Saturday, August 02, 2014

Stranger in a Strange Land

There are two things that are relevant to this tale that I do not care for. One is crowds, and the other is comic books. I've never liked crowds, but the older and more reclusive I get, the less I like them. As for comic books, I don't have anything against them, I've just never gotten into them. So today seemed especially counter-intuitive as I accompanied my wife and toddler to the Tampa Bay Comic Con. Now let me preface this with saying that this was not my idea. My wife asked if I would like to go, and since she is big into comics, and doesn't get to do much of a social nature, I agreed. To be honest I'd been wanting to get to a convention for a while now, as I've only been to a handful in the past, and the last was somewhere in the vicinity of 1995ish, and given that the granddaddy of them all, the San Diego Comic Con has become far more than just a gathering for comic aficionados, I figured I'd enjoy this.

I've also been wanting to try my hand at cosplaying, and it seemed meet that we do something as a family. It was suggested that going as air benders, ala The Legend of Korra, might work:
Alas, with but a week and a half before the con, and many a moth in the bank account, this was not to be. (see the 'fast/good/cheap' triangle for further explanations) So, instead, we just went as a family of nerds.

The first hurdle that I feared was parking. Looking online you could book guaranteed parking, for $21! Given that this was a significant percentage of what it would cost just for tickets we decided to take our chances on public parking. As we approached the off-ramp it was remarkably free of the usual traffic jam, and I dared to hope. No only was there no traffic build-up, but we found a spot in the nearest parking garage that would cost us less than half of the above quote. So far so good.

We followed the flow of costumed younglings (and a few old farts like myself) to the convention center. We passed a man in a Jedi outfit with a rather beat up R2-D2, and Sharon asked to touch 'Deetoo'. He graciously accommodated her request, though she was too shy to touch the droid:
We then ran the gauntlet of radio station promotion tents and corner preachers to the con entrance. Again, much to my surprise, we stood in line for maybe five minutes and we had our tix, wristbands, and were in the con. Mrs. Marius wanted to attend some panels, but as the place was already pretty crowded at 10:40 she decided it wasn't going to happen, so we just wandered the floor. Here was my first indication that this might not be the best con for me. The Tampa Bay Comic Con is quite definitely a comic book convention. There were a few Star Wars themed booths

 but the overwhelming number of vendors were selling...wait for it...comics and comic related paraphernalia. So I resigned myself to just enjoying the cosplayers, and wrangling Sharon. And there were lots of interesting cosplayers:

Sharon was, for the most part, very well behaved. There were a few times when she wanted to interact with cosplayers, like when she wanted to 'touch Tinkerbell':

Or when she wanted to meet K9:
but for the most part it was a lot of, "Daddy, what's that?", with me trying as best I could to answer her. There was one almost awkward moment when a young man with, I'm guessing, severe cerebral palsy in a motorized wheelchair and dressed as Robin came near, and Sharon piped up from atop my shoulders, "A baby!" (she's never seen an adult in what looks to her like a stroller) I said, "No, honey, that's Robin." I couldn't tell if the young man heard her or not, so I don't know if any offense was taken. There were two pairs of cosplayers that stood out enough to me that I tracked them down to get pics. First there were a couple of Spaceballs:

And then there were these two princesses, who got cheers wherever they went:

I would like to suggest that there be a moratorium on Deadpool cosplay. There were at least 20 Deadpools there. There were also lots of Doctors Who, X-Men and Women, monsters, princesses, all kinds of Imperial troops, a few Jedi, Links, and Batman villains. I would have liked to take more pictures, but my diminutive charge made such things difficult, but there was a lot of hard work in most of the costumes. Oh, and if you are a guy, and you need someone of the female persuasion to paint your face for your cosplay, might I suggest that the entrance to an already crowded men's room isn't the best place to do so. Just sayin.
As the afternoon wore on the place got more and more packed. I ran into my friend Dave and his daughter for approximately two minutes, but things were too noisy and crowded for much more than a 'hi, how ya doin?' I tried to get into the flow of the place, but between the near absence of TV/Movie SciFi stuff (although there was a booth that had some stunningly gorgeous spaceship models) and the huge lines at both the food vendors and the bathrooms I was growing more tired and cranky than Sharon. So around 3:00 we decided to call it a day. This is when things went to shit. First we had trouble finding the parking garage, then it took us nearly an hour of sweating, searching, and finally getting the security guys to drive us around to find our car. (both the Mrs. and I were sure we were on the second level, or at the highest the third. Turned out it was the fifth) Then, all of us sweaty and needing to pee, and with an increasingly cranky toddler in the back seat, getting out of the garage was the opposite of getting in. But, to cut a long story short, we made it home safely and without further incident. All in all it was a good day. Mrs. Marius had a good time, and so did Sharon. I can't say I had a great time, but I wasn't miserable, and I'd very much like to get some serious cosplay going for next year( I'd really like to make Scotty's outfit from Star Trek IV)...and maybe try to find a more SciFi inclusive con as well.

I'll leave y'all with this pic. Sharon's face pretty much sums up her day:

Marius out! :-)


Stinky paw said...

Too cute that face! I'd say enjoy those shy moments, I'm told they don't last! ;-)

flurrious said...

Bit of a scandal at the Comic Con here last spring. Cosplayers would pose for pictures then say, "that will be $5." Who knew nerds were so mercenary?

Sharon is getting so pretty. I predict that in 12 or so years, you'll be spending a lot of time yelling at teenage boys to stop driving past your house.

Rick Tetrault said...

Wow! I'd imagine the cosplayers asking for money after their picture was taken went over like a lead balloon. And it is my intention to make sure Sharon is fully capable of taking all the wind out of a lad's sails with one withering glance. :-)

Agustin said...

Hi Admiral:

What a great post!!

It was really nice to see that you all had an amazing time at that Tampa ComicCon.

Those problems that you mention (lack of parking, long queues and crowded panels) are usual. Get accustomed to them.
Cosplayers asking for money are something different. It’s outrageous. Too bad for them.

Great pictures from the Cosplayers. It seems that Sharon was having such fun (and you as well. LoL).

I didn't know you were into Cosplay. Maybe for next time you get to have that Scotty costume. We will be waiting for those photos.

See you next time.
Live long and prosper

PS: (I don't want to brag, but at the end of the month there will be a convention in my city, and I already have my Cosplay costume ready: a Hogwarts Hufflepuff student uniform. It will be amazing...)

Rick Tetrault said...

Hey, Agustin! Great to hear from you. I've always sort of been into cosplay, though we didn't call it that way back when. I even dressed as Han Solo for the premier of The Empire Strikes Back. (fortunately there are no pics of it, as far as I know) ;-)
I'd love to see a pic of your Hufflepuff outfit. :-)


Agustin said...

Hi Admiral:

WOW!! Did you really dressed in costume back in 1980? So cool!!!

OK. The convention that I will attend to is called "Expo Comic Ichiban 2014" and it's going to be the last days of August.

The first days of September I will send you some photos of me. I promise.

See you then.

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