Sunday, May 17, 2009

Convention costumes

You're looking at something I used to mock. No, not girls. (Well, maybe in grade school.) Rather, girls -- and/or boys -- wearing superhero costumes at comic book conventions ("cons").

I've been attending cons off and on for the last 25 years. But only in the last 10 years or so have I seen this particular sartorial phenomenon.

And when I first saw it, I laughed. How silly, I thought, that anyone would take affection for a fictional character to such an extreme as to dress like him or her (or, in some instances, it). If I was with a brother or colleague, I'd deride them aloud (though quietly). Alone, I would silently chuckle.

But an odd thing happened since those first few years: I grew to enjoy the spectacle. Quite a bit, I might add.

Why? Because of my son. When I took him to his first big show, the costumed folks were one of the biggest attractions to him -- they were like tiny one- or two-person shows (the Storm Troopers especially like to wander in groups) at which he could marvel. This jolted me into seeing them with a fresh perspective. Suddenly, I no longer thought it was silly. In fact, I think there's some serious effort going on here.

It got so that I actually complained to one show's producer for relegating the costume contest to a back corner of the convention space without so much as a stage. Only people in the front row saw the costumes these folks busted their butts putting together.

Unfortunately, the costume contest is typically the Saturday of this Friday thru Sunday show, and I think I'm done with Saturdays. It's the biggest day of the event, drawing thousands upon thousands of fans from two countries and several states. My problem with that? It's the biggest day of the event, drawing thousands upon thousands of fans from two countries and several states. Sunday's out, too: even with hours to go on what is the event's final day, some vendors are already busy packing up. That's not worth a day's admission.

Which leaves Friday. I snapped the above pic on Friday, and if I hadn't cropped it, you'd be able to see actual aisles behind these gals. Not throngs of folks pushing and shoving -- although no one is rude about it; imagine cattle milling about and you'll get the idea -- but actual aisles. And you can speak to the guests without waiting in long lines. It's actually very nice.

But, again, fewer costumes. It's funny how I went from hating them to appreciating them so much that I'm disappointed I won't be seeing too much of them in the future. But the peace that comes from the relative paucity of thronging masses is too much to pass up. From now on, I'm a Friday guy.

A note about the above photo: as you can see by the name tags, these gals were probably paid to dress up and sit at a booth. I'm just using this image to give you the general idea of what many, many people do for free.