PAX West 2018
Aug 31-Sept 1 Seattle, WA

Cosplayer & Photo Credit: Huntress Creations

Leading up to PAX attendees were informed there would be heightened security following shooting at the eSports tournament in Florida. I attended a single day out of four with my husband, who is the gamer is the house. Once on the floor, my husband played “The Division 2” by XBox. While he was playing, I was watching the Bethesda booth part of the time. People were in line to guess the amount of Nuka Cola caps in the Bethesda booth. This was an entire “Fallout 76” experience and people entered their contact information with their guess into a perfectly working computer. A WA local Fallout cosplayer captured forgetting your password in the game well.    

Australian dev House House unveiled its new game this weekend titled “Untitled Goose Game”. Every time I went to get in line to queue up to play it, it was capped. I stood behind the bench watching players for a long time making a gardener’s life miserable. I loved its quirky style and stealth-prank objectives. It’s pastel. It’s foul. It’s the perfect little avian balance.

I got my gaming challenged hands on the new Xbox adaptive controller following a panel on Inclusive Gaming. I left inspired and encouraged by the panelist. The adaptive controller fills a need for gamers with disabilities and limited mobility. After the panel, I found my way down a familiar hall lined with retro games of my youth like Ms. Pacman and Tetris. I closed my PAX experience with a few rounds of different pinball games.

Rose City Comic Con
Sept 7-9 Portland, OR

Attending a large city convention using metro public transit while wearing a big oval historical gown, what can go wrong? Absolutely nothing. My friend and I walked past the general entrance, noting little to no line for day 1, into the Rose City Comic Con (RCCC) to pick up my panelist badge on site. Saturday, the line was so long people missed their desired panels including David Tennant. In contrast, Sunday was vastly different with no line whatsoever. On Friday, we strolled through the exhibition hall with my wig in hand and another vendor yelled: “off with her head”. They understood my Marie Antoinette reference with my gown. It was the best. I slowly began to understand why my local friends kept saying they prefer this convention to Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC). I sat in Emerald City Wig’s booth as a service model having my hair pinned up and wig set. During this process, the exhibitor answered questions of those passing by.

Cosplayer: Foam Friction Studios,  Photo Credit: Triple Click Photo

Due to my large cosplay size, I wanted to remain in major or larger aisles where I would not bump into a vendor or have someone accidentally step on my dress. I found my way to a professional photo booth exhibitor where my exact cosplay was printed from a previous convention. I spoke with the owner of Triple Click Photo and took a photo with my photo. It was very meta. The three-day collective albums from the exhibitor display the most creative and detailed cosplays in the Pacific Northwest.

As with most large city conventions, RCCC divided their exhibit hall from their artist alley into giving a bit of distinction. RCCC clearly labeled their exhibitor and artist sections making them easy to locate from above. People reported the artist alley was cold to some of the artists who were sitting all day. I had plans to visit Amy Chu Friday and Kelly Sue DeConnick on Sunday. My Poison Ivy cosplay is based on Amy Chu’s comic Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death. I brought the variant cover already signed by Terry Dodson for Amy’s signature. I had the best conversation with her regarding Poison Ivy and how much input she has in art. I now have the first issue of her latest comic Green Hornet featuring a female masked crusader. The comic is published through Dynamite comics and it’s harder to find. Some local comic shops will special order the issues. On Sunday, I worked my way through the alley looking at the booth moving towards Kelly Sue’s booth which was next to her husband’s Matt Fraction. I stood in line a clearly marked line and waited my turn. I informed her I did not have a specific place for her sign as other cover artists have signed inside the trade back of Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero Vol. 2. As we talked I mentioned I was the Poison Ivy from Friday and it meant a lot she was admiring my gown. I mentioned my current cosplay was a pregnant Pepper Potts from Infinity Wars 2 as I’m predicting the future. Matt jumped in saying he thought my baby belly was fake but didn’t want to ask.  Even though I wasn’t there to see Matt, he engaged in conversation with me making it a more memorable experience. The volunteers allowed both artists to take their time with each fan as needed. I’ve heard the celebrity autographs were the same allowing time and not being rushed through as we would as a much larger convention like ECCC.

Left: 1st Place Air Bubbles Cosplay,  Right: 2nd Place The Feathered Hart Costumes & Props, Photo Credit: Girl with the Blue Hair Photography

The cosplay at RCCC showcased talents from across the Pacific Northwest. I had the privilege to judge the cosplay contest providing me to see and hear details about the craftsmanship for each person. I have a passion for films, costumes, and talent for sewing so this was a great joy. I will admit I did not know every fandom as there are many, thankfully the contestants brought references to assist. I found the most joy of watching the contestants on the stage with the applause of the crowd. The stage lights enhanced some of the details and elements highlighting the works previously viewed. It was a difficult decision in the end and those awarded worked diligently.

On Sunday the best celebrity panel I attended was “Smallville” with Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum. The panel started with Michael saying “explosive diarrhea” and him watching his ASL interpreter communicate it. Tom replied, “Someone put that on YouTube,” after Michael said it again. Michael would go on to say this repeatedly during the panel creating much laughter. Michael spoke about his podcast Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum calling it therapy. He said, “it makes me appreciate things more.” It can found on all major podcast platforms or his podcast website. More hilarity ensued when they both wandered into the audience asking and answering questions. At the end of the panel, the moderator attempted to take a selfie with the two of them and Tom fell back. He quickly said, “I do my own stunts.” Tom’s parting words were encouraging the fans to tweet, message, communicate with the creators of films to get what they want to be made.

In the end, I see why my friends describe Rose City Comic Con as a preferred con. The staff and volunteers were helpful. Even though I did not engage with the celebrity photos or autographs, others had a pleasant experience. The celebrity bill has the same name list as its larger neighboring con Emerald City Comic Con without the cost. Wifi and internet reception made it difficult to connect with a few friends but I was able to have conversations with people I typically do not see on a regular basis. Portland-area transit allows for free off-site parking with an easy light rail ride. I was amazed by the number of other commuters on the MAX with me Saturday morning. This will be a regular convention for me years to come.

Renton City Comic Con
Sept 15-16 Tukwila, WA

This is Renton City Comic Con’s (RenCon) third year as a convention. I’m happy to say I’ve attended every year watching convention evolve. There were two major changes this year being located in the city next door, Tukwila, and there were no billed celebrities. The focus of the con felt different due to a strong cosplay and community focus. I loved it.

Photo Credit: About to Review

For weeks previously, RenCon advertised Geek Awards promoting people in the community. The week previous to the event, the final 5 were announced for final votes in specific categories. I was nominated for Cosplayer of the Year with a few amazing crafters and a couple I hadn’t seen before. Two podcasts I follow, “NW Nerd Podcast” & “About to Review”, both made the final 5 together for Podcast of the Year and both hosts made Geek of the Year. The award ceremony took place on Saturday and I was so overjoyed when they each person won one category. I did not win, but I expected it.

The theme of community was threaded through the two days plus the VIP event the night previously. At the VIP party, I lost with style at mini-golf to “About to Review”. I had multiple opportunities to talk with cosplay and prop builders I had not seen at RCCC or rarely see except at ECCC. During RenCon, I would run into people throughout the building in passing. I had sufficient time to take unique photos with people I’ve only engaged on Instagram. Some conventions, I go through the entire weekend and never see a person so I was delighted to have this amount of connection. At another after party, I had another space and freedom to speak with a host of a podcast & get to know him outside the context of that medium. As we were speaking, I saw the special guest from NASA dancing with panelists and convention guests.

Even in the exhibition halls, I was able to have a long conversation with an exhibitor I’ve met previously. My highlight was meeting guest artist Keith Tucker and his delightful wife dancing with me in my gown. I came back to his booth Sunday to buy wall art from my childhood including Jem & the Holograms and the Animaniacs. As I was at his booth, a teen girl stopped by to tell him her dad named her Jerrica after Jem. If he is at a local con, I highly recommend speaking with him as he’s very approachable and a joyful.

Cosplay has been a major focus since RenCon’s inception due to a founder is very active in the local cosplay community. This is is no exception. As I mentioned earlier the community feeling included cosplayers and prop builders. I’ve known and admired three of the four cosplay contest judges and two of the prop contest judges. I met the final cosplay contest judge the night before the contest. While in pre-judging I felt as if I was talking to three friends and a new instant friend. I didn’t care about the idea of judging, I just wanted to share my hard work and the details of everything I completed. Having judged a cosplay contest myself, I knew their jobs were going to be difficult. In the contest, we all showed our hard work to the audience and the judges said some kind words reflecting the dedication. My friend placed 1st in Beginners after my encouragement at RCCC. My friend received Judges Choice, I placed 3rd, and my other friend (pictured in PAX) received 2nd in Advanced. The four finishers in Advanced were all women and the judge I just met was cosplaying Riker from Star Trek TNG making a perfect photo moment for him. The other judges joined in for an epic photo. Sunday’s cosplays were just as great. Everyone showed a variety of fandoms, skills, and talents.

Back Row: Winners and Bottom Row: Judges, Photo Credit: Zacklabs

I ended RenCon feeling very supported by the community around me. RenCon has some improvements as its a growing convention; yet, none of that mattered at the moment. I’m hopeful to see how it evolves next year and I hope Steven Smith from NASA returns so I can finally attend his panel.

Renee Spencer
renee.walstad@gmail.com

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