Last month I attended my first large-scale comic convention in a while. Although I’ve been attending conventions for over 20 years now (oh gods!), I am now the kind of comics hipster who is more likely to attend TCAF or go to The Beguiling to get his comics fix. The 2012 Fan Expo in Toronto was my return to mainsteam cons and really my first look at a con since they have become as much if not more about movies, anime, celebs and gaming both analog and digital. It was an eye opener. Some thoughts:
Rule 63 Rules
Rule 63 was out in full force this year.
Even though there were plenty of gender-swapped Doctor Whos, Captain Americas, Thors and Lokis (and not Loki when he was female, though I saw that too. I’m referring to movie Loki, or the current kid Loki from the comics, but played by a woman).
There was even a gender-swapped Iron Fist!
But this year the gender-swapping on its own wasn’t enough. Many cosplayers had to add a little pizzaz to their outfits, like these Rule 63 Avengers playing Just Dance. I don’t know about midriff Iron Man or minimalist Black Widow, but sassy Captain America and Loki are rocking it.
Steampunk, however, was the most popular adjective for the Rule 63’ers. Be it the ever-present Joker…
…or Steampunk Iron Lady, gears, googles and doo-dads were out in force.
But the cosplayers that stood out for me this year were not just doing Rule 63. They were straight up genderfucking. Normally, Rule 63 Captain America looks like this:
Genderfuck Victorian Lolita Captain America looks like this:
Welcome to the future.
Gamers Love Cosplaying Too
The number of cosplayers dressed as their favourite character from the world of video games is quickly catching up to, if not surpassing, the number of people dressed as anime characters at the con this year. And not fringe characters like Pokemon, whose cosplayers might just watch the show and never touch the games. I’m taking about people cosplaying their favourite classes in Diablo III.
Or The Dragonborn from Skyrim.
Or Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II.
Or Shepard from Mass Effect.
Or even some sort of human-GlaDOS hybrid from Portal.
The gamers were out in force this year. The largest retailer presence wasn’t a comic vendor, but EB Games. The anime kids are always going to be a big subset of the crowd at any con, but the gamers are going to overtake them soon if they haven’t done so already.
Where Are The Video Game Creators?
Marvel and DC both had large booths where the talked about upcoming projects and had creators, many of whom were also available all weekend in the artists’ alley, in their booths to sign and interact with fans. Various B-movie production houses and distributors had their directors, writers and actors doing signings too. Even the Lego booth had an official master builder on hand to interact and make connections with the crowd. Ubisoft, owner of one of the biggest booths in the entire convention hall, had dancers helping sell Just Dance 4. See the difference?
So much of the modern con experience is about meeting the people who create the products that so many of us love. Comic writers and artists. Anime voice actors. Genre actors, writers and directors. They’re all there to meet their fans. But not so with video gaming.
As I mentioned above, gaming fandom seems to be really taking off. I saw at least half a dozen Ezios roaming the aisles. And Ubisoft was there letting people play the soon to be released Assassin’s Creed III. But in the Ubisoft booth there was no sign of anyone who actually worked on the game. Just people keeping an eye on the controllers and selling branded hoodies.
There seems to be a disconnect between the way gaming creators are known, much less made available, at these cons and the way they are known and available for the other forms of pop culture represented. How many of the Ezios I saw knew who Patrice Deslilets or Jade Raymond are even if they saw them? I know that video game creators are more likely to be on hand for something like E3 or PAX, but considering how big the Ubisoft booth was, and how many gaming fans and gaming cosplayers were on hand, it seems like an strange omission.
Imagine a Marvel booth that had no signings, no chance to interact with the creators, the artists, or the writers. Instead some guy dressed as Spider-Man was handing out comics. That’s how the gaming booths felt at this convention. Based of sales, the artists, writers, voice-actors and producers who work on these games are impacting more peoples lives than the comics pros down in artist alley. When do I get to shake their hand and maybe get an autograph?
All of the photos were taken by me and can be found, along with many more, on my flickr.