ROGUE ELEMENT #109: C2E2 2013
By Avril Brown
Every comic convention is different. There’s the first con, the worst con, the cosplay con, the disorganized con, the con with plenty of panels, the con with few panels and so forth. This con, Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo 2013, may have saved my life.
Alright, that statement may be a little overdramatic, but C2E2 certainly did inspire changes in my daily routine and basic lifestyle choices. When I told my personal trainer boyfriend I wanted to really look the part for my cosplay this year, he took me at my word and gave me the tools, guidance and support I needed to make it happen. I wanted to look like the warrior princess Red Sonja who is so badass her armor consists of a chainmail bikini, and he set about helping me make it so.
A relatively controlled diet and three months of hard work at the gym and I was ready to don my costume with confidence. First thing was first, however: go out and greet my favorite con.
Friday – The first day of C2E2 is always reserved for a non-cosplay, shopping-free walk of the convention floor. This way I get the lay of the land at my leisure while having the opportunity to chat with friends I only see at cons, scope out potential acquisitions without breaking my budget and generally relax and soak up the sights. Done, done and super done. I also spend Friday night hanging with some of my favorite blokes, throwing back brews and getting silly. Bearing witness to a good bromance is like diving into a good novel: once it gets going you just can’t look away, and every time you revisit there is something new to appreciate. A great day, and a great start to the weekend.
Best Cosplay – Overall: Hagrid, complete with lifts, a pink umbrella and a homemade ‘Monster Book of Monsters.’
Best Cosplay – Doctor Who: Two gentleman dressed like an ‘Empty Child’ character and an Ood.
Best Cosplay – Random: Boba Fett as a White Sox fan, armed with a metal bat.
Saturday – When people who typically are not interesting in attending comic conventions decide to brave the nerdy waters and wade into unfamiliar territory, it is a good sign that a fledgling con is really finding its feet. Jesse’s brother and his sister’s boyfriend decided to have a man-date and try the con on for size, which was thrilling, but the biggest shocker of the day actually arrived before I did on Saturday morning.
Ladies and gentleman, hell froze over: my folks came to C2E2. Now my father is the source of a lot of my nerdiness and could fit right in at a con, but I was floored that he actually dragged my mother along as well. I was excited, touched and a little nervous by their presence at my Mecca. ‘Excited’ because they could see in living color that not only am I not alone in my passions, but witness for themselves that comic cons are fucking cool. ‘Touched’ because it means so much to me they spent all that time and money to learn more about this part of my life. ‘Nervous’ because I was donning my costume for the first time and my metal loincloth only covered about half my ass. My mother did jokingly shield her eyes at first but they both managed to look at me without turning to stone.
Before I dressed up (or down, as the case may be), I walked the floor with my parents, feeling eight years old again as I excitedly pointed out, well, everything. ‘Mom, look at this amazing print! Dad, do you recognize that character? Did you see how many Doctors and Daenarys’s there are? Food court is back there, and the bathrooms on that wall have no lines. Let’s walk Artist Alley so you can meet my friends! Did I mention I’m happy to see you guys?!’ They accepted my akin-to-Ritalin excitement level with the patience and forbearance of parents who’ve accepted their daughter is a dork many moons ago, and dare I say it, but they seemed to have a good time.
Eventually we parted ways as I had panels to attend and pictures to pop a T and A pose for, and they were tiring, not yet imbued with the three-day comic con stamina, this being their first con and all. You have to train for that kind of heavy lifting. So I walked with friends, did a little window shopping, attended a couple panels (more on that in my C2E2 Panel column!), glowed with pleasure every time someone took my photo, chuckled internally when half of those people had no idea who I was cosplaying, and all around had an amazing Saturday.
The evening was spent in good company, with tasty nibbles and reasonable brews as we celebrated what felt to be a successful presentation and one hell of a con weekend. Continuing what is becoming a slightly boring but undeniably healthy tradition, I was in bed and sacked out before midnight.
Best Cosplay – Character from Specific Issue: Tie between two ‘Hawkeye’ characters: a guy dressed in a maroon tracksuit with a word balloon sign saying ‘Bro,’ and Kate Bishop in her circus outfit.
Best Cosplay – Short-lived Character: The Stalk! ‘Saga’ is only a year or so old, and The Stalk’s appearance lasted about five pages put together before she was killed off, but she made quite an impression being an armless, half-naked, spider/woman mercenary.
Best Cosplay – Movie: The house from ‘Up.’ ‘Nuff said.
Sunday – Sleep is the only god I worship on a regular basis, and I am devoted to its omnipotent presence, even on a con weekend. However, this means I am always left feeling rushed on a Sunday; I didn’t chat long enough with my friends, I didn’t do all the shopping I wanted, I didn’t see enough. Therefore I planned accordingly and actually woke my ass up early to shower, eat and make repairs to the costume (maintaining strategic placement of leather pieces inside a chainmail bikini is rather important), all in time to hit the floor at 10AM.
So I shopped, oh how I shopped, and wandered, chatted and took photos. I stripped down to my metal skivvies and wandered, chatted and posed for photos, often awkwardly. Sunday is ‘kids day’ and while there were only a few children interested in posing with Red Sonja, I was at a loss of what to do. I couldn’t crouch to their level without causing a scene, and standing proved no safer when one child stood directly in front of me, pressing his head into my metal-clad crotch. As the headline ‘Red Sonja flashes naughty bits, scars children for life,’ has yet to go viral, I think I remain un-sued.
Best Cosplay – Movie: Tie: Ann Darrow from ‘King Kong,’ donning a bloody dress with a large gorilla hand wrapped around her midsection (this lady also came with a child yelling at his mommy for ‘smiling too much’ for my photo), and Wesley as the Dread Pirate Roberts with a plushie RoUS on his back.
Best Cosplay – Group: Nine lady Doctors who paraded around a blow-up Dalek.
Best Cosplay – Crossgender: A female Hellboy, with beer in hand.
Best Cosplay – TV: Two of the ‘tech-head’ characters from the Epitaph episodes of ‘Dollhouse.’
As always the end of C2E2 came far too soon, and I was left simultaneously elated and exhausted. Thanks to this con and my nerdiness/vainness, I’ve become a bit of a gym rat and a (mostly) healthier eater. I’m also more accepting of the fact there is only so much one can absorb, and instead of lamenting the things undone, I immerse myself completely in the moment at hand. If my folks can try on a con then coercing my sister, brother-in-law and baby niece to come on by should be an attainable goal.
Every con is different, and fingers crossed this will forever be the case.