02 December 2009

Con-Ventional Wisdom

Welcome to Day 3 of "Story Month." On Monday, I presented you with a list of tips for surviving your first convention. Well, today I give you...another list. This list, which was titled in my Death Note as Con-ventional Wisdom, was supplied to me at Otakon, whilst sitting in a Chicago Uno Grill with my friends Abby, David and Ace. This was Abby's first convention since I met her at BAAF 2003, while I had previously met David at Katsucon, while he was walking the halls in his 5th Doctor outfit. I was reading from the previous list of tips, when David decided to chip in with his own advice from years of congoing. So, I present to you: Con-ventional Wisdom.

Do the cosplay you want, don't worry if it is too obscure. There are people worse than you.

Fitting advice, seeing as how he cosplays a little known Doctor. But this advice is sound. If you have a costume idea, run with it, no matter how obscure. Often, you may be surprised to find that someone actually will get the reference. And for a lot of people, having one person "in on the joke" can often mean more than having your picture taken a thousand times because you're Kenpachi Zaraki. (Personal note: I actually assembled a cosplay for Castiel from Supernatural that I plan to use at Katsucon. It's obscure, yes, but nowhere near as obscure as the Oscar Wilde I saw at Otakon.)

If you're at a con and something smells bad, it's not you—it’s everyone.

One of the biggest in-jokes of cons is that attendees seem to dislike taking showers. Sometimes this revolves around too many people in one room, sometimes people don't even have rooms, sometimes they like to maximize their con time (especially if they only attend 1 per year) and sometimes they're just plain lazy. But this has lead to a lovely stereotype that congoers are unwashed. Yes, some truly are. But no, not everybody is. Just remember, if you do forget to shower, you're not alone. Just make sure that it's not at one of those cons that enforces a cleanliness rule. They do exist.

Don't be afraid of heavy costumes. Everyone else is equally as uncomfortable as you are.

Truth. I met a guy in a Warhammer Space Marine outfit at Anime Boston. He couldn't move all that well. But he was having fun. And when it comes to cosplay, fun is what matters.

Feel free to scare the locals. You'll find some of them quite accommodating.

This is a mixed bag. It is a given that you will always find people who will smirk at your outfit and then talk to you. This holds especially true in cities where strange things aren't always seen as strange (New York and Boston come to mind). But this is not always the case. At Nekocon, I was told a tale about a man dressed in full Umbrella soldier garb who went into a Denny's for food and everyone in the place couldn't stop looking and laughing at him. I have also witnessed people in full cosplay being harassed by ignorant locals. But this is not universal. For every jerk, there will always be a few people who will come up to you and admire your costume.

At a con, you can live off $10 a day. Fast food is your friend.

This is a universal sentiment. One of the first things many congoers do upon arriving for a con is seek out the closest McDonald's or pizza place, and then spend the entire weekend eating there. For many attendees, cons are about spending money...but not on food. So how do they maximize their shopping while keeping themselves from going hungry? Fast food. $3 for breakfast, $3 for lunch and $4 for dinner, and they're set. While this is not exactly the healthiest option, the main argument is that while at a con, health goes out the window. (Side note: some people forego eating entirely. This is definitely not a healthy option, but I will devote more to this later.)

It's good to be accurate, but make sure your props are not bigger than you are.

This one's for you, Cloud. And don't you go anywhere either, Gattsu and Sanosuke! Indeed, at any con you will always find the diehard cosplayer with the 6 foot long sword walking the halls. And yes, the skill required to make one is challenging. But when your 6 foot buster sword causes you to off balance and fall down the escalator, well then it's time to get a smaller prop.

Bring. Spare. Pants.

This cannot be said enough.

For last second cosplay, or quick fix needs, find the nearest Target.

Or Walmart, Kmart, etc. These stores should not be ignored, especially at cons. As an experiment, I actually attempted to piece together an outfit for the 9th Doctor from Doctor Who, a very simple cosplay outfit. The nearest Target to my hotel had the right color shirt, right style pants, right shoes and even a faux leather jacket, all for less than $50. If you're willing to scour the store looking for exactly what you need, you will find it.

First time cosplayer with no idea what to dress as? Get a white button shirt, black vest and black Dockers. You are now 30% of every anime character ever.

Or 100% Ianto Jones. But yes, this is a very basic outfit that is very open to interpretation. A good second tip would be white long sleeve shirt, jeans, eyeliner and black Chuck Taylor's. You are now L.

Conventions are where you meet your best friends.

I could go into great detail over this, but for now, it speaks for itself.

So there you have it. Two lists of tips that will make your congoing experience more memorable and pleasurable. Now go out there and enjoy the con.

Note: As you can see, I am overhauling the site to make it more professional and pleasing to the eye. I am also looking for correspondents. So if anyone is interested in submitting their own musings or anime based stories, please let me know.

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