Comic Conventions

Salt Lake Comic Con Part 3: Chris Evans and this Con was special to me.

In the time I’ve been attending comic conventions, I’ve only ever gotten one photo op with a celebrity.  It was last year with Eliza Dushku, someone I have been a fan of for years.  I usually go to conventions to show off my cosplay and network with other writers and artists, as well as check out panels on writing.

This year, I had amazing friends who let me jump in on their photo op with Chris Evans.  I also was lucky enough to attend his panel.  I am a huge fan of Captain America, both in the comics and in the movies, so it was an amazing experience to fill my Saturday with these events.

Salt Lake Comic Con held a lottery for tickets to the panel.  My husband and I won one entry between us, and he was happy to let me go and see one of my favorite actors.  I know a lot of people were frustrated with the lottery system, but it I think it was better than many people camping all night and from what I heard all of the people who joined the standby line were able to get in.  Also, gracious fans that were not going to use their tickets were all over the SLCC Facebook page ready to share and trade their tickets, for free (one person did attempt to sell their pass, but they were quickly set upon by a horde of people telling them how rude that was).

Chris discussed both the movies and his issues with anxiety.  My favorite thing he mentioned was focusing on gratitude and being thankful for the things you have.  He also spoke about quieting your mind and taking time each day to do so.  As someone with anxiety, it was amazing to hear him share some of his struggles and triumphs.  It also made meeting him for a few moments later in the day all that special.  When I said “Thank you so much” for the photo op, he replied with “Thank you” as well with a smile on his face.  His sincerity was very touching.

I got to spend a lot of my time at this convention with new friends and some old friends.  Honestly, that is what made it so much fun for me.  Connecting with people.  I recognized a Kate Bishop cosplay and she immediately ran up and hugged me.  Because the convention was better organized and overall better done than the previous two years, I think it made for an easy way to have fun.  Each day was a blast and I could not of had more fun.  

I’ve seen posts complaining about lines and crowds, but any time you have an event with literally a hundred thousand people, these issues are going to arise.  Try to keep a good attitude, bring some friends with you, and just have a blast.  

I would absolutely recommend this convention if you are looking to attend a larger convention with a focus on pop culture.  They don’t have quite the emphasis on actual comic books (Writers, artists, etc) that I have seen at other cons, so I may not attend for that, but they do have a wonderful Artist Alley section filled with people either in the industry or trying to break in.

What was your favorite thing about the convention if you attended?  Is there anything else you’d like to know about it?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to provide you with anymore info I have.

Comic Conventions

Salt Lake Comic Con Part 2: Cosplay Experience and Tips.

IMG_2706Each year, Salt Lake Comic Con is a little like Christmas for me when it comes to cosplay.  I’m both Santa and the little kid getting the presents.  I spend months working on costumes for my husband and I, and then we get to debut them.  This year was a little different because we also participated in the Cosplay Contest with a group of friends.  Here are some tips if you’re cosplaying a large convention for the first time, things that I have learned along the way.

People may try to take your picture.   If you see them trying to snap a shot, tell them you’re totally willing to pose for them.  This gives them a better picture and hopefully you’ll find it later and be able to see how awesome you looked.  I’ve noticed more so at Salt Lake Comic Con than other conventions I attend, people may not ask you to take your picture.  They may do it when you’re eating, or waiting in line.  If you see them, just ask if you can pose.  I do not think most of these people are attempting to be rude or snap a sneak shot, they just don’t realize the etiquette involved.

People may not try to take your picture.  When my husband I dress up as characters from the Marvel Movies, we often get stopped a lot.  When we dress up as our favorites from the comics, sometimes we don’t get stopped at all.  My husband has a Captain America costume that is very popular, and sometimes they will ask for a picture of just him and not me.  Everyone likes different things and it’s good to remember that cosplay is about your love for the character.  Even if not a single person knows who you are, try to have fun with it.

Try not to take pictures in crowded areas.  We often get stopped in the middle of the floor, as we are walking to and from our destinations.  I always try to say “Hey, can we go over there?” or “Can we swing to the side?” so that we aren’t blocking the flow of traffic.  9 times of 10 the person is happy to move a little as long as they get the picture.  It keeps things moving and doesn’t cause a traffic jam.

Plan ahead and plan that part of your costume will break or you something will go wrong.  I bring a little repair kit in case of emergency.  It has moleskin, bandaids, super glue, string, stain wipes and several other things I might need.  In the middle of the con, my husband’s boots started to break.  We were able to use super glue to save them and get them through the con.  Salt Lake Comic Con actually has a costume repair booth, which I utilized on the second day.  My red Fedora kept falling off.  They helped me hot glue in loops so I could bobby pin it to my wig.  It was a life saver.  I definitely would have lost my hat without their help.

I also brought flip flops so I could pull off my cosplay shoes whenever I needed to move or at the end of the day.  One thing to be careful with:  If your feet are swelling from all the walking, you may not want to take your cosplay shoes off.  Your feet can swell enough that your shoes will no longer fit.  Plan ahead and get comfortable shoes (I use gel inserts and other helpful things for comfort and to prevent rubbing) because if your feet are done at Comic Con, you might be done too.

Lastly, consider entering the cosplay contest.  But also be aware that it will take up a chunk of your time.  They had pre-judging a week before the contest, which would certainly save you some time on Saturday.  We attended judging the day of, so that took up some of our time.  From there, most of our evening was taken up by the contest, since we found out we were lucky enough to make it in.  Just try to have fun with the contest.  I had a lot more fun just enjoying being on stage and enjoying seeing the amazing costumes up close, than I would have if I stressed over winning.

What about you?  Any tips you would share with cosplayers about this and other conventions?  Please leave them in the comments below!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Part 3 is going to be full of a lot of Chris Evans and what made Comic Con special for me this time around.  See you then!

Comic Conventions

Salt Lake Comic Con Part 1: Lines and Vendor Hall Tips

I’ve attended every Salt Lake Comic Con since they began three years ago, each one had its issues, but I can definitely say that this year was the best so far.  Not only due to the guests, but also due to the organization of lines and such.   My husband and I have tried to get down early on Wednesday night so we could register our passes, but this year that was not necessary as they had wrist bands we could pre-register.  Coming from out of state, this was a huge benefit.

The only snafu we faced was on the first day, when the volunteers had our line for VIP/Gold move forward and then opened doors behind us, causing many people pretty far behind us to rush the doors.  It truth, it probably only cost us a couple of minutes, but was still a little frustrating.

I think the thing that truly helps the most in times like this is a positive attitude.  Comic Conventions are a busy place  filled with lots and lots of people.  Unless the error is truly bad, I try to give the volunteers some slack, they are doing the best they can.

If you want to see areas like Artist Alley and the Vendors, I would recommend getting at least a Gold pass.  It’s not much more than the multi-pass and you get on the floor an hour earlier than General Admission.  We were able to walk through Artist Alley, say “Hi” to my artist friends and buy prints and souvenirs before the floor got too crowded.

I would also leave some things for the second day.  The first day everything is shiny and new and everyone rushes to get to it.  Unless you want something that might sell out, take your time.  Lines for the vendors and such were actually a bit smaller on Friday.  The Funko Pop booth had a huge line the first day for the limited edition stuff they were selling, but my husband and I waited until the second day to go through that line and waited only 5 minutes.  I got my Black Widow doll and got out of there pretty quickly.

If you are buying prints, keep an eye out for the protective case booths.  They aren’t too expensive and they give you piece of mind that the awesome piece you just bought isn’t going to be destroyed as you try to get it through the con and to the car.  I did not buy them for my art the first few conventions I attended, and I regret it.  Too many times something go bent or broken.

You can only attend one day?  Go on Friday.  Each year I think that Thursday will probably be the most calm of the days, and each year Friday seems to be.  I think that most people think that the first day of the con will be quiet, so they get passes for that day.  The other advantage to attending on Friday is that many of the celebrities, vendors and artists are there.  Salt Lake is a bit different than most other cons that run Friday-Sunday, so sometimes Celebs do not get until Friday.

Did you go?  Do you have any awesome advice you would like to share? Please do!  I’d love to hear your comments!

My next post will be about Cosplay at the Con and my tips and tricks.

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Denver Comic Con, Part 1: The Panels

I’m home from Denver Comic Con!  And now it’s time to share with you what awesome things happened and what I learned.

Even though this post is about panels, here’s one of the awesome cosplay shots I got from the convention:

Credit to dashboardmessages.blogspot.com for taking this great photo!

So I got brave and I took business cards.  I only handed out three, but hey, it was more than I’ve done in the past so I’m counting it as a win.  I met some of my favorite creators and I cosplayed.  All in all it was just a great experience.

I attended quite a few panels this time:

– WOMEN IN COMICS NOW!

WITH ACTUAL WOMEN!! So this was a flash panel put together in 24hrs, and presented on Monday.  It was done in response to a panel done on Saturday that was called “Women in Comics” and only involved men, none of which were actual comic creators.  I’ve seen a few people go “Well, one of them was a professor and he was recounting comic history which he’s an expert in.” but TRINA ROBBINS was upstairs and literally she is a comics historian who is THE expert on women in comics and a comic creator.  All they had to do was walk upstairs and ask her to appear.

Instead, they apparently did a lot of mansplaining.

But the panel with the actual women was fantastic. It featured Trina, Amanda Conner, Joelle Jones, Marguerite Bennett, Hannah Means-Shannon of Bleeding Cool and two more women who sadly I did not write their names down, but were awesome!   Crystal Skillman put the whole thing together and I am so glad she did.

They talked about how “What’s it like being a woman in comics” is a level 101 question and how they wish people that interview them would dig deeper.  I can’t relate on a creator level, but I can relate to the fact that I am exhausted with being asked why I like geeky things, or treated like I must be new to them.  Nah, I’ve been here.  Even if I hadn’t been, you don’t get to gate keep me.  Marguerite was absolutely inspiring to me more than once.  I’m sort of new to her work, but she talked about how sometimes she writes from a place of revenge, or to give girls a role-model or a hero.

She also mentioned a time when she went to a writing summit and was the only woman among 29 men, and how that felt, and how she didn’t want her nieces and the little girls she knew to have to go through that.  It resonated with me so much, because it is very much in line with what I’ve felt about the work I want to do in this world.

Trina Robbins was amazing.  You could feel her fire and her fury and it was also very inspiring.

Amanda Conner has also convinced me to check out Harley Quinn again, because she spoke about how the new comic is about more than her being just “Joker’s Girlfriend.”  I’m a HUGE Harley fan, but in recent years, I got a bit frustrated about her being defined by the men in her life, and it was nice to hear that it sounds like she has gotten away from that.  I can’t wait to pick up the series.

– Women in the Geek Industry

I felt like though I had heard the message before “Don’t wait for permission.  Just do it.”  They also talked about dealing with hate on the internet and that you just have to put yourself out there, while being authentic and passionate.  They also re-iterated a sentiment I’ve seen from many female creators, which was find your girls and hold onto them.

– Kieron Gillen

I got to listen to Kieron talk about his work, both upcoming and in the past.  It was so great to here him talk about Phonogram, which has a dear place in my heart.  He was also asked about the diversity in his comics, and he talked about how he wanted comics to reflect what he saw in his life.  I thought that was such a good way to communicate how it is simple to include diversity and it shouldn’t just be seen as a checklist.  I also got my books signed by him the day before and he showed me his lunch, which just made me giggle up a storm.  I greatly admire his work and I’m so glad he was so kind.

– En Garde: Writing Action  

This was a very good panel that talked about how fights work, and Jim Butcher broke them down to the simplest formula: Stimuli-> Response.  Stimuli -> Response.  He also said something to the effect of writing an action scene is like lifting the engine block of a car, simple but simple should not be confused with easy.  AND one of the greatest things I got out of this was it’s easier to beef up something you’ve written lean, than it is to take away from something you’ve written thick.

– Indie Comic Creators

This panel was 3 creators that were local to Colorado, and they discussed their process and such.  Mostly I wished I lived closer to Denver to talk face to face with more artists, but they also recommended some places online to network.

– Beyond Bechdel: Queer Femmes and Women in Comics

They talked about the importance of representation and how we’re getting a lot more good representation of in comics of late.  They also talked about how sometimes a character gets coded as queer (like Black Widow) but there really isn’t any good indication that this is for a fact true, or in any way really represented in the comics.  I also liked when they touched on what is and isn’t objectifying and how we “know it when we see it.”

– Developing Systems of Magic

Jim Butcher was supposed to be on this panel, but he didn’t make it.  The other three authors were good, but since I wasn’t familiar with their work and they primarily used it as an example, it was somewhat hard to grasp some of what they were speaking off.  I did like this: “The ability to solve problems with magic should be proportional to the reader’s understanding of magic.”  The Q&A of the session also became “I’m writing a novel and I don’t know how to make this magic work” over and over again, which was a little frustrating, because I don’t feel like you should be asking published writers to do your footwork for you.

All in all, I was really pleased with all the programming I was able to attend.  We cosplayed in the mornings, and I still feel like I got so much out of the stuff I checked out.  I also liked that it had a definite comic and writing focus, which was sort of lacking at Salt Lake Comic Con.  SLCC does have writing panels, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve gone out of their way to get current creators of comics at their show.  I’m hopeful that 2015 might be different, but I’m definitely hoping we can make it out to Denver Comic Con next year.  Who knows, maybe at that point I’ll have enough created to have a table of my own.