Comics in the Duke City

 

Alexandra Grey

Alexandra Grey has been a fan of all things nerdy since she was a kid, starting with Saturday 10368235_10206714080162996_220646369558631853_nmorning cartoons such as X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Her connection to the cerebral Jean Grey (Phoenix, X-Men) helped her to feel like she had a place in the world, allowing Alex to thrive academically despite the bullying and narrow-mindedness she encountered in public school.
After graduation, Alex entered an undergraduate engineering program, but ultimately left to pursue her passion for theater, attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles and The University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In 2008, Alex returned home to complete her degree in Theater at the University of New Mexico, finishing in the top 7% of the graduating class of 2010.
While Los Angeles gave Alex her first experiences with Pop Culture as a lifestyle, she’s had the good fortune to find many hidden gems in northern New Mexico that continue to nourish her inner geek. Her interests run the gamut from vintage video games to soap operas, but her true loves remain animation, superheroes, and getting inked.
A writer by passion (and hopefully soon, by profession), Alex has been writing fanfiction for 17 years, spending most of her time exploring the worlds of X-Men, Once Upon a Time, and the Law & Order franchise. Alex is also working on two original pieces of fiction and hopes to have both completed by the end of the year. Favorite characters to write include Jean Grey, Emma Frost, Wonder Woman, Regina Mills, and Queen Elsa of Arendelle.

 

Duke City Comic Con was a small, but determined con with a handful of well-known guests, including: Power Ranger’s David Yost and Walter Jones, and professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.

Hosted at the Embassy Suites near downtown Albuquerque, the convention took place in the hotel’s three ballrooms with Celebrity Row located in the hallway just outside the rooms. Fans, geeks, and cosplayers of all different shapes and sizes filtered through the space, many enjoying their fidget spinners, the merch-du-jour of the convention.

Each of the three ballrooms were crammed to capacity with booths, but even at that, there were not a ton of offerings in comparison to Santa Fe Comic Con or Albuquerque Comic Con. Still, there were plenty of treasures to be found, and take it from me, it was far too easy to spend my budgeted $100 acquring new prints and kick-knacks for my collection.

For me, cons are all about connecting with the artists and Duke City was no exception. Most of the work I purchased came from local artists, but two of my favorite picks were from special guest Franchesco, a pin-up artist who travels from con to con, sharing his work with anyone and everyone who’s drawn to his style. Franchesco was friendly and down to earth and I had a great conversation with him about his passion for art and how it has given him the freedom to live the life he enjoys. It is a philosophy that hit home for me and a lesson I needed to remember. It was definitely one of the highlights of the afternoon.

While I did not take in any of the panels, (Sadly the one I did want to attend was on Sunday and I could not justify another $15 admission for just one panel), the schedule was pretty robust with a new panel every hour on Saturday and Sunday from open to close. Celebrity-focused panels made up most of the schedule for Saturday, but Cosplay was the word of the day for Sunday panels.

People who showed up in costume did so thoughtfully and with great pride, which was nice to see considering how small the event was. Originally I had wanted to debut my “Modern Link” cosplay for Duke City, but timing was not on my side and I am not really sad about it. I simply was not at the event long enough to really enjoy doing a cosplay, and my hats go off to those who did it up right regardless.

My hope is that next year, Duke City Comic Con will grow into a bigger event hosted in a larger space that justifies the $25 Saturday pass price. Do not get me wrong, I am glad I went this year. I picked up eight beautiful pieces of art, a fidget spinner (yes, I gave in to the hype and I am not sorry!), and a Gal Gadot Wonder Woman pin just in time for the release of the movie. All in all, I call it a win!

 

The End of Conventions As We Know Them?

So, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed late Thursday night as one tends to do before bed when I came across this little gem posted on a local convention’s page.

Anti Prop

This is not the original post, which was taken down (I’m assuming because of all the backlash) and was replaced with this new little censored gem.

After reading this “press release” (for lack of a better word) by the organization which owns the majority of comic conventions in the Southwest I was stunned and immediately began researching what could have spurred such a drastic change of rules. It was not difficult to deduce with an easy Google search that this ban was in response to an individual who was arrested at Phoenix Comic Con for possession of deadly weapons and intent to harm what started out as the law enforcement and upon further investigation later in the week delved down the rabbit hole of this particular individual’s psychoses. It turns out that this ISOLATED INCIDENT for, while conventions are a safe haven for individuals of all background (including those that may not be the best at interpersonal interactions) that is not the only demographic comic conventions serve, started a chain reaction which resulted in the end of prop weapons at conventions including: foam, plastic, wood and cardboard.

Yes that’s right, cardboard…

Anyway, as expected there was much discussion on this thread including a disappointing amount of support behind this measure with statements like: “I understand why they did this.” In light of recent global terrorism I know where these responses may be coming from, but when you give into fear the terrorists win as one individual pointed out on this thread. You may be asking what is the point of welcoming costumes at a convention if you prevent these characters from having props that may be essential to their costume? It is true that security measures must be followed through with in order to maintain a safe environment and a weapons check stationed at the entrance of a convention is necessary. Honestly, I’m surprised that Santa Fe Comic Con felt the need to amp up security considering their weapons check was very thorough and well placed last year. In fact, from my experience it is the best weapons check I’ve ever gone through. As rule-following cosplayers we spent half a day of Star Fest Denver looking for the weapons check and a day later finally found it. Of course, at that point it was too late and, had we possessed any ill intentions, they would have been carried out with time to spare.

Never to fear professional cosplayers I would warn against attending the aforementioned convention and all its sister cons anyway because their costume contests are just not up to snuff. There are few comic conventions which follow the International Costumer’s Guild Guidelines that anime convention cosplay contests go by and so it ends up becoming a character popularity contest instead of one that recognizes the amount of work and detail that went into making the costume. By these standards a purchased cosplay has as much of a chance of winning as a homemade one. So, if you are great at crafting your own weapons that, while they look screen accurate, are harmless there are still many great conventions to go to!

Fortunately, the Land of Enchantment is host to a wealth of conventions that are professionally run and have well structured costume contests including ProPropSabaku Con and Con Jikan to name a few. The owners of Sabaku Con actually issued a rather impressive statement following this incident in response to all the con goers terrified they would take the knee jerk reaction that other local conventions were. This convention goes above and beyond to ensure your safety even working with the Secret Service! That’s right, the people who ensure the safety of the safest position in the world are looking out for you at Sabaku Con!

Now, you may be saying you’re just a comic book fan and would feel out of place at an anime themed convention. Don’t worry, while these conventions are centered around  anime and manga they are as much a part of pop culture as Marvel and DC. Many people strut their super stuff at anime conventions. I promise you will definitely still be recognized and asked for photos if you show up as Wonder Woman.

So, there you have it cosplay community, two drastically different approaches to convention safety regarding your prop weapons. If you’re a hard core cosplayer who is incomplete without your cache of weapons the options are clear for which conventions to attend. Fortunately for these entities, conventions as we know them are here to stay, perhaps with enhanced security but still enjoyable for costumers of all skill levels. If you don’t mind the TSA, however, then maybe the other brand of convention is for you.