It might be preemptive to call CC35 the convention highlight of my year, but it might well have been. Because, while I didn’t get to attend nearly as many panels as I would have liked, or eat and sleep well, or take almost any photos… I managed to finish all my projects on time, enter not one but TWO contests, and run an imperfect but apparently successful panel/demo. And, as always, spend 4 days with my cosplay fam.
We arrived Thursday evening to have time to chill and prep for an early start on Friday. I didn’t cosplay during the day on Friday to save my energy (and outfit reveal) for the evening. I did hit up a couple of panels though, including the always entertaining “Costume Horror Stories” and “Vinyl Cutting” (the latter of which wasn’t relevant to my budget but was interesting as a higher-tech version of my own Freezer Paper demo). Then it was time to prep for the Single Pattern Contest.
My entry for the contest was using the coat pattern option (#M7025), and even though the “costume” was just the coat, I had decided to do some character and runway appropriate(?) hair and makeup which was time-consuming (but worth it). Luckily I still got to the greenroom on time and judging/photos went smoothly. I was really impressed by how elaborate some of the Single Pattern entries were, and was feeling pretty intimidated considering that my own coat felt very simple or too close to the original design once I could check out everyone else’s projects. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was thrilled to see someone else had picked a Marvel character for their inspiration - check out this Loki Coat!
In the end the runway/stage section went smoothly, although I had a hard time hearing the MC and could definitely have timed the “reveal” of my coat’s lining better. Regardless, it was fun and a nice relatively chill warm-up event before the Sci-Fi masquerade. And…. [drumroll, please]..... I won best coat!!! I was really, really shocked considering what everyone else had brought to the contest. I got to bask in the crowd admiration (hahaha) with friends briefly at the social before it was time to pick up Mr Stark and Little Stark and get them checked in to the hotel. We went back to the party, but sadly it was pretty empty by that point in the night.
On Saturday I had a similar plan to Friday - casual wear during the day (this time my twitch-quality Link cosplay) to get me through masquerade tech rehearsal and any panels I wanted to go to before changing for the sci-fi masquerade in the evening. In the end I spent the afternoon socializing and instead of going to panels, but nothing wrong with that. I got into costume a little earlier than greenroom call time to shoot with Dream Land Photography so I have some great photos of the finally-complete Cersei!!!
The masquerade greenroom was chaotic but ultimately everything got sorted out, as it always does. One of the cool things about Costume Con is that very few masquerade entrants are first-timers, so just about everyone knows the greenroom drill. I have to admit that workmanship judging was nerve-wracking, not only because this is Costume-Con, but because the judges really really had their game-faces on and when they didn’t seem impressed by what I thought were the best parts of my costume I panicked just a little. At least the stage portion went smoothly - better than I had expected (especially since I was shocked to discover that I would be entry #5 which meant that I didn’t have as much time to practice as I had assumed). The audience reacted well, and I could hear laughing as soon as the second track kicked in, so that was a big relief that at least some of the crowd knew the song well enough to know where it was going. So without further ado, my masquerade entry “Set the World on Wildfire” (video courtesy of Dan The Video Ninja, as usual).
Luckily, since I was so early in the show, I was able to join the Starks in the audience to watch the rest of the show! That never happens! Once the show was over I joined the line to return to the stage for photo ops, though this time I was at the end of the line (probably because I was coming from the audience instead of the greenroom hahahaha. Once that was done, I ended up chatting with a bunch of people in the hallway about my costume while waiting for the awards announcement. And at the awards…. I WON TWO! “Honourable Mention for Fabric Painting” in workmanship, and “Future Arsonist” award for stage!!! I felt so validated in terms of the hundreds of hours I put into painting, especially since the judges hadn’t seemed to like it at the time. I also hadn’t realized until the awards that one of the workmanship judges is the head of the ICG >_> oops/yay?
On Sunday Little Stark and I both dressed up as Ghostbusters, though sadly we didn’t get to actually spend a lot of time together clearing the hotel of spooks and spectres. I stopped by the Future Fashion Folio to see what people had made, and then took my Cersei dress and belt to the masquerade show and tell panel (where I got to hear praise from the judges so that was nice), and after that the rest of the afternoon was spent preparing for my stencil demo in the last panel time slot of the day.
As for that demo… we started late because the panel ahead ran long, and I’ve never tried to do a stencil in an hour before (the fastest I have done *without* teaching/answering questions is 90 min) so I tried to have as much pre-traced and pre-cut as possible. And while only half the shirt actually got painted I think that I effectively demonstrated the technique, and with minimal derailment. Unfortunately, I hadn’t actually downloaded my photo references to my computer and poor Kurumasha was left with the futile task of trying to get my laptop to connect to the hotel wifi so I could show other examples… and it never did. I felt worse knowing that the wifi had been working right outside the room in the hallway as I did my prep work. In any case, big props to her for trying anyways and helping out where she could. The demo had a full room and everyone seemed to take something away from it.
After that the evening was chill - I watched the Historical Masquerade for the first time and was happy to cheer on my friends who went on stage! I’m also glad to have a much better idea of what is expected of a Historical Masquerade entry now, just in case I ever decide to finish my “in progress” period costume and want to compete at CC38, (which will be in Montreal, as was announced after the show Sunday night! Yes, I have already bought my membership). The night wrapped up with a late but delicious sushi dinner and discussions about fandom, con-running, life, the universe, and everything late into the night.
I didn't get up to any convention activities on Monday - just packing up and saying our goodbyes and being unsure as to how I accumulated so many ribbons over <72 hours.
July and August have been so busy. All summer I’ve been riding the work-sew-sleep-repeat-cosplay cycle and I’m really, really surprised that I haven’t burnt out yet. I have, however, pretty much run out of time for writing blogs and posting photos from all these events! I thought that I would have plenty of time for all that online stuff after Otakuthon; after all, I didn’t have any more conventions scheduled for the rest of the year. Then an opportunity to go to Fan Expo came my way, and I got invited to a bunch of smaller events, and this whole hot mess of a convention year is going to keep going!
In addition to Fan Ex (which I’m trying to give another chance - I haven’t been back since the 2010 debacle), I’m also going to be doing the Parkinson Superwalk (in Brampton) in costume with a few friends [if you feel like sponsoring me with a donation to Parkinson Society Canada drop me a line], I’m considering attending the Niagara Wine Festival with Cosplay for a Cure (I just have to figure out transportation), and I’m also planning to check out Forest City Comicon pretty much entirely because I really admire Twinzik’s work and we don’t normally run the same convention circuit so I’m jumping at the chance to meet them ^_^
Anyways, moving forward from future plans to looking back to last month’s last event: ConBravo!
Like almost every con I attend, I feel like I missed out on a lot of interesting panels and events at Bravo. But at least I got lots of cosplaying in, especially doing the Needle Panic™ thing with Kurumasha! On Friday I pulled a serious “surprise” costume by doing my first crossplay since 2006. Kurumasha was going to wear Kate Bishop at the con, and I thought "while double-Kate is fun, it would be nicer if we had Clint-and Kate", so when I realized I could pull off a closet cosplay Clint for less than $5 the decision was made. I’d only told Sha (because cos-partner) and Mr Stark (because partner-partner and I wanted to borrow mens pants) and I’d say that the costume was quite successful in terms of being a disguise. I confused a lot of friends who didn’t recognize me until I smiled at them or started talking! We ended up only managing to catch the end of the fabric swap and have some photos done at the Cosplay for a Cure booth before having a late dinner and chilling at the hotel for the night, but I had a lot of fun :D
Saturday started with a field trip - Needle Panic™ took a walking tour from the convention, up a hell of a lot of stairs that we wish Google had warned up about, to our destination of Ann’s Fabric Shop, where we had a ball looking at alllllll the pretty fabric and trying to buy only a reasonable amount. In the end I got everything I need for a Captain Marvel costume, as well as a very pretty piece of chiffon for a different Captain Marvel costume (can you tell how much I’ve gotten into a few Marvel comics this year?). Unfortunately once we got back, it took so long to get into costume and makeup for our Postal Warriors masquerade entry that we just had to go straight to the greenroom for show prep and judging. Not too much of note about the masquerade itself… aside from disagreeing strongly with a couple of the greenroom rules (no practicing, no leaving) it was a pretty standard masq. Here’s video of the whole thing! The video below is just our entry, “Going Postal”!
We wandered the con for a little while after the show since we put so much effort into getting dressed and needed more time to enjoy wearing the costumes. Ran into Paul Hillier and got this sweet pic that I love ^_^ After dinner was just hangout in our hotel room with friends, because we had a kickass suite and know awesome people.
Sunday was the first time I actually got to hangout with Mr Stark all weekend! And I got to see the con in general! I threw on my super comfy “L.A. Woman" Kate costume and Sha and I bummed around the hallways and dealers room. I picked up a cute Hawkguy pendant from JellySquid Crafts in the Artist Alley, and a sweet custom Midna shirt from Chop Shop Goods. I learned that ProJared is a Hawkguy fan, and did a fun, goofy photoshoot with old and new friends at the Cosplay for a Cure booth ^_^. My day wrapped up with an invitation to run backup for Kudrel on her “Horns, Helmets, and Headdresses” cosplay panel! I love doing panels at cons but haven’t been on any lately because I can’t really keep up with new materials and techniques, so it was great to have been invited to join her ^_^
I helped Cosplay for a Cure with some of their tear-down and stuck around to have a really nice sushi dinner with the “Cure” ladies before hitching a ride back to Toronto. Overall it was a pretty good weekend, and I’m really glad I got the chance to hang out and cosplay with Kurumasha so much because we don’t get that many opportunities. I only had my camera with me on Sunday, and I was a little brain-dead by then,so photos for the weekend are a pretty slim selection; but here's the rest of my photos!
Special bonus content: Dan the Video Ninja's weekend retrospective, in which he managed to catch me in all three of my costumes ^_^
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.
Another year, another Ad-Astra. My ninth time attending; their thirty-fourth year running! Which I really only mention because it makes me a little sad that so few of my convention-friends have even heard of Ad-Astra, and many have asked me if it's a new convention. Despite its small size and relatively low attendance, I like Ad-Astra. I got to know most of my good friends because of this con, I entered my first masquerade (and won my first award!) at Ad-Astra, and I've learned more in the cumulative cosplay panels I've attended there than anywhere else*. I really hope that more costumers start attending (or go back) in the coming years.
So here's my quick con report, with a photo gallery below ^_^
Friday I dressed as Gabriel, for what is probably the final time. (I would like to keep cosplaying Gabe, especially with the renewed interested generated by the Constantine show, but the costume is old, doesn't fit anymore, and Gabe's wing stumps need to be entirely replaced after what I put them through) Most of the evening was spent hanging around the hotel lobby, waiting for Calamity and Kurumasha to arrive so we could check-in, and then waiting for Elemental to finish her Thermoplastics panel, then foraging for dinner. But then, then... it was time. Time to put Gabriel in a pool. Time for the photoshoot that I've been waiting to do since 2007 (no, seriously, look at this: me complaining that I missed my chance eight years ago), and which Elemental has wanted to shoot with me for almost as long. We were fortunate with our timing in that the kids cleared out just as the lighting was set up, and nobody kicked me out XD. Looks like Elemental got some great shots, Toast was assisting with lighting and grabbed my BTS pics, and I can't wait to post the new images when they're ready!!!
Sunday was a little rough around the edges - not enough sleep plus check-out plus masquerade awards at 10am (are you getting that I'm not a morning person?) but I was eventually vertical and presentable by 11:00 and we even checked out around noon XD But the day still went well - I wore Kate Bishop again, and this time with the "right" makeup XD, won an Honourable Mention for Izabel ( the "You got guts, gurl" award XD) from the masquerade, got rid of some ribbon and buttons at the cosplay swap meet, had a nice lunch with friends, and attended the Cheats, Tricks, and Illusions for Costumes and Props and Mascots and Big Costumes panels, both of which had some very interesting little tidbits for me to take home for my own projects.THe whole day wrapped up with a long chat with Jen and Dawn about conventions, masquerades, and costuming in general.
Saturday was unusual for me in that I actually wore two costumes in one day! Since I was planning to enter Izabel in the masquerade, but didn't want to deal with the makeup all day, I decided to just wear Kate Bishop for the first half of the day instead of just dressing "civilian". Kate"s "costume" is mostly street-clothes as it is so the plan worked out well... except that I couldn't put on my usual fashion makeup because it would mess with my facepaint for Izabel. So I feel like my face was very under-dressed for cosplay, especially when next to Kurumasha who was in full Hawkeye and looking awesome, Bro. Team Katie-Kate play-tested Exploding Kittens in the game room as part of International TableTop Day and I had a lot of fun with that. I didn't back the Kickstarter, but I'll very likely be picking up the game once it gets a major release. Big ups to our other players Jon, Jon, and Mike :)
As green-room time approached I ran off to pink-ify myself for the masquerade, and this time I timed myself. Two hours to fully get into makeup and costume on Izabel. I might be able to shave that down a little with having my supplies better organized, but there are so many little fiddly things to take care of, that it won't make a big difference. Which means I'm going to be dealing with a hell of an early morning for the Cosplay Championships at C2E2. UUUGGHHHH. Anyways, the Ad-Astra masquerade ran well. Very small (only 11 entries including 2 "young fans") but with Dart, Jayuna, Kurumasha, Sarcasm-Hime, and I all at Master level I think we put on a good show for the audience at least. Even though there weren't many entries, the audience was still full! I ended up with footage of myself, Jayuna and Kurumasha, so I'll share them with they make it to YouTube. I was really hoping to hit up the dance or at least one room party after the masquerade, but instead er ended up hosting most of our friends in our hotel room just hanging out and chatting until finally a decision was made to get dinner around 11. No energy left for partying when you don't get back to the hotel until 1:30 and still have to remove all that pink makeup!
* Costume Con might have beaten it, but I managed to attend almost no panels there so... oops. >_>
My plan to start 2013 off on the right foot by posting more blog and updating more regularly is not going as well as I planned since it's already February, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.
First off, appearances around the web!
In other web-based news, I have posted 2 new videos this week - one is a blooper reel from the vlogs did with the Video Ninja in 2012, and the other is a video of the masquerade entry Kurumasha and I did at G-Anime last weekend. They're both pretty entertaining, in my humble opinion, which means that videos or the rest of the year are only going to go downhill LOL
My friends over at WE Tangent produced a musical based on NaNoWriMo in the fall, and if you haven't seen it or heard of it yet (and you're into that kind of thing) you should check the whole thing out over at nanomusical.com
I make appearances as an extra at the kick-off party in Episode 1 and at the TGIO party in Episode 6. I dance. It's special ;)
Sam Sparks 55%