Thursday, September 8, 2016

Salt Lake Comic Con: On and Off the Camera

So for those of you who’ve been wondering, I moved into a new apartment and didn’t have wifi. Naturally that was a headache right before Comic Con but I’m home now and we have internet. So I’M BAAAAACK!

I went to Salt Lake Comic Con last weekend. Overall it was a great con. But I had a sudden flare-up of my depression symptoms right before con and that made all the tough stuff about con--being alone, walking around in circles around the convention hall, being tired and cranky on Saturday--ten times worse. I am extremely grateful for numerous friends who came out and supported me during Comic Con and for people I was able to run into once or twice or more or even all three days. And you know what, not all of those friends are picture-perfect Mormons, we don’t all have the same values, but my friends respect me as a person, and I respect them, and the more important thing is that through fandom we find common ground. Also, a huge thank-you goes out to Grandma Bair for letting me crash at her house during con, and also for noticing how tired I really was all three days.

Don’t get me wrong, the Salt Palace is BIG. But at Comic Con, when you’re walking the floor, after a while you know where all of the most prominent vendors and features are, and you see the same cosplayers once or twice or three times as you go around. But on the plus side, you get to see something different every time. It’s not hard to find something new. But there are always those people you don’t get to run into even though you REALLY wanted to or the features and vendors you forget until it’s too late, or you pass by this person in a really awesome costume and you want to take their picture so badly but you’re in a hurry to get somewhere else because you don’t know when the heck your panel is or you’re trying to get into ZipQ, or characters you’re looking for and can never find when you need them--that is Comic Con. These are a few of the stories I’ve come back with from Comic Con, some I had help in telling, others I found on my own. (All photos are mine unless otherwise noted)

10 Moments At Comic Con Not Caught on Camera

There were things I didn’t get pictures of, either because I didn’t have access to my phone camera or because I thought that pulling out a camera would ruin the moment. We spend so much of our lives focused on what we can store on our second brains on the internet and our devices, to the mantra “pics or it didn’t happen.” Fandom--life period--is not just about what’s in front of the camera but the things that happen when we’re not worried about other people seeing it later. And though a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, a few words can be just as valuable. It would probably make more sense if I shared these in order, but the postmodern thing to do is to keep it disorderly so consider the disorder an aesthetic choice.

  1. Vivint Arena security getting me to customer service (Thursday) Small commentary here, it was kind of nice to have the headline star come first thing to the con rather than last, because it saved having to worry about getting into so-and-so’s panel on Saturday and let us enjoy the con. Bright and early Thursday morning, there were a handful of people waiting outside of the Vivint Arena (formerly the Energy Solutions Arena or the Delta Center, aka that place where the Jazz play) for Mark Hamill’s panel, but it wasn’t jam-packed with people because, hey, it’s the Jazz stadium, there was room for all of us. In fact when we finally got in there were still seats to spare in the lower section. So anyway, I got to door seven of the Vivint Arena shortly after eight in the morning, dressed in my Jedi outfit and ready to go. As I have for the last three conventions, I brought my fold-up camp stool to save my feet some aching. But while I was waiting, two people from Arena security showed up and asked me about my camp stool. They told me I would have to put it leave it outside because I wouldn’t be allowed to take it with me. And they were a little bit rude about it. Well, I wasn’t terribly stressed about it right then. I talked to the Comic Con volunteers. They said I could leave it at their table but they wouldn’t watch it. The people standing with me in line were nice and offered to see if my stool would fit into their bags--and it didn’t. My camp stool is small but not that small. Someone let me borrow her phone so I could get onto the internet and check and see if any of my friends were there. Finally, it was nine o’clock and we were moments away from being let into the building--but I wasn’t going to abandon my camp stool that easily. I talked to the Con volunteers again and asked them if there was someplace safer on site where I could keep my camp stool. There was a Vivint arena staff member standing just inside the doorway. He saw me and came out, and he offered to walk me over to the arena customer service and have my stool checked there. That was exactly what I needed. We talked politely while walking and he mentioned that yes, the Spurs will be playing the Jazz in Salt Lake this season, and after this positive experience with the Arena staff of course I have no reservations about coming back for one of those events. I was able to check my stool at customer service and enjoy waiting for the Mark Hamill panel without having to worry about one of my most important con accessories being misplaced or stolen. We were off to a great start.
    Haning out with the Rebel Legion before the Mark Hamill Panel
  2. Running into Alicia and Larissa (Friday) Some of you may know this, but not all of you. When I was at BYU I was part of the Quill and Sword Medieval Reenactment Club. The friends I made there are near and dear to my heart. Most of us have graduated and gone our separate ways now, and we don’t see each other that much. But chances are, Salt Lake Comic Con is a good place to run into old clubbies. It was Friday while I was walking the floor with some of my friends that I saw Larissa passing by and I called out to her. We stopped and talked for a moment. Later, I was visiting a friend’s booth when I saw Alicia. I found out she was back in Utah and working for LTUE, the sci-fi/fantasy writing convention that happens every year in Provo. It was a real treat to see both of them, especially since it had been SO LONG since I’d seen either of them.
  3. Pulling Deadpool’s finger (Friday) I was with Kaesi Bird on Friday, walking the floor with her aunt and uncle and cousins. I got sidetracked by the Goblin King Jareth from Labyrinth.  And then Kaesi was approached by a Deadpool and he started to tease her. Being Black Widow, I felt obliged to intervene. I don’t recall all the details, but I somehow got a hold of his finger and started pulling it back. He gave a groan of pain and then commented on how flexible he was.
  4. Beating Darth Vader and Kylo Ren (Thursday) After the Mark Hamill panel I started to make my way over to the Salt Palace from the Vivint Arena. I decided to stop at the picnic tables in front of Abravanel Hall to eat some of my snacks and shared a table with a mom and her kid. While we were eating, there were people passing us by, and of course many were in cosplay. There was a Darth Vader in a Sunday suit who came walking by with his fancy lightsaber in hand. I decided to challenge him to an impromptu duel with my cheap plastic saber. I swung at him a few times and then somehow I got lucky and stuck him in the shoulder. A few minutes later, I saw a Kylo Ren passing by with a girl in a BB-8 outfit. I challenged Kylo as well. Kylo had a cheaper lightsaber, but I quickly overpowered him and he fell to the ground. Kylo pulled the mask off--turned out to be an acquaintance I’ve been following on Tumblr for a little over a year. I saw her again later and on Friday we kept bumping into each other.
    Some other adorable cosplayers I saw on the concourse outside Abravanel Hall
  5. Protecting Bucky from the Borg (Friday) So I “kidnapped” my friend Benji on Friday afternoon and we went around the Salt Palace as Bucky and Natasha. We hadn’t gotten very far when we ran into a crowd of people headed the other direction. One of the cosplayers was none other than Eric Allen Hall in his Borg getup. He saw us and stretched a moving claw in Benji’s direction. I do get a little protective when we’re in character, but this time I had a plastic gun on me. I pulled Benji away and pointed the gun at Eric. He left us alone. Nobody assimilates Bucky while I’m around!
  6. The Jedi in Jeans with the Concubines
    Doctor Strange with a lightsaber (Thursday) Thursday I was heading back into the vendor hall when I ran into a guy dressed as Doctor Strange. And this was a pretty legit Doctor Strange cosplay--he had gray in his hair and a costume that was based on the upcoming movie. But what was most peculiar was that he was holding a lightsaber, one of the nice ultrasaber variety. It looked awesome and I needed a picture for lots of reasons. But I pulled out my phone to get a picture and came to find out that I had a low battery. Which leads me to the next story.
  7. Brian saving my phone (Thursday) So my phone was dying on Thursday evening, right when I least needed it to. I needed to get it charged, and fast. I asked information if there was a tech booth with phone charging stations. They said to go out into the hall--they meant to use one of the plugs in the wall for charging. I didn’t have my charger cord. I wanted to go back to the Kids’ Heroes Booth and see if anyone there had a charger I could use, but I had to be at the grand staircase at five-thirty for a Star Wars photo meetup and it was nearly time. But while I was at the meetup I ran into the legendary Concubines of Utah. Brady (Ling) is one of my friends and he took a picture of me with Captain America and a double-selfie with me so that was great. And my friend Brian Gates was there as well: he spent the whole con helping with the photo meetups. I don’t recall how I revealed this to him but I told him about my phone being almost-dead and he offered to take my phone to a booth that rented out lockers for charging devices. He took my phone with him while I went to the Billy Boyd panel. When I got out, I headed back to the Kids Heroes Booth to get the note that Brian had said he would leave there for me with information on how to get into the locker. I found the note without much problem and went to the bathroom, but when I got back Brian was there waiting with my phone. I brought my charger cord with me for the next two days, just in case.
    Me and Brian on Friday
  8. Losing my phone and finding it promptly (Saturday) That wasn’t the only headache I got from my small cellular device. I was hanging out in the Grand Staircase area on Saturday afternoon at the end of con, feeling tired and frustrated while I was watching stuff for some friends of mine. I must’ve had my phone in my back pocket since the skinny jeans I use for my cosplays don’t have functional front pockets. I decided to go sit against the wall and I moved my stuff and the stuff I was watching over with me. Several minutes passed and I wanted to get out my phone, but then I looked in my bag and realized it wasn’t there. I dumped out my bag and looked through my stuff and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Perfect. This was the last thing I needed. I went back to the staircase where I’d been sitting. Nothing. I approached one of the con volunteers standing close by and asked if they’d seen a cell phone. They told me that they had handed it off and it would probably be at an information booth by now. Then someone standing close to them got my attention and pulled my phone out of their pocket. That was officially the least hassle I have ever had with losing something at comic con.
  9. Getting ready for Livewire to “Naturally” (Saturday) Saturday morning I had some time to myself at Grandma’s to get ready and decided to turn on some music. I wasn’t sure what music would be appropriate for Livewire from CBS’s Supergirl and decided to turn on my party mix. The second song to come up was “Naturally” by Selena Gomez. “You are the thunder and I am the lightning” was the PERFECT line for my character.
  10. Black Panther Chase (Friday) (Photo--Glen as Panther) It was a little before closing on Friday, I was with Benji, Melanie, and Aaron on the con floor. Then we were approached by the Black Panther, and he was ready to pounce. We stared at him for a moment. And then Benji took off running. The Black Panther went after him, cutting through the throngs of people across the vendor floor. Dang it I should have dropped my bags first, but I went after them part of the way with my gun out and then stopped because I lost them. I went back to Mel and Aaron, and then Benji came back, thankfully in one piece, and the Black Panther with him--it was our friend Glen, who had finished his Black Panther outfit in time for the con. It was too bad we hadn’t had a Captain America to join in the chase, we said, and we should probably do that sometime, but no one complained that Black Widow had joined the chase.
    Glen modeling his Black Panther

10 Moments Caught on Camera

  1. Stabbing the diary (Friday) After the Evanna Lynch panel on Friday, I met up with my friend McKenzie, and she and her friend and I wandered over to the grand staircase area, since I wanted a picture of my Black Widow outfit. We happened to arrive just when a Harry Potter photo meetup was happening. McKenzie was in her Moaning Myrtle costume and I urged her to join the group being photographed. I was standing by the stairs when I spotted my friend Robbie. I know him a little better for his Star Wars cosplays, but this time he was dressed in black and green Slytherin robes: in fact, he was Tom Riddle. That wasn’t the only reason he was familiar, since I remembered him crashing Anthony Daniels’ panel last September at comic con. Also at the photo meetup were an adorable pint-sized Harry, Ron, and Hermione. After the photos were taken, Robbie gave his Tom Riddle diary to the little Harry to stab, and Robbie did a dramatic dying pose. The little Harry was enjoying it way too much.
    And then I pointed out my friend McKenzie, and Tom Riddle took the pleasure of killing Moaning Myrtle all over again.
  2. Electrocuting the chicken (Saturday) I ran into the Swedish Chef from The Muppets on Saturday while I was doing Livewire. I started to electrocute his rubber chicken, and ended up shocking him, too! I saw him again later and asked for a photo, but what ended up happening for the photo was me using the rubber chicken as a bludgeon to beat him with--still very entertaining!
  3. My best friend Harley’s Wedding (Saturday) First thing I did when I got to the Salt Palace was go to the grand staircase to get a photo of Livewire. I had done some reading up the night before on Livewire and found out that Livewire did have a one-time alliance with DC villains Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, so I was already planning on taking as many photos with these characters as possible (and believe me there were plenty to choose from). But while I was in the photo line, a Harley and Joker couple got in line behind me dressed for a prospective wedding.
    I ran up to my chicka friend Harley and hugged her and congratulated her on getting married. There was a Batman waiting close by who offered to “perform” their marriage and I even got to be a witness!
  4. Taffetta (Saturday) In that same photo line, there were a group of characters I didn’t recognize standing in front of me. But then somebody said “Taffetta” and I recognized who one of them was. Vanellope, Wreck-it-Ralph, and Fix-it Felix are occasional  staples at con, but this girl takes the cake for cosplaying Vanellope’s antagonist. (see what I did there?)
  5. Very Tender Steve and Bucky reunion (Friday) When Benji does his Bucky cosplay, he gets really into the character and he’s a huge dork about it. It was so fun to be with him on Friday evening. Every time we ran into a Captain America, he would run up and say, “Steve, is that you?” and hug the guy. There was one Cap, however, who gave an overwhelmingly warm response. It happened later Friday evening when Melanie was with us. This Cap was dressed in the stealth suit and he had a Peggy Carter with him. Benji walked up to him and said the line, and this Steve was just, “Oh, Bucky! I can’t believe it!” and they hugged very tenderly. Melanie and I got emotional just watching.
  6. Every time I run into Kaesi (All Three Days) I met Kaesi with her friends Sierra and Kelsey at a photo meet up at FanX 2015. We met up again last September and have since kept in touch. Kaesi was the only one of the group to make it to comic con this time. Thursday I ran into Spider-Gwen by the staircase sometime around the Star Wars photo meetup.
    When you're a Jedi but a friend stops to say hi to you (Kaesi Bird)
    Friday I first saw a photobombing Ginny Weasley at the Harry Potter photo meetup. Later when I was on my own and feeling down I texted her to see if we could meet up, and by some miracle she and the relatives she was with came walking by a few minutes later. I ended up walking the floor with them until Kaesi and her cousin had to go to a photo op.
    Redhead Squad Goals (Kaesi Bird)
    I was by myself for a little while afterward but our time together cheered me significantly. And then on Saturday I was with the Arkham Group when I bumped into a Blue Butterfly on the con floor.
  7. Jyn Erso (Thursday) I have massive respect for anyone who cosplays a character just based on a trailer. I mean, not to brag or anything, but I’ve been doing Scarlet Witch since the set photos for Age of Ultron came out. Anyway, Thursday while I was leaving the Vivint arena after the Mark Hamill panel, I saw a girl dressed as Jyn Erso, the protagonist in the upcoming Star Wars spinoff Rogue One. Of course I grabbed a picture of her. And I got one with her, too! I saw at least one or two other Jyns at con but this girl I saw in passing on Friday and Saturday as well, and I’d say she came closest to the onscreen version.

  8. Awkward Date at the Cantina (Friday) Pretty much the first thing I did when I saw Benji on Friday was take him over to the Mos Eisley Cantina set set up by the Star Wars groups--no better place for Black Widow and Winter Soldier’s first date, am I right?
    (Benji Seekins)
  9. Obi-wan and the Duchess (Thursday) I’ve only seen the first two seasons of Clone Wars, but it’s enough to know who Duchess Satine of Mandalore is. I was at the very awesome Star Wars animation panel when someone asked James Arnold Taylor (voice of Obi-wan in TCW) about the “Rey Kenobi” theory. He mentioned Satine in his response, and then someone shouted out that we had an Obi-wan and Satine in the room. They stood up, and there was an enormous cheer. After the panel, I grabbed them for a picture. Seriously, that Satine cosplay is nothing to sneeze at, she looked amazing. Such detail and hard work, wow. I don’t think I could ever do that!
  10. Being a hardcore Jedi (Thursday) I hadn’t been planning on doing any Star Wars costumes for con this year until it was announced that Mark Hamill was coming. After that, I realized that it just felt weird to be going to con without a Star Wars costume lined up. I had already put together a new Jedi tunic so I wore that with a pair of jeans and boots. My friend Glen let me borrow his ultrasaber. Most people, their fallback fandom is Harry Potter. Mine is Star Wars. And it felt good to be the Jedi in Jeans again.
    (Jason Hsu)

1 comment:

  1. The bucky black Panther chase was pretty awesome. I'm glad to have been there for that.