Skyrim Wedding Picture

Skyrim-Wedding

What happens when a costumer and a photographer/VFX artist fall in love? EPIC PICTURES! This visual celebration of our nuptials and our obsession with Skyrim, has been a long time in the making and we debuted it on February 17th in honor of our first wedding anniversary.

Each member of our wedding party, including our ring bearer and flower girl, were photographed individually in front of a green screen. The clothes were all bought at local thrift stores and we had a blast ripping them up, then covering them in movie dirt and blood. Actually, I was a little too vigorous while ripping up my stunt bridal gown with scissors, so there is actually a good amount of real blood on mine. #legit

While this started as a fun project to celebrate our fandom, it’s quickly become very popular! Our picture was even featured on Kotaku.com! We really love that other fans have enjoyed our work and really appreciate all the well wishes!

Now, to plan for next year…

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Do it Yourself: Costume Helmet (Big Barda)

big_barda_by_jack_kirbyI have always loved Big Barda’s design. Over the years it has changed significantly, but her samurai-inspired helmet has remained a trademark of her look. I decided early on that I wanted to go with a more real-world design for the helmet, but make sure that it was still clearly recognizable. Who am I to improve on Jack Kirby’s work? Despite the sleek design of the helmet, this was easily one of the most complicated cosplay projects that I have tackled.

I started with a practical base, which came in the form of a child’s toy Dodger helmet that I picked up at the thrift store for $2.50. I cut the bill off of it and used it for the foundation of Barda’s Helmet. I then used craft foam to measure, design, and test the a few different designs for the back of the helmet that comes down around the neck. I had to be careful that I could still turn my head without trouble, but still have it come down as far as possible.

BardaHelm1Once I finalized the pattern for the back of the helmet with the cheap craft foam, I traced it onto Worbla and made the final version. I used industrial glue to cement the new Worbla piece to the Dodger helmet.After the glue dried, I used my heat gun to bend the Worbla into exactly the shape I wanted. This included adding a slight curl to the bottom of the helmet, and making sure it was symmetrical. Finally, I used Bondo to smooth the seam and make the Worbla and Dodger helmet look like one item. My little detail sander is a godsend for working with Bondo on small or detailed items like this. GET ONE!

BardaHelm2Adding more details with Worbla was the next step. Barda has very distinctive patterning on her helmet, and this is where Worbla really shines. It’s so easy to cut a small strip and then bend it to fit along the edge of almost any shape. It attaches to itself when heated, but I also used glue since I’m not sure if it would have securely attached itself to the Dodger helmet and Bondo.

Then I used Gesso to make it completely smooth, by adding a thin layer then sanding, then adding another layer and sanding. Barda’s helmet needs to look completely smooth and very futuristic. The Gesso and sanding made the parts of the helmet completely level and smooth, and also insured a uniform texture for the primer paint to attach.

BardaHelm3After what felt like endless hours of sanding, I added the smaller details to the helmet with Worbla. In the picture to the left, I painted the details from the previous step black so you could see the difference. The Worbla attached to the Gesso, and is always incredibly easy to use on details like this. I used Gesso where the strips of Worbla met to make the details seamless and to avoid the gaps that can sometimes show on the final process.

BardaHelm5

Paint job not finished

Now it’s time to paint the helmet. Big Barda’s helmet is a shiny smooth black, so this took a while. The technique is to lay a thin coat of spray paint over the whole helmet, wait for it to dry COMPLETELY, then use extremely fine sandpaper lightly on any areas that aren’t perfectly smooth. After that’s done, you do it again. A lot. Eventually, you will get a nice smooth finish that doesn’t look like spray paint.

Barda’s helmet goes all the way down to her shoulders, and like many comic book outfits that defy logic, she can still turn her head. Physics doesn’t work like that for me and so I had to come up with an alternative. I used black scale maille around the neck to extend the look down to give the illusion of the helmet reaching my shoulders. It ended up matching perfectly, and is one of my favorite details on this cosplay. I created the scale maille piece and attached it with Velcro to the inside of the helmet. The fact that it was removable made painting and finishing the helmet easier.

BardaHelm6Clear coating can be one of the most stressful parts of a project. I  wanted maximum shine on my helmet, so I used a high gloss clear coat. I highly recommend that you use the same brand of paint throughout a project (if possible), and ALWAYS test different paints together on scraps before using them on your work in progress. Nothing is more heartbreaking than having something almost finished and then watching the paint bubble or flake because of a chemical reaction. I carefully added multiple clear coats, leaving many hours between each coat to insure that it was completely dry when the next was added. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!

I used copper leaf to add the metallic shine. As always, practice leafing on scraps before working on your final piece, and take your time. Fine paintbrushes are very helpful for leafing corners and edges. It can be really tricky to get it looking right. After I finished leafing the main helmet, I added more layers clear coat. This iBardaHelmetFinisheds a vital step after leafing and prevents the metal from tarnishing or peeling off.

Now the majority of the helmet was done, and I could create the decorative front. I wanted it to have some weight and depth to it, so I used Kamui Cosplay’s tutorial and sandwiched a layer of craft foam between two layers of Wonderflex. The Wonderflex should be larger than the craft foam so that you can heat seal it around the edges. I molded these pieces with heat to perfectly fit to each other, and to the finished section of the helmet. After these pieces cooled, I painted them or copper leafed them just like I did the other parts of the helmet. To finish it off, I used industrial glue to attach these pieces to the rest of the helmet.

BigBardaGoldenLassoCosplay

 

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Magic in Marvel Movies

Doctor_Strange_6534The internet is buzzing with rumors about the casting of Marvel’s Doctor Strange. While some really great names have been linked with the role of earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, there is another reason that I am thrilled to hear that Stephen Vincent Strange will be appearing on the silver screen.

It means REAL magic will be appearing in a modern comic book movie universe for the first time.

Yes, I know that Loki has been using his hologram-like tricks since his first appearance, but Marvel has been very careful to explain away magic. Asgardians aren’t gods, they are super advanced aliens who occasionally come to earth to pretend to be gods. It’s not a Soul Forge, it’s a Quantum Field Generator. Jane Foster lays it out for us when she explains, “Magic is just science we don’t understand yet.” While they have been pushing the envelope with each new film, there still hasn’t been anything that has been expressly described as magic. Doctor Strange’s power is completely based on magic and I don’t think that they will risk the wrath of fans to try to explain it away with some advanced science. The technology-ruled Marvel movie universe is officially going to cross the line that they’ve been so careful to tiptoe with Thor.

wonder womanThis is a huge deal when many people claim that some characters, like Wonder Woman, can never appear on screen with their magic-based powers and backstories intact. These people argue that the modern audience won’t accept magic in comic book movies, and so these iconic characters must be altered to fit neatly into the expected norm. It’s refreshing that Marvel doesn’t agree.

This adds a huge number of amazing possibilities for upcoming DC and Marvel movies! Scarlet Witch, Wonder Woman, Zatanna, John Constantine (for real this time), Enchantress, and so many others now have hope of appearing on screen intact. While adding a few technological advances to the Amazons might smooth the transition (maybe a cloaking device hides Paradise Island instead of magic?), I believe that the magical foundation to Wonder Woman’s powers and her magical items can succeed on the big screen. DC’s movies have had a very different tone than the Marvel movies, but I believe that they can build upon the foundations laid by the successful Marvel franchises. The average moviegoer isn’t going to separate the DC and Marvel movies into exclusive categories. If they accept Loki and Doctor Strange in an Avengers movie, they will accept Wonder Woman or John Constantine in a DC movie.

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Golden Lasso on Social Networks

Sif_Kimi_1Golden Lasso has been working to expand its reach on social networks! You can find us all over!

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Google+

Tumblr

Pinterest

The plan is to slowly take over the internet, but in the meantime, enjoy the cosplay, gaming, and other geeky stuff!

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman

GalGadotIt has finally happened. Wonder Woman is going to appear in a major motion picture. Gal Gadot wasn’t on my short list for the part. She wasn’t even on my long list for the part. To be honest, she hadn’t crossed my mind at all. I was hoping for Lynn Collins, who screamed Wonder Woman with her performance in John Carter. Lynn has the look and the acting chops to bring Diana to life, despite the fact that she’d need an apple box and some movie magic to make her appear taller. In contrast, I really don’t know anything about Gal except how she looks physically, because she’s never been in anything that required much acting.

The movie I have been dreaming of has arrived, and I am filled with a mixture of joy and fear that only comes with being a fanatic… er… fan.

JOY: DC movies are really well cast.
I may not like all the choices or stories, but I have almost always liked the casting in DC movies. Every time I nerd-rage out about someone being cast, I have (almost) always been proven wrong. I ate my words with both Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker, and Ann Hathaway’s spot-on Catwoman. Man of Steel and Green Lantern were both well cast, and their actors did their best despite terrible scripts. The casting people at Warner’s B&Jobviously have a good eye for this, so maybe Gal will knock it out of the park.

FEAR: DC movies have really crappy scripts.
DC movies have a history of terrible scripts that are filled with cornball jokes or gaping plot holes. I think George Clooney could have been a Batman for the ages if he had been given the right script. Ditto for Jim Carrey as the Riddler. Can you imagine him playing a creepy, puzzle-crazed Riddler in a more realistic way like Heath Ledger’s Joker? These problems have continued into more recent projects. Batman Begins started the new DC movies off strong, but both The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel suffered from bad pacing, lack of character development, and moments that simply didn’t make sense! I am terrified they will completely miss the mark with Diana’s appearance in Batman & Superman, which will be the death sentence for any Wonder Woman movie in the works.

JOY: Gal has actual military experience!
I love this! My sister joined the US Army a few years ago, and even her weeks of boot camp gave her an impressive amount of training. Israel is the only country in the world where service KidsandWWis compulsory for both women and men, and two years of military service in the Israeli Defense Force is nothing to sneeze at. Women can be assigned to infantry combat service and be directly in the line of fire. Even if Gal didn’t experience that, Israel is far from a peaceful place and the training would have prepared her for all possibilities. She has been closer to real combat than most action stars in Hollywood.

FEAR: Gal isn’t built like Wonder Woman.
Yes, I’ll admit that this is a bit shallow, but Wonder Woman’s physique is part of what drew me to her as a child. I was always one of the tallest kids in my class. Combine that with my athletic build from years of competitive swimming and the rude comments prepubescent boys made, I could often feel out of place. Wonder Woman helped young Kimi deal with that. She showed me that a woman could be physically imposing, while still being feminine! While there is certainly a lot of depth to Wonder Woman, her physical build shouldn’t be ignored. I hope Gal hits the gym.

JOY: Zack Snyder’s movies look cool.
There is no disputing that Zack Snyder has great style. Man of Steel and Watchmen were visually stunning interpretations of comic publications. Most importantly, 300 proved that a movie based Suckerpunchon ancient stories/myths (like Wonder Woman herself) could succeed and be accepted by the modern audience.

FEAR: Zack Snyder sucks at creating good female characters.
This is the director who HONESTLY thought Sucker Punch was a story of female empowerment. That’s right, the movie about girl who is trapped in an insane asylum and repeatedly raped, but mentally escapes to a fantasy world where she is a sex slave, who mentally escapes to another fantasy world where she is a scantily clad fighter trying to find random objects, but in reality, she just gets lobotomized in the real world and stays a victim. Wow. Way to empower women Zack. Create a Russian nesting doll of victimization and assault for your female characters on all levels of their psyche. While I have no doubt that Mr. Snyder will make fight scenes that will be worthy of Wonder Woman (just look at Faora in Man of Steel), I believe he is utterly incapable of capturing her character and motivations.

When it comes right down to it, the actress is not my biggest worry with Wonder Woman appearing on film. I’m much more concerned about the writers, and the director. That being said, I’m trying not to judge too harshly until there is something to be judged. I can’t wait to see the costume they come up with… or can I?

*worry*

wonder-woman-migraine

 

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What is Inappropriate Cosplay?

Image courtesy of http://www.twoohsix.com/

Image courtesy of http://www.twoohsix.com/

In October, I traveled to Seattle to speak about the Psychology of Cosplay at Geek Girl Con. It was an amazing panel organized by Dr. Andrea Letamendi, a clinical psychologist and cosplayer, and included Jessica Marizan, Chaka Cumberbatch, and myself as panelists. We discussed a ton of really great concepts, and the inevitable topic of “inappropriate” cosplay was brought up and discussed by the panelists.

I want to be completely clear about my feelings on this topic: THERE ARE INAPPROPRIATE OUTFITS TO WEAR TO PUBLIC EVENTS, AND AS COSPLAYERS, WE HAVE TO BE AWARE OF OUR AUDIENCE.

Now, the main focus of these debates is often skimpy/sexy cosplay. While I tend to be more modest than many other cosplayers, I have no problem with revealing cosplays. I have worked with children long enough to know that the human body, contrary to what many believe, is not damaging to the average child’s psyche. I know I’ll probably get emails about that statement, but it’s true. The cosplays that really worry me are the bloody and violent ones. Those can really freak out kids in a way that cleavage never could.

This is NOT the cosplayer I saw, but this is the same basic concept.

This is NOT the cosplayer I saw, but this is the same basic concept.

My best example of this is from a convention that I attended in 2012. I was dressed up as Wonder Woman, and as always, was having a blast posing with kids. One of the most excited fans was a little Superman, proudly wearing his foam muscled outfit from the Halloween store. He flexed his muscles and flew circles around his parents to show me how fast he was. “Cute” doesn’t quite cover it. Later that day, I was wandering the halls and I ran into a mutilated Superman cosplayer limping around and posing with people. From a makeup/costume viewpoint, he really looked incredible. He really resembled Superman and his massive injuries/blood looked real even from up close. I was admiring his work from a distance, when I saw my little Superman friend from before stopped dead in the middle of the aisle. The look of horror on his little face made my stomach drop. He started crying, and had to be carried off by his parents.

We are portraying characters that people love, and in some cases, look up to as personal heroes. This is especially true for children, who are a significant portion of the con-going population. We have to balance self-expression with our responsibility to respectfully portray these characters that have left such a deep mark on pop-culture. The last thing our community needs is policing and limiting of creativity, but we need to be empathetic. Be reasonable with the blood effects, or save it for select events and photo shoots. If we have the passion to step into the shoes of the most powerful characters in fiction, surely we have the power to step into the shoes of young fans and their families.

GoldenLassoCosplayKids

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Rainfall’s Wonder Woman

A few months ago, I was asked to help bring my hero to life. I thought I was dreaming when Sam Balcomb of Rainfall Films brought the initial idea to me. Was it possible that Wonder Woman might finally be represented well on screen? Would I really get to help make that dream into a reality?

Rainfall Wonder Woman sketch

Sketch by Sam Balcomb

Since that fateful day, I’ve been able to talk about Wonder Woman even more than usual. Breaking down everything from Diana’s history and motivations, to classic comic poses and ancient Greek myths. We decided to heavily base our short on the Perez-era Wonder Woman, complete with ThemAmazonsyscira and monsters out of Greek mythology. We poured over my collection of Wonder Woman comics to capture all the details, even if they would go unnoticed by most of the audience. Through it all, the Rainfall team was adamant about being true to the character, and making a truly kick-ass female superhero.

Then there was the most daunting task of all: designing the outfit. Costuming is a huge part of my life, and I’ve tried my hand at Wonder Woman’s costume before, but we really wanted something unique that would pay homage to Diana’s Greek and warrior roots. It had to be functional, but still capture the iconic look that is so familiar to pop culture. We finally settled on two distinct looks, a more armored suit for the flashbacks to Paradise Island and a sleeker look for the city scenes. Our incredible costuming team, Heather Greene and Sarah Skinner, were able to create the entire costume from scratch, including the leather armor and steel scale maille. Yours truly braided the Lasso of Truth!

On Rainfall SetThe days on set were incredible. Everyone was thrilled to be a part of the project. Rileah Vanderbilt, who plays Wonder Woman in the short, was incredibly dedicated and a huge Wonder Woman fan! The stunt team was incredibly talented and we all watched in amazement as Wonder Woman, with their help, flew for the first time. America Young, Clare Grant, Alicia Big Barda and Wonder WomanMarie, Christy Hauptman, and myself filled out the rest of the Amazons. It was so much fun getting to know these wonderful women while dressing up and playing with swords. It was even more fun to reconnect with all of them at Comic-Con 2013 a few weeks after shooting. Rileah and I even hit the convention floor cosplaying as Wonder Woman and Big Barda, also from DC Comics.

This was truly a labor of love. By combining our talents and passion for this character, I believe we were able to create something worthy of the Amazon Princess. I will be posting more info about this project in coming weeks, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy our passion project!

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Letter from a DC Fangirl

Dear DC Comics,

I know this is harder on me than it is on you. I am just one woman among countless fans, and it’s starting to be pretty apparent how much you care about your fans. So, after more than twenty years of loyalty and love, I’m going to be frank with you. Our relationship is in trouble.

1464_400x600 I was so young when my cousin introduced us, and I’d sneak looks at you until I was old enough to get an allowance and have you for myself. I loved your late 80s and early 90s style. I still have some copies of Wonder Woman, The New Teen Titans, Justice League (America, Europe, International, and New_Teen_Titans_Vol_1_28even Task Force), and Batman & the Outsiders to remember the good times. Through all the changes, I stood beside you. I was there when Eclipso attacked, when Gotham was declared No Man’s Land, and I hung in there for every “crisis” you could come up with. I watched Superman die and Metropolis try to cope with his loss. I followed along as Dick finally took up the cowl, and then put it down again. So many stories. Some were good, some were bad, but through it all I still felt like part of something wonderful.

Then you had some work done. The new 52 hit, and you became a hot ticket item. Suddenly, my friends who had never read comics before had a lot to say about you! It was nice to feel like my passion was spreading to new people. Like always, some stories were great and some sucked, but there were a lot of our old friends who weren’t happy. I went to bat for you. I defended you to my friends and family! I pointed out all your good qualities, and whitewashed the bad because I wanted you to do well. Sadly, it was soon obvious that you didn’t care about my feelings.

Justice-LeagueGreat characters never reappeared, and fan favorites started acting completely counter to their normal behavior. Quality character arcs fell by the wayside in favor of shock value and company profit. It was clear that the bottom line and the big bosses’ ideas were more important than treating your creators well. Lots of amazing creators disappeared for a variety of reasons which reflected very badly on your management. Your choices didn’t make sense and started driving away the writers and artists who kept us reading! Fans read a comic when the character they love is well written and drawn. Your talented creators make your company, not the other way around.

Most upsetting is your overall attitude CTW_Cv0_PREVIEWStowards women readers and female characters. Comics have always been over-sexualized, but your unending trail of insults over the last few years has gone beyond what we’ve come to expect, even from this industry. Many great characters’ personalities were tweaked and flattened so that they can fit into what you thought was a sexier mold. The fact that you assume that women need a Superman/Wonder Woman Twilight-inspired romance to become interested in comics is just one recent example of how your female stereotyping has reached ridiculous levels. Finally, when you asked thousands of amateur artists to draw one of your most prominent female characters about to commit suicide in a bathtub, it’s flat out insulting. Can something like that harley-quinnbe part of a tasteful storyline? Sure, but asking non-professionals to take on such sensitive subject matter is inappropriate. I cringe just imagining some of the entries you must have received. AND THEN some of your big-wigs took to social networking to make excuses and play down the incident. Jim Lee (who I basically hate at this point) blamed US for not waiting around to see the rest of the story. I don’t care how the panels fit into the (unexplained) context of the story, you could have easily gleaned their drawing abilities from a more appropriate panel. You picked a horrendously irresponsible topic for this contest. It’s downright disgusting. Apologize like an adult, hire a PR department, and move on.

Grow up. Stop blaming your audience for not liking your choices, and start making choices your customers will like.

I don’t really know where this leaves us. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m still with you when I’m in public. I’ve always flirted with Marvel, Dark Horse, and others, but now I’m seriously considering ending my monthly commitment to you. It breaks my heart, but even the good memories from our early days aren’t enough to make up for the choices you are making. Shape up, or it’s over.

Sincerely,

Kimi
A DC Fangirl
www.goldenlasso.net

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Surviving Comic-Con

SDCCsignComic-Con 2013 is less than two weeks away. Everyone, from cosplayers to comic publishers, is frantically preparing for one of the biggest pop culture events of the year. It’s a huge gathering of people on the scale of Mardi Gras or the Super Bowl. Here is my list of tips to having a great time at such a chaotic event. (If you’re a cosplayer, you may also want to read my Cosplay Must Haves article!)

1. Have a Plan & Update the Plan!
Spend some time at comic-con.org and make a rough-draft plan before you even leave for San Diego. Figure out what panels are MUST-SEE for you, if there are any exciting events or meet-ups, where your favorite creators are holding signings, and where your favorite booths will be. After you have your rough-draft, highlight your three top choices for each day.

When you get to SDCC, be sure to check updates online and to check the programs they hand out for updates and changes to the schedule. Twitter is also an awesome tool for staying on top of adjustments to scheduling.

YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE HARD CHOICES. You will never get to everything you want to see. Be prepared for this.

SDCCFloor2. Bring Provisions
You should always carry water, food, hand sanitizer, and painkillers with you. Food and water are incredibly expensive, and you could easily lose an hour standing in line at the Starbucks in the convention center. Bring a backpack or messenger bag full of power bars, trail mix, bottles of water, candy. If your feet or head start hurting in the middle of the day it’s always better to be able to deal with it immediately, and you want to avoid getting sick when dealing with the (mostly) unwashed masses.

PRO TIP: I love collapsible water bottles for conventions. They are easy to refill at water fountains and take up less space in your bag when they are empty.

I also recommend bringing a cooler of food with you to leave in your hotel, especially if you are staying anywhere near the Gaslamp district. It’s much cheaper/easier to make yourself a sandwich for lunch, or have some milk and cereal in the morning than dealing with the waits and upped prices of local restaurants for every meal. Requesting a fridge is ideal, but those are usually limited and gone unless you arrive on Monday or Tuesday before the Con.

Con-Bag Check List:
- Snacks & Water
- Sharpies to get autographs
- chargers & power strip/ extra batteries
- maps
- painkillers
- hand sanitizer
- cash (many booths don’t accept cards!)
- iPod/handheld gaming device & headphones to combat line boredom
- Travel stick of deodorant & mints/gum
- camera/phone that takes pictures

3. Stay Connected
The massive amounts of people really put the strain on technology at SDCC. All cell networks are stretched within an inch of their life, and it’s often hard to get service in parts of the convention center. If you are splitting from your party, or want to meet up with specific people, plan it ahead of time or early in the morning before everyone starts using the network. You will waste less time if everyone knows to meet at the outside stairs at 10am, instead of texting and calling and trying to round people up on the fly.

Pack extra batteries for your camera, phone, and even your laptop if you are able. If not, be sure to bring your charger with you and a surge protector. You will be the most popular person in your line if you share the charging power with those around you. It will also guarantee that you are allowed to use the outlet, even if someone’s already plugged into it. While you’re in the convention center turn off GPS and other non-essential functions on your phone to save battery life. Most of that stuff doesn’t work within the heavy concrete walls anyway.

line 4. Be Comfortable
If you’re a cosplayer, you’re screwed. Everyone else, dress as comfortably as possible. Comfortable shoes are the most important thing. You will be on your feet ALL DAY. ALL DAY and maybe most of the evening!!! Wear something with support that is made for running or walking and be sure they are already broken in.

Dress in something that breathes (cottons, natural fabrics) so that you stay comfortable and sweat can evaporate instead of getting sticky. You will probably want to sit on the floor at some point due to exhaustion and lack of seating, so be sure your outfit can handle that. Wear a sweatshirt around your waist, even if it’s a warm day. Some of the panel rooms or outside areas can get pretty chilly with the air blasting.

Bring a backpack or messenger bag to carry swag in. If you really like free stuff, bring an extra empty one with you! They bags they hand out are cumbersome and can be hard to carry in crowded areas.

5. Have A Map
Actually, have a few maps. You will want a map of the show floor and convention center. You can print these out early at the Comic-Con website or pick them up on site. A map of the downtown San Diego is really handy as well. With internet/cellular service somewhat unreliable at times, it really helps when you are trying to find events away from the convention center. These are usually available for free from your hotel, or you can print one out before you leave home.

AVOID DRIVING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! Walking, even to something many blocks from the convention center, will be faster since most of downtown is at a perpetual standstill. You can always hire the bike carriages that are all over the place if you don’t feel like walking. If you are driving in each day, GET THERE EARLY!

6. Wear Sunscreen
It’s San Diego for heaven’s sake! You never know when your panel’s line might end up outside, or if you’ll be stuck sitting by a window. You don’t want to become a french fry if the walk from your hotel takes longer than expected.

7. Be Prepared for Panels
hall-h
Panels can be a nightmare. There are whole survival guides written about attending SDCC panels, and you still wouldn’t know everything that you need to know. Here are the basics:

There are lines for the panels, and the more popular something is, the longer the line will be. Hall H has the longest lines (see picture of Hall H line to the right), but with good planning it is usually doable. Some people sleep overnight to get into Hall H, and rumors of famous stars visiting the line late at night abound. If you’re planning to spend lots of time in the Hall H line be sure you only have one normal sized chair or sleeping bag and are not saving spots for people not in the line (bathroom breaks are ok). It is also outside, so be ready.

The big thing to know is that they don’t clear the room after each panel. So people will sit through many panels to guarantee that they see the one they want in a few hours. Hell, many people just hang out in Hall H all day and never see the rest of the convention. This can be frustrating for people in line because sometimes the room hits max capacity before the whole line is allowed in. Again, if something is really popular, go early and politely sit through the panel(s) before it.

Before spending all your time trying to get into a panel, check to see if it will be posted online. It’s a great way to see a panel without dealing with the crowds or when there is a scheduling conflict. You might have to do a little hunting around, but thanks to YouTube, a huge amount of panels are available to watch later. If you go to a panel and want to participate, PLEASE ASK GOOD QUESTIONS. Nobody wants to hear a rant about your feelings on their work for the last 10 years. Make sure your asking something that involves the panel topic and doesn’t make the panelists hate you.

SDCCoutside8. Be Early For Everything
Leave yourself extra time to get everywhere. No matter how well you plan your day, there will be issues that come up. This is most important with getting to and from the convention center at busy times. The shuttles can sometimes get off schedule, so catching an early one will ensure that you don’t miss your favorite stuff and give you more time on the convention floor. Arrive early for signings, panels, and screenings. There are always lines and the sooner you arrive, the better chance you have of actually getting to participate.

There is no real rule of thumb for this, but it will easily take you two or three times as long to get anywhere.

9. Hygiene
There is a massive number of people at Comic-Con. I don’t want to stereotype our subculture, but I’ve attended enough gaming and comic conventions to know better. PLEASE SHOWER EVERY DAY! PEOPLE NOTICE!! Parts of the convention center get very warm and everyone sweats. I don’t care how worn out you are, SHOWER. I highly recommend packing a small travel stick of deodorant in your bag to freshen up throughout the day, especially cosplayers who are wearing bulky or heavy outfits. Please also be sure to brush your teeth daily since you will most likely be conversing with other humans at some point. Mints or gum are a great way to stay fresh throughout the day.

By Sunday, many parts of the convention center develop a distinct odor. If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

10. Interacting with Cosplayers
Comic-Con 2011The people who are dressed in costume are called “cosplayers,” and they are people too. In fact, they are fans just like you! They are not paid by the convention, and they buy their tickets and hotel rooms just like everyone else. Cosplayers are there to enjoy themselves, not to entertain you. Be respectful. They come from all walks of life and you never know when a cosplayer might be an off duty cop with a passion for sewing. DO NOT TOUCH A COSPLAYER WITHOUT ASKING FIRST! COSPLAY DOES NOT EQUAL CONSENT!

Most cosplayers do love to pose for pictures because we are incredibly proud of the outfits we have made and love the characters. It’s always great to meet another fan and very flattering to be asked for a photo. Ask first, and it’s always great to have you pose in the picture with us. If you are planning on posting the picture online, please talk to the cosplayer about it first. Most have Facebook pages or DeviantArt pages that you can easily credit.

Be careful of our costumes! We put hundreds of hours and often hundreds of dollars into making them. Some pieces may look very sturdy, but often they are very fragile. Grabbing something or touching something can seriously damage it. Ask before grabbing a prop to pose with or before putting your hand on their shoulder armor.

11. Have Fun
Comic-Con is an amazing experience, and a yearly tradition for many fans. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself. Take time to soak in the experience and appreciate how cool it is to have so many geek brothers and sisters all in one place!

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Cosplay Nation Interview

CNlogoI was interviewed by the amazing Cosplay Nation website for a spotlight feature on May 16th. They have interviewed some of my favorite cosplayers, and I was pretty excited when they showed interest in my costumes. They asked me a wide variety of questions, and I really enjoyed working with them. This is my favorite excerpt from the interview:

Do you ever worry about how cosplayers are represented in the media?

Absolutely. I work hard to make sure that all my costumes are tasteful, and every time I see a blog or website gallery posting objectifying images of cosplayers, I cringe. I am a professional educator with a master’s degree, but often people assume I’m a bimbo who just wants attention or is trying to break into modeling. I hate that I have to keep my hobby a secret because cosplay is viewed in such a sexual light that it could hurt my career. I hate that it’s assumed that I spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars creating costumes simply to please the opposite sex.  More than anything, I hate that this art form and expression of fandom is cheapened by a small minority, and a society that chooses to focus on sex rather than passion or skill.
Read the rest of the interview at www.cosplaynation.net, or you can like their Facebook page or follow them @cosplay_nation.