Akron’s costume contest though has always been a challenge. Because it’s so big, it’s hard to fit in a room, and this year Rubber City Cosplay had thier hands full trying to figure it out.
Over the past year in particular, it’s been a real pleasure watching Rubber City Cosplay develop as a contest facilitator. They’ve gotten more comfortable with the role and developed genuinely good strategies for keeping things going efficiently. However, Akron is the big show. With literally hundreds of contestants and a surprisingly small space, this is the most challenging contest they handle. There was confusion on where to go. The hall downstairs had been partitioned off into two smaller rooms. You began in the first room with a camera and a green screen, then made your way out the door onto the main stage… so before going out and getting announced, there was this other group with a camera, taking pictures before the contest – their original plan had been to interview each contestant as well, something they weren’t allowed to do as it would slow things down too much. I assumed that they were perhaps broadcasting the images over to the main screen, but now I’m not even sure they were really a contest component. All of this delayed the start and slowed the lineup down.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I was exhausted already and my boots were killing me – I was grateful for the chance to sit down while waiting. gave me a chance to help the guy in front of me get out of his gloves and get into his helmet- magnetic pieces and velcro and all sorts of wierd stuff! I appreciate that helm and costume all the more for having seen it up close as he got it on. My friend William was down the line keeping Chris Gulley’s Black Panther cape in place.
We were told we couldn’t stay in the room to watch the cosplay contest and this was a kind of a drag. It’s one of the important things to note. the sense of community in the costume contests is always one of my favorite parts of a con – talking to people about how they made their costumes, what they’ve done before – cosplay is an instant icebreaker for those of us who are introverts. In the good ones you really see everyone cheering for everyone else and that was really present here. In my never-so-humble opinion, partitioning that room was a bad idea. A large space is needed for this event if it’s going to be the huge component it always has been at Akron. I don’t think we had more room than this back at the Quaker Station hall.
It was great to see so many of these familiar faces though. That Nocturne I saw at Hall of Fame City was back, as well as the Freddy Kruger. Cinderella showed me the work she put into her glass slippers and it wasn’t untill after the con that I realized Secret Squirrel was the same guy who did Domo Batman last year! There was a little Rhino that was COMPLETELY on point and picking fights with everyone ( I was so happy that he placed in the kids contest!) and the absolute best Iron Man I’ve ever seen in a kids costume….in fact it was better than most adult Iron Men! My friend Jim pointed out to me a kid in a Cyrano Jones outfit, complete with Tribbles. Another in a Smaug costume. Fantasy dominated the contest this year and Man-At-Arms ran around trying to get pictures with every barbarian warrior he saw. The Z.E.R.O.S. were there in full effect with Ryan yelling “Man-At-Arms is my hero!” as I headed into the costume contest.My friend William really put it best.
“Got to experience the two extremes of cosplay attitudes today at the Akron ComiCon.
On the negative side, saw a contestant that I won’t single out getting in his car after the contest was over, whining and complaining that “this contest was crap” and “I have over a thousand hours invested in this”, yadda yadda yadda.”
Allow me to interject at this point, that my friend Marc witnessed the same thing by the same person a little later – “the same adult male throw a major tantrum because someone else won a small piece of etched glass instead of him. Obviously, he was the only one worthy and the judges were idiots and the contest was rigged and life isn’t fair and Hilary is evil (not trying to politicize. That was actually part of the tantrum).And this was in the convention center near my table, not in the parking lot, which means this same tantrum was thrown multiple times.”
But William continues :
“Then, there was the plus side. A little girl saw me and became ecstatic. She was a huge Captain America fan (she was too young to know who USAgent is, and Cap wore the uniform before Walker did, so she’s forgiven), and her face just lit up seeing me, and she needed a pic.
It didn’t matter to her that the guy dressed like her hero was nearly three hundred pounds and constantly wiping away the sweat pouring out of a mask with no ventilation. It didn’t matter that I haven’t dyed my belt to match the suspenders better, or that I’m not real happy with the paint job on the shield. It didn’t matter that my version is an amalgamation of different versions of the comic costume along with the MCU Cap costumes, and so isn’t a perfectionist version of either.
All that little girl cared about was her hero kneeling down to take a picture with her, and smiling at her.
The costume and shield may be fake, but that smile was as real as it gets.
I feel sorry for the guy who felt cheated out of a win in a contest of people dressed as imaginary characters, as if winning or losing have anything to do with what is important in cosplay.
I’d much rather be in the company of that little girl, who was just happy to see the character she loved.”
That’s it right there. You know something? I’ve never won or even placed in Akron costume contest. Not once. But that’s not why I do it…the community, the camaraderie and just the time to have fun…it’s worth it all. Just look at all of these people in the photos below and you’ll see it too.
I can’t wait for next year.
I didn’t mean to freak people out. Really.
The guest line up for Akron is always a good one, but this one was particularly exciting, bringing in yet another walking dead zombie as well as excellent talent such as Alan Grant and Alan Davis. I knew I would be is standing in line a lot so I decided to spend at least the first two hours of the con in street clothes – jeans and a sweater. It was hilarious, people didn’t recognize me! Those who did were a bit freaked out by the fact that I wasn’t in a costume…Bobbie Harleypool walked by and yelled at me “why aren’t you in costume???”. Once upon a time cosplay afforded me a certian degree of anonymity. Now it seems it’s gone the other way around….
Alan Grant was my first stop. He is charming and personable and he wrote some of the greatest Batman stories of the 90s. His run with Norman Breyfogal is nothing short of legendary. He was the writer on Detective when the Tim Drake Robin was being introduced. It’s one of my favourite eras because we get a lot of short, one issue, self-contained stories. It’s something he mentioned he enjoyed writing, stuff that was to the point, and had a beginning, middle, and end.
I made my way over to P. Craig Russell, who I’ve always really associated with his brilliant Sandman work. Still, I had discovered he did an issue of X–Men that is in one of my many collected editions. It was fun to chat about this one, he mentioned that JR JR was always really great to do finishes over and out while you could still see Romitia’s influence in a lot of the pages, he turned to one particular panel of a stunning building in skyscape and told me “but this panel right here, this is all me! “.
I was sad not to make it to Alan Davies, his line was just prohibitive and they kept cutting it off…but Tom Orzechowski was most definitely available. This man has lettered more current books then I have read… And that’s no small feat. The more I get into these Marvel essentials collections, the more often his name seems to pop up. I loaded a heavy stack of these huge paper backs over to him to be signed, but what’s great about Tom is that he is really a fan first. Going over each of these books, he had memories and things to say about it all of the runs and what it was like for him to read them originally.
Joe Staton was making a return appearance. I genuinely like Joe, Even though he’s really one of the most recognizable Green Lantern artists out there, I love that he is dedicated this part of his career to things like Scooby Doo and Dick Tracy – I particularly love that he’s doing things like the little orphan Annie crossover, the Dick Tracy meet gruesome story and the upcoming Spirit crossover. I brought him my greatest Batman stories ever told to sign his story “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne”. It’s a charming piece set on earth 2 were Bruce ultimately marries Selena Kyle –Staton is in real form here emulating Dick Sprague and giving the story a dynamic look while still being bright and friendly. He gave me a copy of that Tracy needs gruesome which he signed for me on the way out – I love Joe.
I remember watching Jackson Bostwick on television when I was a kid, his Shazam series was one of the Saturday afternoon roundabouts, the sort of thing that plays after the cartoons. He is personable, but very much a convention pro. He’s also not at all happy about the way Captain Marvel is portrayed in the comics these days. He is proud of the fact that he was Captain Marvel (and not SHAZAM!), he hates the hood on the cape as well as the weird lightning that surrounds him now. It was an interesting conversation, and I get the impression that he is very protective of the character – there is a real connection there for him.
Addy Miller from the Walking Dead was a charming young woman as well. I wish i could say the same for her handler (who I assume is her mother). Somewhat intrusive. I mentioned that my WD photo has been through the mail five times and Mother replied in somewhat of a huff “We don’t sign through the mail. Maybe something like this, with all those other signatures, but we usually don’t.”
Um, you don’t sign anything Mom. Your daughter is the “talent”. And do you think that answer of yours endears me more to the two of you…or less?
Still, I’m actually a bit dismayed about the addition of media guests to Akron Comic Con (and I’m totally a hypocrite on this by the way, as I was patronizing them nevertheless!). One of the great things about this show has always been that it was a pure comic show. They dipped their toe in the water last year inviting Tim Procter – a bit player from the Walking Dead with a reasonable autograph charge, but who also was an artist. He very much fits here. Addy Miller at his table is somewhat an extension to that, but really on the line. Reb Brown and Jackson Bostwick however are very firmly on the other side of that line, being noting but media guests, and ones that are used to the convention circuit at that. It doesn’t help that Jackson’s pricing wasn’t clearly displayed, and a little higher than I would like. Reb did have a sign up, but I know there were con goers that were confused by his fees, and man, have they gone up! I though I paid too much for his autograph and that photo at Wasteland a few years ago, but he’s joined the $40 club now and I don’t think his scrawl is worth that. It’s also not the kind of fees we’re used to seeing at Akron. There’s been a real reluctance to add media guests to this show, and I completely understand it. You can even tell by exactly who Akron is inviting that it’s sort of a compromise, but still, it’s the direction they are heading in. I wonder what will happen next year when they combine it with Monsterfestmania?
Also a quick shout out to OOAKrafts. You’re rude. I’m sorry I was standing in the vicinity of your table talking with a friend I haven’t seen since Februrary. I assure you, no one was staring at us and deciding not to visit your booth because of us. That is the second time you’ve been rude to me in this manner, asking me to “move along”. While my daughter loves the hat she got from you at Lake Effect Comic Con, I assure you, you will never see another dollar of my money again.
Akron Comic Con has grown hugely, moving into a larger space. I think seeing it at the John S Knight Center – it’s like it finally arrived! It’s still my favorite of all the comic conventions I attend – I’ve been coming since year one and it’s been fun to watch it grow. All in all it feels like a much bigger convention – too big for one post… So today I’ll just leave you with the feel of the show, and we’ll get to cosplayers tomorrow!
Akron always impresses me with the caliber of it’s guests. Mike Zeck and John Beatty are pretty great catches. I had comics for Tom Scioli, Rob Davis and Craig Boldman to sign, but the real treat of con for me was Ron Fortier who wrote my favorite version of the Green Hornet and sat and chatted with me for half an hour about the character, the series as well as his run on Terminator the Burning Earth. IT was fascinating to discover he was hesitant about returning to the title after NOW went through a bankruptcy but got wooed back during a particularly pleasant convention. Great to her his opinions on the current run and how glad we both are to see Kato is a girl again. He patiently signed my entire stack of books – most of his run. That’s not something I’d normally do, but the Green Hornet is one of my absolute favorite characters ever. A quick shout out to all of your artists and writers out there; I REALLY appreciate those of you who sign for free. That’s HUGE to me.
I hit the indy comic panel (and discovered I was pretty much doing everything they recommended – though I’ll have to creep around IndyLink a bit) as well as the cosplay panel right before the costume contest. Akron is a HUGE cosplay show and the contest gets bigger every year. Thank God for Jeff Stover who helped me find my place in line after I got the girls through their category.
We of course were the Fantastic Four, and I was so glad that people looked at my Mr. Fantastic backpack and got the joke. Every time someone would ask where Torch was, I’d tell them he had something to do with Captain America and he won;t tell me anything more than that.
I did stop back on Sunday without the girls so I could actually shop…I’ve found better deal in the past. Quarter bins are getting much harder to find. Still, there were a few fifty cent ones hidden amoung the depths of the booths, as well as a booth for the CW where you spun the wheel and got a prize. I got an iZombie brain. I wanted a Flash hat but I can live with this. The Flash hat wouldn’t have gone with my Shadow costume anyhow.
Akron is always a fun time, I saw more people that I know here than anywhere else. Some folks like Riley and Bobbie, I barely ever run into outside of this show. Things like that just make it better.