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.
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 Sabaku 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.