Cosplayers are Venom. Yeah I said it, but it’s not what you think I mean. Before you get out the pitchforks and torches just read a little bit more as I want to explain that statement right there.
In the Marvel Universe, Venom is a symbiote that attaches itself to its host be it Eddie Brock or Flash Thompson or whoever the Marvel U. deems appropriate at the time. As such the relationship between symbiote and host needs to be a cohesive unit in order to function most effectively. When I say cosplayers are Venom what I mean is that cosplayers should have a cohesive bond with their host, the convention. When these two entities are at odds one or both suffer in different ways.
Today in my local NC convention scene I see this happening across the board in a few ways. I see cons embrace cosplayers and I see both flourish. I see cons keep a hands-off approach to cosplay and I see both continue as the status quo. I also see conventions at odds with cosplayers and watch as the cosplay community turns on them in spectacular dramatic fashion as only cosplayers can do. Having been a cosplayer and a part of the local cosplay community for years I hear and see a ton of things the conventions are not always privy to, and I hear and see things that are smashing the conventions over the head with bags full of pops and prints. Again let me explain.
Cosplay and conventions have never been more mainstream. There are new cons popping up all over the place this year from one day mini-shows like Charlotte Comicon, Asheville Comic Con and Greenville North Carolina Comicon to well-established 3 and 4 day extravaganzas like Animazement, Raleigh Supercon, NCComicon and HeroesCon. Also cosplay has never been bigger. There are reality TV shows about it. Any convention you go to has a cosplay contest with money and prizes. There are even some conventions that are strictly for cosplay. Let me first address a major fallacy that has popped up since this cosplay explosion has started:
Cosplayers don’t spend money at conventions.
That statement right there in and of itself is the highest form of bullshit imaginable and any convention that truly believes that is doing it completely wrong. Right off the bat the actual statement is wrong. Cosplayers are AT the convention. That means they paid for a $5 to $65 ticket. That means they spent money. Next, find me a cosplayer that isn’t walking around the convention with a bag of purchases in their hand on any given day. They clearly have money to spend on their costumes. Having been in that community I can tell you that costumes cost money. They’re not cheap to buy or make. While the argument could be made that the cosplayers spend all their money on their costumes and then have nothing to spend at the con, it’s been my experience that even with spending money on lavish and extravagant cosplays, most con-going cosplayers still put aside some cash to have on hand at the convention for food, drinks and yes, merch, all of which are provided by the vendors at or around the conventions. When I have seen someone making that broad of a statement about cosplayers at conventions I have always looked to see who’s complaining and usually it’s a vendor or comic creator who had a bad show and their ego needs someone to blame. As a writer I’ve had a few bad shows. I’ve never blamed it on cosplay though. There’s a zillion other reasons why someone won’t purchase something from you at a convention. Cosplayers blocking your table or filling up the con and not spending money is definitely not one of them.
I’m not just looking at you either, conventions. Cosplayers should be respectful and classy when they attend conventions. Please don’t be so quick to condemn a convention just because they might be doing something you don’t like or agree with. Putting on a convention is a huge undertaking and cosplayers should always remember that conventions just like any other venue are a business. While they do cater to their customers their initial intent is to do good business and make money for all parties (vendors, artists, guests etc.) involved. If a convention tells you they’re putting their convention on just for you “the fans”, ask for your free weekend pass. I’m not saying that the conventions don’t want to please their fans; I’m just saying that no one does it for free. All conventions should have some type of method of providing feedback. If for some reason you felt you were treated badly at a con, provide them with feedback before blasting it all over social media. Try to discuss the issues in a calm and intelligent manner. If for some reason this doesn’t work and you feel you’re not getting the answer you’re looking for then try again. There’s nothing bad that ever happens that isn’t made 100 times worse than by miscommunication due to the internet. In all honestly I have to say that the cosplay community as a whole, while it does tend to lean towards the dramatic response, will band together in a split-second to defend one of their own. I have never in my life seen people from all different parts of the country and the world sticking up for each other the way cosplayers do. It’s a true testament to the comradery and strength in the cosplay community, but yeah, try not to piss them off.
So why am I talking about this now? Again as someone in the cosplay community as well as the convention community I felt this needed to be reiterated to all the new conventions popping up all over the state and to all the thousands of new cosplayers showing up to those shows. Clearly they can all do whatever they want, but as someone who has seen both sides of this coin I would urge both communities to stick together in that symbiotic relationship. Cosplayers attending conventions are more than likely here for the duration so make it work people!
~Till the next one
*photo by Piro's Photography at Florida Supercon