I feel like this spring is flying by way too quickly! I've been hopping from con to con, with things like Free Comic Book Day and cosplay picnics thrown in there too, so even though it's only been 5 cons in the last 4 months (with Anime North this coming weekend), and 3 of those cons were only one-day things for me, I still feel like I'm barely getting breathing room from one event to the next. I haven't even completely unpacked from C2E2, a month after the convention!
So here's the plan going forward:
Anime North May 22-24
I'm going all three days of AN. Friday is going to be just for chilling and checking out the con with Mr Stark in our Viria13-designed Mai and Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Saturday is a sleep-in day, hitting a workshop in the early afternoon, and then spending the afternoon and evening being a greenroom-runner at the masquerade. If you're entering the AN masq, I will definitely see you backstage! Im wearing my unofficial AN staff costume again: T-shirt Chell. Kurumasha and Yavarice will be working with me as Team Aperture again, so we will be at least somewhat identifiable in the greenroom trying to make sure everyone gets where they need to go. Sunday is my new SEKRIT SURPRISE costume, and the only plan is to have some fun with my cosplay group and get some sweet photos while we are at it. Ive been working hard on my outfit and also making parts for other group members, so wish me luck with getting everything finished on time!
Niagara Falls Comic Con June 5-7
NFCC is a new addition to my convention calendar. I had planned to go to Nova Scotia in June for SouSho, but unfortunately SouSho's con chair ran into serious health problems, so they made the call to delay the convention until 2016. So I had an opening, and jumped at Niagara since it seems like all my friends who won't be at ColossalCon this year are going to be there.
I'm only going to be attending Saturday and Sunday, and cosplay plans are not decided yet. If I can finish up the mk. 9 glove which has been slowing me down, I would like to debut Extremis Pepper. No idea for the other day, maybe Hawkeye? Maybe one of my other under-worn costumes? I might put it to a vote on Facebook and see what people think.
Very shortly after NFCC, I'm heading out to a Game of Thrones-themed birthday party at Medieval Times. I debated for a while over what to wear since I don't want to dress "civilian", but I didn't think I would have time to make either of the costumes that are on my list. In the end, Elemental convinced me that since I have a handful of Simplicity patterns based on the GoT designs, that I could put off at least a simple version of something I like before the party. I have everything I need now for a (non-embellished) Cersei cosplay, and I'm pumped to start sewing it as soon as Anime North is out of the way.
Atomic Lollipop July 17-19
Going back to A-POP again, because even though the con tends to make me feel kinda old, I still have lots of fun there every year ^_^. Looks like I've talked the Video Ninja into finally checking it out, and he might even cosplay!!! As for me, I'm probably going to wear Mai (depending on if other Modern Gaang people are going) and Hawkeye, because archery range. Third costume undecided.
ConBravo July 24-26
I'm excited for ConBravo mostly because Kurumasha, Elemental, and I have an awesome idea for the masquerade. It's going to be fun ^_^. Other potential costumes are Mai (depending on if other Modern Gaang people are going), Hawkeye, Extremis Pepper, and Izabel
Otakuthon August 7-9
The latest addition to my convention schedule, because Kurumasha and Yavarice talked me into it. Costumes: ??, but I hope that I will have Midna finished by then!
There's a very slim chance that I'll drop in at Fan Expo this year, and if I do, it'll be to support Mr Stark since he has some work lined up there for the weekend. And looking at my callender, seems that the Snailoween party is the only other event I might go to in the fall of 2015. Doesn't seem to be much happening locally this year.
Overall progress update, as of May 22: (see original January post for additional context)
The top row is what I have dubbed "Phase One" (see blog sidebar), and the bottom row is "Phase Three". What happened to "Phase Two"? That is all gifts for other people including crafts, clothes, and costume pieces. Since January, Mai, Zuko, and Hawkeye/Katie are done (plus completion on Izabel), and the other three are still in progress, but I expect to have Extremis Pepper finished in the next two weeks. I consider myself to be well on the way to completing my goal of these six costumes by the end of the year. The idea is that I'm not allowed to move on to Phase Three costumes, or add new ones, until Phase One is done, which has been working relatively well so far. I mean, I've already gotten more done this year than in the entirety of 2014!
Exceptions: I added a back-up Anime North costume, which ended up also including some pieces for friends' AN costumes because groups... but all three of those are done now and ready for their debut! The only other addition that I'm allowing so far is Cersei, and that's only because it's for a specific party, it doesn't have to be 1000% accurate, and it was already on my list (the Phase Three choices in the image were almost arbitrary from my long list of costumes I've already bought supplies for).
My C2E2 recap is being split up, because it's just too much for one post. Part 1 is the usual con-report, and Part 2 focuses on just the Crown Championships of Cosplay. Big wall of text here... scroll to the bottom for photos and video!
What is the "Crown Championships of Cosplay"?
It is a relatively new competition which is aiming to be a very prestigious contest featuring winners from other competitions across America and the rest of the world. Since it's only the second year running, it's not quite there yet (this year there was only one "Eastern Champion" present - the winner from NYCC), but they seem to be quickly gaining traction and attention - even the Chicago Tribune featured photos from the contest! Entrants applied for the contest ahead of time online so all the costumes were pre-judged based on photos and descriptions before being accepted for the contest. Judging for the awards was based on backstage craftsmanship judging and posing on stage - no skits, solo entries only, no music. All the contestants were divided by source material* and awarded a 1st-2nd-3rd winner from each category, with an overall 1st (crown)-2nd-3rd awarded from among each of the first place winners (and large cash prizes on the line). In theory, the first place winners from the other contests are also in the running for the "Crown Champion" grand prize, but this year there was just the one returning winner from NYCC.
Here are the 2015 entrants, a really talented group of people!
So how did that go?
My day started very early (considering I was on vacation) - I had to get up at 7:30 am to start getting ready. I've streamlined my Izabel makeup process each time I have done it, but even then, it took a little over an hour and a half to put on the whole costume. I was ready on time though, since we were supposed to be at the convention and ready for judging by 10:00 am. As an aside, terror is going to judging wearing water-based makeup in the rain O_O Ragz and I were assigned judging times shortly after 11:00, so we just waited around the holding room instead of trying to do anything in the meantime. We met and chatted with Star Eater for a while since she's a fan of Saga, asked Josephiroth about the size of his sword (heh heh), and spent a little time in the hallway talking to Lady Thor, Goddess of Thunder and Rattle and Burn and of Oneiromantic Designs, but I was too distracted and brain-dead for proper socializing.
The judging itself went well, I think. There's not a whole lot of advanced techniques or labour-intensive work on Izabel, but they did say "oh, that's a good idea" a couple of times while explaining what I did and why I made some decisions. So I left feeling pretty good that even if they weren't impressed, the industry professionals seemed to at least approve of my work. Squee ~_^
After judging I did the round of photos for C2E2 and some for Cosplay Culture Magazine, and was free to leave for the afternoon. There was an optional live-stream interview session arranged with twitch at 2:00 which both Ragz and I decided against attending... I'm not super comfortable being interviewed on camera, let alone it being a live broadcast, and since I'm not aspiring to be a "professional cosplayer" and I'm not a commissioner, I don't need the self-promotion. I still haven't watched the recording of the interviews, but Stark saw them as part of the Championships pre-show, and said we made the right choice when we declined to participate. According to his review, the interviewers had no idea what they were talking about (making themselves look like idiots), and as a result of trying to answer their questions, the cosplayers didn't look any better. Very unfortunate.
The stage show wasn't scheduled until 7 pm, but we were asked to return to the holding room at 5 so that everyone could go to the other holding room (which I'm just going to call the greenroom) all together so people didn't get lost. On one hand, arriving 2 hours early was not at all necessary given that all the pre-judging and photos had already been finished in the morning, but given how long it took to get all the contestants and costumes up to the greenroom, I guess it was a good idea after all. We had to go from the first floor at one end of the (huge) convention center all the way to the fifth floor on the opposite side of the building, and had to do it in groups of 10 or so people because we were taking elevators. That took a long time to happen.
The next bit is where things started to get rough. At 6:30, we were ushered down to the fourth floor (which is where the main stage was) and lined up in a concrete hallway. We proceeded to stand around in the hallway, posed for some backstage photos and video, and continued to wait. I don't even know how long we were there, since I left my phone, and the other belongings I had with me, in the greenroom so I wouldn't have to worry about them on stage. After what felt like an eternity of waiting for the pre-show to end and for the MC to stop talking (almost nothing in terms of actual words was audible from backstage, or even on stage), we got to take our brief walk across the stage. But once that was done, instead of returning to the greenroom (where the tables and chairs and our stuff was) to wait for the remainder of the show and for the judges' deliberations, we had to line up again in that back hallway, ready to parade back out for the awards. So we were stuck there, in the hall, with no chairs, no water, and no washrooms until sometime after 9:00 when awards were finally given and we could leave. So that's over 2.5 hours stuck in the hallway. I was unlucky in that I hadn't thought to bring my phone with me, so I couldn't get in touch with anyone, or see the fan's choice polls, or take photos with the other contestants; but I was lucky in that I was definitely in one of the most comfortable costumes in the contest. I don't even know how Groot survived.
So we all went back on stage, the awards were handed out, and then back to the hallway again, where we then had to try to find a staffer who could show us the way back to the greenroom where many people had left their stuff! Unfortunately, we were totally on our own for getting back to the holding room on the first floor for the swag bags everyone was getting for participating. The halls were crowded with the audience also trying to leave the building for the night, so we ended up having to back-track quite a bit when routes we took to avoid crowds ended up not going where we thought they did.... I was so sick of being in costume that I was removing all my accessories as I was walking down the hall. By the time Mr Stark met back up with us in the holding room, I'd taken off my wristbands, gloves, guts, hat, wig, and ears.... basically everything I could. Didn't care how weird I looked going back to the hotel. At least the swag bag was useful for holding all the pieces of my costume!
My Final Review:
I knew when I applied that I wasn't going to win anything (especially with the "top-three" award system instead of the "excellence deserves recognition" system I'm used to) but I wanted to have the experience of entering a contest in the US, and one where the emphasis was on workmanship instead of on performance seemed like a good fit for me. Even though I'm often cripplingly shy, my favourite thing about masquerades is getting to talk to the other contestants and learn from them or just admire their work, and make new friends. Talking-shop about costumes and conventions is the best icebreaker I have LOL Since my end goal was not to win the crown, but to have fun and meet some amazing cosplayers, I consider the contest a huge success.
... All that having been said, given the hassles of this style of contest, it really seems designed only for people who are serious about winning. I don't think I would enter again... it's hard to justify having to be so uncomfortable for so much of the day instead of getting to enjoy the rest of the convention. And that's coming from someone for whom "cosplay" is the main draw of almost every con.
Links for awesome people that I missed above:
Groot: Jim Schmid
Lady Sif: Phire & Brimstone
Captain America: Cap Santiago
Peggy Carter: AsgardBarbie
Loki: Son of Asgard Cosplay
photo: Video Game Tidbits
photo: KW Iron Man
photo: Gregory Romany
And a full list of winners (with photos!) is available over at Midlife Crisis Crossover.
*not all entries ended up in the same category that they applied for - several of the other "comic book" cosplayers had applied for "movies and TV" but the contest directors made the final decisions on which category each costume would compete in.
My C2E2 recap is being split up, because it's just too much for one post. Part 1 is the usual con-report, and Part 2 focuses on just the Crown Championships of Cosplay.
Thursday (Day 0)
It was a long, long drive from Burlington to Kitchener to Chicago, but at least I had good company with my awesome friend (and driver) Ragz and equally awesome boyfriend Mr Stark. Highlights of the drive included watching the first episode of Daredevil, dropping in on my parents for a short visit, billboards for Lion's Den because we're mature grown-ups, and marveling at Michigan's roadkill (too many raccoons and deer to count plus TWO wild turkeys!). Lowlights included a traffic jam for an invisible flipped truck before we even picked up Stark, a long detour before realizing that the GPS was sending us to Ottawa to avoid toll roads, the interstate we needed to be on literally not existing due to construction, and creating a time paradox (I mean, getting confused) when the GPS knew that Chicago is in a different time zone but we didn't.
In the end we arrived exactly 12 hours after leaving (objective time) and were very relieved to discover that the Chicago South Loop Hotel was precisely as advertised: free parking, free wifi, clean and pretty, and the staff were all very very nice ^_^ We took a quick walk around the area after settling in and ate at the only place we found: White Castle. Started to realize why the hotel was so affordable.
Friday (Day 1)
We started off our convention bright and (relatively) early with a photoshoot! The AnarCHris (of Chris and Carrie Creative) arranged for a Hawkeye-based cosplay group to get together for some fun photo times. CHris was Hawkguy, Allycat Alisha was Mockingbird, Pepperbots was Black Widow, I contributed Kate Bishop, and of course, that's Ragz as Wiccan and Stark as Deadpool/Iron Pool. Big thanks go to Eddie B Photos for taking the pictures!
After the shoot wrapped up we picked up our badges and headed to the show floor! Unfortunately the Canadian contingent managed to get separated from CHris within about 10 minutes of being in the exhibitors' area (which could only be the result of how busy and chaotic the place was, because it's actually difficult to lose someone as tall as CHris - see photos above XD). So we just wandered on our own, resisting the temptation to buy everything everywhere. We got stopped for lots of photos (Iron Pool especially was a big hit!) and I even saw someone with a super cute Katie-Kate shirt! (I regret not getting a photo with him) In the afternoon Mr Stark and I caught the Thrilling Adventure Hour Concert Film screening, which was pretty sweet. The brief Q&A with a lot of the main Workjuice Players was icing on the cake.
We had wanted to catch Adam WarRock in concert not to far from the hotel on Friday night, but exhaustion and a few other things conspired against us. Things like having an extremely difficult time getting a hold of some dinner, and having to evacuate the hotel for a possible fire somewhere on the second floor. In the rain. That was... fun? Not really. So that was lame - I had really wanted to see him live.
Saturday (Day 2)
This was the Crown Championships of Cosplay day, and a lot of my day was taken up with craftsmanship judging and photos and greenroom time and the actual show... but not quite the whole day. We stopped by the Marvel photo shoot in the cosplay lounge for a little bit and the guys hopped into some photos. I made sure to stop by the Image booth with Izabel, found a The Will cosplayer for a photo (unfortunately I didn't see any of the other Saga cosplayers who were around that day), and said hi to CHris and Carrie over at the Athena's Wink booth. And then costume touch-ups and back to the contest stuff.
Sunday (Day 3)
As the only day when none of us had any obligations in the morning, we all slept in. Very snooze, much yes, etc. When we did get moving, Stark and I went with our Viria13-Avatar costumes. I regret not getting a chance to do a test run of Zuko's scar before hand, but after just a couple of attempts I think I got something acceptable. It was barely visible under his wig and hood anyways, and at least now we know how to prepare for wearing them again at Anime North. Like, three people recognized us as our characters (though two of the three thought I was Azula, not Mai) so that's good I guess? In our relatively "comfortable" costumes, Sunday became designated shopping day while we picked up some things for ourselves, a couple of gifts for people at home, and too many (ha!) copies of Yaya Han's bodysuit pattern from the McCall's booth as requested by friends at home. The rest of the night was spent decompressing back at the hotel with some drinks, card games, Daredevil, and Game of Thrones.
Monday (Day 4?)
I had hoped that we could do some sightseeing before heading back home on Monday, but we were all pretty worn out from the weekend, and considering how long the drive to Chicago took, ultimately the decision was made just to drive back home. It was another long trip, though significantly shorter this time since we never got caught in traffic, construction, or headed the wrong way. Tried to turn roadkill-spotting into an actual game (especially in that apparent Michigan Kill-Zone), but nobody wanted to keep score. "No Stark, for the last time, we're not stopping at Lion's Den". And the last bit of geekery for the trip: getting Ragz hooked on Thrilling Adventure Hour on the ride home. It was pretty good driving entertainment ^_^
But tell us Mai Sheri, how did C2E2 measure up?
I had fun at the con. It was nice to see my AmeriCon friends and meet some new ones. There were a lot of cool guests and panels and meet-ups going on. Lots of fun, positive cosplayers, and if the exchange rate wasn't so bad, I would have come home with a LOT of books and merch. Unfortunately, a lot of other factors decreased my enjoyment a bit, mainly our issue with the hotel's location. It was the same distance from the convention as our hotel was from NYCC when Ragz and I were last there, so I thought it would be fine, but the big difference was that the NYC hotel was close to countless restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores, etc, while South Loop had nothing. So concerns about food and travel meant that I didn't do as much socializing as I would have liked, and that also contributed to missing some meets and panels I would have liked to have seen. As did the cosplay contest.... I'm used to giving up a lot of my Saturday if I'm competing in (or staffing) the masquerade, but this one was definitely the biggest time-sink so far.
I would like to return to C2E2 again... but I probably won't be back next year. Even though I had a great time at the con, I have a limited travel budget, and I think in 2016, I'd like to try somewhere new, once again ^_^
Amaterasu (Imperial) 84%