Thursday, September 04, 2008

Home At Last

Most years, I've done two summer conventions: San Diego Comic-Con and GenCon. I've done them both for, what, five years running now? This year, however, I added a third by attending Atlanta's DragonCon last weekend. I also had a Magic Pre-Release right before conventions began.

At this pace it was roughly one event, 2 weeks off, then another. That's quite a difficult schedule, and it's hard to maintain a good work flow between them. The Rorshach piece I mentioned earlier, intended for completion before Comic Con at the end of July, was only finally finished a day before DragonCon last week. That it was an uncommissioned work certainly didn't help it get done faster. More on that later, but it was well-received when shown.

Conventions are funny beasts, and each year I seem to end the convention season by talking a little about them. This year, I'd like to discuss the very peculiar side of them known as Cosplay (as in, Costume-Play). I can't imagine how strange it is to be a resident of a city like Indianapolis, and then all of a sudden one day your streets are flooded with Star Wars characters, Anime wannabes, chicks in Goth attire, Superheroes...and stranger things. Certainly for the unprepared and uninitiated there is a lot to laugh at.

I've always been of two minds about Cosplay. On the one hand, I understand the layperson's perspective--this stuff is the height of dorky, and sometimes ridiculous and/or embarrassing to behold. For some, you really wish that a friend had pulled them aside and said, "Really man, don't do it." On the other hand, there are a surprising number of costumes that are incredible--craftsmanship such that you'd think they walked off the Lucasfilm warehouse one night, or that they were master tailors who should be hired immediately to do costume design for films--and many are indeed master tailors. When those folks come out, sure there is still the awkward incongruity of standing in line at Orange Julius behind Darth Maul at the food court. But damn, that's one well put-together Darth Maul!

"OMG, look gals, Cloud is so kawaii!!"

I sat there this year, watching the parade of folks go by, and wondered where this instinct to dress up as adults comes from. The Japanese have their share of it, too. I didn't think too hard about it, but one could go back to Venice in the Middle-Ages to find people wearing full costumes for balls (and other fleshly affairs) during Carnival. When visiting Venice, one runs across stores selling reproduction costumes and masks from the period, and we attribute to them an air of sophistication, mainly because they are beautifully-made and hearken back to an older time. But really, it's just as dorky--and I'm willing to bet that while the beautiful examples are what survived, there were plenty of really lame homemade costumes used in that time by poorer folk without money or real skills. And hopefully they had friends who pulled them aside and said, "Really man, don't do it."

In the end, I just sit there, watching the parade go by. This picture really sums it all up:

Times like these remind me I can never take myself seriously (HT: Vinod & Emily)