Every year, thousands and thousands of fans head to Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo for a plethora of reasons. No matter where you turn, you are likely to see just about every type of fan from the comic collector to the movie fan to the anime enthusiast. On top of that, no convention is complete without cosplayers these days. When an event is covered, generally it is from an attendee/press person’s point of view. However, today I wanted to do something a little different. After having plenty of time to reflect on my personal experience at this past year’s Comikaze Expo I wanted to give this coverage from a cosplayer’s perspective. If nothing else, perhaps someone will learn some interesting things when someone is in costume that might not be quite as comfortable to roam in as others.
Since I was attending Comikaze as a member of the press as well, I only reserved one day for being in costume. This allowed me to freely roam between the two separate halls, see everything, and attend anything I wanted to without potentially getting held up by people wanting to take photos of the costume and missing something I was really hoping to see. But don’t get me wrong, I still manage to miss a lot of things I want to see even out of costume.
Friday of Comikaze was, surprisingly, a little slower than I expected for a con of its size. This might have been due to 1) it was Friday and people were working, duh and 2) the con layout had changed compared to the last time I attended in 2013. Apparently there was another convention of some kind going on in the usual hall that Comikaze was held in this year, so the con had actually been split between the south hall and west hall. The exhibitor’s hall, Artist Alley, and Stan Lee’s Mega Museum were held in the west hall and photo ops, autographs, Hot Topic main stage, and all of the costuming groups/guests were in the south hall. I have been noticing that conventions have begun to separate cosplayers and guests from the main exhibitor’s hall as this was also done at Phoenix Comicon this year. While I’m sure this separation helps with crowd control and gives all cosplayers and fans of the cosplay community a single place to meet up and see each other, the most frustrating part is how freaking far you had to walk just to get between the two halls.
I also realize how lazy that makes me sound but hear me out.
The exhibitor’s hall was gigantic. I am fairly certain that even with all three days I never truly saw every single part of it. After a few hours of walking around that hall and then finding out you have to walk a pretty good distance (I’m going to guess about a block but I could be exaggerating) to the south hall to see everything else, catch an autograph, or to see something going on at the main stage definitely wears you out.
I took Friday to get a feel for where everything was for the most part. Since my boyfriend is a comic collector, we made sure to also hit up comic booths that were there. While there were a few pretty good comic vendors, I felt like there just weren’t enough. I mean, comic conventions are supposed to be about comics but I saw more booths for toys and shirts than I did for comic vendors. I also took the time on Friday to attend the Le Geek So Chic fashion show at the Hot Topic main stage which showcased all of the fashion designers that specialize in geek chic clothing. Such businesses included Castle Corsetry, Girl with One Eye Fashion, Gold Bubble Clothing, Unicorn Sushi, and Living Dead Clothing. There were so many great designs for geek chic enthusiasts and all I can say is that my wish list of clothes grew by a mile after seeing all the new designs. Seriously, check all of these designers out. They have amazing stuff.
Saturday was, as usual, the largest day for the con. That day I decided to wear my Batgirl costume. Generally for a cosplayer, we tend to save our best costumes (or in my case, my only costume I was wearing this weekend) for Saturdays of conventions. This is generally so that we can showcase our best work (and sometimes performance of the character!) to the largest audience possible. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you all know that Batgirl wears a cowl and in her older designs she generally has heels. I was at least lucky enough to find low, 3-inch heels for my batgirl boots but that doesn’t mean it was comfortable by any means. On top of that, wearing a wig underneath my cowl causes the cowl to be just a tad too tight for my head. Thankfully with it being made out of polyurethane rubber, there is some flexibility around the nose and eyes, but not much, even with my modified half-wig.
Like I said, Saturday is the biggest day, which meant for Comikaze it was paaaaaaaacked. While my Batgirl suit is all matte vinyl for the bodysuit and no armor to speak of – my seamstress and I aimed for the classic look over New 52 look – matte vinyl does NOT breathe. Throughout the entire day I was either sweating from head to toe, literally, when I was outside in the sun or sometimes freezing my ass off if I was in the south hall where they cranked the air conditioning down. There really isn’t an in-between in that costume. When I came to an area that was particularly packed, I felt incredibly uncomfortable between being stuck between people and sweating in the costume. For Batgirl, I definitely try to steer clear of crowds for this reason.
As a cosplayer, one thing you have to be prepared for is to get stopped by photographers. I had actually braved the crowds on my own when there was some confusion with Grant Morrison’s signing. He stayed in the line that he and a couple other people formed on our own after we saw that wristbands were being handed out for other comic guests but NO information could be found about Morrison’s signing. So I went to figure out what was going on. Well after I finally got some (I had to go ALL THE WAY to south hall to get these answers, mind you), I actually ended up getting stopped by photographers on my way back to west hall to get back in line with my boyfriend. Happy to oblige, I posed for one photographer. and thirty minutes later I had probably had my photo taken by 20 different photographers. I did a lot of posing and it was totally fun! However, the whole time I was also thinking “oh crap oh crap I need to get back to the line.” Don’t worry though, I did.
Somehow I managed to make it all the way to dinner in the costume but by then I can definitely tell you I was hurting. My feet were screaming to get out of the boots and my cowl was pressing into my nose and the top of my head so hard that I ended up with a small headache. Also I definitely discovered that day that eating in the Batgirl cowl is really weird since there’s a strap under my jaw.
When I’m in a full bodysuit with an annoying cape or some other cosplay that is incredibly difficult to get off when I need to go to the bathroom, I hardly drink during the con. Sometimes you have to tough it out, especially for armored cosplays, so that you don’t have to pee in the middle of wearing your costume. While I definitely don’t support you dehydrating yourself just to be able to wear the costume all day, I DO support you knowing your body’s limits. If you have to pee, if your eyes are hurting from the contacts, if your head is hurting too much or you feel like you’re going to pass out, CHANGE out of the costume and take care of yourself. In other words, don’t be like I was at Comikaze. No costume is worth your health. I can definitely let you know that I listen to those warning signs when they come and get out of the costume if I need to.
After a long day of wearing the Batgirl costume, I can definitely let you know that stepping into that shower was uh-may-zing.
Most of the rest of the day was filled with walking around the convention and getting stopped probably about every ten or twenty feet to have a photo taken by a passing attendee or with a kid who’s super excited to see Batgirl in the flesh. Toward the end of the convention that day I did get to meet a couple of the cosplay guests including Stella Chuu, who happened to be wearing her variant cover glitter Batgirl costume! Needless to say, we geeked out a little over the fact that we were practically twins and took a photo together. One of many reasons why I love to cosplay is being able to geek out with someone in a different version of your costume. Hell, sometimes it’s fun basically becoming someone’s twin because we’re both wearing the same costume. It’s great!
Sunday was reserved as the recovery day, not only from my costume but from the Comikaze afterparty, plus this happened on Halloween night. Therefore I didn’t dress up that day either. Sunday was slower than Saturday but busier than Friday, however we were not able to stay the whole day since we still had 6 hours of travel to get back home.
Overall, the convention was great though I didn’t get to meet many guests other than cosplay guests. The one guest that I did definitely miss was Grumpy Cat, but then again she was only there for an hour and a half on Saturday which… well, that just wasn’t happening. Given the sheer size of the convention and the floor plan, however, I do feel as though I would not cosplay at all if I were to attend again. The floor plan was spread out a little too much that walking around all day in costume resulted in a lot of pain in the feet. I do hope that next year the convention will all be back in one big hall otherwise I would not see myself bringing any costumes unless I planned to hang out in one spot the entire day.
As a regular attendee, there was a lot to see and plenty of programming and guests for you to check out – plus tons of food truck options! However if you’re going as a cosplayer that also likes to walk around and shop? I would recommend sticking to one day for costumes.
Check out our complete photo gallery from Comikaze Expo right HERE.
Nichole "Itty Bitty Geek" Nance is a cosplayer, blogger, full-time college student, and GNN's Editor-in-Chief. In her free time, she manages her personal blog "Itty Bitty Geek" where she gives updates on her costumes and other life adventures. You can follow Nichole on all of her social media sites under Itty Bitty Geek, or check out her blog at: http://ittybittygeek.com