Convention Confessional: Anywear

[29 April 2010]

By Andy Smith

It’s the second day of the Pittsburgh Comicon, and I’m stuck behind two Mandalorians in line for a slice of pizza.
I rarely take note of costumed fans at conventions. But as I see the two intergalactic bounty hunters ahead of me and an impatient Lobo behind me, I begin to ask the obvious question.

What’s with the costumes?

I’ve attended conventions for years without really thinking about it. For many convention-goers, I can see their motivations clearly. The comic book artist is here to meet his fans, sell original art and see some friends from the industry. The retailer came to promote the store and to sometimes sell over-priced Ultimate Spider-Man variants. And the typical fan comes to take advantage of what both of the previous roles have to offer.

But why wear that Magneto costume?

After all, it’s not Halloween and the costume contest doesn’t happen for another day. In a given convention, you’ll see Starfleet officers, obscure video game stars and occasionally someone curiously dressed as an extra from The Last Starfighter. A friend of mine cites a group of Stormtroopers telling a pirate to “move along” as a defining experience in last year’s Pittsburgh convention.

Perhaps it’s the same reason grown men paint their bodies blue to attend a professional football game. It’s a sign of allegiance, beer helmet included, to a cause they fully support. Or maybe, like the Stormtroopers, it’s a chance to play the part usually reserved for adoration. Perhaps the simplest yet most accurate answer is that it’s just plain fun.

Getting A Kick Out Of It: Outside of major events, costume-wearing Con-goers are rarely humanized

Getting A Kick Out Of It: Outside of major events, costume-wearing Con-goers are rarely humanized

Mainstream media mostly covers conventions with a zoological approach. If it’s not the San Diego Con or some other Hollywood-heavy event, reports usually revolve around the “look at these weirdos” approach. But these convention-goers deserve much more than that. After all, we all have made the same choice in going to a convention. Some of us are just a little more obvious about our appreciation.

For whatever reason you’re going to a convention, you’ve decided to go an event solely dedicated to a culture you take part in—whether you are a consumer, retailer or producer of these fictional worlds. Maybe that’s a function that costumed fans serve at conventions. Whether any of us enjoy slipping on a Deadpool likeness, we are all here to celebrate a medium. And, perhaps to put a few swashbucklers in their place.

So, I reach out to one of the Mandalorians in front of me.

“Hey, great costume!”

My intrusion is given a solemn nod in response.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/124871-convention-confessional-anywear/