I’d actually been meaning to get out to Astronomicon for several years now. I’ve heard about it mostly from my friend Dirk who was a frequent guest there. When he mentioned once again that it was coming up this weekend, I took a quick glance at the calander and noticed this weekend that I had one kid at grandma’s, and the other one out with her mother… and it was a perfect opportunity to sneak back out to Detroit.
The show had always struck me as one of those medium to small cones…. something pop culture and horror and comics. Burton Manor is a nice little facility out on the outskirts of nowhere, and after a glance at thier website and Google earth, I figured I knew what I was in for.
I was wrong.
Burton Manor must be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, because when I arrived, I found a medium to large scale convention with the vision, scope and pricing to match a Horrorhound or Days of the Dead style show. It’s also very firmly a horror show. Not something that I had gotten from the vaguely Sci-Fi logo, but probably should have expected considering it’s run by Twizted, a jugaloo band (It IS Detroit, after all).
Still, the staff were efficient, friendly and really good people. They kept traffic flowing, and could point you to wherever you needed to go at a moment’s notice. One of them saw I was having trouble with my shoulder pads and offered to give me a hand… hooking the pads onto the clips on my vest, and then sending me on my way with a smile. These guys really do go above and beyond the call of duty.
I spent the day fielding the occasional question “Since When does Pinhead dress like that?”
“Since the Scarlet Gospels!” (Clive Barkers literary end to the Hellraiser saga, where he descripes Pinhead stealing Lucifer’s armor) I’d had this new costume sitting in my basement since just before the government lock downs. This Hellraiser armor had originally been intended for ConCoction that year, but ConCoction was one of the 1st shows to have to close their doors due to the widespread lockdowns (They’re actually only coming back for the first time this year). I hadn’t had an appropriate horror themed show the really shown this off out since then. At Astronomicon there’s a heavy cosplay influence. They encourage it by running costume contests on Saturday, with prizes designed to encourage people to bring their “A” game. The kids and pet costume contest was so much fun, with so many terrifying and yet adorable costumes parading by. One little girl, She couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7, paraded around in a Venom costume. As I was walking by I smiled and complimented her her pointing out that she had a very scary mask. She grinned, pulled the mask down over her head, took a step towards her father and started biting on his arm!
A Warhammer cleric meandered around the show in dark red robes, techno glory and four legs .A-war hammer cleric mold around the show in dark red robes, techno glory and 6 flags. I made a point to find him so I could get photos, and he was thrilled to talk about his costume. He’d only completed it the night before, so this was absolutely its 1st time out. It was the first time out for my Hellraiser armor as well, and that’s always a struggle. Actually, struggle is putting it mildly. The words of the day were “wardrobe of malfunction”.
Before I even arrived on site, as I was driving out , my chain mail ripped off of the right shoulder, and then completely off my left arm. Fortunately, I came with a full repair kit. I pulled out the wireless hot glue gun, and welded them back into place once I was safely parked. After I had gotten in to the show, the Velcro on my belt decided to give way. I excuse myself and headed back to the car. I punched a hole through with the back of the belt, and then Connected it using the belt clip on my keys. That made heading through the metal detector interesting. “I’ve got a set of keys on me, but I can’t actually reach them or take them out!” the Security guard checked behind me with a chuckle, and waved me through.
My left boot was the next to go. The Velcro just wasn’t holding, and things felt a little too tight. I ended up grabbing a roll of duck tape, and actually increased the width of the foot itself. Then I reglued the Velcro on top of the new boot flap. That would hold for the rest of the day, only coming apart once I made it back to the car to leave. On the other hand, the left boot was giving my left thigh ideas… and the armor just would not stay connected to the garter. I finally ended up fixing this problem By grabbing a duck tape roll again, and literally taping the garter up to the armor, forcing the Velcro together and adding extra adhesion. It managed to hold until after the contest walk through, but I did attend the awards hand out with my leg strategically pressed up against my staff to hold it in place. Up on the stage, I was joined by the Warhammer Cleric I mentioned earlier. He looked over at me and lifted his helmet.
“We made it,” He smiled at me.
“Oh I knew when I first saw you this afternoon, that you’d take first place,” I nodded back, pleased. He tilted his head to me and whispered confidentially.
“And I knew you’d be right up here with me.”
You know, I hear so many of my friends complain about the backstabbing and gossiping and trash talking that goes on in the cosplay community. I just don’t hang with people like that and instead try to be positive. So when I get a really touching moment like this – it’s EXACTLY what I always talk about when I say the best part of the con is hanging out with people in the contest lineup – talking with them and socializing. Weather it’s gushing over the TMNT in the trenchcoat or chatting with the other pinhead about how her makeup was so much cleaner than mine…or even discussing 3d printing with the emcee and how I made my box. This is the stuff that keeps me going to these things.
Unfortunately, Detroit got hit with a bad snowstorm the week before and it delayed the delivery of the trophies for the winners of the contest. The judge asked us to hang back so she could get our addresses, promising to mail them out to us. She pulled out her note cards and copied each one down, then came to me. As I finished she looked up at me in mock horror.
“We let someone from OHIO place in our costume contest???”
The costume contest isn’t the only programming though, I watched an interesting presentation of speed painting. An artist in a shirt riddled with flashing Christmas lights proceeded to create 3 distinct pieces relating to the guests that day. Each Painting is beautiful and recognizable, despite being done within 15 minutes. It’s amusing to watch him dancing paint as music pulses in the background. I also made it out to the Clerks panel. I’m really only at best, a casual fan of pre #KevinSmithLied work, but I always enjoy listening to tales from the film set. My particular favorite of this panel was Jeff Anderson telling the story of a young PA. You see, Jason Mews, who plays Jay, had a tendency to wander off. He sees something interesting going on, or flirts with a girl, or sneaks off to get high… and he just was never around when they needed come. By the 2nd week, the film hired a PA whose sole job was to keep track of Jason and know where he was at all times. Jason of course, didn’t take kindly to this. At one point, he ran to the bathroom. The PA waited outside, until grabbing Anderson and asking “could you check In there to see what’s going on?” Jason had snuck out the window to ditch her.
The dealer’s room is vast, and I spent a lot of time circuitously moving through it. It’s the best way to get people a chance to check out the costume and take photos with it. Interestingly enough, one thing I noticed was babies love Pinhead! I don’t know what it was, if it was the stark white skin or the gold armor… if it’s just that hes highly visible and easy for them to see, but more than one kid being carried by his mom would just stare and grin at me, reaching out to touch the pins. I would offer up the box and watch them grab at it. One Mom laughing hysterically told me, “This was the best part of our day!”
That’s one of the things I love about horror conventions. You meet the nicest, friendliest people… I know that’s counterintuitive, but it’s just the way it is. Even more so than Comic-Con’s, horror conventions have a sort of camaraderie that you don’t find anywhere else. At one point, I was staring through The dig bins of cheap action figures and spotted the perfect He-man… but I couldn’t reach it in my armor. I tapped the shoulder of the guy next to me, and asked “could you do me a favor? I can’t actually bend over in this. could you grab that He-man with the blue boots and that bin there, so I could buy it?” he laughed and scooped up the figure for me. The dealer accepted some slightly sweaty dollar bills from the inside of my glove and I ran off with my prize. We always want to shop the dealer’s room, it’s what makes these conventions happen and I definitely want to make sure that it’s worth their while. Especially if I’m going to be clogging up the aisles with a bulky costume like this!
All in all, I’m very glad I headed out to Astronomicon however, I don’t think I’ll be back. It’s a little too expensive for my taste, and quite frankly, it’s already outgrown this venue. I arrived early in the morning so that I could do the difficult parts of my makeup application in the parking lot. I was fortunate to be able to find a spot pretty close to the building. Apparently I was the only one with that sort of good fortune, as all day people complained about the parking situation. I believe it too, because I constantly heard announcements over the loudspeaker about this car getting toad and that car being illegally parked.
Still, despite it all, it was a good day, and if you’re in the area – there’s worse things you could do on a Saturday!