Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, formerly known as Comikaze, is probably the convention I’ve looked forward to the most this year. It has a high attendance of cosplayers, which we love, and last year we all had a grand time strolling around as Avengers and spending more money than we should on the exhibition floor. It’s one of the highlights of the year for cosplayers, and this year it held the National Championships for Cosplay and for Prop Making.
This year, however, as I made my cosplay plans, I was reluctant to be a character too recognizable or sexy because of what happened to me at SDCC. While the Mutineer tweeted about her experience with male privilege and lack of consent for cosplayers, I’ve chosen not to disclose mine until now. Long story short, while cosplaying Harley Quinn, I decided to go down the street to Starbucks by myself. On my way there, I was surrounded by a group of men who ignored my rejections for photographs and refused to let me move past them. I was terrified and close to a panic attack before I was rescued by people who were promoting Matt LeBlanc’s new show, “Man with a Plan.” I thanked the promoters profusely, and their leader said, “Hon, we gotta take care of our own.” He gave me a hug and a lollipop and escorted me to Starbucks. Had these angels in disguise not been there, I shudder to think of what could have happened.
After attending Long Beach Comic Con last month, and discovering that smaller conventions are decidedly more cosplay-friendly, I decided that I was ready to try a big convention in cosplay once again. This time, however, I would not have the Mutineer or Diva by my side the entire weekend and would be cosplaying for one day by myself. What I discovered this year, after spending Saturday as Disney princess Ariel and Sunday as two different versions of Natasha Romanoff, is that even for a convention that attracted 91,000 attendees, this convention goes above and beyond to protect its attendees and promote a harassment-free environment.
I saw the sign.
The above sign was posted last year in several locations, most notably in front of the exhibition hall doors, and this year the number of signs had easily tripled. SDCC this year did not have such signs to promote respectful treatment of cosplaying attendees, and I know this for certain because I spent the majority of a day checking the entire San Diego convention area. LA Comic Con made sure that the signs were large, noticeable, and prominently placed, and I noticed several first-time attendees reading them diligently.
Cosplayers watch out for each other.
If you’re a cosplayer attending solo, it’s so important to stick up for yourself, and for other cosplayers too. LA Comic Con cosplaying attendees were quick to intervene if they saw someone getting handsy with an attendee, and it was usually done with a simple interruption, such as asking for a selfie. More importantly, since LACC is very family-friendly, the cosplay community is very protective of children, and I saw more than one superhero block cameras of people photographing children without parental permission.
The prop gun in the above photo was checked outside the convention center by security, as you can see by that glamorous strip of white security tape around the handle. This is the first convention where I’ve seen the weapons check outside of the convention itself, and the first time that I’ve seen a convention have multiple weapons checks–one near every entrance to the convention area. Furthermore, as I had my obviously-fake firearm examined by the security personnel, the security officer gave me a rundown of LACC’s anti-harassment policy and he explained that other attendees should ask before taking my photo. “Like this,” he said, before asking to take a photo with me. “Remember,” he said, “You can always say no. And if they give you a hard time? That’s why you have us.” As a seasoned con-goer, I couldn’t help but appreciate this man’s demonstration of the importance of consent in the cosplay world. For first-time cosplayers, however, this introduction is so important so that they know their rights as cosplayers and con-attendees.
I’m happy to say that LACC erased the lingering doubts I had about cosplaying at conventions after my experience at SDCC. Not only is LA Comic Con inviting and diverse in its attendees–both in and out of cosplay–but as a cosplayer? I’ve never felt more comfortable.
If you’re a Southern Californian cosplayer or want to attend a con as a family, LA Comic Con is the one for you.