Love costumes, love the other stuff, still a self-doubting noob
May 16, 2013 11:10 AM   Subscribe

What does a first time comic con cosplay participant need to know? I live in a small town well away from most comic cons, but now it looks like my town has one. This weekend. I have questions...

I think that I'm dressing my husband and I up as characters from the Prisoner, of the Portmeiron variety. It's easy for us to pull off and comfy. Is this appropriate for a comic-con? Is it generally recognizable by people other than me? Are we too old to dress up in costume (we're 34). (I know I'm not for Halloween, but this is different.) Is it called cosplay when it's not crazy/super revealing/highly skilled? Any other advice for a first time attendee? I know nothing about this stuff, and we want to have fun!
posted by Kronur to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: People do cosplay for different reasons. Some do it because it's fun to dress up when it's not Halloween. Others do it because they can obsess over details and get a lot of compliments. Some people dress up in obscure costumes out of love of that obscure thing, or an elitism, or just to see who recognizes some background character featured for a few frames.

From what I've seen of conventions, most folks stick to the general theme of the con (comics, anime, movies, whatnot), but at just about every damned con, there's the semi-local Stormtrooper unit. Yes, even at the anime conventions.

Dress up, have fun, and if anyone recognizes you, bonus! You can always do what I've done when my costume is mis-identified: agree with the stranger. Why yes, I am that character from Star Trek, how did you recognize me? You have a laugh, they feel happy they recognized you.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:19 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

If nothing else, look to Man Faye and know there is always someone who sticks out more awkwardly than you ever could, and he embraces it.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: First of all, your costume ideas are AWESOME. I think relatively obscure costume ideas are the best, because while you won't get as many people who recognize what you're doing (as opposed to something more mainstream) the people who do get it will LOVE IT.

Second, nope, there's no such thing as being too old to have fun. In case you need more convincing, see these wonderful people from Anime Central.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:22 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Is this appropriate for a comic-con?

Yes. Conventions have mostly become general fandom conventions (though truthfully, they've been this way for a while - I remember going to a con in Boston in like 1992 and seeing Red Dwarf VHS tapes displayed in a booth), especially where cosplay is concerned. People will go to anime conventions cosplaying Homestuck characters, and so on.

Is it generally recognizable by people other than me?

If you were going to a Halloween kegger, I'd say probably not. But you're going to a comic convention, so yes, people will recognize it. It may even be thought of as kind of mainstream, which is sort of a refreshing experience to have. You may not even be the only people dressed as your characters.

Are we too old to dress up in costume (we're 34).

Not at all.

Is it called cosplay when it's not crazy/super revealing/highly skilled?


Any other advice for a first time attendee? I know nothing about this stuff, and we want to have fun!

Some people might want photos of you if they like your costume. Come up with some sort of stock pose. I don't know anything about the characters you're going as, so I can't help with what that should be, but there it is. Mostly, just have fun. You will meet a lot of fun nerds and you can nerd out about the Prisoner and it will be great.

In the interest of forewarning I will also tell you that most fandom conventions will have a handful of people who don't really prioritize bathing. There isn't anything you can do about it but it's good to know in advance. Try to avoid poorly-ventilated enclosed spaces.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:23 AM on May 16, 2013

Best answer: Easy and comfy is always a good idea. Cons tend to attract cosplay of all varieties, so I think it's appropriate enough. Some people, especially the young'ns, may not necessarily know what you are, or may misidentify you, but they'll likely recognize that you're dressed up as something and think it's cool. 34 is definitely not too old; the median age for people really into cosplay is probably late teens/early 20s, but I've seen everything from older gentlemen dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi (seriously there was one guy who I would've sworn was Alec Guinness back from the grave) to couples with young children where everyone was dressed up according to some theme. (Also if the con is actually comic-centered, it'll probably attract a slightly older crowd.)

The thing that really got me when I first went to a con was that, as a large gathering of people with lots of waiting in line, I'd sort of expected the atmosphere to have an air of low-level hostility, and I was surprised by how relaxed and friendly it felt. It was...really nice.
posted by kagredon at 11:31 AM on May 16, 2013

You're amongst people like you - fans of comics. It's like sports fans gathering together, but instead of a clash between fans of two competing teams, it's more like a gathering of fans of many non-competitive teams, and everyone just loves the sport.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:47 AM on May 16, 2013

Best answer: Here's advice from someone who's sold art at tables at conventions before: if you want to take a picture of a cosplayer who's looking at a table in the artist alley or dealers' room, please wait until they've finished looking at the table they're at! The person trying to make a living by selling stuff will thank you!

Also, if you're standing at a table taking with or watching an artist, author, or other guest, please don't stand in front of and block the tables next to them. That keeps potential customers from getting to that other table.

Anyway, bring a camera, make sure it's charged up if it's digital, try not to block doorways or stairways as you take photos of cosplayers, and have fun! Feel free to tell people it's your first con, because often they'll either tell you stories of their first con, or tell you what you should be sure to see and do.
posted by telophase at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Is this appropriate for a comic-con?

Yes. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise, point out that DC put out a 4 issue miniseries set in that storyline.

Is it generally recognizable by people other than me?

Think of the geekiest corner of the internet you can. Your typical comic convention has at least that much distilled geek per square foot, if not more. I'd be more shocked if you weren't recognized by someone at some point.

For reference, last year I cosplayed as a character who while technically he is from a videogame, you never actually ever SEE this character in the game. If you really go off the beaten path, you may hear some unintelligible muttering that may or may not be this character. The only official visuals for the character in question exist in a webcomic posted by the game company between installments of the game.

On top of that, my costume was of questionable quality because the one defining prop that the character is never seen without would be too unwieldy for the crowded spaces I was going to be in. Another key prop I forgot to bring. I got a late start on the clothing portion of the costume, and it was a bit of a mess because of it.

I was recognized five times that day. The next convention I went to, I saw someone else cosplaying the same character, and we swapped tips.

Are we too old to dress up in costume (we're 34).

I'm 37. My girlfriend is 34 and we both cosplay.

Is it called cosplay when it's not crazy/super revealing/highly skilled?

Of course.

Any other advice for a first time attendee?

If you think it might be fun for you, really throw yourselves into the role, like throwing in a "Be seeing you!" with the appropriate hand gesture as you move from one table to the next or running from any balloons you see.

Seek out others with costumes thematically similar to your own (The Prisoner sits square at the nexus between espionage genre and trippy mindf*ck, so either of those directions will work) and pose for pictures together.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2013

Yes, it's appropriate; even if they don't recognise you, people will enjoy it; yes, it's cosplay.

See this QWOP cosplayer: not too revealing, crazy or super skilled, not from a comic, sort of obscure, super fun!
posted by clearlydemon at 1:46 PM on May 16, 2013

Best answer: First time con attendee tips:

-Hydrate hydrate hydrate

-Bring with you at least two sturdy fabric shopping/tote bags, even if you think you won't be buying anything. There's nothing more annoying than hauling around con swag in something with broken/nonexistent handles, or placing your stuff out of frame when posing & having it yoinked because it's in the same bag everyone else has. And you'll have stuff to carry no matter what - water bottles, con maps, free stuff, snacks, cameras, etc. Two bags helps you balance, keeps things more ergonomic over time so you feel better at the end of a long day.

-Cons are huge disease vectors (even the smalltown ones). You don't need to be super standoffish, but if you're the hugging type (and there might be people so pleased to see your "obscure" cosplay they'll ask to give you a hug or shake your hand) think about bringing a little bottle of antibacterial gel, and always wash your hands before you eat. Con-plague is best avoided.

-Someone above said to work on a stock pose; this is great advice. Practice it together so the two of you can settle into it quickly, which will help traffic get back to normal if you're in the middle of a hall, and make photographers happy. Conversely, make sure that, if you plan on bringing a camera device, you've got that all set up so you're not asking people to pose for especially long while you mess with settings.

-If you start to feel dumb and like nobody's recognized you and why did you even DO this and it's hot and you're annoyed and all these people don't appreciate your genius etc etc, remember that for every one person who asks to take your picture there are probably five people who recognize you and think you're great but are busy heading somewhere, are too shy, or think you don't want to be bothered. Then have a snack and sit down in a quiet corner for a few minutes to recharge. Happy attendees make for happy cons, so if your attitude has tanked, either do what you can to fix it, or call it a day. Cons can really tucker even the most gregarious person out.

-At cons the social rules are shifted. You can talk to strangers more easily, and strangers will talk to you. Keep things light and engage about the topic at hand (someone's costume, the neat thing you're looking at, how awesome an artist is) and don't hesitate because of someone's wacky appearance or age. But, if someone is bugging you, it's also totally okay to just end a conversation flat.

-If you're self-doubting like you say, actively try to stop that. You're at a convention to enjoy the weird stuff you love with other people who love lots of other weird stuff. There will be noobs and old guard and everybody in between, gathering together to be positive about creativity and storytelling and shared cultural experiences. There will always be someone weirder than you just around the corner, and they're probably awesome. So enjoy yourself and don't be someone you're not. If you don't know a nerdy thing, ask about it.
posted by Mizu at 4:02 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

one of my favourite blogs, epbot, has a lot of posts about going to cons - enjoy.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:38 PM on May 16, 2013

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