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“My perspective is a little different than most because I take so much time in between conventions and when I’m there I’m working… but watching from behind by signing table and seeing people becoming friends online or just having a great time expressing themselves through costume and just sharing their love of whatever they love is amazing. My feeling is if you are a creator and your book or art or whatever isn’t selling that is on you. And I’m talking about myself here as well. If something didn’t connect with an audience, that’s my problem, that’s not the culture’s problem.
“The culture shifts very quickly. Quicker than it ever has before. Most of the time I think for the better. But I think if you are trying to sell something to someone at a convention or anywhere you better take a good look at yourself and what you’re selling and how much you are selling it for. You can’t just show up at your table and drop your portfolio and sit back and wish of the sea to part. (which I see a lot of people doing) You have to have work out there, that is vital. You have to let people know what you have that is special and worth their time.”
– Brian Michael Bendis, responding to a question about the effect of cosplay on comic conventions
Writer and producer Denise Dorman, wife of artist Dave Dorman, kicked off far-ranging discussion with her recent post about the shifting convention scene, and how it’s affected their income — specifically, her view that cosplayers have become to the “new focus” of the events, to the detriment of creators, publishers and vendors.
It’s certainly true that comics conventions have become more popular and more numerous than ever, and with their success comes an evolving experience both for attendees and exhibitors. However, Dorman’s essay is front-loaded with a lot of perplexed annoyance at kids today and their cosplaying, Instagram and selfies.
Unfortunately, much of the discussion that’s followed so far has focused on defending cosplayers. That was my initial response too — after all, I’ve seen some people wearing elaborate and imaginative costumes walking on the floor with their overflowing bag of comics, or their original art delicately being transported somewhere safe. Plenty of cosplayers love comics, and if they stop at a booth, you can bet people around them are checking out both them and the table they’re perusing. I’ve seen it happen so often at Comic-Con International.
Cosplayers with fake weapons triggered at least two calls to police over the weekend in Derby, England, as about 800 people gathered for the J-Con anime and manga convention.
According to the Derby Telegraph, a police spokeswoman said there were at least two “major incidents” reported by alarmed residents, prompting investigations of the fans in “fancy dress.” “We’ve obviously investigated but, when we’ve found the people involved, the weapons turned out to be fake — just a bit of fun,” she said. “From a distance, though, they didn’t look like fun.”
Conventions | Vocativ put together an interesting, if somewhat late, video report about the Middle East Film & Comic Con in Dubai, often viewed by Westerners as a conservative Muslim city. Yet the April convention, which drew about 35,000 attendees, featured both women in traditional hijabs and cosplayers in somewhat-revealing costumes. More interesting still, the number of women artists outnumbered the men. The piece also touches upon the reaction to the new Ms. Marvel, a Muslim teenager from New Jersey. [Vocativ]
Creators | “Never having known how to work in this style, suddenly in my 80s, I discover I can”: Jules Feiffer talks about his latest graphic novel, Kill My Mother, a noir-ish tale that is a sharp departure from his earlier work. [Los Angeles Times]
Well before Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor makes its big-screen debut next year in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, cosplayer Pablo Bairan has brought the comic-book version to life, quite epically.
And as difficult as it is to believe, the massive suit is mobile, with an honest-to-goodness person in side. You can see for yourself in the photos and video below.
Events | The driver who plowed through the crowd last month at the annual SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego, injuring a 64-year-old passersby, has given an interview providing his version of the event, saying he had turned off the engine to wait for the parade to pass when participants began surrounding his car. The situation quickly escalated, he says, when a spectator sat on the hood and hit the windshield, shattering it, and another person opened the back door. “I got scared. That’s when I plowed my car through the crowd,” says the unidentified 48-year-old. “I had to do this to save my family because of the crowd. I couldn’t tell if the parade was done.” He adds, “I felt awful about it. I just couldn’t believe that I actually hit the old lady.” [iDeafNews, Times of San Diego]
With a nearly $127 million domestic box-office haul, an inescapable marketing campaign, countless merchandising tie-ins and a soundtrack debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard charts, it’s safe to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is worming its way into our pop-culture consciousness. And come Halloween, the streets and malls will be crawling with little trick-or-treaters dressed as Rocket Raccoon, and every grown-up party will feature at least two Draxes, a Star-Lord and a Gamora.
But few of them will be able to hold a candle to this Groot costume created by Calen Hoffman. The photos show the work in progress, which will likely clue in cosplayers as to how he produced the almost movie-ready ensemble. The last time I sculpted anything was in 11th grade art class, so I’m happy to just sit back and marvel at the finished product.
Tampa Bay Comic Con was scheduled to kick off this morning with a bid to set a new Guinness World Record for largest gathering of people dressed as comic book characters.
As you may recall, Washington, D.C.’s Awesome Con made the same attempt in April, but with just 237 fell significantly short of the record of 1,530 set in April 2011 at the opening of World Joyland theme park in China. And like the Awesome Con effort, Tampa Bay’s comes with restrictions — in this case, that the characters must have originally appeared in comics, rather than on television, film, video games, etc. Apologies in advance to all of the Harley Quinn cosplayers …
Legal | Attorney Tom Goldstein, co-founder of the respected SCOTUSblog, has joined with Marc Toberoff to represent the heirs of Jack Kirby in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the Second Circuit’s affirmation that the artist’s contributions to Marvel between 1958 and 1963 were work for hire and therefore not subject to copyright termination. In a response filed this week to Marvel’s brief urging the high court to decline review, Goldstein and Toberoff again challenge the Second Circuit’s “instance and expense” test and its definition of “employer,” and argue, “Many of our most celebrated literary and musical works were created before 1978 and signed away to publishers in un-remunerative transactions. Termination rights were ‘needed because of the unequal bargaining position of authors.’ It would be hard to find a better example of this than the prolific Jack Kirby, who worked in his basement with no contract, no financial security and no employment benefits, but without whom Marvel might not even be in business today.” [Hollyqood, Esq.]
Retailing | Memo to politicians: You don’t win friends and influence people by taking up five spots in a comic store’s parking lot with your campaign bus on a Wednesday — especially when it’s Batman Day. [The Clarion-Ledger]
Conventions | Samantha Melamed looks at the problem of harassment at comics conventions, particularly of cosplayers, and what some women are doing about it. The article includes interviews with artist Erin Filson, one of the co-founders of Geeks for CONsent, which has called upon Comic-Con International to institute a more specific, and more visible, anti-harassment policy; cosplayer Nicole Jacobs, who describes a recent incident at AwesomeCon; and psychology professor Kimberly Fairchild, who studies harassment. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
Creators | Frequent collaborators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie discuss their new series The Wicked + The Divine, which debuted this week from Image Comics. [USA Today]
Just days before HeroesCon kicks off in Charlotte, North Carolina, organizers have released a code of conduct addressing harassment and cautioning exhibitors about images and materials that exceed the event’s PG-13 standards.
Signed by founder Shelton Drum, the policy extends beyond the exhibition floor to after-hours events at host hotels, and spells out that, “HeroesCon is dedicated to providing a fun, safe and harassment-free convention experience for everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion.”
Conventions | A reported 86,500 people attended the third annual Denver Comic Con over the weekend, up from 61,000 in 2013. The event is undergoing some growing pains, however, with organizers quickly rescinding an announced cart-service fee for next year’s convention following complaints from vendors. Even without that additional charge, some exhibitors remain unhappy about the proposed increase in booth fees. [The Denver Post]
Conventions | Preliminary estimates place attendance at Dallas Comic Con at 45,000, easily a record for the event, which not only moved this year to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from the smaller Irving Convention Center but is also under new ownership. [The Dallas Morning News]
Conventions | Joe Rodriguez does some shoe-leather reporting at the Big Wow ComicFest in San Jose, talking to creators and attendees about cosplay, digital comics and the perils of self-publishing. [San Jose Mercury News]
Cosplay | The Christian Science Monitor looks at how cosplay is spilling out of comics and sci-fi/fantasy conventions and into “daily life,” such as movie theaters, pubs and public squares: “The spread of cosplay owes a lot to the Internet. Social media sites build buzz around the next big cosplay event. Tumblr and Instagram allow strangers to pass around photos of past work and offer words of encouragement from afar. YouTube videos reveal how to craft foam core into realistic-looking armor and braid hair like an elf.” [The Christian Science Monitor]
Conventions | Ross Lincoln gathers up the threads of a story that’s been unfolding over social media for the past few days: A cosplayer expressed concern that the Facebook cosplay gallery for the inaugural Cherry City Comic Con in Salem, Oregon, featured significantly more women in costume than men. Displeased by the dismissive reply from the administrator of the Facebook page, she sent a private message asking for a refund of her convention registration fee, explaining, “I don’t think this will be a safe place for female cosplayers.” Organizer Mark Martin posted that request on his personal Facebook page with the response, “despite the no touch policy, the family friendly policy, the 3 security guards at all times, and the fact that you’re bat-shit crazy? Refunded!”
Several prominent cosplayers picked up on that, and it became a cause celebre on Twitter and Facebook for a couple of days; meanwhile, things got more complicated with sock puppets and a possibly fictitious con representative getting involved. In the end, Martin apologized; to give organizers their due, the convention includes a harassment policy in its official rules and policies. The con will take place on May 10-11. The Daily Dot has more. [The Escapist]