Island Elves and Avengers
A couple of weeks ago I hit up Centre Island for a cosplay picnic, and dragged along Mr Stark and Dan the Video Ninja as Hawkeye and The Hulk respectively. The island is one of my favourite places in Toronto and it was great to be back there once again with my friends. Here's a collection of photos from the day, mostly taken by Dan and I ^_^
Anime North 2016
Once again, Anime North happened. Once again, I was there.
I stopped by Thursday to pick up my badge and take advantage of the hotel being mostly empty to do a shoot with Dream Land Photography: another Kate Bishop-inspired outfit, this time because Lelola had given me an appropriate dress to use ^_^
Friday I wore my Flashback Tizzie (for the first time with the right necklace!!) and even though it was disgustingly hot, Dream Land once again made sure I look awesome in his photos. Once Kurumasha arrived we snagged some Rat Queens pics together at Cosplay for a Cure, and spent the rest of the evening wansing around the con looking for (and finding) friends.
Saturday I was very glad that I hadn’t planned to wear a wig with my Spirited Away costume because I probably would have ended up with heat stroke. I really have no idea how anyone in a big or elaborate costume survived the weekend! Walking back and forth between the hotel and the North building for the masq was hell. On the positive side, the bathhouse costumes that Kurumasha is 100% responsible for were great greenroom staff uniforms - she did an amazing job. The greenroom ran about as smoothly as it could this year, which was awesome. I hope we can only improve on that experience again next year! It was great getting to interact with the Novice competitors as I took them to workmanship judging; so proud of each and every one!
Sunday didn’t go as originally planned: I decided not to wear my wig with Alice because it was just too hot (only threw it on for a few photos), ended up behind the table at Cosplay for a Cure for a little while, lost the friends I was supposed to meet because my phone had no signal, etc. But I did at least manage to catch the masquerade awards to cheer on my friends and the novices that I met in the green room as they accepted their awards.
Overall it was a very, very positive weekend. In spite of the heat, in spite of a severe lack of sleep, in spite of sore feet and legs most of the time; I had a lot of fun seeing so many friends and so many good costumes. I pretty much got to spend the weekend with all my best friends (except for Mr Stark </3) and doing one of my favourite “jobs” working the greenroom. Even managed to get at least one shoot of each of my costumes this year, which is an accomplishment itself. Wish I had more time to shoot with people and socialize more, but the heat and my lack of phone signal really hurt that.
Selfie-con photos below - most are mine and the ones that aren't are noted ^_^
See you all again next year!
Assorted AN videos I snuck into!
And finally, I've updated my galleries with photos from Anime North: Hawkeye, Tizzie, Spirited Away, and Alice!
Ottawa Comic Con 2016
Second con in Ottawa in one year? What is this sorcery?!
Because I have a great affection for Kurumasha and was over-due for another convention road-trip with Ragz, I jumped at the chance to check out Ottawa Comic Con this year. I took on the “assistant director” position for the masquerade so my job was to keep Kurumasha sane throughout the weekend (or at least attempt to). Of course, that means I didn’t experience the convention like the average attendee, but it was still a good time.
It was great getting to meet more of the Ottawa-area locals as either entrants or den parents, as well as spending time with friends that I’ve been seeing at cons for years. I spent most of the weekend with Kurumasha; either in the Cosplay Lounge doing masquerade prep work, or backstage in the masq greenroom. I know there were a handful of disappointed cosplayers who weren’t able to enter due to the entry cap (it is a popular event!!), but otherwise everyone I interacted with was incredibly enthusiastic and positive and patient, which is really what I love to see at a masquerade. Even the audience was quite possibly the most enthusiastic I’ve ever seen, which is incredible.
Thankfully, the weekend wasn’t 100% work. I was able to spend enough time walking around the show floor to do some shopping (new mini POP vinyls and fun posters!), and to hang out and take Elfies with Rebecculous (and Sha), and even hop in front of Elemental’s camera backstage with Ragz and Logan (my Gravity Falls crew: let’s adopt Logan, Y/Y?), not to mention a couple of dinners with the Ottawa crew ^_^
I didn’t take many photos because I ended up being so occupied with work most of the weekend, but a small selection of my photos (plus a few more from others) is below!
And while I’m posting photos of Wendy Corduroy, how about some bonus photos? In April I shot her at Celebration Square with Dream Land Photography, and I also had some fun back in February with a thrown-together “Weirdmageddon” Wendy (worn with my friends’ assorted other Gravity Falls costumes) to watch the series finale. My Gravity Falls gallery has been updated with the new photos!
After lots of delays due to the spring con season, I'm back to catching up!
Considering how much cosplay was going on last October, I figured that the Halloween season deserved one of these backlog blog posts!
First up: Kitchener! Dan the Video Ninja joined Mr Stark and I for a couple of house parties thrown by our friends there! Stark debuted his “business Cooler” costume (and also his Gizmo kigu), Dan wore his Chain Chomp, and I chilled out in my sloth. Terrible photos were taken until I dropped and broke my camera :(
Next: Halloween night was spent at the Snailoween party being Team Hawkeye with Kurumasha! Also featuring: DarthMarySue’s Pirate, Jenny Jupiter’s Joker, and Dan’s Pterodactyl Jones. No prizes for us this time around, but we’re going to try harder next year ~_^
Civil War Geekery Con
The Geekery is a very geeky cafe/restaurant in Niagara Falls (Canada), and they like to host events for the community. This April I attended my first “Geekery Con”, and was honoured to have been invited as a cosplay guest!
I met soooo many new people at this con (I don’t know most of the Niagara Falls and Hamilton-area locals who were in attendance); cosplayers, photographers, and geeks in general. I didn’t have my own table (since I don’t sell anything), but I just hung around with the other cosplay guests and tried not to block traffic; it was a packed place! We did some fun photos on the cute Avengers backdrop, and I recorded my second interview for We Got The Geek Podcast, which you can listen to here!
I didn’t do any shopping (bad Jen!) but I did end up with a lovely thank-you gift/raffle prize of a print from Toy Bacon - if you’re aware of my affection for playing LEGO games, you know how perfect this is LOL. The mini-con wrapped up in the early evening, but I stuck around for a while longer to take over the dining area of The Geekery for Skyleaf’s birthday dinner! Eating with friends was a great way to end my day in Niagara Falls ^_^
Thanks to Candy Cosplay and crew for the carpool, and to Jason and the Geekery/We Got the Geek family for the invitation.
Hawks in the Park
I'm planning to go to my first cosplay picnic/meet-up of the year this weekend, so why not throw-back with photos from the High Park picnic last summer? I wore my "L.A. Woman" Kate Bishop costume, and put Mr Stark in my Clint gear to goof-off as Team Hawkeye for the afternoon. While the picnic itself was not really my scene, we did do a fun shoot with Elemental Photography. I've added photos to my Hawkeye gallery page, and some highlights are below ^_^
It's only mid-November, it's been a pretty mild fall so far, and I'm still already antsy for the return of summer! Since that's obviously not going to happen anytime soon, beach photos will have to do ~_^
Among the many, many small cosplay events I went to this year was the Toronto Cosplay Beach Party, and since I was on such a roll with making costumes, I figured I should put together a beach version of one of the my characters. Kurumasha suggested Kate Bishop, and that's the one that stuck since I already had a ton of purple spandex leftover from other projects.
I went to the beach party with Kia, The Video Ninja, Yavarice, and Ragz and we ended up accidentally ditching the actual "picnic" part of the event because when we arrived we just set up our blankets and umbrella on the beach! We still had a great time though, and managed to see most of our other friends out on the sand. I took a few photos, and The Video Ninja did a mini shoot with each of us, which was really nice. There were lots of photographers and videographers there, and I even ended up in the videos from Sean Ward and The Canadian Nerd! My event photos and those videos are below ^_^
And with this little event-report, finally my Hawkini gallery has been updated with photos! Click here for all the photos or more info about the suit itself!
Working on my back-log of cosplay photos, and I'm long over-due for another photo post! Way back in June I shot Kate Bishop with fantastic photographer Elemental at Niagara Falls Comic Con, and I've finally added my favourite shots to my Hawkeye gallery. It was really difficult to choose what to post from this set - I love them all. Bonus points to Ragz Cosplay joining in for the goofy pics ~_^
Centre Island 2015
I have attended a cosplay picnic at Toronto Centre Island almost every summer since I started cosplaying, and this year was no different. The island is a pretty versatile location for photos between the parks, gardens, beaches, fountains, midway/rides, and petting zoo... and I just think it's an enjoyable place to spend the day!
I feel like I ended up going a little overboard this year though, since I doubled-up on costumes for the first time, and ended up booking 3 shoots as well. I won't normally book more than one shoot per convention/event, mostly for budget reasons, but also because I stress out trying to make sure I have enough time for everything, especially at the island where some travel is involved. In the end, I wore Cersei (got first stage of embroidery - sleeves - done just in time) and then L.A. Woman Kate Bishop, because I figured that Cersei would be too hot to comfortably wear all day, and I was right. In Cersei I shot with Alex Rose in one of the gardens, with SleepyMeow at the hedge maze, and snagged some nice unplanned photos with The Video Ninja, Everage, Very Frank, Joe's Garage, and ZombieKat89 before changing into the very comfortable Kate Bishop outfit.
I hadn't planned on actually getting photos in Kate, since it's a very casual costume I only brought to be comfy while still cosplaying, but luckily for me the timing worked out for my shoot with Burditt, and I also got to shoot again with Paul Hillier and Everage.
Both my Cersei gallery and my Hawkeye gallery have been updated with some of my favourite photos from the event, but the gallery below includes a lot more of the fun shots from the day ^_^
Fan Ex: a very unusual con report
Here's the thing about Fan Expo. I went every year from 2005 to 2010. But I was less and less engaged with the con every year, and the admission prices kept going up, and after the really really terribly managed crowding and lock-out problems of 2010 I decided that it really wasn't worth my time or money and I wasn't going to go anymore.
So what changed this year? Well, the biggest thing was that Mr Stark had arranged to be a "booth babe" for an artist at the con, and when your boyfriend is going to be spending four days at a local event and staying at your place, it's hard to say "I won't be there at all". In addition to that, I had also heard many times that the organizers have made a lot of improvements since 2010 (and the company is also under new management) so I thought I would give it another chance. However, I still wasn't willing to shell out the kind of money they were charging for badges, so I asked around for a volunteer position and ended up being a handler for The Cosplay Scion in exchange for my weekend badge. Which meant, for the most part, sitting at her table while she was doing her cosplay panels.
I ended up having a very unusual convention experience (for me) as a result, since Lee Scion's table was in the "Cosplay Corner", which was a row of tables for most of the convention's cosplay guests* to sell prints, sign autographs, and meet fans. Up until that weekend, I'd been abstractly aware of the "celebrity cosplayer" business model, but I'd never seen it up close and for extended periods before. I have many friends who do guest spots at conventions and who sell prints, but the women at these tables were on a whole other level. There are a lot of different ways and reasons to cosplay, and I always try very hard not to judge or dismiss others who do it differently than I do. The cosplay guests around me were all clearly fans themselves: they all looked awesome and represented a variety of interests, and they all work hard at what they do. The ones I spoke to were fun and kind. Regardless, when the reason for having a table at a con is to make money (aka almost all the time), you have to offer what customers want, and it was very clear what is popular with the general convention attendee when it comes to cosplayers - traditionally attractive women in sexualized costumes (preferably popular characters) who sell pin-up prints. As someone who cosplays "obscure" characters and (generally) not-terribly-revealing designs, I sometimes feel like I have to fight to get photos of my work, or to find other people who share my fandom. So it was a little disheartening to see just how popular the cosplay guests all were, many with long lines in front of their tables for most of each day. People wanted their photos with these women, wanted to buy posters of them to have signed, wanted to flirt. Some local con photographers were just about falling over themselves to take photos at their tables, and hung around for an uncomfortably long time if there wasn't a line to see someone.
Now I'm not going to say that these successful celebrity cosplayers are doing anything wrong - they're clearly doing alright for themselves, and since they're not hurting anyone I certainly can't blame them for making money doing something they love, as most people don’t get that opportunity. Nor am I jealous of their popularity - at least not in the sense that I want to be in their place, because I definitely don't. But it certainly makes a statement about how the hobby has evolved in recent years, especially with the increase in attention from mainstream media and culture. The women at the tables were not the “best” cosplayers in the building, nor--with a few exceptions--did they contribute to the cosplay community in terms of teaching panels or running events. It makes me sad to know that there are amazingly talented people who are "unknowns" and constantly passed over simply because they don't have "cosplay fame"; that is, because they haven't (or don't want to) figure out the magic formula of self-promotion + popular characters + sex appeal.
I think this got away from me a little bit there... back on track.
Anyways, seeing all this really got me thinking about who gets recognition for their hard work at a con these days. Mostly by accident, I conducted a very small social experiment on Saturday and Sunday to gather some anecdotal evidence. I had decided to cosplay from Hawkeye all weekend - Cover Kate Bishop on Friday, Clint Barton on Saturday, and L.A. Kate on Sunday. My Clint costume is very simple - t-shirt and jeans, a wig, makeup (and bandages), and shades. L.A. Kate is also very simple - tank top and shorts, a wig, makeup, and shades. Both costumes are "closet cosplay" - nothing custom made. Both costumes use the same bow and quiver props. Both designs are from the same book so they should be equally recognizable (well, Kate is at a disadvantage there, since Clint's costume is also used in other Avengers books). Finally, I spent approximately the same amount of time walking around the con, both buildings, in each costume. The difference: Clint is a dude and is fully covered. Kate is a girl in short-shorts and loose tank. The experiment: simply counting photo requests. I got stopped and asked for photos eight times more as Kate than as Clint. Eight. Times. That can't just be me. It's like if you don't fit the mould of the pin-up cosplay celebrities signing autographs, you become more and more invisible. The culture has shifted in such a way that Average Joe Attendee cares about taking photos of people they find attractive, not characters they like or amazing craftsmanship.
My friend and author Derwin Mak, who has been attending fan conventions almost as long as I've been alive, not only pointed out this trend in conversation during Fan Expo this year, he named it: they are "fake geek boys". The guys who go to conventions to take photos, and post galleries which are entirely or almost entirely women. The guys who go so far as to ask male members of a cosplay group to move out of their shot. The guys who are clearly only there to fulfill their hetero fantasies as opposed to actually caring about whichever fandom is relevant because if they were, they'd be taking photos of everyone, not just the girls.
So what? People are allowed to take photos of whatever they like, right? Of course - it's an issue though when it's not just a couple people, but the new cultural norm; not only just seeing cosplayers as sexy models (I had a few conversations over the weekend with people who didn’t understand that most cosplayers there were enthusiastic fans and not hired models), but also only seeing cosplayers as female. I was telling a guy friend about the results of my Fan Ex experiment when I got home, and he told me that ‘knowing he would probably be ignored after putting all the effort into making/wearing a costume’ is a huge reason that he hasn't gotten into the hobby, despite being a regular convention attendee. Heck, Men vs Cosplay, a group which promotes and supports male cosplayers, was started after the founders kept hearing ‘I want to cosplay but think I shouldn't; it's a girls' hobby’ from dudes at conventions. While it's awesome that so many talented women have seen success being professional cosplayers in recent years, men who cosplay have been becoming less visible and what I see now is a feedback loop of guys being discouraged from joining the hobby because all they see are women.
Sorry guys, I just have a lot of feelings - not about how people cosplay, but about what types have become hugely popular and why.
Despite the wall of text above, I had a good (if surreal) time at Fan Ex. I did a mini shoot with Nathan Dunham in my Clint cosplay, I did an interview for the We Got the Geek podcast, I did a little shopping at BMV, Dotsy's, and Cakes Cove. I saw friends at Lee’s table, as well as when I invaded the masquerade greenroom and almost ended up working backstage. I tried a pulled pork parfait, and got to watch Hayley Atwell's Q&A at the end of the weekend. I saw the convention from a different angle (quite literally). And in the end, other life obligations got in the way and Mr Stark wasn't even able to attend. Would I go back again? Sure... but I still wouldn't pay for a badge. Volunteer or bust!
Enjoy some photos from the con ^_^
*since "Toronto Batman" was the only male in the group (and he was there to be a public spectacle, not to make sales) the rest of the discussion refers to the female cosplay guests