If you’re an aspiring fan who wants to embark on a life of cosplay, go forth and be bold in your choices. If you’re a budding epic fantasy author who wants to create memorable heroes, make them persistent. Such was the advice given by two top-notch cosplayers and a panel of award-winning fantasy authors at Emerald City Comicon (ECCC), held this last weekend.
Cosplaying with Confidence with Ani-Mia and Ivy Doomkitty
By Fritz Kessler – @HelloFritzCom
Comicons are rife with the opportunity to be wowed by fans’ creativity in their art and costuming. But the “Body Confidence and Positivity in Cosplay” session, featuring ace cosplayers Ani-Mia and Ivy Doomkitty, added surprising emotional punch to the proceedings.
For each, a life of cosplay began not simply with fandom, but with struggles with body image and self-esteem. Doomkitty knows how universal self-esteem problems can be. “It’s one of those things everyone can relate to,” she said, but still struggled to make eye contact with the crowd early in the session due to the rawness of the subject. She described a childhood of growing up heavyset and hiding herself in books to escape the torment of being called “so many things” related to her size.
After seven years of attending conventions and wanting to express her own passion for comic characters, she finally took the plunge after renowned comics artist Frank Cho spotted her and asked her to do some figure modeling work. She hasn’t looked back since, and is now a cosplay mainstay at cons everywhere.
Ani-Mia shared her experience of growing up insecure about her body size and her geek passions, and approaching her insecurities by worrying about diets, and even joining a sorority to try and fit in. Life in a sorority ended poorly for Ani-Mia, however: “They made me throw my Sailor Moon alarm clock away. That’s when I realized that wasn’t for me,” she said, to much applause from the crowd.
She began cosplaying as only the quietest, most introspective characters – characters that she related to. To really get cooking with cosplay, it took a long time, and a particularly influential costume: Supergirl. “Every time I wore it, I just felt like Supergirl,” she said. “It’s being happy with yourself that just makes life so much easier.”
With many years and countless cons behind them, Ani-Mia and Doomkitty offered words of wisdom to a room packed with active and aspiring cosplayers. “Don’t think you can’t cosplay a character because they’re drawn a certain way,” said Doomkitty, who encouraged the crowd to be bold with their cosplay choices. And although both panelists encouraged the crowd to be sensitive and respectful when portraying characters of different races or abilities, they see cosplay primarily as a way to explore and celebrate the traits in characters that they most admire. As Ani-Mia put it: “Find who you identify with. If you feel for that character, just do it.”
What Makes Fantasy Epic?
By Shefali Sain – @ ShefaliSain
It may be hard to define epic fantasy succinctly, but we definitely have a sense of what epic fantasy is and isn’t. We know it when we read it and when we hear it. We feel it in our bones. A packed room huddled to listen to award-winning fantasy authors Steven Erikson, Peter V Brett, Pat Rothfuss, Robin Hobb and Peter Orullian discuss the nuances that characterize epic fantasy.
According to the panelists, an epic fantasy is a story of a “world” where a change is about to happen. These days, fantasy is subdivided into many sub-genres, such as Urban, Paranormal, Dark, Heroic, Young Adult, Sword and Sorcery, Epic and more.
And what defines a hero? The defining characteristic of any fantasy hero is stubbornness. “Find one fantasy hero who is not persistent,” Brett said. As the authors delved deeper into characterizing their heroes, they agreed that the protagonists had to be flawed. “Human beings have flaws and so should all heroes,” said Hobb. “A superhero without a flaw is not a compelling character and that makes him boring, appealing to none but adolescent fantasy, “ Rothfuss added.
The discussion took an interesting turn when the authors started analyzing modern-day heroes. “We have infantilized our heroes. It’s more like action film, the notion has been reduced to sociopathic hero and it’s nothing but despair, “ said Erikson. The panelist agreed that characters “on the edge” are the most interesting ones.
A villain, on the other hand, is nothing but a flawed hero and never thinks of himself or herself as a villain. He or she has the same passion as a hero but different motivations. For effective character building, the panel suggested adding an element of complexity to the protagonist and the antagonists. “There’s nothing more powerful in fiction than a villain doing something compassionate,” said Orullian.
The Future of Fandom Conventions
By Shefali Sain
Fandom is evolving and fans across the world are demanding more inclusive events where they can convene and be active participants. Session moderator Rob Salkowitz, a Communication Leadership (Comm Lead) graduate program instructor at the University of Washington, discussed the evolving state of fandom and how cutting-edge technologies are changing the culture of fan conventions today. According to research conducted by Eventbrite, more than 70 percent of fans attend two or more events in any given year, and they are fans of a broad range of genres. These factors are prompting event organizers such as Emerald City Comicon to think about new ways to be all inclusive and cover as many different genres of pop culture as possible. Brent Friedman, also a Comm Lead instructor and co-founder of Artifact Technologies, discussed how emerging technologies will shape the way in which live content will be interactive in such conventions.