Caitlee Martindale is a twenty-six-year-old aspiring novelist with degrees in English and Creative Writing, English, and Professional Copyediting. Her inability to find typos in her own work makes this surprising to most. When she isn’t writing or reading, she is watching old cult television shows, exploring comic books, sleeping, and collecting more Funko Pops! than she has room to display. Her main fandoms are Star Trek, Marvel, and any medium involving grouchy old men finding surrogate daughters in post-apocalyptic settings.
From about the age of eleven on, one of my dearest ambitions was to attend an anime convention. I wanted it all: the costumes, the character voice actors, the competitions. Never in a million years would my parents have let me attend. Now I’m twenty-six, and an annual convention is simply annual. I want less than I did, but the whole process has only become more complicated as I grow older—besides that, though my wants have minimized, my expectations might have grown a little too large.
Colorado Springs Comic Con 2017 started for me the same as most convention mornings. My best friend, Rachel, and I crammed together into my bathroom to prepare. For me, this meant putting on a costume I’d bought and brushing the knots out of my wig. After years of attempts, I finally convinced Rachel to ditch the generic pirate costume, so she went to the lengths of applying a handmade prosthetic nose, makeup, and even a Bajoran earing she designed and made herself. It was not an easy morning. There were almost tears. But with just enough time to get to the convention center by the time the doors opened, we were on our way.
I attended CSCC 2016 not knowing that it was the first year it had ever been put on. That probably explained why last year, showing up twenty minutes after the doors opened still meant I had ample parking available. This did not occur to me when Rachel and I parked in the distant corner of the back lot (a single sign, facing the other direction nowhere near where anyone could actually park reading “Medical Building Parking ONLY” we only spotted on our return trip).
“What a great spot!” I enthused. “We really lucked out. Now we just have to find the front door.”
It also did not occur to me that worse was headed our way than some difficult parking. We set out, already baking in the full body suits that comprised both our costumes. Several cars passed going the opposite direction. People in flashy orange vests chattered in small groups and paid us no mind. A few doors open into the center, but these were roped off. We kept going.
“There it is!” A fairly large group of costumed people stood dead ahead. “Come on, the doors should be right—”
The chunk of people we’d spotted outlined a sort of rectangle at the side of the building, the end of which disappeared around the corner. Rachel and I exchanged looks, strode through, and got in line behind a family of 51st Legion members decked out in Star Wars gear. Thank goodness they were friendly, because once we found ourselves around that corner, we realized that that was not the end of the line. The real line wound and wound and wound almost four times the entire length of the front of the convention center.
Colorado doesn’t get too hot, but out on the asphalt without any shade, I soon started sweating in my Black Widow costume. Rachel was luckier; her Star Trek: The Next Generation costume incorporated yellow. Between the lack of water and the people who decided smoking in a crowd of what looked like hundreds was a good idea, the only joy derived from standing in line was talking to the mother of the Star Wars group about her previous convention experiences, and listening to her incredibly well-behave children entertain their grandmother. That, and looking at other cosplayers in the crowd.
I picked out a massive hammer belonging to a gender bent Harley Quinn cosplayer and watched it swim ahead. Each time I saw the guy, I knew we were getting close to the end of the stretch we stood in. After what felt like two hours (but was probably closer to one and a half), we finally gained access to the convention itself. A team of paramedics pushed by as Rachel’s bag was checked for weapons—someone standing outside in line had passed out from the heat.
Unfortunately for whoever that was, the convention center itself was not much cooler. Of the two large rooms it comprised (Star Wars Mom told us there were three, but we never found this mythical third room), the first room did not feel air conditioned at all. Rachel and I picked a direction at random and set off, thankfully in the direction of the second room, which did feel air conditioned for at least half of our stay at the convention.
I have to admit that I felt a little like I was in Escalator Land from The Fairly Odd Parents. There were no escalators, of course, but there was a never ending line. In fact, there were several. We stayed in the line that looped around the various aisles and could see from there lines leading to the ATMs, the bathroom, and the single drink station in the entire building. The latter of which, of course, was just as long as the line to get inside to begin with. We decided we’d rather dehydrate than go through that again. Star Wars Mom informed me that this was normal for conventions, that she and her family frequently got up before the crack of dawn to stand in line for seven hours in alligator-infested swamps just to go to something called “Life Day.” Suddenly, I was very glad my parents had never allowed me near an anime convention growing up and that I’d never been to a “real” convention in my entire life.
Let me be clear: when I had come the year before, my family had got in the building immediately and had plenty of room to walk. That was when the convention comprised one relatively small room. The con had guests that year, too, but none I can remember recognizing. This year, they had guests even I recognized, dozens of them, big names all lined up at the back of room two with enough space for—you guessed it—lines to form in front of them, smaller names (including a former member of *NSYNC that I saw with my own two eyes) in the cramped, narrow aisles next to the self-published book sellers and the cosplay girls selling headshots. Maybe that was why it was so crowded.
On our slow trek down the aisles, we ran into several interesting booths, including one where you could a tattoo right then and there! There were also free spine checks, a chiropractor giving actual sessions, and a large set up to advertise for (but was not actually, as far as I could tell) a haunted house.
But Rachel and I did not attend to meet guests or see strange booths. Photos and autographs with even the only slightly rich and famous are expensive. I go to conventions for two things: buying Funko Pops! I can’t get normally at marked up prices, and having small children shyly sidle up to me to ask for photographs. I am happy to report that I got everything I wanted out of the roughly four hours that Rachel and I were there.
Rachel, however, likes to go to panels. Were there panels? It’s difficult to say. Certainly the convention had a few areas that looked like panel rooms set up near where the guests were stationed, but who could hear what was going on inside over the noise? About every twenty minutes, a voice would come over the speakers and helpfully say:
“Kerflah-flahflah? Toneedly naday. Franks mmm.”
The voice could have been announcing panels. It could have been announcing a sale on hotdogs. It could have been announcing the need for a mass evacuation. We would have continued to debate the pros and cons of buying Harry Potter scarves even if we were in imminent danger of being stampeded. At least being so might have ended our discussion for us.
We saw no sign whatsoever of panels otherwise. No signs with a schedule. No papers being handed out. I definitely remember getting the latter last year. Perhaps to save paper the convention had decided to let us look up the schedule online. Perhaps they only gave those out to people who came the first day. There were several strange decisions like that. I overheard in line that no one was allowed to pick up wristbands for days two or three early, and even that people with three days passes that got theirs on Friday were required to stand in the forever line with the rest of us one day plebeians for about thirty minutes.
However, Rachel did get her pagh checked by a random photographer, which surely more than made up for her lack of attending a useful panel on makeup or art. The look on her face when the man grabbed her ear more than made up for it for me.
Several hours, multiple Funko Pops!, and three knitted octopuses later, Rachel and I decided we had had our fill of cramped, overwarm adventure. We set out through the now empty front of the building, back around to the car—which, despite the hidden threat of towing, remained in place—and headed home. Since then, I have heard it on good authority that the convention holders intend next year to work on the lines and the air conditioning. Still I learned three important life lessons:
- I hate standing in line
- I hate standing in crowds.
- I can’t wait to do the exact same thing next year.
Jeremy is a lover of all things comics, movies, and games. He was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico and has attended both the Santa Fe and Albuquerque Comic-Con multiple times. He is an aspiring video game developer/producer and hopes to one day attend the coveted San Diego Comic-Con.
Two weeks ago a few of my cousins and I attended the annual Colorado Springs Comic-Con. Only previously having attended the Santa Fe and Albuquerque Comic-Cons, this was my first out of state convention. The celebrity guest list was one of the biggest I had seen, cosplayers were everywhere and, of course, the artists/vendors were aplenty. It was held at the Altered Reality Events Center which, upon arrival was a little surprising. Instead of hotel ballrooms or large convention centers, this was what used to be a grocery store with some added improvements to handle large crowds. Even though the outside was strange to me, it looked common place to all other attendees. The space where the celebrity guests were located was roomy and well organized for fans to walk freely but also easily access lines for autographs and photo ops. On the other hand the main room where the artists and most of the vendors set up was large but filled to tight for attendees to comfortably walk, line up, and enjoy the art.
Since we attended on the Saturday of the con, which is typically the biggest day of any convention, there were large amounts of people waiting to get tickets and in the door. There were also large amounts of people in cosplay. This was an exciting site to see. Everyone from kids to adults were enjoying themselves and in costume. The cosplay scene in New Mexico is definitely growing, but seeing this many people in costume was something new to me. The nice thing about so many people participating in the cosplay scene is that every one knew about asking for consent with pictures and those getting their picture taken had fun with every moment. The two most popular cosplays that day were a very well made Groot, from Guardians of the Galaxy, and an excellent Darth Vader. For both characters, people were making small lines and circles to take pictures and view the artists work on the costumes.
When it came to the celebrity guests, my cousin that traveled with me from New Mexico was there for the large line-up of ex-Power Rangers. Typically we come across one, maybe two of them at our cons back home, but here there were four and they were all new to us. Meeting Catherine Sutherland and Johnny Young Bosch was monumental to all three of my cousins and myself, and both of them were great to talk to and appreciated their fans. We also met Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the live action Scooby-Doo movies, and DJ Qualls in The New Kid. Again, real down to earth guys and very nice to their fans. Matthew Lillard was actually so impressed with the difference in height between him and one of my cousins that he asked for an extra picture because “it made his day.” The biggest celebrities at the con, though, had to be Jon Bernthal (The Punisher and The Walking Dead), and Michael Rooker, (Guardians of the Galaxy). Both actors had lines that were filled to capacity and didn’t seem to dwindle down.
The biggest reason that I enjoy going to comic conventions is the art, and this one was no different. Colorado Springs and the surrounding area has many talented artist and they all have their own style. This was a con that was definitely geared towards locals and allowing them to put what they had on display. My cousins and I tried to set budgets for ourselves so as to not go overboard with spending but it was in vein. When you are surrounded by this amount of talent it is hard to hold back. With all of that being said, there were some big name artists in attendance as well. As a long time lover of Spider-Man and marvel comics it was an absolute treat when I came upon Michael Zeck. This is the man that created the black symbiote suite for Spider-Man in the Secret Wars event, he worked on and helped solidify The Punisher, and has worked on so many comics wether they be Marvel or D.C. Seeing him and all of his most influential work for purchase on large prints was breathtaking.
All together Colorado Springs Comic-Con was an absolute blast. It was extremely family friendly, but also the biggest cosplay friendly event I have attended. For those in the New Mexico area, it’s an easy trip to make so I recommend checking it out, especially if you enjoy great artists wether it be printed or cosplay. As for me, I look forward to going back next year and possibly trying to attend Denver Comic-Con.