I’ve only been actively cosplaying at comic conventions for a couple of years now (in the years prior to that, I would just walk around in my every day clothes and admire everyone else’s costumes while simultaneously feeling too shy or not nearly talented enough to participate myself) but each time I do, and with every convention I go to- I personally feel like my work gets better and better and I get to meet more and more people who share the same interests and the same passions as I do while we all put our hard work and craftsmanship on display.
I love it. It’s fun- and I encourage anyone who has been on the fence about cosplaying and who might be feeling shy or self-conscious like I used to be to give it a try. Chances are, you’re going to feel right at home when you do. You don’t have to be a master metal fabricator or a whiz with a needle and thread to come up with something that looks great- trust me. It all comes down to proper time management and knowing when to ask for help if you need it. There’s a lot of really great resources and tutorials online, and plenty of places to shop for materials you may need without breaking your budget.
I digress. While 2014 saw me go above and beyond with Cheryl Blossom, Daryl Dixon AND Poison Ivy costumes for my first ever pilgrimage to San Diego Comic-Con, and 2015 was the year I put together a top notch Peggy Carter ensemble- 2016 was all about Negan from “The Walking Dead”. While I’ve mixed and matched my previous costumes in the past for different events- this year’s Negan costume was the one I wore to every. single. convention. I went to from Spring right up until this past weekend’s 2016 Comic-Con closer in Providence, Rhode Island.
And it was the perfect ending to a fun convention season- specifically because I got to meet Negan himself- Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan!
Now, I had never been to Rhode Island Comic-Con before this past weekend, and leading up to my stopping by on Saturday- I had heard a lot of mixed things about it. Overcrowding. Long lines. Rude and agitated staff- but having survived the general clusterfuckery of Wizard World a few years ago while I was in NYC- I didn’t think it could be any worse.
Boy, was I wrong.
The heads of the convention, having booked stars like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Millie Bobby Brown, and Stan Lee- did not take the limited size of the venue vs. the amount of people who would turn up into consideration and continued selling as many tickets and passes as they possibly could to make more money. As a result, the lines were long enough to (supposedly) catch the attention of the Fire Marshall since stairwells and exits were pretty much overflowing with people to the point where no one could move and it was extremely dangerous.
The lines for JDM were so full that he ended up staying later than he was supposed to in order to sign more autographs for the crowd. As a result, his scheduled photo op was delayed by a couple of hours- however none of the staff thought this was pertinent information to share with anyone and hundreds of us remained in line for the duration, waiting for it to start. When it came time to prepare for the actual photo, the volunteers herded us around like cattle in four different directions- screaming and shouting at us the entire time.
Picking up my photo was another nightmare in itself. Rather than having the photos ready on a table post-photo op the way other, more organized conventions do- the staff instead would stand on tables, hold up a photo- and scream over a sea of waiting people “IS THIS YOU? DO YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS?” like an auction. Thankfully, a woman in line recognized me in my photo and managed to grab it and pass it to me before it could get damaged while changing multiple hands- but it was enough to get me teetering on the edge of my patience and sanity.
Finally, after debating how much more I could take- I made my way back to JDM’s booth to see if I could get my Lucille replica signed. I had come that far, I reasoned with myself- so I could go a little further. The line was once again insanely long (and they were still selling tickets, mind you) while he finished up his designated photo op- consequently missing his scheduled panel and returning to his table nearly an hour before the convention closed for the day to meet fans and sign more autographs. There was looming fear that those of us near the back would be turned away come 7 p.m. if we didn’t make it up to his booth in time.
But I will say this: Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a class act. Not only was he a sweetheart during our photo together, but he made it a point to stay late- well after convention hours wrapped up- to make sure each and every single one of us got a chance to have our things signed and talk to him. While the majority of us were exhausted, hungry, and maybe a little delirious (a security guard brought me peanut butter crackers when he saw me swaying where I stood in line shortly before I reached the front, and the people waiting around with me had the absolute best senses of humor- which helped keep everyone sane and help the time go by a little quicker, too)– but JDM was so kind, so funny, so humble- and just an overall decent guy who went above and beyond the call of duty to accommodate those of us who had been screwed over by the convention right alongside with him.
I honestly cannot say enough good things about what he did and how he managed to keep a genuine smile on his face even though we all knew how worn out he must have been. Celebrities should take note and follow his lead. He is a truly awesome person with the best sense of humor and I have all the respect in the world for him.
Will I return to Rhode Island Comic-Con? I honestly don’t know. Considering I didn’t get to actually SEE the rest of the convention because I was stuck in multiple lines for hours at a time was a huge turn-off of going back again next year. Also knowing that this isn’t the first time this has happened per the convention’s social media (which was flooded with complaints from angry attendees who were encountering similar, if not the same issues that I did on Saturday) or that it wouldn’t be the last time it happened- since another uproar with “Wonder Woman” Gal Gadot’s scheduled photo ops/autograph line unfolded on Sunday- I’m not exactly keen on willingly spending another day dealing with it.
Other popular, fairly new-to-the-scene conventions are able to get it together and keep things running smoothly. I have no idea what RICC is doing.
Oh well. At least JDM was fantastic and at least his kindness was the beacon of light in an otherwise stressful day. That’s my take away. That, and him yelling “you heard the lady- NO EXCEPTIONS!” in full-on Negan mode after I shouted that security was going to “shut that shit down” when people started getting antsy. So, so good.
There are no other conventions around here until Spring of 2017- which gives me enough time to prepare my next round of costumes: including an updated version of one of my favorite “Walking Dead” characters and a little something from my other AMC-based obsession- “Preacher”.
I’m excited to get started!