I dashed forward , camera at the ready when I saw the shaggy red “yep, yep” Muppet walking down the aisle. My Doc Ock suit hindered me a bit, but I met him just as we arrived at the corner of the room.
“I’d love to get a photo with you,” I exclaimed.
Through the black mesh of the mouth I saw him smile.
“You did. Remember back a few years ago? I was Doctor Hugo Strange!”
I think I may have just come full circle.
While I’ve been dressing up since long before I ever heard the word “cosplay” (I was an actual clown before I hit Jr. High. Star Trek conventions at 12. Haunted houses in high school. Theater through it all), you could probably trace the beginnings of my modern cosplay career to Lake Effect Comic Con around 2012. It was the first time I ever pulled out my Doc Ock costume (one of the first of my more complicated suits) – very different at the time too! It was the first time I entered a costume contest. It was very much my entry into the scene. It was cool to return to the show where it all started (albeit in a different location) and discover that the suit was still memorable, and to show how much it has grown.
It’s grown so much that I now require a handler to help me with doors and carrying things and stuff! I picked up my friend Rhonda, who agreed to be my hands for the day. She appeared dressed as Lydia from Beetlejuice (Because if I can’t bring my little Lydia, I might as well take a full grown one with me!) and we headed off to Mentor.
I was running late so I missed the cosplay panel I wanted to hit, but we still managed to get in before one. There was some concern about me making it through the dealers room, but we needn’t have worried. The aisles were more than big enough for me and the place wasn’t crowded. I’m curious if the show grew from last year. We arrived about halfway through so that may have accounted for the lighter attendance.
I have to admit, now in the second year at the hotel, the layout has really grown on me. It feels like Russian nesting dolls, with one dealers room leading to another, adding to that delightful feeling of exploration that I love at some of the more obscure bazaars in Cleveland. Lake effect is an excellent representation of the dealers and shops around the Cleveland area with every comic and toy imaginable littering the rows and corners. Around a corner I found more tables set up in a narrow hallway. I don’t know if this corner was set up last year or not…the theater Lake Effect used to set up at was selling movie posters next to a table set up for the R2 builders and Heroes United, both welcome additions to the show. The deals are still waning, but I was pleased to spot a single fifty cent bin to plunder, and managed to walk away with a stack of Civil War era Spidey as well as a nice chunk of Groot and Rocket Racoon solo series, but the real find of the day was Marvel’s Zombie Christmas Carol in the $5.00 Hardcover bin. I’ve never seen this before, but I couldn’t leave without it – especially at that price.
I saw Lake Effect dipping it’s toe into the celeb waters, bring in a zombie from the Walking Dead (I don’t know if I forgot, or just didn’t know- either way, I didn’t have my poster) as well as a starlet who had done a couple movies and been a playmate. It’s a direction I hope they veer away from. It didn’t really add much to the show other than the novelty of a few unfamiliar faces…and I get it. After eight years, you have to try and shake things up a bit.
The costume contest seemed a little smaller this year as well, but those that did arrive were still excellent. I was enchanted by the Terminator girl (all the robot parts, painted on – she looked like she stepped right off an 80’s VHS cover) and the little Starlord. More and more I see video game characters, and I feel so bad that I don’t recognize them! But there’s another trend I see popping up – it’s an interesting 2-d style, where your costume and features appear sketched in. It’s a really cool look and the more I see it, the more I’m enchanted by it. I dig the open area in the lobby where they hold this contest – it feels more intimate, more personal than the theater always did. I feel like I can better hobnob and chat with the other contestants…and that’s really the point of it all for me. I had to move around a bit to be able to see all of the people parading by and nothing made me happier than when the Yep Yep Muppet received a special prize.
I still really like Lake Effect. My only hope is that it doesn’t stagnate in this location – it grew every year at the theater untill the seams of the walls were bursting trying to contain the throngs of people. That seems to have leveled off since the move and that worries me. I dig this con and really hope it’ll be around for years to come.