Denver Comic Con and the Cosplay that Wasn’t
Greetings Whovians! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post any new articles, partly my fault, and partly the fault of our web-admin *sends a telepathic glare* and the ever changing and updating configuration of the Internets. Hopefully I will be back to some regularly scheduled posts. I’ve got a few already lined up: some crafting, some cooking, some older Who, some newer Who. Are you as excited as I am? Probably not, you quiet group of fans, but no matter. Before I dive into all these other adventures, I don’t think I can post anything right now without talking about the third largest convention in the US (according to some news source, don’t quote me!). I’m talking about DENVER COMIC CON! Let’s get started!
Wow, what a week! This week or long weekend, however you want to categorize it, was jam packed. First from Friday June 30th to Sunday July 2nd, our fair city has once again been host to our own comic con. Then, because we all know that cons are exhausting endeavors, we were rewarded with the 4th of July, which many of us either have off, took off, or combined with Monday to extend this much needed break in the middle of the year. I hope that everyone reading this had a fun and safe holiday, and I hope that your animals have forgiven you for being part of the yearly apocalypse. Now I know that this year there were some headaches around lines and security and all that, and believe me there are many articles from attendants and those who actually run DCC on the subject, so I am not going to get sucked into talking about my feelings on this subject. It has been discussed to death at this point. I will however talk about the question I have gotten asked about the most…..
What did you cosplay as this year? I want to see pictures!
Ladies and gentlemen. There are no pictures of me in cosplay this year, because, well, I didn’t cosplay * que record scratch*
Yes, you read that right, I didn’t manage to get a cosplay put together. I did try. Really I did. In fact I have a few articles written up about the process which I plan to break down and scavange parts of for this article later on. Before I do so however, I keep feeling compelled to stand up on my soap box for a minute and say something.
It’s OK that I didn’t cosplay. It’s OK that I didn’t complete it on time. I was still able to have a GREAT time.
Now the statements that I am going to make are not intended to diminish those who did manage to put a cosplay together. Or those who never gave up and were up until 3am sewing and probably covered in hot glue. This has nothing to do with the people who asked about it, and has nothing to do with things outside of this exact example. But I have found myself surrounded by a few drastically different personality types lately and it got me thinking. I know some people who think they are hot stuff (and really aren’t) and those who think that their herculean efforts are sub par. And I know that out there somewhere is some person – man, woman, adult, child – who is kicking themselves because a part of their cosplay wasn’t perfect. Or that they, like me, didn’t get it done on time. Or that they were lame because they didn’t cosplay like all the people on the fan pages did (or maybe just because their friends did). And throughout the con and maybe even today they are beating themselves up about it. And to that person, I just want to say that it’s ok. There are for sure situations where you need to put in your all and be up to 3am. There are situations where just saying “this is too hard, I’m done” is not right and you should dig deep. But in my own personal opinion, a convention, where I am not getting paid, and the only difference between in cosplay and not in cosplay is the number of times I get stopped for pictures…. not to mention the hard to move when in cosplay, the likely uncomfortableness, the feeling that everyone is looking at you when you’re on your way to or from the con….wait why do we ever do this again? ….I digress…. because the only difference between going to DCC in a cosplay is that I might get asked for my photo or given a high-five, I think it’s okay to give yourself a break if you didn’t get things done this year. You can always continue working on it and go next year. Or for Halloween, or for the next smaller convention (I hear in August there’s the Colorado Springs Comic Con), or scrap it entirely and do something different (hopefully starting earlier than I did this year).
So, even though DCC is over, if you felt bad that you didn’t dress up. Don’t. Let this minor stress go, and remember all the things you enjoyed at DCC, all the cool things you saw, and think ahead to the next opportunity 🙂 There shouldn’t be any bullying on either side of cosplay. Don’t bully people who put their blood sweat and tears into a cosplay, and don’t bully those who didn’t either!
Okay, stepping off my soap box, back down to my normal unimpressive height. Let me share with you what little process I did get through before calling it quits on my 2017 Cosplay. And don’t you worry….I’ve got big plans for 2018 😉
For DCC 2017, I waited pretty late before buying tickets, and I am convinced this contributed to the downfall of this adventure. In addition to 90+ degree heat. I don’t do well in heat. But for the longest time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go, if the Con was getting too big (if I could be trusted not to buy more artwork…and I did buy more, though kept it to a minimum) and all that. But there were a few of my favorite authors in town, and I always have fun, so screw it, I got tickets.
Then came the big question…. do I cosplay? I had only a month and a half left, and I’m in the process of doing a lot of house projects and working a lot of hours at work, so it’s not like there’s a lot of time. Then again it’s always fun to wander around in costume. But what can I be? I had decided to stick to the Doctor Who theme….there was a part of me that wants to resurrect Dresden and Murphy for seeing James Marsters, but I wasn’t really thrilled with my Karen cosplay and with the new gun-prop restrictions, I would be completely unrecognizable (wasn’t really that recognized the first year anyway) I ended up deciding to be one of the Soothsayers from “Fires of Pompeii”.
It’s perfect. The make up is very simple, so hopefully myself or someone else can do it fairly easily. The outfit looked very simple (ha! how wrong I was), just a few pieces and it’s all very loose and baggy and not something that I need to pay special attention to a ton of details.
Step 1: The plan
At my very first comic con I sat in on a few cosplay panels and learned a ton of things. The first thing you want to do is some level of research. This stage is either HUGE or not too bad. The cosplay panels that were focused on sewing came out and suggested printing as many images in different angles you can and start to deconstruct the desired finished product. Are there layers, is there trim, or applique or ruffles? Do you need some kind of special fabric or some molding aspect like worbla? As you go through all the pictures making copious notes, you get an idea of what you need to do, what accessories you’re looking for etc. This process works well for just trying to make a representative outfit. A period piece or something similar to something worn in a movie or show. This is what I’m going for. The other panels talked about how to make something look like stone or scales or some not typically fabric or plastic material. Then there’s the 501st type of cosplay if you really love this research phase. For this you need the right fabric. Not just “oh Jedi robes are brown”. Oh no. It’s not just a certain color (though you can bet that color will be an exact match) but the type of fabric it should be, the stitching, etc. It’s very very detailed down to the right type of buttons and clasps.
I am not up to that level, so I will happily go through all the different images and patterns and try to get close. Not caring if I have the right fabric, or right gold jewelry. I leave that adventure for some other time.
After going through these images, I think I need to go one step further. I can’t really tell if there’s a cloak, a hooded robe, or just a big long swatch of cloth making up a shawl. I need to see how this moves, how this gets used in the episode so I can make up my mind. Helps that this is such a fun episode too! And depending on the type of cosplayer you are (I still tend towards the introverted) watching clips and episodes of what you’re going as is a great way to get into character and remember aspects that might otherwise be lost inside your memory somewhere. I feel like this is something that’s important for simpler characters (and not something I did well when I was Karen), but if you’re dressed more plain but you can talk the talk and walk the walk it makes it all the better. On the flip side, if you are a bounty hunter or a 12ft mech warrior, you don’t even need to speak. So I went over and poured myself a glass of wine, kicked back, and watched the episode (and a few scenes) over and over again, taking notes and paying close attention!
After watching the episode I learned a few things. The cool shawl thing that looks so cool in all the snapshots you see of Ms. Karen Gillan running around… yeah that happens only in the first few shots. After that, the shawl thing is never seen again. But as I run around the con, I can see this working out, so I plan to make it. Second, the dress is 2 pieces, a long loose fitting top with sleeves that is longer on the sides than the front, and a floor length skirt. Easy right?
Step 2: The Execution
Knowing what I want, I head out to the fabric store, hunting for the right fabric and the right patterns. After hitting several stores, I found some fabric that would work. It’s not quite the right color or texture, but after the bust at the other stores (and seriously considering switching to some other color and going the more “custom” approach) I decided that this fabric would work out for me in the long run. Now…. here may have been mistake #1. Some fabrics are easier to work with than others. They hold their shape differently, respond to cutting and sewing differently….and perhaps this fabric (I can’t even tell you what it was) may have been a bit more difficult than what I had worked with before with the Dalek dress. But hind sight is 20/20, I bought the fabric. And I thought I had lucked out with finding a few “modern” patterns that seemed to be close to what I needed, and since I had a time crunch, following patterns directly seemed like the way to go!
I got everything home, started laying it all out, cutting all the shapes, so far so good….. I even had my most trusted helper!
I seem to recall telling the tale several times that I am new to sewing. I don’t make my own stuff, and really I’ve got some curtains in the house (squares), my dalek cosplay (how on earth did I manage that?!), and some other odds and ends (hint, they are all still squares with straight sides), that really don’t make me a master seamstress. And it showed here. There were 2 major parts that threw me for a loop, and with the house feeling like an oven, I didn’t have the patience to really think things through and research how to do it. The stress of being so close to DCC and the heat made this a task that was beyond me.
The two parts that threw me had one thing in common. Curves. When you sew two pieces together, typically you lay them on top of each other, so the right side of the fabric of the pieces are facing one another. You pin it. Sew it. Unpin it. Lay it out and you have a nice seam down the right side, and the cut edges of the seam on the wrong side. Easy right? Actually, yes, that is easy. When dealing with STRAIGHT edges. This pattern however had the edges of the neck (with the front and back of the shirt already sewn together) and the back had a piece that was crescent shaped. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to pin these together. Laying them down as they would be when finished, they fit together perfectly. Turning them over so the right sides were facing each other left me with 2 semi-circles touching at just one tangent point……no clue how you pin that, let alone sew that when you got it somewhat pinned.
This is where the heat and stress got to me. This is where I started to just unpin everything and pack it up. This just wasn’t going to happen. And there you have it. The story of the cosplay that almost was. I am sure had I gotten further I would have reached a different frustration over makeup….it’s not a talent I have or even try to have, so it would have thrown its own unique challenges.
That being said, I now have some beautiful and bright red fabric…perhaps I’ll find something to make around Valentines Day or Christmas. Or get it added to a quilt or some odds and ends. Either way, I learned a few key things. I must be more patient. I should have done more online research on how to pin this. I could have gone to some of the local stores and asked for help (and they would have been delighted to teach). I also should have started earlier and during the part of the year when it’s not so hot.
In the end I went in a T-shirt and jeans. I wore my Dalek hat. I was comfortable, and moved easily around the con without needing an assistant to help me carry things. On Saturday, I didn’t die in the long lines wearing a shawl and makeup. And I had a blast. I talked to John Scalzi and got a photo of my cat signed. I commissioned artwork to have Spike and Dresden talking at a bar, and then I got that piece signed by James Marsters himself. I met people, new Doctor Who fans, and I saw the most adorable little Dalek princess. I’ve got my eye on something bigger for 2018. It will be a real challenge but has been something that’s been on my mind in some form or another for a while. Let’s just say there’s armor involved. As I get started on that (in the Fall…stupid heat) I’ll keep you all informed. Until then, I hope you had a wonderful time at DCC if you went. I hope you can learn from my lack of a cosplay either in your future preparations, or in giving yourself a break form time to time. And I hope you have a wonderful summer! Until the next article…..good night Whovians!