Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Year in Cosplay and Comic Cons Part Two

The Salvatorian Way
Etiquette is everything at the conventions or in other words "Cosplay is not Consent" that describes the major set of rules whenever you are participant in any con, but there are other implicit rules that you can learn with the experience.

As I mentioned in the last entry there is a lot to learn whenever you go to the cons, the first day can be extremely overwhelming as there is a sensory overload on everything, there is music as many guests like to play on the hallways if they don't interrupt certain panels, there are dance gatherings, cosplayers posing for photos (which this will be discussed later) hosts looking to attract people to their panels, etc... there is a lot to do all day long.

Planning ahead is the key, but also there has to be a moment of your day that you can dedicate to take photos of the cosplayers, is fun to see how much detail they invested but also how much they bring the essence of the character to life. Not long ago I overheard a friend of mine saying Sometimes studios should hire cosplayers, because they can recreate costumes better and they bring the characters to life better. In essence that became part of my motto when taking photos.

There is one social component that you have to know "conventions attract a lot of people, they are a safe heaven for many introverts (including myself), people within the spectrum, LGBT+, people with social anxiety and other psychological issues, I do not know how to say it properly but the most eloquent way I can express is "Conventions are places that have a demographic that pay to go to socialize, because they know they will feel safe, is a zone with no judgments and even if you see cosplayers that project certain aura with their costumes, please respect their personal spaces".

Whenever you are taking photos remember to say please and ask politely, if the cosplayer refuses keep walking because they deserve time for their privacy, it's easy to understand. Also remember there will be younger cosplayers that are accompanied by their parents or guardians, and always ask permission, because they as human beings also deserve their privacy to be respected as they want to enjoy the experience too.

I can't seriously offer any trick of getting a good casual, candid photography I used to master that skill a long time ago when I had to act as my crew when I was working in the media, but for every good photo there are at least a 100 bad ones. Whenever you are walking on the aisles of the convention as we mention before be polite to the cosplayers, say hello, ask how the initiate into cosplay, how they create or from what vendors they find their supplies? There are plenty of way to start a conversations and make friends with similar interests.

Vendor hall can be interesting, because usually at least on the Florida circuit it will contain the artist section and the autograph lane, it will be all together, sometimes it can get too crowded but you can find the best cosplayers roaming there, but be patient and let them do their business as they are there like you, to have fun.

Now that we are talking about photos and etiquette, I do follow a series of rules to navigate to any public event but I modified them whenever I am in the conventions, whenever I am looking for a photo I always try to look for any person who gets my attention (I do not go for people with no little to no clothing, is just one of my rules) but what gets my attention? A cosplayer who is having fun but also that captures the essence of the character.

On the last time I went to Metro Con there was an event of Boku No Hero, several cosplayers went as the characters but I only found one almost at a last moment on Saturday that got my attention, a young woman dressed as Inko Midoriya, between all the Deku's and the League of Villains, there was someone who got my attention because she captured the essence of the character. We have to think, conventions on a larger or medium scale they bring around 10 k people and that's on the busiest day that is Saturday, so trying to find Inko became an almost impossible feat.

After trying to find her for a few hours, I gave up and I decided to go to the autograph lane to try to get one or two before going to another panel, to my surprise Inko was walking near the line of the autographs and I knew I had to take the chance, I approached her and ask her as I ask everyone in the most polite way if I could get a photo, because I never saw anyone dressed as Inko less with the props she had which was a board saying Proud of My Son which also displayed several photos of Deku.

Going forward in time, a couple of days later thanks to the Facebook group and good social media skills between the participants, the photos of Inko where published and they were one of the most heartwarming photos I ever saw; she brought the character to life, she looked proud of the Deku's that where in the photo ops, I do not know how to describe it but it was one of those moments framed in time on why gatherings as comic cons are important, because they are spaces of self expression.

Another cosplayer who goes by The Salvatorian Way made a cosplay related to the Sponge Bob episode where he and Patrick sell chocolate to Mary and her mother; it was one of those cosplays as he said made with a tight budget but checking on social media it was a hit, nobody around the area has done something like that and it was extremely and creepy when he was asking for chocolate with Mary's Mother voice around the convention center.

Kurosaki as Deku
One of my biggest inspirations in the cosplayer circuit has been for over a year a woman named Kurosaki Cosplays, she and her troupe represent the kindness on how veterans receive newcomers as myself, besides my friend Kimmy who was the one who introduced me to the conventions, Kuro is one of those friends that through her account shows a detail on tutorials, convention life and photo ops.

Probably the first memory I have of Kurosaki is on how she made everyone feel welcome, and this is one of the photos I have that reflect the happiness.

Probably my main goal by going to the conventions became to celebrate the cosplayers, the freedom of every day life they represent but also the ability they have to unite people with their creations. In a year I had gathered for my personal use around 8,000 photos of the conventions I been, probably by next year that number will double.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Year in Cosplay and Comic Cons Part One

I haven't wrote too much lately; I been in the process of finding my own voice at a late age in life, for a long time I was having issues writing, creating content and drawing, I felt as if my voice was shut down after a long time but part of my soul and physical being were still active towards creating and interacting with other people.

My friend Kim, last year ask me probably for a fourth time if I wanted to go to Metro Con and as many times I replied "I'll think about it" after checking that two of my favorite musicians which are Caleb Hyles and Jonathan Young where invited I feel some regret that I didn't requested on time the days to go; but certain cosmic event the one who was my assistant manager which later became my manager ask me if I could switch with someone else my schedule, which let me had Saturday off.

Without hesitation, I said "yes!" I will take Saturday off and work the next day without any problem. As soon the schedule change happened I called Kim and explained that I was heading for the convention, it was going to be my first time officially and I was excited because I finally could see two of my favorite musicians but also to sit down and spend time with my friend.

On the way to Metro, I realized I forgot to ask her about parking space as I had no clue about that bare necessity that within Tampa is a privilege because it rains way too much and I ended up parking on a spot that cost me US$40 which I could had avoided if I knew I could park behind the hotels or in the convention center and the overall of the experience for the four days would had been US$40 and it would be under roof.

A year later, I finally took the time to explore the options through the website as every con offers information about parking spaces and they aren't expensive, but as a newbie I made the mistake on my first day towards finding parking; second, it wasn't difficult to navigate through the tickets and security check points, in fact it's quite straight forward but every single convention is different and if you buy the tickets in advance it can be annoying as well if there is a carryover promotion from one year to the other, because people who volunteer aren't properly trained to know what to do with certain sales.

One aspect, one important aspect you need to know is to bring money because if you want autographs, celebrities won't take credit card and a similar situation applies to the artists in the artist hall, where not all of them will take plastic; but the vendors they usually 99% have PayPal or any other similar form of payments such as Apple Pay. also some vendors they can hold your purchase before the vendor hall closes and you can retrieve it before you go home which is really convenient.

Food wise not all the convention centers offer the same variety, the Orlando Convention Center offers an amazing variety of food that is tasty and varied but opposite to the convention center in Tampa Bay, that the food options are extremely limited the people who are assisting should note what restaurants are near and if they will fulfill their dietary needs on site our outside.

A good thing about the two convention centers I mentioned is that they are located near different food establishments, as food on site can become a problem due the high prices they place to create a profit. Walking distance in Tampa is better because there are a lot of stuff around, while in Orlando walking near International Drive it will take a lot of your day and not even thinking about using Uber Eats or any other delivery service because that is an extra amount to your budget.

Set a budget if you go to the vendor's hall and artist alley, same with autographs, set a budget that is friendly to you, that you know you will have money to eat and pay for parking and won't screw you over until your next paycheck, which is important that you can enjoy your experience to the fullest.

Organizing your time is essential to enjoy the panels, as much of the panels are only an event for the day and that's it and they usually aren't repeated by the subsequent year, sometimes newer hosts go and panels that aren't that full tend to be the best ones on some cases as it leads the interactions better and you can learn about the culture and social norms that are within the conventions, but also to meet other nerds and make friends on the panels.

Lines can become ridiculously long, is also one reason I had avoided so badly doing photo ops as I feel I can lose some valuable time exploring other faces of the cons, albeit from friends that I made on the cons they mentioned that the photo ops are actually quite fast and whenever they are group photos they are even faster. Some of the things that bothered me but is understandable is the fees that are payed for the photo ops and selfies, they are negotiated by the celebrities and the agents.

Not all the guests charge for photos and autographs and also that depends on the convention, my experience with Metro Con and Mega Con was split, to explain better I will divide this with each con. Mega Con brings A-List to Central as well it has a section dedicated to content creators and cosplayers, regards is Mega Con Tampa or Orlando, in Mega Con the celebrities charge each for the autograph, now the tricky part comes to understand the rules some of the cosplayers who are invited charge for the photo as it part of their personal branding and it can go between US$10 to US$25 but they don't charge for the autographs, albeit more famous cosplayers i.e. Jessica Nigri or Yaya Han will also have package included within the photo ops.

Metro Con is far more interesting as is less celebrity oriented but more fan oriented, which it can be unique towards the experience. They also bring cosplayers, but they don't have a specific space as they are outside interacting with fans and they blend in, which you can be sitting anywhere and suddenly expect one of the cosplayers that are guests and throw a small show in the middle of the hallway. Also with Metro since it's more fan oriented you can get more merchandise related to the guest and even get autographs for free if you bring anything to sing, but I will continue talking about my experience in my first year as a con goer in an upcoming entry.