The Con Artist Life (No, Not THAT Kind of Con Artist)
The Fun of Comic, Sci-Fi, and Pop Culture Conventions
I love going to conventions!
I'm not sure if I said that loud enough. I LOVE GOING TO CONVENTIONS!
Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I'd like to explain why I love these wonderful gatherings of artists, pop culture aficionados, comic collectors, cosplayers, movie nerds, and fellow geeks. First, read over the list in that last sentence. THAT'S why I love conventions. They are places where I can let the little girl who loved Star Wars, Tolkien, books, comics, and movies like Dragonslayer and The Dark Crystal in the '80s run free among like-minded people.
It might be hard these days to imagine how difficult it was for a little girl to be a sci-fi/fantasy nerd back then, but that was the era of films like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science, in which people just like me were the outcasts, the underdogs, the victims of bullying, and caricatures who functioned as a source of low-brow comedy. Sure, these protagonists emerged triumphant at the end of their films, but not before the audience had spent the majority of the films laughing at them and not with them, and in real life, there was no Kelly LeBrock to come to the rescue, especially for a female version of Gary and Wyatt. Life was a tightrope suspended between the expectations of what a little girl was supposed to like and supposed to be and the child I truly was, a Goonie like Mikey Walsh--right down to the denim jacket and asthma. And notice how all the characters I'm comparing myself to were male. These days, little girls have Rey, Captain Marvel, Katniss, and a slew of female role models; I had Princess Leia and Wonder Woman. Two great women, but that was it. I was too young for Alien's Ripley; Teela and Evil-Lyn were my only Masters of the Universe options--a sidekick and a villain; Conan the Barbarian's Valeria was another sidekick who died; Red Sonja was a bad film; Eowyn only existed in book form; and there was so much emphasis placed on femininity that I was mocked whenever I wanted to play GI-Joe with the neighborhood kids because I wanted to be Lady Jaye instead of Scarlett. What? Be the tough one and not the sexy redhead? For shame!
However, everything changed in the mid-90s for me. I was in my early twenties, and I had already read Timothy Zahn's trilogy of Star Wars books when I was invited to attend my first convention, Dragon Con. I was obsessed--I mean obsessed-- with Mara Jade, and since I was going to the convention with serious cosplayers (some of the original 501st Legion members, but that's another story), I decided to assemble a simple Mara costume out of things I had at home. My first convention was also my first cosplay experience.
I. Was. HOOKED!
Twenty-five years later, I'm still going to conventions, and I'm still cosplaying. Now, however, I have the chance to book conventions as an indie author, which is a whole new level of awesome. My first two conventions behind the table were incredible, and even though I was the person sitting in Artist Alley, that didn't stop me from cosplaying. A simple gray ensemble with a hooded gray cloak, and I'm like the convention attendee who dresses as a nameless "Jedi," only I am a "Silver Sword," a warrior from my own book. Dressing up as one of my own characters, selling books, signing books, meeting artists and writers and creators--and most importantly, the attendees who are, as I like to say, "my people". . . is it no wonder that I am filling my calendar with any convention I can work into my schedule? I'm already looking forward to the next one. . . and the one after that. . . and the one after that.
The little girl who dressed as Princess Leia for the first Halloween in which she got to choose her own costume, the female twenty-something who attended her first Dragon Con as Mara Jade, and the perpetual Star Wars Celebration cosplayer is now the middle-aged, cosplaying author and having an absolute blast!
Maybe I'll catch you at the next one, but until then, Stars light your way!