Cosplaying at Awesome Con DC 2015
One of the highlights of 2015 for me was, for the second time, happily attending Awesome Con in the nation’s capital. For my part, it was a tremendous improvement over 2014; still was not quite up to Baltimore Comic Con’s level, but it’s done a mighty job getting closer.
I’m still something of a cosplay rookie; I’m still learning to sew and almost every ensemble I’ve worn has been compiled from pre-made articles of clothing, either purchased from a store, Goodwill, or unearthed from the depths of my own closet. That said, I have only ever attended Cons in costume, which came as a bit of surprise when I realized it. I’d been interested in seeing what conventions were like for quite awhile—I’d just never actually made it to one until 2013, when a close friend of mine said: “This September. Baltimore Comic Con. We’re going.”
We made an event of it—like you do. It was a small group of us, but Justin Moe and I took the chance to quasi-promote Genre Wars by cosplaying the characters. It didn’t take an exceptional amount of effort to concoct the costumes…not at that stage, anyway, at which point, most of principal photography for the series was complete. And it was fun. The second day, I threw together a makeshift Robin (i.e. Boy Wonder) ensemble. Since then, I’ve become a dedicated Whovian (which I described in A Whovian Adventure, a few entries back); which was sort of self-fulling prophecy. I started watching Doctor Who when I heard that Billie Piper was coming to Awesome Con 2014 and so many of my friends flipped out about it. I didn’t want to be left out, so, in preparation, I started watching. I had seen all the episodes featuring Rose Tyler by the time Awesome Con rolled around, but still, our attending ensemble opted for Genre Wars cosplay instead.
I was a Whovian then, but not to the extent I am now. Funny how things come full circle. This year, I was over the moon knowing that Alex Kingston (River Song), along with Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) would be present. Due to financial reasons, I wasn’t able to get photos with either of them, but I did get to see them, which was still perfectly marvelous. Because of that Whovian Birthday Hunt, though, Doctor Who has been my go-to for cosplay. It helps that my group of friends all participated; I’ve very rarely cosplayed without a buddy—usually Justin as Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, opposite my take on David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, which suits us (no pun intended) as those are our personal favorite incarnations of the traveling Time Lord.
My experience of Awesome Con 2015 did not disappoint—this year in particular shed some light on my motivations for attending Cons at all, of which I had not previously been aware. I was able to get the three-day Geekend Pass, and on Saturday, I chose not to cosplay (sandwiched between two days of going as the 10th Doctor). That decision was not casually made; I was invited to participate as a panelist for the “Creating a Web Series” panel. Which as a certain ring of irony; though I didn’t cosplay a Genre Wars character, I still managed to represent and spread the word about the series, even louder and more directly than I have at previous Cons. I managed to dress up a little (actually wearing a dress that I had used as part of my Telena-the-Elf cosplay from Awesome Con 2014). The panel was very enjoyable and I was pleased to also represent the female contingent of web-series-makers on that panel. Thanks to Ron Newcomb for the opportunity to speak and promote!
The surrounding hours of that day, however, were…illuminating. It hit me, rather surprisingly, just how out of place I felt. Which is actually laughable; the ratio of civvies to cosplay is actually tilted quite significantly in favor of those not in costume (which is definitely not true of all Cons, not even all the ones I’ve attended, but it happened to be the case on this particular occasion). But I felt…off. To use the cliché, “I felt naked,” just doesn’t quite say it. Quite the contrary; I felt invisible. I felt as though I was hidden behind a façade of normality. What a concept!
What I took away from the experience was that cosplay is a tremendously important facet of my experience at Cons. It’s the ice-breaker; it generates discussion and creates interaction that simply doesn’t happen (or, at least, not as often) as it does when one is bedecked in the attire of a recognizable character. Or distinguishable to some; I ran into one of my favorite character cosplays on Saturday that absolutely made my day!
There is a certain freedom that comes with Cosplay. In my experience with it, I’m more outspoken and more confident overall when I cosplay—dare I say, more myself, somehow? I’m not an actor and this may be old news for seasoned cosplayers, but I suppose I’m in the process of figuring it out for myself. Halloween was always my favorite holiday and have felt, with growing older, with less and less occasion to dress up and celebrate that holiday (without children of my own or resources to throw epic Halloween parties that I would otherwise put on in a heartbeat), Cosplay and conventions are like grown-up Halloween.
Few are the places as an adult that you can partake in such well-mannered frivolity, dressed as a fictional character, be it far-fetched and fantastical, gritty and postmodern, or anything in between. I intend to keep partaking—unabashedly. I still don’t sew and I’m definitely not an expert, but I’m more than willing to learn, as I will undoubtedly continue to attend Cons in the future. In costume.