If there had been a Comic Con here back in the day, I could see my life being very different. As it is I’m older and afflicted by crowds and I’ve not made any rational decision to attend such a thing. This year was a little different. My daughter, Kayla, had attended last years SLCC with a friend, and while a lot of it was kind of traumatic (between it being her first con and a lot of bumps that needed working out from the Convention organizational side) it did turn out to be a good experience for her.
I had enjoyed talking to her about what she did at the convention, and what there was to see. I’ve also shared a great many nerdy passions of my own with her and we seem to have a bit of a connection there, so for Fathers Day she surprised me with a ticket to this years Con. Also, so I didn’t have to attend alone (and probably so I wouldn’t tag along with her the whole time) she gave her mother a ticket as well. She was even so nurturing as to make sure our tickets were preregistered so we wouldn’t run into problems like she did in 2014.
Somehow I’d gotten the idea in my head to make a costume of the Winter Soldier for Halloween around Christmastime and began letting my hair grow out. This bumped the hair growth schedule a month, but I don’t think I would have quite made it, even by Halloween. And with the slipperiness of time being what it is, the costume didn’t even approach presentable until the last day of the convention.
But despite the crowds, and the logistics of attending, I went and had a good time. So much has already been written about this being the age of the misfit, and how the internet has given people a chance to connect no matter how obscure their passions that I probably don’t need to add anything to it. But there is something to actually being in a place that is filled with participants who don’t seem to feel compelled to follow conventional guidelines of when you look good enough to wear spandex, or whether you can be accepted for liking something that is outside your gender or age norms. The acceptance from the attendees seemed almost otherworldly (or even Disneylandesque), and the support, advice and encouragement of the celebrities was of a nearly palpable nature.
One of the panels we attended was one Kayla and her friend Stephanie pulled us into as we were just standing in the hall killing time. Those girls know how to make good use of their convention, and I’m glad they took me into things I wouldn’t have ever chosen. This particular panel was by the brains behind the Hillywood Show, Hilly & Hannah Hindi. The room was just under halfway full, but there were a couple hundred very vocal fans there. They showed some of the parody sketches they’ve done, and the productions were very professional. The question and answer portions of these kind of things usually kill me, but most of the ones I saw at this convention had some really great responses to what are usually fairly common “what’s your favorite character” questions. These two women not only showed gratitude towards their fans, but were very humble about the good fortune they’ve experienced. Their answers to the questions went beyond simple pat answers and expanded into motivations and ideas that were more nurturing to creativity than just satisfying of curiosity.
I’d really only chosen about 3 presentations for myself out of curiosity, and only one I really wouldn’t miss. I’d been looking forward to seeing Felicia Day since she was announced as a presenter. I first noticed Felicia back in 2007 through the online show she created, The Guild. I was playing an MMORPG at the time and it really fit nicely into that space in my life. I’ve seen her career grow through TV show appearances as well as her online projects and I’ve always felt the connection that she understands the multitude of people who feel like I do, kind of disassociated and an outsider.
Felicia spoke without a moderator, and really just jumped into the question and answers right away. She was very inspirational, although I’m not sure that was her intent, but she exuded an energy of creativity and I was quite taken with her direction to just take what you feel and go do something with it. She obviously does, with so many creative irons in the fire, that I would soon be overwhelmed by it. But I get a feeling, deep down inside, that I need to be doing something similar.
I’d been debating on whether or not to go get Felicia’s autograph. I figured I would probably take her new book and get it signed, but hadn’t gotten around to purchasing the autograph ticket. I’m not sure if Kayla sensed that this was something I’d just talk myself out of eventually, so she purchased a photo op with Felicia and invited me and Debbie to come along. I’m not sure how celebrities face the public, especially after they hit a certain level. It seems like it would be so hard to even leave the house, but maybe that’s just me. You only get a few seconds for your picture, and you get repeated warnings as you approach the photo sanctuary: “No Hugging, No Handshakes, No licking, or other weird stuff.” And then you’re in and out in a few seconds. I imagine it’s the only way to get through the masses of fans. As we set up for the picture Debbie was on my left and as I tried to swing my prosthetic arm around her I kind of ‘thunked’ her with it. The photo was snapped and as we walked off Felicia laughed and called after me telling me not to bang into her with my arm.
Kayla, Stephanie, Felicia Day, me and Debbie
I wish I’d taken notes, and if I go next year, I think I will take some sort of notebook, nerdy as that sounds, because I felt so inspired by most of the panels we saw that ideas were just flying. Maybe that’s what happens when you get some sort of critical mass of creativity in one location. I’ve experienced it on several times before, but never when I’m alone trying to come up with something to do.
I had visions of how the costume should be, and knew if I started on it early enough I’d be fine. I found the boots, pants, belt, harness, mask and goggles fairly cheap online and all months ago. I had several ideas on the arm and knew I had months to do it, so I could afford to mess up a few times and start again. Somehow time got away from me and I didn’t start on fabrication until August, but that still seemed like enough time.
In reality I know what happens. I end up getting hung up on a detail and instead of working past it I kind of duck it for awhile until I’m pressured enough to tackle it head on. In the end I had paint-drying issues and was forced to concede certain particulars I had wanted. I ended up hand-painting some detail that I’d envisioned either stenciling or actually sculpting into the surface. The night before I sat with brush in hand, tacky paint under fingertips trying to decide if I could make it work, or if I shouldn’t risk it and just go with plain silver. I’d seen several Winter Soldiers in the first two days of the con. Some with store-bought costume arms. Some with tinfoil or duct tape ones. I finally found the courage from those other courageous nerds and the words of Felicia day and just dove in and did it.