Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Phoenix Comicon

I had no interest in anime, Steampunk, Legos, comics, superheros, wearing costumes nor Cosplay. I liked science fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars and zombies. But my daughter was doing an In Character Cosplay Challenge panel and I wanted to watch her with her friends. This was my year to try new things, so I bought a membership.

I hesitated to make the plunge. Phoenix Comicon was not cheap; plus I had to drive downtown, which I hate, and pay for parking, which I despise more. Even less incentive was that the weather this time of year was a million degrees. I didn’t even want to leave the house because it took too much energy.

My daughter has been doing Cosplay and going to these types of conventions for years. I was curious to see what she spends so much time on. The creativity of her costumes that she sewed always impressed me. I had been around when she and her friends discussed characters and I had no idea what she was talking about. It was a foreign language and an unknown world.

Adults dressed as make-believe characters was something that I didn’t understand, but accepted as “normal,” since my daughter did it. To wear costumes and pretend to be someone that they were not, must have been fun for them. I think that this behavior was weird because I hate to draw attention to myself. I would rather slink around in a crowd unnoticed.

Would I be bored to death? Could I find things to do? Would I have enough energy to endure the hordes of people?

The first hint of chaos was when I was driving down the street nervously looking for parking. The website said parking was generally $12, but the price was understated by half. The first garage was $25. Traffic was stopped at the crosswalk between the Convention buildings.  A river of people flowed in the street. The amount of humanity provoked anxiety. Panicked, I parked at the next garage that didn’t display an outrageous price. My head spun.

I walked outside into the sun-blasted air. Mermaids hung around in display outside. I wondered what genius set it up without much shade. The line to get a badge in the South Building was short. The fifteen minute, or more, wait to get into the North Building exhibit hall was not so short.  I joined the sweating masses. I pondered the fate all the unfortunates that wore heavy costumes in ninety degrees.

Inside, was all the vast space and intimacy of an airport. I forgot to get a map, so I had no clue where to go. Moving anywhere was a slow process with all the bodies in the way. The goal was to find a booth of a writer friend, but all I had was the number and a vague idea where it might be.

 I wandered into a hall, but it wasn’t the right one. I went into another. The sounds, lights of countless jewelry, anime art, comics and costume accessories displays assaulted me. Star Wars Stormtroopers, Star Trekkies and Zombies passed by. Halloween had run amuck. Long lines of people were waiting to get photographs or autographs of celebrities. The friend that I was looking for happened to run into me. I was dazed. We made our way to his booth and we chatted for a while. I was relieved to find a friendly face that grounded me in reality.

I went off to look at the Star Wars exhibit nearby. People dressed as characters were waiting around for photographs. There was R2D2. I also looked at an elaborate multi-building Lego city with a train running through it. I wandered through the booths and saw a masked guy with nicely defined abs and a tattooed arm dancing to some horrible Karaoke sung by another. I took a picture of a cool fake zombie soldier, after which my camera promptly died. This convention was actually amusing. Too bad I could no longer record it.

After a long walk and seeing a fraction of what was there, I got out of the giant hall.  The expensive food was tempting, but the lines were long, and Melissa’s panel was in thirty minutes. Luckily, I had brought along snacks or I would have been really hungry. 

I stepped into the crowded room and Melissa said, “Hi.” She looked pretty in a long purple silk dress trimmed with gold leaf with a blue chiffon overlay. The costume had elaborately beaded armbands. Her hair was in long smooth tendrils with a head ornament. Very princessy. I was not sure what character she was.  

Lego Town
Her and friends proceeded to pick people out to play skits. Somehow they knew who the audience was dressed as. One guy had a giant pie thing on his head with a bloodied shirt. He was actually Pyramid Man, but I didn’t know that. My favorite was an evil horned alien as a presidential candidate. “I will eat your children,” she proclaimed. Everyone seemed eager to act.  

When her panel was over, I had only been there for three hours and I was utterly drained. After spending forty dollars to get in and whatever parking was, I felt like I should see something else. The South building had the Haunted House. The strobe lights, corpses, and evil clowns weren’t all that scary. Maybe the Zombie Bootcamp would have been better.
Karaoke Dancer
I could see why people got hotel rooms. I wanted to take a nap. How people could do this for hours on end for three days? Of course I wasn’t passionate about it, so that made a difference.

Back in the heat again, I plodded back to the parking garage. The parking prices had soared in a few hours. Now they were $25-30. I nervously hoped that mine wasn’t that bad.

I felt faint walking inside the parking area. The air was stifling and I couldn’t breath. I wanted out. Luckily, it was only $15 to escape. In ordinary circumstances, this amount would have been outrageous, but now I didn’t care. My lair and a nap awaited.

The world I had entered as an outsider was strange. I didn’t speak their language and I didn’t dress like they did. I don’t know if I will ever develop an affinity for their ways, but the  culture was interesting.

 Not sure what the hell this is