The 2015 convention season is almost over for the Collective team (last one in one week: 2015 Supernatural convention in Pasadena!), and it is an exhausted blogger who writes for you now. Six conventions in one year is impressive, and I’m glad that we’re closing out our comic conventions with one I’ve had my eye on for years: Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.
Held annually at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the expo features some of the biggest cosplay and comic stars that the industry has to offer. This, of course, was my incentive in wrangling the Collectiva Diva, the Collected Mutineer, and a handful of other friends to attend the expo. In cosplay.
That’s right. I dared to enter a convention amongst the cosplay elite in my Black Widow cosplay, and, as usual, I pulled everyone else down the rabbit hole with me. Now, the Mutineer and I are somewhat of accomplished cosplay amateurs, having donned our best for SDCC and MCM London earlier this year, but the vast array of cosplay that we saw at Comikaze is by far the best I’ve ever seen. (Hit up our cosplay gallery or our Instagram: @acollectivemind for more cosplay pics!)
We’ve done our share of cosplay at big conventions, but Comikaze offered a friendly atmosphere to costumed attendees, and as well as multiple panels on cosplay and cosplay photography. And that’s half the fun, isn’t it? Cosplay is more than just putting on a catsuit; it’s a form of creative expression. Many cosplayers spend months crafting a single outfit, all the while knowing that after just one day at a convention, smiling for dozens of photos, they will probably have to repair a ripped seam or broken zipper.
While it is important to appreciate cosplayers’ hard work, it is just as important to respect cosplayers. I had a lengthy conversation about consent with a gentleman who approached me and asked for a photo with me as the Black Widow. He tentatively asked if he could put his arm around my shoulders, and I thanked him for being considerate to ask before touching me. At Comikaze, the majority of con-goers understand that permission must be granted before taking a picture of or with a cosplayer. It was this general attitude toward the cosplayers that really made the convention one of my favourites of the year, because not all conventions promote the same treatment of cosplayers.
Changing Faces in Comics
While every panel that the Collective Team attended mentioned cosplay, some panellists went so far as to mention that they really enjoyed when female fans demand their own space in the fandom sphere by actively crafting and participating in cosplay. It’s this thought that brings me to the second theme in my Comikaze review: the faces we see in comics should reflect our own.
There’s been a heavy emphasis on equal representation in comics this year, and I have previously discussed it in my write-ups for both the MCM London and SDCC conventions. Comikaze 2015 emphasized not only equal representation, but also changing the way in which we write diversity. Most commonly mentioned were female characters, but even panels focusing on women discussed the importance of diversity in sexuality and ethnicity as well (we call this “intersectional feminism” and it’s important).
The thought is that if we change the way in which we write the characters and situations surrounding them, perhaps we’ll change the way we interact with the people those characters represent. For example, if, by writing Spider-man as a biracial Latino man, we begin to change the view that only white men of a certain socioeconomic descent can be heroes. And if we change the way we write character development? Well, perhaps we can diminish the idea that sexual violence in fiction is the only way to shape a strong female character.
Although the points brought up in these panels remain just ideas until implemented into practice, we can see the beginnings of change in how diversity is portrayed in comics in characters like Miles Morales, Sam Wilson, and Kamala Khan. Comikaze 2015 embraced these characters, and walking the convention floor, it was refreshing to see people of all ethnicities, genders, and sexualities cosplaying characters they admire. Fan conventions are a way of carving our space in the world of comics and entertainment, and if you can do that while wearing a catsuit? So much the better.
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