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.
Another weekend has gone by, and another convention in the can.
Lake effect is a long drive, but usually worth it. We enjoy it because It’s a great place for deals and I love the screenings. Panels have really expanded, though it’s actually very much cut into the movie screenings and I kind of miss that. Still, starting the day off with Scott Pilgrim is absolutely a good thing.
We jumped headfirst into the costume contest. Maddie was always planning on wearing her new Supergirl outfit and Lydia was planning on breaking out her Mermaid costume from the monster walk a month or so ago, but at the last moment (less than a week before the event) Lydia changed her mind and asked if I could create her a H.E.R.B.I.E. costume. Herbie is a little robot that was in the Fantastic Four cartoons and has since been integrated into the comic canon, frequently appearing in more lighthearted fare. I whipped up a quickie costume out of foam and spray paint, with a few finishing touches – button made out of pill boxes and eyes made out of soda bottles.
I asked the girls what I should wear. It was a choice between Mr. Freeze, Voltron…or Spider-Ham. I was kind of shying away from Freeze – I was expecting to see on of my friends show up in that costume and didn’t want to compete with them. I also would king of like more mobility…then again , Voltron is pretty constraing to. It didn’t matter. Both girls voted Spider-Ham. I haven’t had the costume out in a while and that’s who they wanted to see.
Deals. Seriously, I keep saying this, and I mean it. Quarter bins, 3 for a dollar, fifty cent bins. You’ll always find cheap reading comics here. But it’s other stuff too. maddie found a Wonder Woman/Star Sapphire heroclix from the Blackest Night set and that just about blew her mind. She immediately dropped a bunch of her con allowance on it. Across the room, we found a vintage Frosta from the She-Ra line for $3! Sure it’s been well played with, but that’s exactly what my girls are going to do with it too. They were already playing with it before we got to the car!
Just a great day. It’s the small shows we really love and this is one of the best out there. We’ll be back next year!
I love this con! movie screenings, creators, heroclix tournaments, and admission is free! you’ll find the best deals here and really, it’s always a great time! I’ll have the girls with me (They both got new costumes and I have to recycle my old Spider-Ham outfit. Somehow I don’t think that’s fair) so if you see us, tap me on the shoulder and say hi!
Lake Effect Schedule of Events
- 7:00 – Dealer Setup Begins
- 10:00 – Show opens for general admission
- 10:30 – Scott Pilgrim movie begins
- 11:00 – Door Prize
- 12:00 – Door Prize
- 12:30 – Panel One begins – Small Press discussion
- 1:00 – Door Prize
- 1:15 – Panel Two begins – Original Comic Art discussion
- 2:00 – Door Prize
- 2:15 – Costume Contest
- 2:30 – Panel Three begins – Cosplay discussion
- 3:00 – Door Prize
- 3:15 – Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother movie begins
- 4:00 – Door Prize
- 5:00 – Show closes