Rogue Element #130: C2E2 2016

By Avril Brown

Ah, my darling C2E2, how I have missed thee! Though a touch early this year (the Con is typically in April) you are as welcome as ever. Walking towards the McCormick Center Friday morning surrounded by geeks of all sorts literally vibrating with barely repressed excitement, it feels like coming home.

However, just like returning home after a long stretch abroad, things are not quite what you remember, and it can take some time to adjust to that fact. Meg Ryan once said, “People are always saying change is a good thing, but what they’re actually saying is something that you didn’t want to happen, did.” True that, but change can be good, or change can be terrible. The goal is at the very least a semblance of balance, or ideally, coming out a wee ahead.

The Good

This year C2E2 introduced a gaming pavilion, and MAN was that a check in the win column! They had tables set up with everything from the original Nintendo console to the latest Xbox to a multiplayer dance-off. Kids of all ages (and I’m including my husband in that tally) were clearly having a blast playing old games, competing with each other and learning new tricks. I saw one woman killing it on Super Mario 3 like she’d woken up that morning saving the Princess, and the same phenomenon occurred when Jesse picked up the vintage Nintendo Zapper gun and took out the baddens of Hogan’s Alley.

Kids dominated the dance games while parents stood off to the side capturing every moment on their phones. One tween girl was acing Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’ while another girl barely out of her toddling years was right next to her doing her darndest to keep up and learn the slick moves on the fly. While my brother-in-law was observing an unfamiliar game a nearby stranger engaged him in conversation, explaining the core concept of the game and what he’d learned so far.

Unknown individuals bonding over nerdy things; ‘cause that’s how C2E2 folk roll, yo.

The Bad

The tattoo pavilion was missing this year, which was a disappointment. The Artists’ Alley of body art has always brought me an intoxicating combination of feelings: the thrill at witnessing artists at work, seeing their creative new pieces and the depths of geeky awesomeness people have explored in their body art, and sharing conspiratorial/commiserative smiles with those under the needle are all positive emotions. Hearing the needle at work, however, sets my teeth on edge. I suppose the sound wouldn’t bother me as much if I fancied myself finished with my own body art, but such is not the case. (Sorry not sorry, Mom and Dad.)

The layout was somewhat spastic, lacking a coherent flow in addition to the sizable gaps on the floor. There were cement spaces in the midst of red carpet where a booth clearly should have stood but failed to do so, for whatever reason. I understand last minute shit happens, but seeing the blank spaces where creative vendors should be sharing their wares was saddening, and frustrating.

For reasons I cannot get into on a public forum, my husband’s gym was once again denied the ability to procure an entire booth and were therefore unable to fully express all they had to offer. People enjoy the variety Forteza has to offer; my coworker’s boyfriend recently took an introductory sword class and loved it, so it was more than a little grating to see the people I care about prevented from reaching their prime target audience to spread the word, and joy, of their hard work.

The Bright and Shiny Cosplay

I cannot get enough of cosplay. Y’know that Michael Jackson meme cut from the theater scene in ‘Thriller,’ when he’s just chowing down on popcorn and someone captioned it, ‘I’m just here for the comments’? Sometimes I feel the same way about cosplay at Comic Cons, and my fellow geeklings did not disappoint.

• Best SNL skit cosplay: As I predicted, there were several Kylo Ren as Matt on ‘Undercover Boss’ outfits, liberated from a Saturday Night Live skit that took the internet by storm. Pure Gold.
• Best random cosplay: I saw two, count ‘em TWO different men dressed as Doug Funnie/Quail-Man. I haven’t thought of that cartoon in years, but I betcha anyone else who was a tween in the 90’s knows what I’m talking about.
• Best use of a baby: This is a three-way tie between two ladies dressed as Rockford Peaches from ‘A League of Their Own’ holding a baby dressed as a baseball, a woman who dressed her baby as Squirrel Girl (complete with acorn earrings!) and a couple dressed as Jon Snow and the Red Lady, with their baby sporting a cap that read, ‘Shadow Baby.’ Well played, parents.
• Best political statement cosplay: Stormtrooper vatos with a sign that read ‘Palpatine: Make the galaxy great again, and then we shall have peace.’ Honorary mention: a guy holding a sign depicting Trump as Lex Luthor asking people to NOT vote for him.
• Best cosplayer hero: Colonel Quickstitch is fully armed and able to help with any cosplayer crisis, and she does it for free with a smile on her wonderful, generous face!
• Most prolific cosplay: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ characters, including a killer cross-gender Immortan Joe.

I really could go on and on. There was a Kylo Ren who looked EXACTLY like Adam Driver, someone who dressed as the Pug Monkey from that cracked out Superbowl commercial, a family of Ant-Men (and mama Wasp), Tank Girl, Colby and Poyo from CHEW, Mrs. Banks in her Sister Suffragette outfit, Kung Fury, a sad Rancor daddy, and the most perfect Q since John de Lancie.

And then there was Spider Jerusalem from Warren Ellis’s ‘Transmetropolitan.’

spider j avril 1

This foul-mouthed, mad bastard, filthy fucking journalist is on a mission to print The Truth. It’s an election year, and neither power-hungry half-aliens, corrupt cops nor insane politicians are going to stop him. Or her. Last year my cosplay was about feeling strong, in addition to expressing my love for the character. This year it was about education, liberation and a word of caution. ‘Transmet’ is some seriously twisted, powerful and important shit, and never more so than in a polarizing election year such as this; the similarities are uncanny, and disturbing. I was proud to portray such a strong, vocal and intelligent character, and I was more than pleased to encourage people to pick up the book to experience Spider for themselves. One gentleman recognized me but his female friend did not. “You’re not there yet,” he told her. Turning to me: “Don’t worry, I’ve got her started on Warren Ellis, but we’re still on ‘Nextwave.’”
One of the best things about being Spider was when I was recognized, people GOT me. I felt like every ‘Hey, Spider!’ was more than just acknowledging my kick-ass cosplay, it was recognizing WHY. Another perk was the sexy simplicity of the costume: funky green and red glasses (which prompted more than a few questions on their own), black slacks and an open black blazer, showing off a hint of cleavage. Plus, I wasn’t cold. Here’s to keeping clothes on for cosplay!

spider j avril 2

Only downside: carrying a fake cigarette around for two days prompted a craving I haven’t experienced in almost nine years. Thankfully the $12 per pack price tag they go for here in the city kept me on the wagon.

The New Beginning

Admittedly I pouted a bit things didn’t turn out the way I was hoping, but it was yet another life lesson learned from another fantastic Con. I have grown wiser and more tolerant in my many years of Conning. Gone are the days when I’m frantic over arriving at the gate early, or driving myself bananas choosing which panel to attend. Rather than break my own feet I’ll lean against a pillar and let the Con walk by me. I lament the friends I missed but I leave warm and secure in the knowledge that there’s always next year. You can always go home again, especially when home is where the nerdy heart lives.

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