Expert Moderator Dana Piccoli on ClexaCon

Dana Piccoli

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Dana Piccoli has made a name for herself as “an entertainment writer and pop culture critic, lesbian processor and podcaster,” not to mention moderator extraordinaire. Any Creampuff who had the pleasure of attending the Hollistein panel at ClexaCon 2017 will remember Dana Piccoli, the moderator who gave us those amazing queer scenes between Natasha and Elise. Well, she is back to fulfill the dreams of our little queer hearts at ClexaCon 2018 and we had the exclusive pleasure of getting some insight into what greatness is to come.

 

What fandoms do you belong to as an individual?

Retrospect Cosplay Interview Pull Quote Graphic (7)I think I’m probably most closely associated with the Carmilla fandom, love those Puffs, but basically if a show has a queer character that is treated well and there’s a good storyline, I’m a fan.

When you think about convention culture what comes to mind?

My first con was Flamecon, which is this amazing LGBTQ affirming, but smaller con. Then I went to NYCC, which is huge and can be kind of intimidating. I’ve had pretty positive experiences at cons, but there certainly is more of a male and straight focus to them. For someone like me who covers LGBTQ topics, it can be really tough to find things to cover. I don’t think it’s a hostile environment, but cons don’t always feel very inclusive either. That’s why I’m grateful for cons like ClexaCon, Flamecon, and the upcoming Universal FanCon.

What is your most memorable experience at a convention?

Honestly, meeting people. Last year’s Clexacon and this year’s NYCC gave me an opportunity to meet amazing folks who I’ve known from social media. That experience beats all. I had someone yell my name out last year while standing in line and hand me a necklace they made for me. It was incredible, I was so touched.

Have you ever cosplayed at a convention and, if so, what was the experience like?

Ha, I knew you’d ask me this. Usually I’m moderating so I can’t really do cosplay, but I did do Lexa’s hair and makeup for Dragoncon one year. That was fun. I wore an LGBT Fans Deserve Better shirt and I met some cool folks. Seeing other people in cosplay is one of my favorite things about cons though. I admire it so much. If I could, I’d cosplay as Captain Shepard from Mass Effect.

When asked to attend ClexaCon 2018 as a moderator what was your reaction?

Oh I was honored and happy to do it. I had such an incredible time last year, and I was definitely on-board for whatever they wanted me to do. Last year was kind of a fluke you know. They didn’t know me very well, and mostly people just knew I had done the Carmilla finale event. They were very cool to take a chance and let me do my thing. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to moderate these wonderful panels and it really did change things for me, personally and professionally. I even got recognized at a restaurant a couple months ago by someone who had seen videos of panels I moderated. That was a real thrill.

What do you think sets ClexaCon apart from any other conventions you’ve attended?

Retrospect Cosplay Interview Pull Quote Graphic (13)Besides it being a queer lady utopia? I think it’s a mindset. I know the ClexaCon crew has been working incredibly hard and it shows in the content of the con. There are so many panels I want to go to. It’s not just about seeing your favorite actors. I mean, that’s really cool, but ClexaCon also gives attendees and opportunity to experience perspectives that other cons don’t. I had an incredible time last year and I cannot wait to get to Vegas in a couple weeks.

 

What are you most excited about/looking forward to in moderating at ClexaCon 2018?

Now you know I can’t play favorites! I’m looking forward to having conversations with some spectacular people. I’ve never chatted with Chyler Leigh, Caity Lotz, Maisie Sellers, or the Lost Girl ladies, so that will be fun to have some time with them, for sure.

What would your perfect convention look like, what guests would be there?

Wow, I guess it would be super women and queer affirming, so basically ClexaCon, ha! I would really love to see the Buffy cast live one day, as well as Xena.

How do you prepare questions to moderate a panel?

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Dana Piccoli, Elise Bauman & Natasha Negovanlisa on the Hollistein panel at ClexaCon 2017

Lots of homework! For some panels it’s easier than other. I try to make sure that I don’t ask the same questions they’ve heard over and over again. That makes it a little more challenging, but also can bring about some really interesting conversations. I also go back and watch a lot of scenes and shows so that I’m informed, because I know the audience is for sure. I also ask fans for questions beforehand because I think they come up with some really interesting stuff. This year I have eight panels to prepare and a throughline for the Cocktails for a Change party. It’s a little bit like beating out a scene. I ask questions that I hope will lead to more questions.

Last year you had Natasha and Elise act out scripted scenes from other queer media, what gave you that genius idea?

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Elise & Natasha acting out queer scenes from other media on the ClexaCon 2017 Hollistein panel

You guys are too sweet. Because I have known Natasha and Elise for a few years now, I know that they are very talented but also very adventures actors. Both of them are also just a lot of fun and there’s a certain comfort level between us too. They are so great live, that I thought having them act scenes out would really be a delight for the audience and give them a chance to play some iconic scenes. They were such great sports, and I am grateful for their openness and kind-heartedness.

What can attendees expect from the panels you are moderating for ClexaCon 2018?

Me being the reliable goof that I am. Hopefully thought provoking questions and discussions. I really try to make the panels a fun and comfortable experience for all. I have a few tricks up my sleeve. And of course, leather pants.

5 Things You Need to Know When Cosplaying At ClexaCon

Hello queer ladies and other interested parties who read our blog! As many of you know, in under two weeks we will be flying to Vegas for what is promising to be the largest gathering of queer women in the United States, if not the world. As cosplay guests at this convention we wanted to make sure that the bar is set high for this singular queer convention. With such a young convention the early years of cosplayers will get to set the standards for cosplay at ClexaCon for years to come.

Costume Contest

Holtzmann cosplayer from ClexaCon2017

Last year there was a decent cosplay presence. Plenty of Officer Hauts and Clexa pairs or single Lexas were walking around, there were a few Agent Danvers and Holtzmanns with a Supergirl or two in the mix. We cosplayed Zoie Palmer’s character, Android, along with Five from Syfy’s Dark Matter which seemed unrecognizable in the crowd as neither are queer characters and closet cosplays of Carmilla and Laura from The Carmilla Series which ended up seeming more like street wear despite the wigs. This year our cosplays have doubled in quantity, quality and queerness. As we are sitting here sewing and spray painting the finishing touches we hope to have ready: White Canary and Nyssa from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, Carmilla and Laura sous ballgowns and masques from The Carmilla Movie along with our Korrasami cosplay from The Legend of Korra. We will probably still be sewing or styling wigs in our room at The Excalibur the nights before ClexaCon in preparation for this momentous event if anyone wants some individual cosplay lessons in application. As a preview to our panel, Queer & Plus Sized Cosplay, we thought we might explore some of the elements that go into cosplaying as queer and plus sized individuals, along with some helpful tips and ground rules for those planning on attending in cosplay.

1. Creating Last Minute Cosplays

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Entirely thrifted Carmilla cosplay from ClexaCon 2017 with wigs from Amazon

Haven’t started a costume, but still want to cosplay at ClexaCon? There’s still time, all of the pros procrastinate! (We still do not have any of the four costumes completed for ClexaCon.) Maybe you do not have a workshop in which to do so or even a sewing machine? Not to worry! There are really no rules in cosplay. You can buy it, make it or a little bit of both. If you have something in your wardrobe that would work for a character you can totally pull off an amazing closet cosplay! Fortunately, many of onscreen queer women wear street clothes which are easy to thrift or modify. If you do not have a sewing machine we know an amazing queer cosplayer who is a hot glue master. Where a seam should be she simply puts down a line of hot glue and you would never know her cosplays are not hand sewn! All you need is a hot glue gun, some glue sticks and the fabric for your cosplay. We usually buy fabric from our local JoAnnes but we are always re-purposing thrifted clothes for cosplay. You can find inspiration in any piece of clothing. If it is not the right color JoAnnes and Michaels have both poly and cotton dyes. With cosplay the sky is the limit! Keep in mind, though, if your character has a prop weapon that ClexaCon does have a weapons policy and your person will be checked at the convention door, so be sure your props will make the cut!

2. Feeling Comfortable in Your Cosplay

Walking around in cosplay does take some getting used to. While we will be in Las Vegas and I am sure seeing people in ridiculous costumes and wigs is not entirely out of the ordinary, it still requires some bravery to strut down the street or through the casino floor to the convention. Even once you get in the safety of the line or the convention doors you still might feel out of place.

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Our unrecognizable Dark Matter cosplays from ClexaCon 2017

As we discussed in the introduction there were definitely cosplayers at last year’s ClexaCon, but most of the attendees were dressed in regular street clothes. Some even gave us strange looks, side glances or double takes. Do not let that deter you because as long as you are happy with your cosplay, nothing and no one else matters. Not everyone will know what character you are cosplaying and some might not even notice you are cosplaying at all. Recently, as the art of cosplay has become mainstream the community has been moving more towards glorifying, what in the New Mexico Cosplay Community we describe as, “Boob Models.” This means that the more revealing cosplays get more attention. Do not feel pressured by this culture to wear a cosplay that you do not feel comfortable in. That being said, if your favorite character has a revealing outfit and you want to cosplay them to the letter, go for it (provided your outfit falls withing the parameters of acceptable attire for both ClexaCon and The Tropicana). Fortunately, there are many panels and meetups at ClexaCon which offer the opportunity for specific fandoms to get together. This is the perfect place to meet others who like the character you might be cosplaying. If you’re feeling alone and there are others cosplaying the same character see if y’all can hang out at the convention so you’re not cosplaying alone.

3. Cosplay is NOT Consent

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Nico Robin may be a ball buster, but this cosplayer was sure as hell not touching what she was first asked to for this picutre…

If you are recognized and fans want to take a picture with you that is awesome, but know this: cosplay is not consent. If you feel uncomfortable at any point in the process or just do not like being in pictures it is okay to say no. By wearing a costume you are not mandated to give everyone who asks a hug or let them take your picture. Your body is still your own! I did not know this cosplaying at my first convention and I was wearing a somewhat revealing cosplay. I received allot of male attention which you can guess made me uncomfortable, but I felt obligated to let these creeps hug me and hold me at the mid-drift in their pictures. I do not want this to happen to anyone else. If someone persists in making you uncomfortable ClexaCon staff had a good presence at the convention last year and were mostly recognizable. Go to the closest staff individual and let them know what is going on. I am sure they will offer you safety and handle it from there. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable just because they chose to cosplay.

4. Plus Sized Cosplay

To begin this section we want to emphasize that in cosplay, size should not matter! To quote one of our Cosplay Sempais, Ginny Di’s social media campaign I Cosplay Them Because I Like Them. We cosplay our favorite characters because we relate to them, not because we look like them. That is why wigs exist! No one has naturally blue hair. So if you are curvaceous and want to cosplay any of the tiny queer onscreen females who we are glorifying at this convention go right ahead! Thank god for Coach Beiste balancing out the lineup, but still.

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As a professional styler, sales representative and fitter for plus sized women I (@skyberry13) have worked with varying levels of self-confidence. I have seen women who are afraid to even think about wearing a real pair of jeans to those that rock a crop top and embrace every inch of their body. The same can be said for cosplay. The cosplay world is changing but it still has a long way to go. There is still a lot of stigma around plus sized cosplayers and most of it is just fat-shaming. There are so many amazing curvy cosplayers out there:Garnet Runestar, Dustbunny, and Black Betty just to name a few. They have gotten to the point in their cosplay career where they totally own every character they recreate. They are confident in their work and their bodies, but I’m sure they still get some body-shaming hate. But things are changing, with more normal sized humans picking up the cosplay baton we are seeing more body-positivity. And you can be a part of that change. Cosplay is for everyone and every body. Weather you are in the cosplay yourself or see someone else, be kind and lift each other up. It takes a lot of courage to dress up and go out into the world. You have to own your confidence and be proud of the work you have put into your costume.

Here are some tips to making/adapting your cosplay. Often I am on the high end of the sizing in patterns that we use. The best way to make sure something is going to fit you right is to create a mock up in muslin (or a fabric similar in weight to your final fabric) before scissors ever see the expensive fabrics you have chosen for the final piece.

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Muslin mock up of The Canary costume from Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow

This allows for adjustments without ruining nice fabrics. Speaking of fabrics, I always buy a little extra in case something does go wrong. Dress forms are wonderful but are expensive and absolutely not necessary. If you don’t have one you can always make a body cast with plastic wrap and duck tape.

Another important factor to plus size cosplay is your undergarments. Obviously your character’s outfit will have some influence on the type but you always want to make sure that they fit you properly. A good fitting bra can be hard to come by, especially if you have a bigger bust. I’m a bit biased but Torrid is a great place to get bigger bras. They carry bras from 38B to 50G. They have many different cuts and color and they will last you a long time if you treat them well. Cacique bras range from 32DD to a 50DDD. If you can, it is always best to go in for a bra fitting and try on several before you buy. Another popular undergarment is Spanx. They aren’t the most comfortable thing but once you have it on, it will smooth out all of your lumps and bumps and give a more polished look to your cosplay. Lastly there are corsets/waist trainers. Personally, I prefer corsets over waist trainers but that is mostly for comfort. You can buy steel boning corsets online. Most websites will have both costume and actually waist training corsets. Keep in mind not to over tighten and give yourself time to acclimate to your corset before wearing in on the con floor all day.

5. Queer Cosplay

No matter what you identify as you can cosplay whatever character you want to. As we’ve previously said, you do not need to look like the character in order to cosplay them. This is why crossplay exists, if you are someone who in your daily life presents as male but you still identify with Lexa then cosplay Lexa! ClexaCon is the perfect convention at which to decimate the boundaries of gender norms and stereotypes. There are few better ways to do this than through cosplay! As a non-binary individual presenting as male in daily life it is inseparable from my nature as a cosplayer.

Congradulations to ELise

When we began cosplaying I was still exploring my identity and presenting as a female who was very much a lesbian. Our early cosplays also had an emphasis on us being in what presented as a lesbian relationship. As I explored and found out more about my identity, my cosplays started to reflect that by moving more towards cis male and non-binary characters. This required ordering a binder for my daily life and one for cosplaying in. Cosplaying at a convention, no matter what you’re wearing, requires the best attempt at comfort. If you have a costume you cannot breathe in it is unrealistic to think you could wear that all day while also enjoying the convention. Despite my binder, just as in my daily life, I do get mis-gendered allot while in cosplay. Sometimes people assume they know more about your cosplay than you do. In these situations all you can do is politely correct the individual. It is also advisable to have someone with you who knows your proper pronouns and uses them in response to your being mis-gendered. Many cosplayers have met resistance from their fans when they are well known for cosplaying characters of a particular gender and then they begin crossplaying or cosplaying characters of a different gender. As a cosplayer you get to decide what you want to cosplay, not anyone else. If you identify with the character or just really like them and want to be them for a day or two, then suit up Superman! Furthermore, there are situations where people do not ship who you do and by cosplaying your ship they feel it somehow invalidates their ship or the cannon ship. Do not let this get to you. If you and your Korra want to make out, but someone really ships Mako and Korra that is just too bad. Make out anyway, canon or not!

We are looking forward to seeing what costumes you guys come up with! We love to see work in progress photos so feel free to tag @maeberrycosplay and @ClexaCon in your #wip photos across all social mediums! If you are going to ClexaCon be sure to attend our panel, Queer & Plus Sized Cosplay, on Friday at 12PM in the Edie Windsor room for a more in depth discussion of cosplay. If you see us on the convention floor before or after our panel, though, feel free to come up and talk to us! We are always happy to give cosplay advice or just pose for a picture! (Still need tickets to ClexaCon click here). If there were any questions you had which we did not cover in this blog and you would like answered at our panel feel free to write a comment on here or message us on social media. We are the queer cosplayers here for you. See you in 10 days…OMG is that really all the time we have!?!?! Uh oh, we had better get back to sewing and painting our four cosplays! See you at ClexaCon!

The Museum of Science Fiction’s First Costume Competition

The Museum of Science Fiction has just announced a new science fiction costume and fashion design competition that is out of this world! The competition, which is open for registration/submission online and closes April 15th, plans to showcase “costume design and construction [as] one of the most important interdisciplinary art forms of science fiction.” The final competition, including the presentation of fully constructed designs, will take the stage as part of a live fashion show at Escape Velocity 2018. Escape Velocity is a futuristic world’s fair modeled after comic conventions which, this year, will achieve orbit May 25-27 in Maryland.

On top of cash prizes and VIP passes to Escape Velocity 2019, cosplayers (because anyone who plays in costume deserves that title) in the United States and abroad have the opportunity for their costumes to be judged by none other than, Dr. Deborah Nadoolman Landis!

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Now, you may not recognize Dr. Landis from the screen, but her costuming work can be viewed in many notable films, our favorite being Raiders of the Lost Ark. Along with a  professional and experienced panel of judges consisting of other fashion designers and prominent members of the costuming community, Dr. Landis will award some lucky cosplayers the ultimate prize in science fiction costume design!

During our year on the costume contest convention circuit we explored many components of costume judging which we’ve shared in previous blogs. The adjudication at The Museum of Science Fiction’s Costume Competition is comparable to international costume competition guidelines like those we learned about from Garnet Runestar at SabakuCon (Our Very First Masquerade Competition) and Ya Ya Han at Dallas A-Kon (The Tardy Cosplay). MSFComp

This competition has three blanket categories: Original Content, Redesign/Interpretation (Mash-Ups) and Young Adult/High School with the potential for awards spanning:

  1. Best In Show
  2. Best Original Fashion/Costume Design/Construction
  3. Best Reinterpreted Fashion/Costume Design/Construction
  4. Best Young Adult/High School Design/Construction
  5. Best Fashion/Costume Design Illustration or Photograph

Judgement varies by category following many of the standard rules like 90% of the costume being self made and the screen accurate qualities it must have. To enter a costume into this competition you must submit progress pictures, costume components and final images of your costume in JPG or PNG to costuming@museumofsciencefiction.org with additional specifications that can be found in the Museum of Science Fiction Costume Competition Official Rules or their website.

Good luck cosplayers! We will look into press passes for this convention so we can bring you more content on the amazing costumes coming out of this competition!

Cosplans & Convention Plans For 2018

After being on the cosplay convention circuit for a year we have learned allot of things. We are aiming to be more organized in 2018 and plan out our cosplays in advance. (LOL. I know that’s impossible, but we are going to try our best, ok?) Especially because we are going to be cosplay guesting at this, the second year, of ClexaCon! Our cosplays are subject to change depending on budget and who is guesting. We tend to attend conventions with guests we like and cosplay their characters. There are conventions for everything now and finding the truly great ones is sometimes like finding a needle in a haystack. So, here is our comprehensive list of conventions we enjoyed so much that we are willing to go back again! This list is in chronological order to when these conventions fall in the calendar year. Enjoy!

Albuquerque Comic Con

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Date: January 11-14

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Cost: $30-20/day or $60/3 day pass

Except for this one, this will be our first time attending. While it is the sister con to Santa Fe Comic Con, it is an important venue for us to be seen cosplaying in for our local followers. It is also the main convention for allot of local cosplayers so building relationships in the cosplay community is key to our work.

Cosplays: Arthur & Muffy from Arthur

Hiro Hamada & Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6

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Date: April 5-9

Location: Las Vegas, NV

Cost: $150/3 day pass

This convention for queer women in media is our main convention and definitely our favorite. They bring in the best guests from movies and shows with the most prominent queer representation. The panels are led by the experts in their fields and center around pertinent issues to queer women. The cosplay presence is about to get a huge bump because we are guesting at this convention for the first time presenting the panel: Queer and Plus Sized Cosplay!

Cosplays: The White Canary & Nissa from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow,

Carmilla & Laura from The Carmilla Movie

Korra & Asami from The Legend of Korra

Ruby & Sapphire from Steven Universe

Star Fest Denver

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Date: April 20-22

Location: Denver, CO

Cost: $75/3day pass

This science fiction convention features every sci-fi show you can imagine. Throughout the convention are iconic sci-fi scenes: a Star Gate, the robot from Meet the Robinsons-you name it. There were Star Trek and Star Wars characters littered throughout the crowd. The guests they had were incredible. The staff running this convention were not friendly and left something to be desired. But the atmosphere was still out of this world!

Cosplays: Captain Janeway & Chakotay from Star Trek Voyager

Dr. Crusher & Wesley Crusher from Star Trek Next Generation

SabakuCon

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Date: May 11-13

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Cost: $35/online or $50/at the door

This anime convention is the largest one in New Mexico, boasting: maid cafes, a cosplay contest, internationally recognized cosplay guests, cosplay photography workshops, and body paint seminars. We really enjoyed our first cosplay contest experience here, it is judged harshly enough but also is small enough that you have a chance with a really good cosplay.

Cosplays: TBD

Dallas A-Kon

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Date: June 7-10

Location: Dallas, TX

Cost: $60/4 day pass

This anime convention based in Ft. Worth is the single largest anime convention in the country. The cosplay presence here is huge and top notch. It is well worth the entry price just to see the costume contest, but there are some incredible panels and high profile guests. Their artist and dealer’s rooms are unimaginably huge and filled with everything your anime heart desires and things you never knew you needed.

Cosplays: Celene & Briala from Dragon Age: Inquisition

Varrick & Zhu Li from The Legend of Korra

Lolita Jiggly Puff & TBD Gymn Leader from Pokemon

Moriarty Mini Con

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Date: August 5

Location: Moriarty, NM

Cost: $5 for 13+

This mini one day comic convention is in it’s second year. The first year promises that the second will also be full of fun and entertainment for the whole family. The dealer room was small, but had some good vendors. Unfortunately, the only entertainment was homophobic/trans-phobic/misogynistic gunslingers. But here’s hoping they build upon the other activities of the day including a comic trivia and a cosplay masquerade contest.

Cosplays: TBD

Indigenous Comic Con

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Date: November 10-12

Location: TBD, NM

Cost: $100/3 Day Pass or $95/VIP

This Native American comic convention based out of Albuquerque is the only one of it’s kind. Featuring native artists, vendors and guests it is an amazing and immersive experience!

Cosplays: TBD

ConJikan

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Date: December 16-17

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Cost: $40/weekend pass

This anime convention is run by the local university, UNM. It features interactive panels and activities for every weeboo including cosplay chess. The cosplay contest is always an event and not to be missed. The amazing winter cosplays sported at this convention are what set it apart from all other anime conventions in the area.

Cosplays: TBD

An Anime Winter Wonderland

Anime conventions are just the best! The cosplay is on a vastly different level of mastery across the board whether you are a novice or master. This makes the inevitable masquerade the highlight of the convention because the costumes are riddled with impeccable details and creativity you will not see anywhere else. Con-Jikan is certainly no exception to this rule. While it is not the only anime convention in the Duke City, it offers more interactivity for attendees than it’s counterpart. Especially considering that Con-Jikan is only in it’s fifth year, the UNM students who put it on have made it one of the greatest anime experiences you can have in New Mexico. It is also a winter convention which lends to a whole sub-genre of anime for cosplay: winter cosplays! They are so popular at this convention that during the scavenger hunt one of the required pictures was of a group in winter cosplay.25399049_1236445833156574_4998973218304610755_n

We were thrilled to tackle a winter cosplay and what better costumes than our favorite anime: One Piece. Now the cosplays we chose are not cannon in the show, but were from one of the drawings by the original artist within the manga. It was also a cosplay that would be easy to piece together from pre-existing items. Most of the main clothing was thrifted and modified with fur, buttons and other embellishments. Working with fur is a whole other animal, but fortunately we have some friends who are Furries and were more than happy to give us some pointers. There was also embroidery and leather-working involved in the embellishments for Luffy’s costume. We shared a time-lapse video of the One Piece Pirates emblem being embroidered for the hat on our Instagram if you want to check that out.

Now I’m not sure how they market this convention because unless you hear about Con-Jikan from other cosplayers or follow them on social media there is nowhere else you would learn about it.

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Con-Jikan year Four with Dustbunny Cosplay as Mystery Girl from Steven Universe 

Last year our cosplay Sempai, Dustbunny Cosplay, was one of the guests. Had we not caught her social media post announcing she would be in Albuquerque that weekend we might have missed out on the once in a lifetime chance to meet her! Dustbunny is an absolute sweetheart. She is truly a master at her craft and has an incredible backstory. In fact, it was her Tumblr rise to fame story which inspired us to create MaeBerry Cosplay and this blog. So here we are full circle, a year of cosplaying and blogging later attending the convention where it started.

Con-Jikan announced early in the planning stages of the convention that they would focus their resources on attracting animation and voice actor guests for their fifth year. Given the focus anime conventions place on cosplay I do not believe the gamble of giving cosplay a back seat at this convention paid off. I cannot speak for anyone else, but the only reason I even knew about the convention last year was because of the cosplay guest they were inviting. The convention runners probably felt some pressure from the larger comic enthusiast community of Albuquerque to up their attendance in this way. While comic cons feature more animation and voice actor guests leading to higher attendance, that choice is part of their brand and intended for their specific audience. Comic conventions began as trade shows for people working in the comic industry. Anime conventions were born out of the fan-base for anime and manga. That is not to say that many anime conventions do not also feature voice actors/actresses and animators, but if you have to choose between the two, since this type of convention was created by the fans for the fans, cosplay is the best bet. Of course Con-Jikan still had some cosplay guests, unique in that they were both graduates of UNM: Cree Nicole or Kamon Tari. We were impressed with Kamon Tari’s cosplay charity initiatives with donation opportunities at her booth all weekend and Cree Nicole had some awesome aluminum prints of her Daenerys Targaryen cosplay from Game of Thrones at her booth.

Day 0

This year Con-Jikan started with their first ever Preview Day on the Friday before, opening their dealer hall and attempting to host a Con Market featuring attendees who want to sell their own things. With a $5 fee for 5 feet of space in this market and a filled out application you could get rid of some old cosplay wigs, costumes or other anime related paraphernalia. These events at anime conventions are usually more like trading meetups and rarely have a fee. This is probably where Con-Jikan has some room for improvement as only one dealer signed up for this event. They also had some anime screenings on the Preview Night, one of which was my favorite Korean Drama: Nodame Cantabile! All in all I understand that attendees found the first Preview Night of Con-Jikan enjoyable, if just to connect with their cosplay friends and begin an awesome weekend.

Day 1

We arrived on Saturday in our One Piece cosplay just in time for opening ceremonies which ended up being an hour and a half late. I’m not sure when the dealer hall actually opened as we left to get breakfast. By the way, the best place to eat near the MCM Elegante, where Con-Jikan was being held, is The Range. It is a mom and pop diner with everything you could want only a short walk from the hotel. IMG_20171216_105044172There were fresh baked pastries and mimosas of different flavors (to start off your convention weekend on the right foot if you’re the drinking sort) with other New Mexican and American breakfast food options. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast there as Nami and Luffy, which the weight staff seemed to enjoy.

Our common practice at conventions is to attend all the cosplay panels we can. Last year I attended all three of the cosplay panels at Con-Jikan put on by the UNM students running the convention. I found Broke Man’s cosplay incredibly insightful and made me wish I had been able to fit a note pad and pen into my miniskirt for Robecca Steam from Monster High. The panelists discussed all the second hand stores, fabric stores and other places in Albuquerque to purchase items to create low budget cosplays. The panel was packed and there were great questions all from locals who had not heard of many of the stores. I walked away with many more ideas than I entered with.

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I arrived with pen and paper in hand ready to take notes and catch those store names I’d missed last year. Unfortunately this year’s Broke Man’s cosplay was not a reflection of the year prior despite boasting some of the same panelists. Not only was it the only cosplay creation panel at Con-Jikan, but it also did not ring true to it’s success last year. The presenters were distracted, one of them even fell asleep behind their table for much of the panel. If one walked away with anything from this panel it was: buy costumes from Asia on EBay. I’m not sure I would endorse this. We do buy allot of our wigs on Amazon to save cost and they are pretty easy to work with, but buying your entire cosplay online is not only a gamble but can often be more expensive than making it yourself. If we sound disappointed it is only because this panel was so good last year and there were so many like it.

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Power Rangers pose with Retrospect Cosplay as Naruto and Sasuke for the Scavenger Hunt

Our next activity was the Scavenger Hunt whose program description is the reason we HAD to participate given what we were cosplaying: “Ever seen One Piece? Well it’s kind of like that. Search the Con-Jikan grounds for a list of things. Finish the list and get a ribbon.” The list was a decent size and provided the opportunity to interact with other attendees in cosplay while exploring some landmarks within the hotel itself. Fortunately our friends had arrived by then and were able to assist us in some of the group poses we needed to complete the list.

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@QueenBreadSama’s badge midday Saturday. It grew significantly since then.

We did our best and came in a close 4th earning a beautiful One Piece themed ribbon for our badges. Ribbon collecting is one of the main activities at this convention. All attendees with ribbons wear their badges with pride and when Sunday rolls around many badges touch the floor with the amount of ribbons on them. All vendors in the hall have their own ribbons to distribute, many are given out with purchase but some vendors put you to the test in order to earn their ribbon. If you plan ahead at this convention for the low price of $25 you can order your own ribbons to pick up with your tickets and distribute as you will. Look for MaeBerry Cosplay ribbons next year!

Afterwards and during the scavenger hunt two other cosplay related events were going on: Cosplay Chess and the Kirei Cosplay Cafe sessions. Cosplay Chess is always a favorite for cosplayers to be featured in an arena where they can put on their best show taking down other pieces from different worlds and genres. Kirei Cosplay Cafe were dressed as Overwatch characters, offering tea and cake with experiential sessions all afternoon leading up to the Masquerade.

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Yuri on Ice cosplay group performing “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago

There is limited seating  in front of the Main Stage so I recommend always getting there as early as the call for contestants at the Masquerade. We managed to get some decent seats that, while they were further back, allowed me to step to the side and get some good shots of the stage. The two local cosplay guests as well as Bek, who runs the local cosplay shop Just Cos Cosplay Supply, judged the contest. Bek and her associate were dressed up as the cover art characters for Con-Jikan year Five which was an ingenious and well executed cosplay. The Masquerade had the perfect number of contestants to show off the best of Con-Jikan’s cosplay while not tiring it’s audience. There were many notable acts. One Yuri on Ice cosplay group did a choreographed dance to Chicago‘s “Cell Block Tango” and placed. The group who got the craftsmanship award had hand painted embellishments on their kimonos.

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All the contestants who placed 1st-3rd, Judges’ choice and the Craftsmanship Award.

The night did not end with the Masquerade. There was still a Kigu Cookie Party and Karaoke afterwards with attendees and guests mingling in their Kigus, feasting and singing their hearts out. While everyone else was partying @skyberry13 was busy in our room preparing the wigs for the next day’s cosplay. one of which was not only gravity defying in the center, but had to have the rest of the wig entirely sculpted out.

 

Day 2

We got up early to finish our wigs and mount them properly. Fortunately, the panel we wanted to attend did not start till noon so we had some time. Our Sadie and Lars cosplay from Steven Universe was pretty much a closet cosplay. I did iron on the logos for The Big Donut and @skyberry13 cut and styled the wigs, but aside from that everything was store bought. It is a great easy cosplay if you’re able to figure out how to have Lars hair.

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The panel we were excited about on Sunday was: Overcoming Your Cosplay Insecurities. This panel had a great lineup of local cosplayers from different backgrounds and centered around the important motto that cosplay is for everyone! Two of the panelists actually make wigs for Just Cos Cosplay Supply. After discussing potential areas for insecurities around cosplay and methods for dealing with them the panelists went around sharing their own insecurities with cosplay. Their cosplay insecurities ranged from getting the makeup right, to body type, eating disorders and gender nonconformity. All of the topics were brought up with genuine feelings that many cosplayers face and were resolved with collective understanding. This sharing expanded to the audience where attendees were able to introduce themselves and express their insecurities with cosplay. It was a very nice and intimate experience where I believe everyone walked away with more confidence in their cosplays than ever. There is video footage of the panel from an attendee that filmed half of it which can be found here on YouTube.

This panel was the perfect end to an incredible weekend at Con-Jikan! Check back on January 1st for our new and improved website featuring the unveiling of our new logo!

 

Getting Our #Indiginerd On with Retrospect Cosplay

23758390_10214877233472528_481416423_nWe had the incredible opportunity to sit down with the members of Retrospect Cosplay, Queen Bread Sama (QBS) and Prince Littlewolf (PLW), to discuss their experience as cosplay guests at Indigenous Comic Con (ICC). This cosplay duo is composed of a queer female indigenous couple whose cosplays span four years and all manner of genres, their favorite of which is anime. They have cosplayed throughout the Southwest and along the West Coast. Now, our review of ICC will be running next Monday at 11:30AM MST right here, so be on the lookout for that. But in preparation, Retrospect Cosplay is here to tell us about their experience there as cosplay guests. We got to spend the convention weekend with this cosplay duo, watching them put the last touches on their cosplays in the hotel room, sitting with them on the showroom floor and following them through their first guesting experience. So, here you are folks: Retrospect Cosplay!

 

Question: How did you end up guesting, did the convention approach you guys. If so, how did they hear about you?

QBS: I would have to say like a mixture of both, but at the same time we were supposed to guest for this con last year. And they approached us last year to guest, but we weren’t able to make it cuz we were in California. So, we didn’t have the funds to make it last year but then they invited us again this year. And it was allot of fun and we really loved it. And that’s what I have to say about it, what did you have to say about it, hun? I think it was in the beginning of the planning phases of this con last year. I think it was in the spring when they were first starting to plan Indigenous Comic Con 2016 and they did a post where they’re asking:  “How many native cosplayers are there?” And of course, me being me we just made our new page on Facebook. And I copied and pasted the link in the comments. Then next thing you know they sent me a message and they’re like: “You guys are a cosplay duo?” I was like yes and we’re both Indian. I have to say it was sort of a random thing through Facebook.

 

Question: How do you feel that your first experience as cosplay guests went?

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Queen Bread Sama being interviewed at their table for a book about indigenous culture.

PLW: It went well. I don’t know. I just don’t think they saw us as a cosplay team. Rather, as Queen Bread Sama as the individual cosplayer and I was just kind of on the side. ‘Cuz that’s kind of how they didn’t see it the whole weekend. I wasn’t mad about it, but it kinda felt like they were just wanting her to guest and not us to guest. So I was like: oh, okay. That’s fine.

QBS: I feel like it was a little different from what I hear from other cosplay guests. You know, the fact that they have their own booth sometimes. I felt like the cosplay guests weren’t actually recognized as guests.

PLW: We were smushed together.

QBS: We weren’t advertised anywhere and when they had their pages for guests we weren’t on the guests. So I feel like it was just kind of a random sort of thing. Because you know there was another cosplayer and she is a really good cosplayer. But we were just thrown into this tiny table and we had to share a booth space. So I felt like it was great. It was wonderful. But I just felt like it was a little unplanned really. I have that vibe. But I think it was pretty fun. Its fun to talk to people and to tell people that we happen to be native while dressed up as these different characters.  I thought that was allot of fun.

 

Question: What sets this convention apart from other conventions you guys attend?

PLW: The indigenous aspect of it. Other than that everything else is pretty much your normal convention I would have to say. It’s got the dealer hall, your cosplayers, but its just cuz this one has this indigenous twist on it which is what makes it unique from all others.people would talk to me and they would say_ “Oh, you_re going to Indigenous Comic Con. Does that mean its only indigenous people there_” No, everyone's welcome. Its just the fact t

QBS: I felt like at this con there was kind of a misunderstanding as well because people would talk to me and they would say: “Oh, you’re going to Indigenous Comic Con. Does that mean its only indigenous people there?” No, everyone’s welcome. Its just the fact that we’re celebrating native artists and people in comic book and pop culture. That was the only thing that made it indigenous. Not the people that were supposed to attend. Everybody can attend from all places.

 

Question: Where does this convention rank in your lineup? If you have to put a number, a ranking on all the conventions you’ve been to, where would you put this one?

PLW: I’m gonna say for me, personally, this ranked at a four or a five.

QBS: You mean ten being the highest?

PLW: Yeah. Just because it was great, but it still has more potential to grow as a con.

QBS: It’s new.

PLW: Just the way our booths and such were set up it could still use a bit more. And maybe even expanding on their little dealer hall. You’re right, its just a new con but its still not high for me just yet.

QBS: I would have to say for it being a new con I would have to give it maybe like a healthy six. Because the first year they had it originally set in the Hispanic Cultural Center which is kind of redundant for an indigenous con. You know, we’re indigenous but lets have it in the Hispanic center. But I thought the venue this year is what really made it look like a con that’s been there for years. And the fact that they had a really nice casino venue and they had the space for it, that’s what really made it for me. I did like that. I’d have to give them a six with, of course, room for improvement on a couple of things. Maybe just more people, but then again we’re talking about like comic cons that are huge. If we were to compare it to New Mexico cons its almost like a completely different story because there’s Albuquerque Comic Con and Santa Fe which had these big rooms with just like fifty vendors for each room almost. So, yeah I’d have to give it a six for a new con.

 

Question: How fruitful was having a booth at this convention?

PLW: Very!

QBS: We love the word fruitful because I feel like having a booth at a convention is completely different from attending a convention. Because you’re not only spending money as you walk down the booth, you’re actually making money. And its really is nice to make money instead of spending everything and then having to deal with it afterwards.

PLW: It’s just nice to make money rather than spend the money.

QBS: No matter what the situation is. I would have to say it was pretty good and we met allot of people. Of course if you’re used to attending cons its gonna be hard to stay in one space all day instead of running around and finding whats what.

 

Question: Would you consider cosplay guesting again at this or other conventions?

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Photo courtesy of: Kristin Gentry Photography

PLW: Yeah, even if its just Queen Bread Sama, I don’t mind supporting her for that. Because for me as a guest it was okay, but I feel like it would be more helpful supporting her instead. And maybe being a bit happier because I can wander around the con. I like that, but I would definitely be a guest if they asked both of us to.

QBS: I would have to say that I would definitely want to be a guest there again and also for other conventions. I’d be super happy to guest at other conventions. I think it’s a whole new experience, a new take on attending conventions. But I’d be happy if both of us were guests and I think I would be more nervous if it was just me by myself. I know it’d be scary, but I know that I would have great support.

 

Question: How do you think you guys stand out from other cosplayers or vendors in your category?

22089749_343255926125266_5650587473766224155_nPLW: I guess just that we’re indigenous? Nothing else really sets us apart. We’re not like super super crazy great yet, but we’re not like…I don’t know. I think we’re just the same as everyone else except for our heritage.

QBS: I think our ethnic background is what sets us from other cosplayers. And also the fact that Prince Little Wolf here is a Furry. And because they’re a Furry they can do things that I can’t do as a cosplayer, such as the art of hot glue. I cannot do hot glue, I cannot do hand stitching because they do hand stitching for all the fur that they put on the fur suit heads and they have much more time and patience to do things. So, I feel like that’s what separates them as a cosplayer is the fact that they have background knowledge in fur-suiting and that really intertwines with cosplaying.

 

Question: Do you want to elaborate on that gluing a little bit?

PLW: Oh my god. What else about my glue?

QBS: Just tell us what happened.

23772486_10214877232752510_2072951727_nPLW: To make it look great all you have to do is make sure all your seams are folded nicely. You can’t swarm this thing in glue. Just like: dot, dot and then squish and flatten. Just make sure all your seams are meeting okay and it looks good. I’m surprised, especially with my Naruto jacket. It came out great and it looks flawless, almost.

QBS: Yeah, they literally made this Naruto jacket in like two hours

PLW: I think it was a bit under an hour. I had to like throw it in there.

QBS: We had bought a hoodie and then they had orange fabric that was supposed to be the actual Naruto jacket material that I was going to stitch up together. But I don’t know what happened. We kind of just ran to things at the last minute and they just got out their glue gun and I knew it was over for me. I knew I was not ‘gonna sew.

PLW: Because your needle had broken too on the sewing machine.

QBS: You broke my needle.

PLW: So we couldn’t even sew the orange fabric onto my jacket. Thankfully, I had a long enough gluestick. I’m just gonna glue this on there. And it happened. I was able to stitch it all on there. The pieces, thank god they were cut out. Because you cut them out to fit the jacket so I was able to Frankenstein stitch those onto there. And the jacket came out pretty great. I was happy with it that whole day.

 

Question: What is your dream con to guest at?

QBS: To guest at? Gosh. I don’t know. Its really scary to think of guesting at a con.

PLW: Yaoi con!

QBS: For me? Yes!

18011649_1772681019727592_3782158513074077696_nPLW: I know we’re not dudes

QBS: But most of our characters that we cosplay together are guy characters who happen to be shipped together. So, I feel like Yaoi Con is a very appropriate con for us to be guests at.

PLW: I think it would just be cute because we could, even though we’re a female couple, to be able to be recognized as a male couple and our cosplays are just that believable. I think just Yaoi Con would be so much fun to guest at because you have all these fangirl people that are just like:’Yeah!’ Its like ‘Yay!’

QBS: Yeah, I just think that would be perfect. Because most of our characters have been, male characters that we’ve cosplayed recently. For Indigenous we did Sasuke and Naruto and those happen to be shipped together as well so I feel like it would be perfect for us to guest at. But I would say if there’s a Harry Potter Con somewhere I would be on that.

22638805_155614165045150_2332234045649321984_nskyberry13: There is, that’s a thing. What’s it called? I feel like it’s about to happen actually. Harry Potter con is totally a thing. Leeky Con, that’s what its. called. Like Leeky culture. I guess it’s already happened, but it’s in August in Dallas.

QBS: Thats a thing? I would wear Snape flawlessly. Oh my God! Yes! Leeky Con, okay we’re attending!

PLW: That’s awesome!

QBS: Of course, we were in Dallas in August. Frustrating, very frustrating.

 

 

Question: What was the first cosplay related item you ever sold?

QBS: Ever ever?

@skyberry13: Ever, ever in all of time, ever. That includes Furries.

PLW: Oh no!

23758268_10214877154470553_684321900_nQBS: I am going to tell you. Okay, so the first one. I started cosplaying back in 2014. And in 2014 I was kind of on a roll and it was my first time experimenting with sewing. And in September, Prince Littlewolf went away to school so I was by myself and I happened to find this really beautiful pink material, it was like pink suiting material. And I looked at it and I bought I think like four or five yards of it and I went to town. And I made myself the outfit from Hatsune Miku’s “Senbonzakura” music video. And so I made that outfit perfect to the ‘T.’ I did my research. I cut everything out, the sleeves were perfect lenght and everything. I did research. The times went on, I wore it once, Albuquerque Comic Con came. We needed money for passes. I sold it and I regret it to this day.

@skyberry13: Oh no!

QBS: It was my worst thing I’ve ever sold. I cry on the inside because this person that I sold it to has never worn it. And so I’m just like, is she

@skyberry13: Let me buy it back?

QBS: I want to say that, but I don’t want to be like ‘Okay, hey. I sold this to you and you’re not wearing it.’ But I just wonder whether she’s in another person’s closet, if she’s in the trash. I just wonder. She was a good cosplay. So that was the first cosplay item I’ve ever sold was my freaking full on Hatsuni Miku cosplay. I will send you pictures of it that you can put in the article. I’m crying on the inside. And you, Prince Littlewolf?

PLW: Lets see, what is the first thing that I ever sold that is cosplay related? It was probably that Attack on Titan jacket now that I think about it. But I kind of didn’t sell it. I gave it away.

QBS: You did? I thought that you did other things before.

PLW: I don’t remember.

QBS: Yeah, I think that was the first thing.

PLW: I think so. It was only just because I had bought it for her birthday. This was back in high school. I bought it for her birthday and I bought it from China. And this thing didn’t fit her. It was so small she couldn’t even lift her arms or anything. I was like dammit!

QBS: I think it was a Chinese small and I’m a Chinese large. So it

PLW: I actually got a Chinese medium, but it’s a small in American sizes. Yeah, so I ended up-I didn’t sew it, I traded it. I traded it to Ethan and them. And then I got two huge bulks of fur in exchange. I was like: ‘Yay!’ And I got fursuit teeth, a fursuit nose and some claws. And so that was a pretty good trade for that jacket.

QBS: I would have to say that was a very good trade. It was perfect because we had this jacket for years and we kept trying to find someone who would fit it. And it was impossible, it really was.

 

Question: When getting into cosplay did you ever see yourselves guesting at a convention?

DSCN1604QBS: It seems like a weird question because I never thought about it. I just thought about being good to a level where people recognized me, but I never thought that I would be asked to guest with Prince Littlewolf. Because its just crazy, honestly, thinking about it, just thinking about us being together as a couple, then finding something that we love to do together. And then being asked to guest at cons. I don’t know, its like this con kind of was like very sentimental to me I would have to say. Because allot of people came up and they gave me hugs and shook my hand. They were just like: ‘You know, we’ve watched you guys cosplay for years and we’re so happy that you guys are in the spotlight finally. And that you guys are doing your own thing and you’re not catering to audiences such as quote on quote ‘boob models.’ Retrospect Cosplay Interview Pull Quote Graphic (1)Not being boob models. You know there’s no shame in that, but it’s just like everyone was sort of amazed that we were doing our thing and we were still guests. That just kind of blows my mind. I was like ‘Wow, I did not have to sell boudoir shoots or take the extra step like that to guest at a con.’ And it was just really nice. I definitely hope to guest at more cons, but I would have never thought in a million years that I would guest at a con with my girlfriend.

PLW: It was nice. It was really nice to be asked, but no I didn’t think I would at least be guesting anyway. I knew you sometimes, but together it was pretty cool. But I just didn’t see us guesting at a con this soon.

 

Question: Do you guys have any closing statements? Anything you want the world to know?

QBS: I would just have to say to continue doing what you’re doing and if you’re happy with yourself and your cosplay that’s all that matters. And you shouldn’t listen to the negative feedback from other people, Retrospect Cosplay Interview Pull Quote Graphicbut if your costume makes you truly happy when you wear it and the way it looks to you is fine, that’s what matters most. As long as you’re happy and content with it and yourself. I would have to say just to keep cosplaying because its fun, don’t let it be a competition. But if you do want to enter it in a competition that’s up to you. It should be fun.

PLW: If you make your own cosplays it’s only going to get better. Don’t worry, its ‘gonna get better. Just keep on at it guys.

QBS: You’re either, A, a talented seamstress or, B, talented in hot glue and everything else. I cannot do crafting projects to save my life, but Prince Littlewolf can figure out how to make something that’s not using fabric and thread. Other than that she can figure it out. I have one more thing and I just forgot what I wanted to say. But I would just say you can follow us on Instagram or Facebook and you can ask us questions. If it’s about a costume I would be super happy to help out or to give you feedback. Whatever it is you need, I’m here.

 

Thank you Retrospect Cosplay!

You heard her folks, to learn more about Retrospect Cosplay, follow Queen Bread Sama and Prince Littlewolf on Instagram or visit Retrospect Cosplay‘s Facebook page. We hope you enjoyed our interview with Retrospect Cosplay as much as we did. Follow us here at MaeBerry Cosplay for more interviews in the new year!

Star Trek Giveaway

Hello all and welcome to our very first giveaway! We have enjoyed this year of cosplaying and blogging so much that we want to give back to our amazing followers. I bet you’re wondering why we’ve been doing so many Star Trek cosplays? Well, we were gearing up for this incredible Star Trek 50th Anniversary Build-A-Bear Giveaway!

What You Win

Your prize is a brand new, special limited edition Star Trek 50th Anniversary Build-A-Bear straight from Build-A-Bear Workshop! We kissed the heart and stuffed it ourselves!

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How to Win

The rules are simple! In order to win this adorable bear all you need to do is:

  1. Email follow our blog HERE

  2. Like us at MaeBerry Cosplay on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

This contest goes through New Years Eve at 12PM M.S.T. The winner will be announced on New Years Day and notified through email! Good luck everyone and thank you for following us here at MaeBerry Cosplay!

We have so many exciting plans for you in the new year: a new website, a new logo and perhaps even some exclusive interviews with queer/screen queer actresses! Follow us at MaeBerry Cosplay for these exclusives and many more!

DIY Star Trek Next Generation Cosplay

So, I beagn watching Star Trek the Next Generation because of a guest who would be coming to a convention near us. I had watched it on and off throughout the years, whenever it was playing on Syfy, but I had never seen it from start to finish. The character I immediately related to was Dr. Crusher. It wasn’t obvious at first, but her line in “The Host,” brought me to tears. Like, it was an ok episode and all but she said; “Perhaps it is a Human failing, but we are not accustomed to these kinds of changes. … Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won’t be so limited.” I was sobbing (like ugly crying sobbing.) When @skyberry13 came in and found me reduced to a puddle on the couch she looked from the screen to me in confusion. She is not a big Star Trek fan, despite loving science and she somehow finds it boring. Well, I sure cured that.

Anyway, we decided to cosplay Dr. Beverly Crusher and Wesley Crusher from Star Trek the Next Generation for Santa Fe Comic Con, which we would be able to wear at conventions like Star Fest Denver, where we had seen all alien races and Starfleet uniforms walking around. It was immediately obvious through a Google and Pintrest search that this would not be as easy as we originally thought. Next Generation is apparently not a popular series, at least not enough for their version of Starfleet uniforms to be very popular costumes. Upon further investigation it was easy to see why. @skyberry13‘s response to this was: “Do you hate me?” It is a phrase becoming increasingly popular in our cosplay interactions because for some reason we are drawn to the most difficult characters to create costumes for. The off-center and oddly geometric colored patterns on the Star Trek Next Generation costume were nearly impossible to replicate to perfection. There is only one existing vendor selling a pattern for these uniforms on the internet and their reviews were not inspiring of confidence.

Starfleet Uniform

@skyberry13 resolved to Frankenstein her own pattern from a YaYa Han bodysuit pattern we already owned (which comes in Plus Sizes!). We ended up cutting out two versions of the bodice in black and in red. We then measured the back and made adjustments with a ruler for the red accents, designing our own cutout. We then inverted that line for the back to reflect an opposite pattern. Using these templates we cut the red and black versions accordingly. The sleeves were measured halfway up the arm to be in line with the center line.

The collar was modified from a mandarin collar pattern that we had used for our The Legend of Korra cosplays, but it ended up not being tight enough. I would suggest creating your own and play around with it if you have the fabric.

Medical Coat

The pattern was another YaYaHan pattern. This one was a labcoat pattern with some adjustments on the collar. To @skyberry13‘s great frustration, Dr. Crusher wears different medical coats throughout the show. We finally decided on one without a collar, that just cuts off in the middle.

Comm Badges & Officer Pins

As for props, Santa Fe Comic Con, as referenced in (The End of Conventions as We Know Them), does not allow weapons so phasers and even the medical tricorder were out of the question. I did not want to chance making something that we would not be able to take in. You know how dangerous cardboard can be! IMG_20171019_081408190.jpgAnyway, all that I got to do (aside from helping @skyberry13 by cutting out all the pattern pieces) was craft communicator badges and their command pins.

I tried all of the cardboard/business card tutorials available by Star Trek fans online, but none of them had the look I was going for. It is an iconic emblem and, if the uniforms did not call to attention what we were cosplaying, the symbol would. So, after much trial and error I returned to my childhood pastime: Shrinky Dinks. Why are cosplayers around the world not always using Shrinky Dinks? For someone who does not have a 3D printer this is just as easy! You draw your shape, cut it out, pop it in the oven and Voila! I did do some detailing with my dremel before spray painting (no need for coating by the way, this is hard plastic and holds up well to spray paint). Then I adhered both pieces together, attached a pin back to the comm badges and earring backs to the command pins all with E6000.

With varying rates of success, here is a sneak peak of how our uniforms turned out:

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The Voice of Monica Rial at Hub City Comic Con

Bianca Montoya

img_20170827_170433.jpgBianca Montoya holds her BA in Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media from the University of New Mexico where she directed, wrote, and produced student film; Capturing Life. Her film career so far includes Art Department Assistant on the Limited Television Series, Waco, and Feature Film, Woman Walks Ahead, which will be coming to theaters in 2018. Bianca draws inspiration from the films Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. She is an avid convention goer and beginning cosplayer. Her cosplays so far include Bulbasaur and Katara, but she looks forward to learning more about sewing. Bianca loves almost any anime you send her way, some of her favorite included: Inuyasha, Death Note and Sailor Moon.

 

It all started with a trip to see a Red Raiders football game accented by a rather confusing tradition of throwing tortillas in the air when the opposite team scores. This event was meant to be the highlight of my first trip to Lubbock, Texas. However, out of the blue, it was challenged by the Hub City Comic Con. To be completely honest I had no idea the Hub City Comic Con was even descending on the Lubbock community (for its third year in a row I might add, according to their Facebook page) until the very aware MaeBerry Cosplay members told me the event would be happening the weekend I just happened to be there. They clearly continue to be on top of their convention game, which warrants huge props.

Convention

It was the second day of Hub City Comic Con, September 16th, and there were only a few short hours to experience the con to the fullest before being pulled away by the Red Raider football craze. I played my cards carefully and was able to rope in both a ride and two fellow attendees: my younger, geek cultured aficionado brother; and my carefree cousin who was simply pulled in with the promise of video games and random entertainment. (His exact words were something like; “Eh, why not”). Super exciting success! We set out for the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center and, right before parking in a passing glance, observed the opposing football team preparing in all their athlete driven glory in the parking lot of the Hotel Elegante (right next door to the Civic Center). With that, we were both reminded of our tight schedule and unyielding excitement to get the day started. I had one goal: to meet Monica Rial. A fantastically talented woman who happens to be one of the leading dub voice actresses in the world.

It was around 10 AM when we made our way to the front doors and took our first steps into the arena. The first thing we saw was the welcome desk before looking down an ever-expanding hall. To the left were large closed doors leading to the Exhibit Hall. To the right was an expanded space with only a few booths and a few doors leading to the game room and panel rooms. So, with little option, we purchased our one-day wrist bands and went through the large doors that led to the main space filled aplenty with both vendors and guests. The guests were lined on the far left of the room, while the vendors mainly took up the rest of the space– lining up and down in six rows. Basically, you had to get used to the idea of being close to other people. If you’re used to cons though, this is kind of a given to be in a tight space with: clowns, cosplayers, nerds, fandom enthusiasts and awesome people alike. It’s part of the fun. I mean, where else could you see these sights?

A few cosplayers wandered the aisles that early morning, including a notable gender bent Sailor Moon and a set of clowns. Did I mention the clowns? The clowns moved so closely behind us for a time that it freaked out my cousin with their intricate costumes. This was the best way to start the morning. IMG_20170916_1126551Speaking of sights, there was a full size R2-D2 wandering around the aisles followed by a fascinating full-sized minion version of R2-D2. Checking out the scene we saw some local illustrators, traveling vendors and found ourselves being absorbed by the exciting atmosphere you can only find at a Comic Con. It was filled with people who are devoted to: fantastic fandoms, love geek culture, illustrations; Funko pops; plushies, special guests, and are fully willing to lose themselves in a cornucopia of it all for a couple hours.

Guests included: the original voice actress for Frieza from the Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Z, the voice actor for Trunks from Dragon Ball Z, and Monica Rial from multiple anime dubs. My male companions, of course, were most interested to see the Dragon Ball Z actors because it’s the epitome of epic Kamehameha blasts– ripped men fighting aliens while also being revealed as aliens with just the right hint of humor and ruthless martial arts tinged ferocity. That proved to be a huge selling point reigning the both of them in. Personally though, I was totally captivated by the wonderful Monica Real whose voice can totally fool me with her vast range, even though she has been integral to some of my favorite anime. I caught a glance of her at her booth beyond a line of fans, her hair an electric shade of violet pink. At that moment I realized we needed to find a schedule for the panels. After trying to subtly dance around the growing lines looking for a print schedule I finally proclaimed the search was futile as there was no print schedule. We pulled our wits together, (or rather I did while being observed by two young teenagers) looked online and found a schedule for the panels and events at the con. Reinforced with the panel schedule, we made our way back into the vendor room. Our first panel was going to be Eric Vale’s, the original voice actor for purple haired defying Trunks.

34CB7A63-5B3F-429C-B62C-E532D66B4BE5 - CopyIn the meantime, however, I found a familiar face. I ran into the wonderful author, Julia Joseph, whom I had met at a previous convention in Las Cruces, NM where I bought her fantastic book there, The Broken. It is the first in a fantasy series and I proceeded to finish it in one evening. As any avid reader who becomes completely immersed in an author’s world, (enough to feel compelled to only stop reading when there simply were no more words to read about Rose and her Warrior Ouriel) I decided to take advantage of this unforeseen opportunity. I had so many compliments to shower and inquiries, just trying to get an even more depth look into this brilliant author’s mind. In the process, I was abandoned by my companions who left me to my absurdity for a time. Julia Joseph took my colossal devouring of her time in stride and, un-wearying; answered my inquiries, explored themes of characters and the process of building a main heroine that is faced with having to confront what true faith is, revealed bits of her own experience and how it influenced her work. It was an experience you don’t happen upon every day. I cannot recommend her work enough if you are a fan of: dry humor, great imagination, young adult fiction (with none of the Twilight nonsense), strong characters, consequences, and thought-provoking situations and adventures. This experience accented one of my favorite parts of visiting Comic Conventions. You can come face to face with people involved in creating something you ultimately fell in love with and have a conversation about it. How wonderful is that? Slowly, we wrapped up our conversation as my companions wandered back and we took a final picture to solidify the exchange. And just like that, we were late for Eric Vale’s panel and had to rush off.

Panels

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Walking into the panel we were about ten minutes late. This panel was interesting because, though the character is well known, the actor did not seem to have much to say about the character. He mostly talked about how the character caused him vocal strain because of the yelling. If you’ve ever seen Dragon Ball Z it’s understandable. He also talked about his experience doing voice overs for commercials and on other entertainment platforms. After the panel ended we made our way to Monica Rial’s booth. I had already met her at Albuquerque Comic Con, where I recorded a message from her to a friend as Konoka from Negima. Realizing how incredible she is, I secretly hoped to record my own message this time around. I built up the courage and asked. Unfortunately, Monica explained she was not allowed to record anything at her table but suggested, as all hope was passing by, that maybe something could be worked out after her panel. It was a lost battle though, we were going to be pulled away before the panel and so, it was over.

We spent the rest of the con walking around, accumulating illustrations, precious treasures and then retiring to the game room to play a stupid amount of Super Smash Brothers. We only stopped when we were told we had to give up the machine as it was going to be used for a tournament. And so, it was time to go. I made a call to reveal our whereabouts to our ride. My voice gave me away though and I was given, unpredictably, special permission to stay for Monica Rial’s panel. An incredible amount of excitement rushed over me as we made our way to wait for the panel to start.

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Monica’s panel was one of the best I’ve ever seen. She loves what she does, she loves her characters, she has a wonderful sense of timing, humor and a great energy to share with everyone around her. On the way out, she caught a glimpse of me and, selflessly, she made my day (and week). She took a short video for me as the voice of Mayaya from Princess Jellyfish. It was a dream come true for a colossal fan! I literally fell to my knees and put both hands up in the air, triumphant, despite the curious gazes. I walked out of the panel euphoric and bubbling with joy.  We went outside to be picked up and to discuss the events of the day. We all agreed Monica’s panel was a highlight and that we had enjoyed our time at the convention.

As we waited to be picked up for the trip back home, we watched as the Minion R2-D2 wander around outside. A young child caught a glimpse of the yellow, suspender clad droid and took caution as the droid moved closer to him. The child waved hello and goodbye to the droid, both captivated and mystified by the unusual sight. It was a nice moment to leave on. It really emphasizes what makes Comic Conventions so fun for the people that take every opportunity to attend. It is a fantastic community where you can meet: artists, creators, collectors, fans, cosplayers, creative aficionados, authors, designers, voice actors, actors, illustrators and random people you thought you would never meet etc. And to share in a collective community drenched in fandom. There’s a lot of acceptance, enthusiasm and comfort in loving what you love and being who you are. With that, we were whisked away to what should have been the highlight of our trip. In my mind though, Hub Comic Con took the cake and I hope to visit again in the future.

“Next stop, 34th Street—Hudson Yards.”

 

Ashleigh Heaton 12096111_10154338111203636_599989196636884250_nis a book marketer at Random House, a voice actress/part-time mermaid princess on Sirenetta & the Second Star and nerd living in New York City. She enjoys reading, gaming, and exploring new places. An avid cosplayer, she has worked New York City Comic Con for three years. You can see her attempts at being funny on Twitter at @ashleighdearest.

 

The subway car doors open up at Times Square. Tourists start shuffling out of the 7 train, casting confused looks over their shoulders as a crowd of Jokers, Reys, Narutos, and Sailor Moons funnel past them to take their seats. They wonder; “Is it already Halloween? Oh well—only in New York.”

When the doors ding close, the car practically bubbles over with excitement. Strangers turn to other strangers, chatting like old friends and complimenting each other’s costumes.

“I love the way you knitted your shell!”

“Which panels are you planning on going to?”

“Wait—you hand sewed that? No way!”

They’re all headed to the same place: the one, the only, New York Comic Con (NYCC).

For one weekend, the Javits Center is transformed into a funhouse of cosplayers, media, and artists. And I was lucky to be a part of the fun.IMG_2102

Unlike the convention goers beside me on the train, I was headed over for a slightly different reason: I had to work. I count my blessings every day that a shift at NYCC is a part of my job description, though it does mean that cosplay is off the table for me. But that doesn’t stop me from adding a small nerdy embellishment to my ensemble: a Leia bun wig, and a pair of Zora Sapphire earrings.

This was my third year to work NYCC, so I felt like an old pro walking through the entrance early on Thursday morning before the floor had opened (exhibitor perks.) The moment you walk in the doors, you’re greeted with an overwhelming amount of banners, advertising the next big thing. I head to my booth and help with a little setup, taking in the empty aisles around me and knowing that this calm will not last for long.

My view from the Del Rey booth

Suddenly, there’s a whoop from the entrance. The doors have opened. New York City Comic Con 2017 has begun.

Cosplay

It goes without saying—everyone brings their cosplay A-game to NYCC. It’s invigorating to be surrounded by so many talented and creative costumers! You know when you’ve stumbled upon a great cosplay when a crowd of people has formed amidst the chaos, phones and cameras raised and snapping away. Because of the nature of the con, it’s truly difficult to see everyone’s amazing work, which is why I’m thankful the internet exists to fill me in on anything I might have missed.

NYCC is a more mainstream convention, and much of the cosplay reflected that. The floor was rife with plenty of Marvel and DC superheroes. (I saw tons of little girls dressed as Wonder Woman and it made me tear up. Just a bit.) There were countless Captain Marvels, Guardians of the Galaxy team-ups, Jon Snows, Sailor Moon characters, and a sprinkling of Disney princesses. I also saw some truly lovely Princess Zelda cosplay, and some kick-butt Overwatch characters, as well (Ana’s Halloween skin was especially popular this year, since NYCC kicks off October.)

But mainstream doesn’t necessarily mean boring, or uncreative. I walked by a man I call “Party Thor”, who was dressed as the God of Thunder, and had rigged his costume with lights and a boombox hammer blasting oldies hits. A mother passed by dresses as Rey from Star Wars, carrying her 10-month old baby who was dresses as a tiny BB-8. (I’m not crying, you’re crying.) Intense costumers with stilts, large attachments, and moving components usually didn’t get further than the entrance hall before they were mobbed by fans with cameras, posing for endless photos.

While I wasn’t able to take as many photos as I would have liked (again, when you’re moving in a crowd this large, it’s hard to stop the flow of traffic), I did snap a few of my favorites. And when my camera failed me, the internet came through:

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Pharah from Overwatch. I’m overwhelmed at this girl’s cosplay game—I have never and will never be able to pull off a cosplay this intense. Brava!

The Javits Center…INSIDE the Javits Center. Cue the Inception bass music, please.

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Not the best photo, I’ll be the first to admit, but can we appreciate how these guys crafted their arms to look loopy and elongated? Incredibly impressive work.

As someone who was raised on the original “Sailor Moon” anime, this cosplay of a DIC VHS case made my nostalgic heart sing.

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Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2: “I’m Mary Freaking Poppins!” I’m a sucker for gag cosplay, and this was one of the most charming on the floor.

Sunday is family day at the convention, which opens up the portal to maximum cuteness. Needless to say, I loved this spin on Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

Booths

 IMG_2112Much of the booth layout on the floor doesn’t change much from year to year—if you’ve been once, you’ll know how to make your way around pretty quickly. That said, I was always on the hunt for free swag, photo opportunities, and signings, which are happening all the time on the floor and easy to attend…if you plan ahead. If you plan on heading to NYCC in the future, I highly recommend looking up the schedules for the specific booths you want to check out and make a battle plan accordingly. Otherwise, it’s very easy to get swept up in the general chaos of the show floor.

My favorite treasure from the convention was a free advance copy of Renegades by Marissa Meyer (fittingly, the start of a new superhero series.) I also dropped by the Funimation satellite booth for Your Name. for a quick photo op (one without a line, no less!)

Immersive Experiences

NYCC is second in size only to San Diego Comic Con, and continues to grow every year; this year, 200,000 people attended the 4-day event. While it’s great to have so many passionate nerds in the same place, it does mean that navigating the crowds can get…pretty overwhelming. (I oftentimes imagine that I look like a salmon swimming upstream.) Until the Javits Center finds a way to address the crowd control issues, a lot of exhibitors have responded by taking their showcases outside of the actual convention hall for a more intimate, offsite experience.

While I wasn’t able to attend any of these satellite exhibits, I was a big fan of the inventiveness behind HBO Westworld Experience (here be spoilers!) as well as the Audible pop-up for Andy Weir’s newest novel, Artemis (narrated by none other than Rosario Dawson). In the future, I’m curious to see if this “experience” trend continues—and what that means for NYCC.

Artist Alley

In years past, Artist Alley has been housed in the northern concourse of the Javits Center, in a huge, spacious hall a bit separated from the rest of the craziness. However, this concourse was closed this year due to construction (for a huge renovation and expansion), which further exacerbated the over-crowding issues with the convention.

In lieu of the northern concourse, Artist Alley was moved to the southern basement area of the center, and I felt truly awful for the artists who attended. This hallway was much more crowded, and the air circulation left me feeling like I was walking through a humid jungle stuffed with people, shuffling their way slowly through the booths. Bigger artists with followings did fine, but newer artists looking to be discovered had much less visibility. Hopefully this change is just for this year, and we’ll be back at the northern concourse next year.

Panels

Since I was working during this convention, I wasn’t able to attend any panels on my bucket list—simply being, you had to line up for the panel looooong before the panel was set to start. That’s the trade-off at NYCC: the longer you wait, the better the panel and overall experience. (But, if you were lucky, Mark Hamill might have come by for a surprise selfie…)

My inner booklover was sad to miss the panels with Patrick Rothfuss, as well as the headliner panels from RoosterTeeth and Marvel. But, the good news is that the best panels usually have a way of winding up on YouTube not long after the event.

Much like exhibitors, some of the biggest panels of the convention were moved offsite to help accommodate larger crowds. Bigger panels got hosted in places such as the Hudson Mercantile, Hammerstein Ballroom, and even Madison Square Garden.

***

Despite the large crowds, long lines, and occasional pay-to-play experiences, it’s hard to not get excited about NYCC. Towards the end of the convention, I found myself wandering through familiar aisles, seeing familiar vendors and booths, and wondering, “Is this it? Have I experienced everything this convention has to offer?”

But then, I did a double-take as Tara Strong walked past me, a pleasant reminder that anything can happen at New York Comic Con.