It came at short notice. Not a month before it was to happen, I was informed of available tickets for a certain "Alamo City Comic-Con". Where I would find cosplays, famous faces and, ideally, some generally great times.
Almost immediately, possibilities ran through my head. Who would I seek out to meet? What panels would I go to? Who would I dress as? Was this all even worth it? Do I BELIEVE THE HYPE? The days leading up to curtain call were exciting on their own, but I had no idea just how much I would enjoy the convention. My very first one.
As anyone will likely tell you, it's an amazing and very unique kind of experience. In fact, it was the most fun I've had since early high school and it will probably remain that way for quite some time.
To say that it was life-affirming is putting it lightly. Never have I felt more proud to be a total fucking dork. It was it's own little, self-contained world where "abormal" was now fair game and you could express anything as long as it was appropriate.
On a normal day, if a dude walked up to me, then suddenly crouched into a cardboard box, I would've chuckled and been on my way. At Comic-Con, it was an impromtu stage performance. I pretended to be curious at the box before me that I could swear I saw move. After a few seconds, I threw my hands up and continued my patrol. Just like in that video game!
Every cosplayer knew how to play ball. Every single one was your friend, more than willing to take your shoulder and pose for a selfie.
Some people describe cosplay as an excuse to be someone you are not. But, if you were not this person, then what the hell is it that you are doing, exactly? That's totally you. You don't literally switch brains with some fictional character. This is simply an environment that encourages your inner most geek and when, if, it's let loose... the fun you have is incomparable.
I wish I could be this open everyday.
And then there are the celebrities. If it were just cosplays, vendors and gabbin' with fellow nerds, it would've been more than enough fun and worth the relatively cheap entry price. But, when you see tables set up to feature the likes of Steve Downes, George Takei, Troy Baker, Robert England, Anthony Michael Hall... you can't deny the allure.
"Is that Vaas?! Far Cry 3?", exclaimed Troy Baker, voice of TLOU's Joel, Persona 4's Kanji, Arkham Origins' Joker, Bioshock Infinite's Booker Dewitt, Resident Evil 6's Jake and MANY others.
"Why, yes it is!", I answered with a twinkle in my eye.
I come back a second time and find him chatting with fans like they were best buds. Slamming his fists on the table like an excited teenager, complementing cosplays, talking about video games, whatever. On that second trip, I even managed to negotiate a free few measures of Will the Circle Be Unbroken.
Steve Downes (Master Chief) and Jen Taylor (Cortana, as well as L4D's Zoey) weren't much different. Fans were not a burden at all. Sharing interests, chatting it up and just having a great time.
Believe it or not, I was this close to shaking Stan Lee's hand. Instead, though, I just silently murmured "Stan Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee." and walked off as to not bother him. Or so I told myself. Really, I choked. There's no real way around that. I choked.
Just when I thought I had seen it all, there was a whole 'nother half a stadium full of vendors next to the other quarter of a stadium of vendors and comic artists. With that much swag crowding my line of sight, I had to buy at least a few things.
Plushies, paintings, die cuts, costume accessories, even live commisions and... love pillows. And an entire vendor dedicated to My Little Pony. I'm not a man with a right to judge, but that's definitely something.
Give this dude's figure some props. The perfect Nightwing.
The convention wasn't nearly as empty as I was expecting, if empty at all. Since it wasn't any of the more heavily-promoted Comic-Cons, I assumed it was one of those meager substitutes until the real deals. That it wasn't "cool" enough. That could not have been further from the truth.
Vendors out the wazoo, dozens of famous faces, displays, events, showfloor panels, just about everything you could imagine was out in full force and nevermind the many many attendees who were usually in constume. There was always something to see or do.
Heck. You didn't even need to venture towards the celebrity cosplayers to see something on-point and worthy of a total fangasm. Just regular old folks doing it purely for the fun, that's always going to be more impressive to me.
Those that got creative with their cosplays were even better. We had gangster Deadpool (also see: D Pooly), Wario and Waluigi with karts petruding from their torsos, original designs that were truly something to witness, and genderswaps. Lots of genderswaps.
FemLink? Hell yeah. Male Marceline? Would date. Sweet little girl as Blue Knight from Castle Crashers? ADORABLE!
I did see a lot of the same costumes, though. Which was to be expected. Deadpool, Spider-Man, Batman, Finn, Link, and lots and LOTS of The Joker. Also, lots of cleavage.
You know who I didn't get to see, though? What would've tickled my fancies? Diablo III's Malthael. Nocturne's Demi-Fiend. Just ONE Simpsons character. Nobody brought their dog as Okami and themselves as Sakuya. And most criminal? There was but one Waluigi.
I should've gone as Waluigi.
I sort of love these guys in particular.
I could go all day about how amazing of a time I had at Alamo City Comic-Con. I would if it were feasible, with thousands of words and every single one of the 50 or so pictures I took. In my current state, I still need plenty of sleep. It was a workout, walking about for 5-6 hours.
I leave you all with this: If you have the opportunity, go to one of these. Or any convention. Anime, video games, specific communities, anything. But, especially if it's some sort of Comic-Con. It will be worth every cent. Don't take that as a casual endorsement. If this is a kind of environment you're not used to but interested in, I guarantee you'll be more than impressed.
I will treasure that Saturday's hours for the rest of my life. That was a day I can take to my grave. "I did that. I totally did that.". At this very moment, I still feel confident in saying that I can die happily.
A little somethin' for Hoffman.