Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Going to a Comic Convention Alone:JFDI (Just F**king do it)

So this past week I had the opportunity to go to Wizard World Comic Con  Chicago. A friend had planned to go with me but at the last minute had to work. I was pretty bummed out as this would be my 2nd convention ever. I was incredibly  nervous to go alone but decided why the hell not. I planned to dress as Dreamfinder and wouldn't really be recognizable anyway. So I decided to write a quick reflection piece on my experience of going to a convention alone as a noob.

I went on Friday so I figured it wouldn't be quite as busy and I hopefully wouldn't feel quite as alienated and well, alone. I dressed in as little of my costume as possible since I would be driving myself there. I have driven in full costumes before... not fun. I arrived at the convention parking lot and preceded to get dressed in the parking garage. I got at least 4 different people to stop and stare at me for a few seconds because I am standing in a garage with no shoes on and putting on quite an elaborate costume. My car is not large enough to even try to have gotten dressed in my car. It felt a bit awkward but I didn't really have access to a bathroom nearby that would have been convenient for changing. 

I got all ready and started working my way to the convention. The garage had a nice walkway to the convention center so I didn't have to go outside and walk by a bunch of people who weren't part of the convention. At first glance I felt that almost no one else had dressed up. I felt slightly uncomfortable but decided I needed to just get over it. As I got the the main hall after what seemed like a mile walk I started to see much more cosplay and felt a little better. I got my ticket and started by going into one of the two vendor areas. I wasn't quite sure what to do and the panels I wanted to attend weren't until a few hours later. This is probably when I felt the most alienated and began to question why I even went in the first place. I didn't have anyone to talk to and wasn't meeting up with anyone. I decided to just start walking around and looking at vendors. I had no intention of buying anything because I was a bit strapped for cash that day. I started in the artist alley and just slowly started weaving my way from aisle to aisle. I tried to focus on looking at art and other people's works and creations to get my mind off of going to the convention alone. 

This was pretty successful. I started to dive more into taking in the event its self as opposed to being so concerned with interacting with people. Very slowly people started to ask me about my costume. Most people had no idea who I was and I did my best to explain I was Dreamfinder from Disney's Epcot resort. Figment was my pal. It was a very old and obscure Disney character that had recently been made into a Marvel Comic. Some people would remember and others just appreciated the detail and work I put into the costume. 

My day really started to turn around. I found someone dressed in an official Pikachu mascot costume and I remembered that I have a camera on my phone... Duh. I am really bad at taking pictures when I am doing things so I decided to start taking pictures with other cosplayers. 

Now that my mood had brightened I was able to walk around with more confidence. I really think it showed because more and more people would stop to talk to me, ask me about my character, and ask to take pictures. I really feel confidence is key to portraying your character. It may have taken me a few hours to feel comfortable but once I just let go I started having as much fun as I did at the last convention I went to. 

My convention highlight was being asked by Terry and Oliver Holler of to take pictures with their recreated movie accurate DeLorean from Back to the Future. They really appreciated my costume and wanted to feature me on their website to promote the Fox Foundation which they were collecting donations for. The pictures turned out absolutely amazing and I really enjoyed meeting them. I didn't remember until after I was home that they were also featured in the documentary I had watched titled "Back in Time" I felt like a moron for not remembering that. 

After walking the whole convention floor, I decided to go to a few panels. I really wanted to learn about thermoplastics so I sat in on a thermoplastics panel with Mogchelle. I actually ended up winning a piece of worbla for knowing that EVA stood for ethylene vinyl acetate... Yea go 3 years of chemistry in college FTW. Glad it was good for something. I also sat in on a photography panel because I am starting to get to a point that I want to start having professional photos taken to feature on this blog as well as potentially building a portfolio of prints to sell in the future. I am not looking to make cosplay my day job but being able to recoup some of the cost associated with this very expensive hobby would be nice. 

Other than walking the floor and attending panels I also sat and talked at length with a few people. It felt really good to be able to go to an event alone and still end up making friends with common interests and viewpoints. I was really refreshed and rejuvenated after this convention. I started off the day feeling pessimistic and anxious but ended the day with a post con euphoria. I stayed until almost 9 pm well after the floor had closed. I was very pleased to have closed my 2nd convention on such a high note. 

My experience may not be typical but I highly recommend attending conventions even if you are alone. You may feel uneasy at first but if you open yourself up and put yourself out there you could have a really great time and meet some cool people. I will probably attend quite a few more cons alone until I start making more friends that travel to cons as I would like to. 

**Also side note: If you are driving yourself always bring sweats and comfy shoes to change into before you go home. Nothing feels worse then having to drive home in a corset and stiletto shoes after walking in them 8 hours. 

Hope you enjoyed this insight into my experiences at this con!!

- Basic B

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