Monday, March 28, 2016

A Day at Comicscon

By Michelle Nelson

This was my first ever comicscon, first Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose, California. I have been to numerous Star Trek cons and I'm not that hugely into just comics and their art, but since it was local and I had been wanting to experience a comicscon, it was perfect.

I knew it would be big, but I was still amazed by the size of it, overwhelmed actually. The San Jose Convention Center is immense with three huge halls that were opened up to make one vast space. And every square inch of it was filled with something ! Not to mention the many halls and auditoriums where the talks and seminars were held.

And the crowds... I'm pretty sure this was the largest group of people I've ever been with in my life. I thought I'd be clever and get there early and did, but still had a hard time finding parking, and then ending up in a long, long snaking line just to get in. Guess everybody else had the same idea!

There were also three fascinating mini-museums, "Rancho Obi-Wan," a large private collection of everything Star Wars; the "Cartoon Art Museum" with original stills and cells and probably the best, the "Stan Lee Museum." So neat to see things drawn by his own hand. I didn't catch his seminar, but apparently he's still going strong at 92 ― good for him!

I actually went to only one seminar. I hated to take time away from other things waiting to get into them, but it was an incredible mix of science fiction and real science. For some of them, you waited in large holding areas to get in, but I was told by others that this was good because they were clearing the rooms after each talk, so people couldn't just squat and stay the whole day, as at other cons.

The vendors area made me think of a big box store with rows and rows and aisles and aisles, closely packed. At times, it truly was hard to even get through them ― you just sort of went along with the flow. I hate to keep repeating it, but I was again blown away with everything that was there ― so different from other cons I've seen.

I did make one big purchase, a replica of Gort, the robot from the The Day the Earth Stood Still (the 1951 original, not the grossly disappointing remake!) More than I should of spent I suppose, but what can you do, I had been wanting a larger one for along time. Also bought two poster prints.

The other great thing was seeing all the cosplayers, something I was looking forward to. Many I didn't recognize, but so much work went into them, it's hard to believe they are homemade in most cases. Large numbers of super heroes of course, and also something I'd heard of but hadn't seen before ― gender/swapped heroes and villains. Lady Lokis, Thors, Capt. Americas, like that. It actually seemed like there were more of those than the originals! And Victorian-themed superheros ―  they were quite fun too.

I knew I'd be going to this as Michelle, but then thought I too might fully experience the con by going Time Tunnel television series. How they always dressed really nicely ― dresses, heels, jewelry and then labcoats! It seemed funny to me even back when it was on.
in costume, which wasn't really too hard to come up with. I had gotten something together for Halloween and thought it would fit in just fine here. I was playing one of the lady scientists or engineers (forgive me, Lee Meriwether) from the old

There was also a large display by what looked to be almost professional cosplayers showing how they make various parts of their outfits. One of the people there complemented me on my crossplaying.

I got only one other comment along this line. Right at the start I was at a parking kiosk, chatting with a lady ahead of me on how we were already in a line before even getting in! She was wearing a dalek dress and her son, about ten, was dressed as the David Tennant version of Doctor Who. And he really looked like him with a blue suit, tie and hair brushed up. So the kid comes right out and asks me, "Are you in drag?"

Wow, busted. I said I was and he said he didn't know until I spoke. His mom said she didn't know either and we continued our chatting! I saw them a few times in passing throughout the day and they always waived.

There were many kids and whole family groups dressed, too, and themed couples and groups. I can only once again respect the work people put into this. Mine was about as simple as you can get, but even it got many compliments and photo requests ― amazing. I guess if you put even a little effort into something, people appreciate it.

I don't know how much going in costume increased my enjoyment of the con, but it was fun. Talking to other cosplayers about, who and what we were, taking photos together and I might add here, everyone was polite about taking photos, always asking first. I did feel a connection I don't think I would have otherwise.

One funny thing, Woz was said to be walking around the show, just like anyone else, possibly in costume. I didn't see him, although for all I know he could have been right next to me in costume and I would have missed him!

I thoroughly enjoyed the con. The only drawback was the crowds and the long lines for just about everything. But that's hardly the con's fault ― genre stuff is just so popular. It was actually handled quite well, considering. There were many entry/exit gates, where you checked in and out each time. The badges were wristbands each with a chip in it; what do you expect in Silicon Valley, I guess. Security people were present, but unobtrusive.

My only real complaint was that there was only one food concession on the whole floor. I had lunch early, but the line for it was reaching grotesque lengths as the day wore on. But my complaints are all related to just the number of attendees,and you can't blame people for going.

The only other thing I suppose was that the area for the celebrity photo ops was completely curtained off; you couldn't even get a glimpse of them. I did get one photo op though and a free one at that! One area had a green screen and after you were in front of it you would be placed in a still from one of the Hunger Games. You even got a 4x6 print of it. It was of course a promotion for the latest movie, but still, mighty nice. And it was in one of the very few uncrowded areas, too.

I suppose the thing to do would be to go both days, spend one at the seminars and one shopping and viewing or mix and match. And get your pass early online. They send it right to your home, so aside from just being sure of getting one, you bypass all the pre-check-in, let alone trying to get in at the time. Whenever I happened to pass by the entry area, it was filled with people trying to get passes!

I'd say it was no question about it being a rousing success, so I'm sure it will be back next year. My recommendations for this or any con really, would be to get your pass online, go early, do both days and have an early lunch!

Source: Blank Itinerary
Wearing Blank Itinerary.

Richard Schaefer
Richard Schaefer, crossplayer


  1. Dear Stana,

    Richard Schaefer, the crossplayer, looks gorgeous, and the outfits are "to die for". Anything's possible, but crossplaying multiple times so exquisitely seems to indicate that Richard is one of us. However, there is a chance that's he's not transgender, and possibly a woman or women in his life, did his beautiful makeup and wig, and accessories to the gowns, and Richard is open-minded enough to go along. Either way, "Bravo (or Brava)" to Richard!



  2. It is more fun to go in costume (so many things are); it changes the experience by playing a character, versus playing "myself". As a character, you find alliances with others from your 'fandom' theme. We are more alike than different, we humans.

    Necessities: Snacks. Bathroom timing. A place to sit and be quiet to rest. Cosplay is tiring, it's an all day immersive performance.

    (I think I just summed up my life in that last sentence. Where is my offstage dressing room?)

  3. Very interesting. Thanks to Michelle for sharing.

    Note to Stana: Trying to comment using a WordPress account does NOT work, because all such accounts now begin with "https". If this is something you can fix, it would be good to do so (all Blogger pages I've seen are like this).

    Amanda Hawkins (