The Comicon Hustle
Earlier this year I made a promise to myself that I would take able bodies and travel Arizona for as many geeky convention we could find. Sure enough we gathered our photographers, writers, backups and charged every convention we could find! When I started my conquest I was but a humble geek with an indie blog who was far too shy to approach most vendors and cosplayers for interviews. At the time of writing this, we wrapped up our coverage of Phoenix Comicon Fanfest and are all resting our weary feet and I can honestly say I grew from the experience.
In what ways you ask?
Let’s start off with my own self esteem. Being a geek, I already grew up feeling like an outcast and not much had changed as I grew into a young adult. When I made the decision to start my humble blog, I felt as though I had a positive outlet to let my frustrations and opinions on various matters while still remaining anonymous. As our readership grew, people began to care about what I wrote and would comment with their agreements or disagreements. I now could no longer type away as carelessly as I once did and forced myself to improve in whatever way I could.
Another example of another way was branching out from my own personal thoughts and interviewing others on their own thoughts and lives. Cosplay is so near and dear to my heart that I demanded it was apart of the blog along with so many other aspects. Despite being a writer for a blog, I still held a deep, ridiculous fear for the opposite sex as though a single wrong string of words would result in my death that would somehow be socially acceptable and justified. Regardless of those fears I attended convention after convention and met with cosplayers(after avoiding them like the plague until the final convention day), introduced myself and my blog then asked if they would like to answer a few of our questions.
To my surprise I was not killed, nor was I even shunned! They instead were delighted to meet me and were honored by my request. Although I knew a few of the cosplayers, I could not believe their stories of how they got started and who they were as people. The most powerful looking of women were the sweetest and filled of such kindness while others who were more adorable had hearts brimming with passion that refused to let anything stand in the way of their goals. It proved that almost every person was far different than the next and made me appreciate that they took the time to talk with me.
I was even able to interview one of my idols, Lindsay Elyse!
Check out our interview with her here!
Understanding the business side of conventions was another aspect I learned attending so many. I had the chance to talk with a number of artists, authors, and staff during the convention rush. It showed me that they are all real people with their own sets of hopes, fears, and self doubt. One incredible artist would explain how she didn’t know why she bought a booth because her art was terrible, from my eyes I saw some of the most wonderful pieces of art in artist alley! I gave her some words of encouragement and it seemed to go far as she became inspired(especially when I bought a few pieces!). Understanding why they price a certain way, what they bring to the table, and which conventions they attend all influence how much money they receive back. It sounds odd but knowing that every single person was not a superman or woman but just a regular man or woman trying to have a great time, all of my fears melted away.
An example of a wonderful human being is the guy in the photo next to this text. (I’m the brown guy with a beard.) This is one of the co owners of an awesome establishment called The Grid: Games And Growlers. He explained what his establishment was and how much he loved what he did. For any interested in knowing exactly what The Grid is, it’s a Barcade. A Barcade is an establishment that serves drinks while also allowing you to play your favorite video games, this one in particular focuses on a Tron type of theme. He went on to talk about how he wanted to have a place that gamers cold go to have a great time surrounded by other folks with similar interests while synth-wave played throughout the establishment. I was a fantastic pitch and convinced me to head out to their location as soon as I could.
The experience of traveling to so many local conventions also introduced me to cosplayers I had no idea existed yet gave their all trying to make a name for themselves in the cosplay world. My photographers and I reached out to them and scheduled photoshoots, which many of them accepted enthusiastically. They gave their all with both their poses and costumes, all while still being incredible down to earth. One example of an awesome cosplayer that is exactly as we mentioned is SaraCosplay. She not only cosplays but also works a full time job, manages her relationship, and takes care of her own apartment. Whenever I looked at cosplayers before attending so many conventions I always only considered the titans like Jessica Nigri, Alexandria the Red, and Gidia Robin but never thought of those indie cosplayers working hard to cultivate a fan base. It was inspiring to get to hear their stories, see their original designs and just be so humble despite them being so wonderful.
I know I was in a very unique position of getting to attend conventions for free and had to talk with others in order to generate more content for my website but I highly encourage geeks to attended their local conventions. Whether it might be the grand daddy of all conventions or the first year of a niche con, either way you’ll have a blast and experience so much you hadn’t dreamed of doing before.
A huge thank you to all cosplayers and vendors we got to meet and talk with over 2015! We love and support you all and hope to get to hang out with you more in 2016!