Convention Confessional: Anywear

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

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.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.