Category Archives: Conventions

Too Soon, Comic-Con

Earlier this week we were talking about cosplay ideas for when we can finally go back to comic conventions. Literally the next day, I read that LA Comic-Con is planning an in-person convention in December.

OH HELL NO!

I don’t care that they’re limiting attendance, requiring masks and distancing, and keeping it at the cavernous LA Convention Center. Knowing what we know now, December is going to be way too soon.

As much as we’ve learned about how this coronavirus spreads and attacks, and ways to mitigate both, the pandemic is not under control now. It’s not likely to be under control by December. Even if we were doing everything perfectly — and we aren’t, there are too many people in the US especially who think medical advice is for other people — there’d probably still be another wave this fall and winter.

“But what about a vaccine?” Heh. Sure. OK, a vaccine. Even if a Covid vaccine has passed through all the rushed trials by then, and actually works, it still takes time to ramp up production and distribution, and for actual doses to take effect, which means the general population is still going to be vulnerable in December, and this is a perfect super-spreader event. Assuming they don’t need to use the convention center as a field hospital again.

It’s kind of a Hail Mary anyway, since there’s no provision in the state’s reopening plan to re-allow that size of event even in the least-restricted tier based on case rates. They’re basically planning it in hopes that the rules will change by the time December rolls around.

But they’re selling tickets already. Without knowing whether they can hold the event. Which really rubs me the wrong way.

Honestly I’m not surprised that of the various LA-area cons it’s them that wants to jump the gun. They’ve always struck me as kinda snake-oily. The way they kept acting like other cons in the area didn’t exist. (What, Long Beach Comic Con? Please, they’re in Long Beach, not L.A.!) Paying Stan Lee to let them use his name back when it was Comikaze Expo. The worst was the reality show they had on SyFy back in 2013, which was at least a few years ago.

But selling tickets for a convention for winter during a pandemic when there’s no provision for actually holding a convention within public health recommendations? That might be a new low.

Update Oct. 14: The event is officially re-cancelled for the year, with some of the guests already scheduled for 2021. Tickets can optionally be refunded or saved for next year. The more I think about it, the more I think they were hoping to get at least some revenue in this year, even if it ends up being just a super-early pre-sale for next fall.

No Wonder

WonderCon has been our main fan convention for the past decade or so. We’ve been every year since it moved to Anaheim in 2012, and several years back when it was in San Francisco.

But this year it’s not happening.

By February we were already looking at what was going on with the new coronavirus and starting to think, do we really want to go somewhere with huge crowds and lots of travelers? This could easily turn into ground zero.

By early March it became clear that a convention in April wasn’t going to be ground zero — because the virus was already here and spreading. An outbreak would be pretty much guaranteed.

So we weren’t surprised when they officially canceled the event on March 12. California had only started ramping up restrictions on gatherings, but WonderCon is a lot bigger than 250 people (the cutoff at the time, which sounds like a huge crowd now after weeks of “safer at home”). They refunded the tickets, which I hear some conventions had problems with.

This weekend was going to be one of chaos, crowds, comics, cosplay, and crafts. Instead we’re sitting at home, like last weekend, and the weekend before, and the weekend before. Sure, there’s the online “WonderCon@Home”, but it’s more something to check in on once in a while, not an all-encompassing event.

Summer’s still up in the air. If they’ve made a decision about Comic-Con International, they haven’t announced it. On one hand, it would be a huge blow to fan culture for them to cancel San Diego. On the other…I’m not sure who’s going to want to be there. Even if the current wave of the pandemic subsides before then, and even if it fades during summer (which is just wishful thinking at this point), cramming 100,000 people into a convention center for five days (plus setup/tear-down) seems like asking for trouble. [Update: A few days later, they cancelled SDCC too.]

I haven’t even tried to get tickets to SDCC in five years. I suspect they may be easier to get next year. (Or not. People are good at forgetting risks, as long as they’re abstract enough.) But I’m not sure I’m even going to want to attend a smaller con until we come out the other side of the pandemic.

Cosplaying WonderCon 2019: Paper, Spider, Trelawney

Trelawney and the Spider Jockey.For this year’s WonderCon, Katie refined her Professor Trelawney costume from Long Beach. The biggest change: extending the skirt instead of using actual layers, because it was warm in Anaheim. Just for the weekend – it jumped about 10°F just before and was expected to drop 10°F afterward. She remarked, only half-jokingly, that if she’d tried to do Whitney Frost, the makeup would have melted.

The great thing about Trelawney: Not only is she instantly recognizable to almost anyone (though she did get mistaken for Dr. Olivia Octavius at one point), but there were a lot of Harry Potter cosplayers at the con! Every time she ran into an Umbridge, she’d pretend to hide.

The Paper!For Sunday, she reassembled her Yomiko Readman (a.k.a. The Paper from Read or Die) costume from a few years back. Weirdly enough, more people seemed to recognize her than used to when she wore it in San Diego!

The kiddo wanted to wear the Minecraft Spider Jockey costume again, and it was just as big a hit this year as last time. And even though the straps left his shoulders sore (Katie plans to redo them with actual backpack straps), he wanted to keep it for the second day. Unfortunately that was a bit too much, and we ended up leaving early Sunday afternoon.

For more photos of all three costumes, and a bunch of other cosplayers we ran into at the con, check out the full gallery on Flickr.

Going Mirrorless: WonderCon 2019 Cosplay Photography

Last fall, I conceded that phones have caught up to casual cameras and I’d have to get a nicer one to get better image quality. Well, I finally bought a mirrorless camera. The kiddo found my old SLR, and we’ve split a few rolls of film (re)discovering how to shoot with it. Then he started asking about a modern digital equivalent. Since it was going to be two of us using it, not just me, I felt like I could justify the expense.

I read a bunch of reviews and asked around for advice, finally settling on a Sony Alpha a6000. It’s a few generations back in their advanced amateur line, making it a bit more affordable.

We brought the new camera to WonderCon, and I made some discoveries:

  1. It actually handles the light level inside the convention center!
  2. I’ve gotten waaaay too used to just capturing costumes when shooting cosplayers, instead of composing interesting shots. Most of the photos I took on Saturday had good image quality, but were ultimately just snapshots.
  3. Because of #1 and #2, I ended up with a lot of busy backgrounds. I tried to cut down on the distraction by adding vignetting to some of the photos afterward.

Originally we planned totrade off who had the good camera, but he ended up wearing his giant Minecraft Spider Jockey costume the entire time, so he didn’t have much opportunity to take photos. In the end, he only took one all weekend…but it was the best-composed shot of the entire day!

Women dressed as Joy, Sadness and Disgust from Inside Out

I took the lesson from that, and while most of my pictures on Sunday were still utilitarian snaps, I did manage to take a few that I think worked out better, like these three:

My full cosplay gallery is on Flickr, including these four photos and all those snapshots.

A Gallery of Harry Potter Cosplay at WonderCon

There was a lot of Harry Potter cosplay at WonderCon this past weekend! Here are some of my photos, featuring Bellatrix Lestrange, Hagrid, You-Know-Who, Professor Sybill Trelawney (who should look familiar to regular readers!), Hogwarts Professors Dolores Umbridge, Gilderoy Lockhart and Albus Dumbledore; Arthur Weasley, and Rita Skeeter.

There are a lot more that I missed – people dressed as the Malfoys, students of course, News Scamander, other professors, and so on.

Check out my full WonderCon 2019 album on Flickr!