Friday

In the morning, my back was still making itself known, but only in a few aches and some stiffness here and there. My plan was to wear Oogie Boogie for the whole day, which meant wearing a muslin sack over a pair of grey shorts and a tank top. Woohoo! The costume went on, I grabbed my dice and head, and we trekked off to the elevator.

oogie playingThis year was a little different than most other years, in that I was wearing a costume that A LOT of people immediately recognized. I kept getting stopped for pictures, which was fun. Usually, I’m in the more obscure costume…like a Popple. I managed to find a few folks dressed as Nightmare Before Christmas characters. The first was a lovely adaptation of Sally. I loved that it was her own twist on the character’s look, but that it was still identifiable as Sally. She was excited to find me, and we posed for a few pictures.

Later that day, as we headed either to or from the food court, I encountered a couple who had done an absolutely wonderful gender-swapped representation of Sally and Jack Skellington. We pulled off to the side and were excitedly talking to each other about our mutual costume appreciation – and kept having to stop talking to pose for pictures, as people continued to walk through the lobby. Eventually, we decided we wouldn’t actually be able to finish a conversation, and we went our separate ways.

Maggie was signed up for the Friday night costume contest that day, so we didn’t see much of her after about 3pm. She went off to the hotel room to wash off her Effie Trinket makeup and get ready for the contest, and Heather and I went off to wander about. We wound up going over to check out the dealers hall…and got stuck there for about three hours. The dealers were in a different place this year. The move was, in theory, going to alleviate a lot of the crowding and confusion that comes with having the vendors all stuck in three different rooms in the Marriott. Unfortunately, they weren’t that successful in fixing the crowding and confusion. If anything, finding the dealers was even more confusing this year. I found a lovely “map” of the dealers hall on Facebook last week and, while it is obviously not real, it seems like an accurate depiction of the layout, for anyone who happened to be there.

I wasn’t impressed by a number of booths…so many of them seem to sell the same old things – generic sci-fi/fantasy-themed items made in China that I can order off of Amazon. There were, however, a few standouts. Siege the Day makes personal ballistas and cannons and trebuchets and the like, generally out of materials like mousetraps and dowels. I’ve been admiring them for years. This year, I finally broke down and bought one. And, of course, it wasn’t for me. It was one of the things I got for Robert. I fully intend to “borrow” it, though. 🙂

I also picked up some makeup (in pen applicator form) that activates under blacklight. I was hoping to find some glow-in-the-dark makeup, but neither makeup booth carried any at the convention. One of them mentioned having some in their shop, so I grabbed their card, so I can order online at a later time. Because who doesn’t like things that glow-in-the-dark?

One of the best moments of the weekend for me came in the dealers hall that evening. Heather and I were rounding the corner of one of

This awesome Skeksis was in the Friday Night Costume Contest

This awesome Skeksis was in the Friday Night Costume Contest

the booths, and I happened to glance to my left, at a costumed couple talking to a man with a bandanna on his head. I did a double take. It was RJ Haddy, of FaceOff! I’ve been a fan of his since his first appearance on the show, and I’ve benefited from his wisdom at some of the makeup panels at DragonCon before.

I sort of dance in place for a moment, torn about what to do. I wanted to say something to him, but I also didn’t want to be annoying and disturb him when he was just trying to make his way through the dealer hall. I waffled a bit and, when the couple wandered off, I gathered up my courage and stepped forward.

I should mention now…I have absolutely no problem talking to actors and musicians I’ve met over the years. I’ve never found myself in a state of shock, or been so entirely starstruck that I couldn’t do more than stammer my name and maybe shake a hand. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t happen with me. That being said, I feel like I turn into an absolute idiot when I get the chance to meet authors or visual artists whose work I happen to admire. Tanya Huff, Julie Czerneda, Kristen Britain, Jim Butcher, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, Donato Giancola…I’ve come away from those chance encounters feeling like an absolute moron. I managed not to be a doofus when I happened to share an elevator with George R.R. Martin at World Fantasy Conference one year, but I think part of that was that I just knew who he was, and hadn’t actually read any of his work at the time.

RJ was kind enough to stop and chat with me for a while, and I desperately hope I didn’t come off as a mindless idiot. I told him how much I enjoyed his work, and how I appreciated that he shared his tips and experience with us at Dragon Con. We actually had a really nice conversation about that…

…and then he proceeded to ask about my Oogie Boogie costume, and inspect the head, and tell me that I was awesome. And then I ran away screaming and gibbering in delight and basically fangirling all over the place.

Just kidding about that last sentence. Well, sort of. I managed to hold it together as he shook my hand, and then Heather’s, and walk away. I’m pretty sure he was out of earshot by the time I let loose my first “SQUEE!” of excitement. Which I continued to do. At random points in the evening. The whole rest of the night. Thankfully, Heather never got annoyed and punched me, because I don’t really think I could have stopped.

After that interlude of awesomeness, Heather and I finally finished our foray through the dealer space and went in search of something to eat. She had brought her crock pot with her, and we had put a loin of pork and some barbecue sauce into it in the morning, before we all left the room for the day. When we opened the door, the delicious aroma of barbecue pork wafted out into the hall. I devoured my sandwich in record time. The room wound up smelling like barbecue for the rest of the trip, and it was well worth it!

Upon completing our feast, Heather and I returned to our favorite activity – aimlessly wandering and admiring costumes. We were out on the terrace at the Hyatt while Heather smoked, when I realized I had left my badge up in the room. I ran up to get it (making record time, and coming down in the elevator with a group dressed like the evil Santas from Doctor Who), and went back out onto the terrace to find Heather. I looked around, but didn’t see her. While I scanned the crowd (which seemed to have doubled since I last saw it), I got smashed into from behind by someone. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much momentum, and my back only twinged a little. However, the stranger who grabbed me from behind happened to grab my boobs. I don’t think it was intentional – the hands moved pretty quick once the person realized I was a woman – but it still annoyed me. Please remember: don’t run up behind someone that you don’t know and grab them. I don’t care if you’re excited (which she was, obviously). I don’t care if you’re drunk and have little to no personal boundaries (which, again, she was). Running up and grabbing someone you don’t know could result in a long list of reactions, and a number of them are bad. I, personally, have a fight-or-flight reflex that is strongly geared towards “fight!” Though not intentional, I do have a reputation for having hit someone in the head with an umbrella when they jumped out at me.

Thankfully, I managed to reign in the urge to smash the person in the face with my elbow. I turned around to find a rather drunk young woman, who proceeded to slur “I love you! You’re my favorite! This is awesome!” I nodded my costume head and thanked her for her praise, and started to head inside to look for Heather, and escape my mauler. As I left, she said “I’m definitely going to look for you later!” To which I responded, sotto voice, “Hopefully after I’m reunited with my handler.”

I summoned Heather via phone, and regaled her with my tale. Over my years of wearing large, unwieldy and, honestly, quite ridiculous costumes, I’ve really had very few negative experiences. I’ve been made to feel uncomfortable in a corset before (which is really not all that revealing, especially compared to other corsets I’ve seen), and I’ve had people bump into my Blink Angel wings while I was sitting down and almost knock me on the ground, but I’ve been relatively lucky where uncomfortable run-ins are concerned. Thankfully, no one else ran up and grabbed my boobs the rest of the night.

Heather and I moved over to the Marriott, and I continued to get stopped for pictures and questions. The most common question I hear is “Did you make that? Yourself?” Yes, folks. This is what I do. I make – and then wear – giant, goofy, costume heads. For fun.

There was a trio of folks who came up for a picture at one point, while we were in the bottom of the Marriott. The woman in the group was interested in learning how to do a variety of things – among them, making a face or head cast. As it just so happens, I told them, I’ve got a tutorial of how to do a casting session up on my blog. (This part of the evening might have tied with meeting RJ, as “best moment of the day.” I love talking to people about costuming, whether I’m asking about theirs or they ask me about mine).

The inevitable "fix it" period of the Dragon Con experience

The inevitable “fix it” period of the Dragon Con experience

We met up with Maggie again a little later that evening and continued our wandering. The shouts of “Oogie Boogie” had not yet abated, and there was plenty to see. I enjoyed actually being able to see out of my costume this time around. It’s such a rare occurrence, anymore. While the muslin breathes pretty well, the head can get a little stuffy sometimes, due to the quilt batting that puffs it up a bit. At one point in the evening, upon removing my head, I heard “Oogie Boogie’s a woman?! Sexy!” I blushed and laughed, and filed it away in the collection of stories about when my gender comes up, in relation to my costuming choices. Perhaps that’s a topic for another entry.

I didn’t stay out as late as I have in the past, partly because I knew I needed to make some alterations to Toothless that night, and partly because my back was beginning to let me know that it would be a good idea to take some more Advil and sit down to rest with an ice pack. So I did. Heather and Maggie stayed out for about an hour longer, while I went back to the room to shower, change, and watch some DragonCon TV.

Stay tuned for more DragonCon 2013!

Costume Heroes – “Uncle Marty”

We all have heroes when we start out in costuming. I’m not talking about the latex and tights-clad superpowered characters who people the comics we read and the movies we watch. I’m talking about the people we meet in our first, fumbling attempts at costuming – whether it be for Halloween, some at-home D&D or LARPing, or in the wider world of convention-going. When you start to make and wear costumes for yourself, you inevitably come across people you want to emulate, or just plain pick the brain of. I’m constantly amazed by the wondrous things I see people making and bringing to conventions, and I am genuinely gung-ho about asking them “How did you do that?!” and assuring them that it does, indeed, look awesome.

Among this group of wiser, more experienced and ridiculously talented individuals, there are always some who stand out in your mind. The folks who are not just wonderfully talented, but who take it upon themselves to guide newcomers and old hands alike; who feel it is their duty to record and discuss the history of costuming at conventions (at the original Star Trek conventions, those who dressed in costume were looked down on…can you believe it?), and who take great pride and joy in elevating the art of costuming even higher.

Marty Gear was one such person. In some ways, you could say he was the person. He was instrumental in creating solid, popular, and well-respected masquerades here on the East Coast, and founded the first chapter of the International Costumers Guild. He was a big name at Balticon, Costume Con, and a number of other events, and was a much sought-after MC for various masquerades. He worked at Castle Blood for a number of years, playing vampires for the haunted attraction.

Despite being a pretty big name in the costuming world, Marty was always down-to-earth and very welcoming and supportive of costumers of every level. He wasn’t a push-over (he did judge for costume contests and masquerades, after all, and would let you know what could have been improved), but he was polite and helpful and honestly wanted to help people improve their craft. Perhaps it was because he was a fellow Midwesterner (Ohio!). I think it’s just…that was Marty. He encouraged people to call him “Uncle Marty,” and I know many people looked up to him, using him as a measurement for professionalism and poise in this community.

I remember attending panels where he gave advice on what judges would look at and pay attention to, in terms of masquerade and worksmanship judging. He gave wonderful insight into an area of the con that many of us just don’t know much about, and was not afraid to talk about some of the mistakes he himself had made in his years costuming. Looking at his work, though, it’s hard to think of Marty as making mistakes. The man could talk better with full fangs in his mouth than anyone else I’ve heard. That’s talent.

He was just plain cool. When we saw him wandering around the bottom floor at Dragon*Con one year, Maggie and I were far and away more giddy and excited and, dare I say, starstruck than I think I’ve ever been with any of the actors I’ve met in my years of con-going. We shared whispered confessions that we wanted to be like Marty Gear.

A little while ago, word started to spread via several Dragon*Con-related Facebook pages that Marty Gear passed away today. Those of us who had the genuine pleasure of meeting him will always remember the dapper Dracula-clad gentleman who shared his knowledge with everyone, and who worked to make sure the art of costuming received its due respect and admiration.

Here’s to you, Marty.

Marty Gear

(If you’d like to read a little more about Marty, I encourage you to check out this link to a blog post about his embroidery)

I’ve got the Heebie Jeebies!

The Heebie-Jeebies, from the Oogie Boogie!

That’s right, friends, I have actually been working on a costume, and it’s coming along swimmingly. I hadn’t announced this one first, because I didn’t want to get my own hopes up before I started working on it, and then have the thing come crashing down around me, like another costume which shall go unnamed (and which is still sitting in pieces off to the side of my work space).

2985171142_590fd4c6cdSo, the “thinking of new costumes to do” track of my mind hasn’t been working as frequently as it did a few years ago. Trying to come up with ideas for upcoming Con costumes was like trying to make a donkey go where it didn’t want to go. Ideas just weren’t coming. And then, there was a bright flash of inspiration. I honestly don’t know what made my brain think of this one – I’m not a big fan of the movie Nightmare Before Christmas (though many of my friends are), and I hadn’t watched it recently. I think my brain just wanted something easy to do, easy to wear, and easily recognizable.

Hence, my attempt at Oogie Boogie.

I will say, despite not being a huge fan of the movie, I always did have a bit of a soft spot for the boogieman in it. Not that I support attempting to murder Santa, but Oogie always just seemed a good deal more…cuddly. Strange, I know, but I liked the character.

As I usually do, I started by pulling a couple of screen shots and concept drawings for the character from the web, so I had a visual in oogie boogie head cagefront of me to work from. I lucked out and found a huge cache of wire hangers in a forgotten closet of my house. Added to a roll of heavy gauge floral wire, some duct tape and some scraps of quilt batting, and I had the basics to form the frame of the head.

The head for this costume fits a lot closer to my skull than many of the others I have made. It’s more along the lines of Kowl’s head, in terms of size and manuverability than, say, the Wise Man. I’ve still got to add some padding to the inside, to make the fit a tad more snug (so it doesn’t bang back and forth into my upper lip or my glasses) but I’m glad with the proportions so far.

I used some upholstery foam scraps to add some shape to the head around Oogie’s eyes, and strategically tacked the fabric down in some place, to make sure the face was more three-dimensional. There is a small seam on the back of my Oogie’s head that isn’t in the film, but that’s bound to happen when you’re working with a medium like foam and fabric, and not clay.

oogie boogie headThe wire frame for the head does not go all the way up and form a dome, like most of my costume heads have done. I wanted to allow for a slightly more floppy top, seeing as how Oogie Boogie resembles a sack that someone loosely sewed together and animated. That being said, I will probably add a little backwards-swooping wire line at the top, to support the floppy bit on the top a little more. In the picture here, the top is propped up a little with the help of a ruler, jammed between some of the interior supports.

The only thing remaining for the head is to finish the mouth. Since the eyes are covered with batting, foam, fabric and felt, I will be looking out of the mouth of this costume. From my testing so far, I think this costume might wind up having the best vision of any of the heads I’ve made. Of course, I haven’t covered the mouth yet, so this could all just be hopeful thinking. The material for the mouth is going to be as see-through as I can make it. I’m thinking something along the lines of tulle or some other black sheer material. Something that will hide my face from on-lookers, but still allow me to see out. I had thought I had something sitting around the house that I could use. In fact, I’m almost certain of it, but I’ve been unable to locate it so far, which will probably mean a trip to the fabric store is in my future.

Oogie Boogie’s body is also coming along well. I took a long swath of unbleached muslin over to Robert’s house last week, to make use oogie07dlof the massive amount of open floor space available there. I stretched the fabric out on the floor to the length I needed it, laid down, and had him trace around me, to get my basic shape. Then, I got up and cut out Oogie’s basic shape, keeping it in proportion to my own.

I goofed a little when I cut the shape, and made the chest section a little close, which means I’m going to have to add in some room in the back, when I go to putting in the closure. It shouldn’t be too much trouble, though. I think it’s just going to require a little triangular flap for the velcro I plan to use.

The arms are sewn and attached, but I already know that I need to go back and alter them. They’re a tad too long. And by “a tad” I mean at least 6 inches. I’m trying to decide whether to create a little flap that comes over, so I can use my hands without having to first take off the top half of the costume. It would make doing things like eating and taking pictures in costume a little easier (not to mention getting in and out of the costume by myself), but it would also mess with the original look of the costumes. Dilemmas and decisions!

At present, Oogie Boogie just needs the following things done to complete him:

  • Foot covers
  • Alter the arms/hands
  • Add the fabric for the mouth
  • Add two more “worm gaps” on the right hand side of the costume (I know no other way to describe this element of the costume, but if you look closely at any artwork or screenshots of Oogie Boogie, I think you’ll figure out what I mean)
  • Add worms to the mouth
  • Prop up the floppy part of the head
  • Add in flap in back
  • Sew on velcro for closure

It looks like a long list of things, but all the tasks are pretty small, mundane things that shouldn’t, in and of themselves, take too much time. I’m hoping one more evening of working on this costume will have everything done! (and then I have to decide whether I want to make Oogie Boogie’s dice, too.oogie boogie dice

Costumes, ho!

Okay. After what I am going to refer to as a “re-building” year, in terms of my costuming, I finally feel ready to start looking ahead and get back to doing some regular construction. The basement of my place – where I live – is slowly starting to get de-cluttered, and it looks like I might actually get a decent work space up and running within a few months.

One of the things that helped get me excited again was a visit from one of my cousins. My cousin Kwana came up from Richmond last weekend, with her two daughters. Cheyenne, the oldest, is currently in a stagecraft class – which prompted much unspoken jealousy from me, as I demanded – in my head – to know where such a class was when I was in high school. Probably in the same place it is now…not my school.

Anyway, Cheyenne is starting to get involved in costuming and makeup and prop-making and all the sundry categories which come into play for individuals interested in costumes or theatre or geekdom. She is not, in fact, the first of my cousins to come to me with a few questions. I’ve got at least two other younger cousins who are intrigued by the possibility of dressing in costume and going to a convention.

It makes me so happy! :: proud tear ::

Of course, I didn’t find out about Cheyenne’s budding interest until the tail end of her visit. I brought out a couple of items that I had made, so we could discuss simple ways to start out with a costume build, and cheap alternatives to some of the fancy stuff. I like to stress the fact that you can make a pretty cool costume without spending HUNDREDS of dollars.

I showed her the noodle hat from my Kung-Fu Panda costume – which cost about $7 to make, if that.

The Kowl costume was a bit pricier -at about $30 for all of the materials – but that’s still rather good, in the scheme of costume-making. Especially when you consider the Weeping Angel costumes that Maggie and I made – I actually can’t remember how much we spent on materials (most likely because I don’t really want to think about it), but I know it was over $100. For those costumers who regularly shell out $500-$1000 on costumes, that doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re a student or someone largely living off a part-time barista salary and tips (which I was, at the time), $100 can put a strain on you, so I like to point out the many uses of inexpensive items. Like hot glue. And duct tape. And those cheap wire coat hangers that nobody likes to use but everyone has a crap-ton of. Well, except for me, but that’s because I’ve used most of them in projects, by now.

Talking about costuming to new-comers to the costuming world is actually one of my favorite things to do. Honestly, talking about costuming with anyone is a favorite past-time. I love sharing what little tricks and tips I’ve learned with people, and I love learning from those MUCH more talented and experienced than me. Which, in most cases, is everyone I meet.

I’m excited about teaching my cousin some things I’ve picked up. I’m excited about taking her to her first convention. I just need to decide whether that should be something like Farpoint or RavenCon. I’ve actually never yet been able to get to RavenCon, despite really wanting to go for a couple of years. It’s in Richmond – home to a couple of friends, as well as family, and is a smaller con than, oh, say, Dragon*Con (which I don’t typically recommend as someone’s first Con experience, simply due to its immense size and the likelihood of being overwhelmed). We shall see.

The true test this year is, of course, seeing if I can remain motivated throughout work and other outside commitments. I would hope yes. One of the things that I feel helps is having a costume goal set for the year. To that end, I am setting myself the following goal…

When one considers my typical costume “type,” I think the main qualifier could be “cute and cuddly.” I like cartoons. I like toys. I like having fun in a costume, and playing a part. I actually really enjoy donning a giant costume head and crawling about on all fours. So, I thought, what costume goal could I set myself that would encompass all those factors? What could I make that would be challenging in the construction phase, but be extremely fun to portray? What would kids like to see? This is what I came up with.

 

Hiccup-Toothless-how-to-train-your-dragon-9626221-1600-680

(Just in case you’re wondering, I’ll be working on making the one on the left)

This is, quite honestly, going to be the most difficult costume that I’ll have attempted. It involves wings. It’s going to have arm extensions, so I can move around more like Toothless. It’s going to have a tail. It’s got to look like I’ve got scales. The jaw will, hopefully, move. And, I’ve got to be able to see and move in the costume. Preferably, it will also look more like a dragon and less like someone in a set of dragon-inspired footie pajamas. I want to get the shapes and dimensions of this correct.

I foresee challenges in my future, but dammit…I want to be a dragon!

Native Americans in Science Fiction and Fantasy

That was the name of my very first panel at a convention. And by very first panel, I don’t mean the first one I’ve ever attended. I mean the first one where I was a panelist.

What can I say about the experience? It’s simple, really.

HOLY CRAP!

Let me tell you, I was a bundle of nerves leading up to the day of the panel. I was reading and re-reading books, writing and re-organizing notes, referring back to emails I had exchanged with Dr. Eric Gary Anderson (who teaches at George Mason University, has an encyclopedic knowledge of Native literature and totally unrelated random horror movies, and is generally an all-around awesome person to know). I was both excited and nervous about being on the panel, wanting to make sure I contributed something of worth (or at least didn’t totally derailing it with verbal diarrhea), and hoping that people got something out of the event other than an air-conditioned room to sit in.

It turns out I needn’t have worried as much as I did. And why was that?

Because the audience and the moderator for the panel were AWESOME!

The panel was moderated by L.M. (Linda) Davis, and included Diane Hughes, a panelist from last year’s panel on the same topic. Linda met with us briefly while people were drifting in for the panel and went over how she wanted to approach the discussion this year. She said she’d go ahead and let us introduce ourselves, and then she’d turn it over to the audience for questions, to see what kinds of things they wanted to talk and know about. During our brief powwow (see what I did there?), I learned that Linda knew Eric. Oh, Native American Studies academia…it’s such a small world, sometimes.

Quite honestly, the audience for the panel had some of the best questions I’ve heard about Native culture, literature, etc. Plenty of things to get and keep me thinking – and perhaps provide some fodder for upcoming entries here, as I continue to mull over the topic.

In the lead-up to the panel, I went ahead and wrote up a recommended reading list for folks interested in science fiction and fantasy (and horror and mystery) that incorporated Native culture in some way. I was asked to share this list in a public forum and, hey! Whaddayaknow! I have a blog! So, for those of you interested, here is a jumping off point for Native Americans in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Some of these authors are Native, others are not. Ultimately, that’s not what I was looking at. I was looking at “Who has shared a good story?” I hope you find their work as enjoyable as I have. My hope is to continue adding to this over time.

Kirk Mitchell – Turnipseed and Parker series

  • Cry Dance
  • Spirit Sickness
  • Ancient Ones
  • Sky Woman Falling
  • Dance of the Thunder Dogs

Charles de Lint

  • The Onion Girl
  • Medicine Road
  • Someplace To Be Flying – one of the best descriptions of what it means to be a storyteller that I have found so far

Patricia Briggs

  • Alpha and Omega series (to a lesser degree)
  • Mercy Thompson series – particularly River Marked

Kat Richardson

  • Greywalker series – particularly Underground

Orson Scott Card

  • Alvin Maker series

Neil Gaiman

  • American Gods

C.E. Murphy – The Walker Papers series

  • Urban Shaman
  • Banshee Cries (novella in Winter Moon anthology)
  • Thunderbird Falls
  • Coyote Dreams
  • Rabbit Tracks (short story online)
  • Walking Dead
  • Demon Hunts
  • Spirit Dances
  • Raven Calls

Louise Erdrich

  • Tracks – I recommend starting here

Stephen Graham Jones

  • The Bird is Gone: A Manifesto
  • Demon Theory
  • It Came From Del Rio
  • Zombie Bake-Off (comes out this year)

Gerald Vizenor

  • Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles

Sherman Alexie – in particular

  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (the movie Smoke Signals was adapted from this)
  • Flight
  • Indian Killer

Louis Owens

  • Bone Game

A. A. Carr

  • Eye Killers

Joseph Bruchac

Amy H. Sturgis

Drew Hayden Taylor

Daniel Heath Justice

Leslie Marmon Silko

Michael Nicoll Yahguhlanaas

  • Red: A Haida Manga

Trickster: Native American Tales – A Graphic Collection

Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction – edited by Grace L. Dillon

Minisinoo – a fanfic writer who has done marvelous work with Native characters, particularly from the X-Men Universe. I recommend starting with

In addition to the list I put together, I got some suggestions from the crowd. Here they are:

Michael Chabon – Summerland

Scalped comic book

Oh! And for those who asked if I had anything published…here is some of my folklore work. I have not yet found a home for other folklore papers, but, if you’re interested in other pieces, just let me know. And yes, to the people who asked about the “other” work, I have links to that as well, but it has nothing to do with my folklore or usual fiction work.
Also, if you were at the panel, I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve got questions that didn’t have a chance to get asked, or if there’s something that’s crossed your mind since then, send me a message! nerfgunbobbinsATgmailDOTcom

You mean I have to keep smiling?

Hello all!  I’m Megan’s friend Angelica.  She’s mentioned me a couple times here. I guess I’m going to be a contributor now.  Back in April Meg asked me to write something about my experience attending Wonder-Con, in San Francisco.  It’s a tad late I know.  But enjoy.

I’ll be the first to admit that part of the reason I cosplay is for the attention.  I love being asked by random strangers if it’s okay for them to take my picture.  I also love hearing the reaction from people when they see me in my costume.  There is something truly gratifying about the whole experience.  I’m sure many other cosplayers feel the same way.

So it always surprises me when I come across those few cosplayers who don’t like the attentions what so ever.  Sure some of those might be shy newbies but then they soon get over their hesitation and embrace the attention the world offers them.  There is however, that small group who are just plain douche bags.

What do I mean by douche bags?

These are the people who dress up in awesome costumes, which would logically be very popular with the masses but then they are annoyed when someone compliments them by asking for their photograph.

One of my first experiences with this type of cosplayer was at Comic-Con in 2008.  It was for a Doctor Who panel and as I recall there was one guy dressed as the tenth Doctor.  He was a spot on look alike and of course he was very popular.  David Tennant look allike took pictures with a number of people and when I finally got my chance he totally brushed me off and told me no, he had to go away now.

Okay, granted he had been taking pictures for the past twenty minutes and I’m sure he was probably tired of posing but I think he could have refused in a nicer way.

I will sympathize with him on that part.  I remember having to pose for thirty plus minutes of photos last year when I had dressed up as a Dalek.  I remember at one point my checks were burning from having to smile for so long.  I also remember being chased by a fan wanting to take a picture of the Dalek girl.  And in my defense I did not know she was chasing me until she caught up.  I had somewhere to go but I still posed for her, after all it only takes a couple of seconds for a photo…sometimes.

Okay I guess David Tennant look alike can have a pass from the douche bag department.  I forgive him only because I only witnessed him brush one person of, me.

Any ways, recently I attended Wonder-Con in San Francisco.  This years Wonder-Con was unfortunately where I ran into the one cosplayer who prompted me to write this tirade.  Did I also mention this year marked the tenth year I would be attending the con, so running into this cosplayer compounded the lack luster that was my milestone anniversary, but I’m going a bit off tangent.

Back to the A-hole of a cosplayer; coincidently I had the misfortune of running across this cosplayer at another Doctor Who panel.  This guy was dressed as the very popular and very noticeable, Weeping Angel.  A Weeping Angel!

I had the bad luck of nearly missing the Doctor Who panel so I had no experience interacting with the weeping angel inside the Esplanade Ballroom.  That was the massive ball room where most of the popular panels were being held.  My experience was with him was outside the ballroom.  I remember being really excited hearing there was a weeping angel so I made it my goal to find it.  And sadly I did.

I approached him very politely, well as politely as I could muster for being so happy that I found him.  I asked “May I take your picture, please?” Imagine my surprise when he replied “you can take my picture but I’ll be walking away.”

I think I must have stood there dumbfounded for a few seconds, as I watched him go away.  As my friend said when he heard about the incident “Wait, you encountered a cosplayer that DIDN’T want [their] picture taken? My mind [is], blown.”

I would have grudgingly forgotten about the incident, since I know a couple of people (*cough, cough* Meg and Maggie) who have way better looking weeping angel costumes.  Unfortunately, we ran into him and his group a couple more times.  He was posing for pictures this time and I quickly took a couple and I watched as other people posed with him.

At one point there were these two children, they looked about eight or ten.  They were clearly Doctor Who fans, or at least their parents were since they showed an obvious fear of the angel.  The mom was trying to get them to take a picture with the angel but they were hesitant to stand too close.  The photo session was running long.                So what did A-hole cosplayer do?

He grabs the two kids by their arm and pulls them closer to speed the photos along!  Can you image the fear these kids must have felt as the angel reached out for them?  Everyone watching thought it was hilarious.  I was annoyed.

Part of that warm fuzzy feeling you get from the attention is the reaction from the kids.  Let’s face it these kids who attend conventions will probably grow up to be the future cosplayers of the world. So I always feel a certain responsibility to be patient and accommodating to kids.   For kids, it’s more real.  I’m not just some girl dressed in a costume, I really am Belle, or for my friend she really was Harley Quinn to that little girl sees her favorite comic book character come to life.

Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but for me sometimes cosplaying means being as real to that child and not to traumatize by adding to their fears.

I got too preachy I know, but he really scared those kids!

The whole session ended with weeping angel dude brushing off a guy and his lady by saying he had to go find a Darth Vader to take a picture with.  Personally, I don’t even find the irony of Darth Vader and a weeping angel.  Darth Vader and the Doctor, maybe.  But a weeping angel and Darth, I’ll just roll my eyes at that.

I had a point some where here.  Okay, my point is, as a cosplayer I feel I have a certain obligation to those who ask for my photograph.  After all cosplayer and fans have this symbiotic relationship going.  Cosplayers get validation that their costume is as awesome as they think it is by fans asking to take their pictures and fans get to see their favorite characters come to life.  It’s a win/win situation.

Cosplayers, remember with great costumes comes great responsibly.  So don’t be a douche bag.  Conversely, fans if you see person in costume being fed Tylenol and water, maybe asking them to take a photo is not the best idea.