Three Thoughts After Our First Dragon Con

Dragon Con Banner!

The start of Atlanta’s annual Dragon Con parade. Zillions more photos to come once I figure out some way to narrow them down to the best 200 or so.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

I’m typing this on Saturday night upon the conclusion of our virgin Dragon Con experience — two solid days of convention awesomeness plus a three-hour prologue on Thursday. We’re exhausted and disappointed we can’t stay longer, but we’re coming away with hundreds of photos to sort, a bit more reading matter to add to my collection, four new jazz-hands photo-ops to add to that collection, new memories to savor and share in the days and years ahead, and a wider basis for comparison against the Midwest cons we regularly attend. (Not counting the two we had to skip in order to work D*C into our schedule.)

Before I collapse into unconsciousness in preparation for the 8½-hour drive home Sunday, I need to jot down three key takeaways while they’re still fresh in mind and while I’m still riding high on my happy post-D*C buzz.

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Photos #4: Rising with Skywalkers

Colbert Abrams Kennedy!

Our host Stephen Colbert., director J.J. Abrams, and producer Kathleen Kennedy, streaming to us live from a galaxy far, far away.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…

The centerpiece of the entire weekend, its biggest event, its most anticipated breaking news story, was the long-awaited first trailer for Star Wars Episode IX, as yet un-subtitled when the convention began. The trailer’s release was scheduled as part of an hour-long presentation which would star director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy, at the very least. Additional unnamed guests were promised. It was fair to assume these surprise pop-ins would be the big, big-name costars from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, almost none of whom were on the show’s main guest list.

Everyone wanted in on that event. Everyone wanted to be part of that live magic. Everyone wanted to count their first viewing of the trailer among their greatest SWCC 2019 memories. Not everyone got their wish.

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C2E2 Photos, Part 8 of 8: Geek Commerce on Parade

C2E2 Dalek!

This way to REGISTRATE! REGISTRATE! REGISTRATE!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! My wife Anne and I just got home from the tenth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous conventions in larger, more popular states. We missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team…

…and taken photos as a team, of whatever sights catch our eyes around the vast exhibit hall, which could contain several football games at once, though it does not because football is out of scope for geek mega-parties like C2E2.

In the spirit of the Moral of the Story from our seventh exciting chapter, in which we ultimately learned that photos are cool and words are dumb if you put too many together in a row, please enjoy one last photo gallery of stuff and things that demand your money or at least your attention. Looky!

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Another Convention, Another Sleepless Night Before

Badges!

Badges! And papers! On every table-shaped surface! So. Many. PAPERS.

My brain is buzzing too much to write paragraphs right now. Our ninth foray to C2E2 in Chicago is this weekend, and I think we’re ready, but I dunno if we’re ready ready.

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Wizard World Chicago 2018 Photos, Part 6 of 6: Objects of Affection

cat nurse!

Space taxidermy! Me and a Sister of Plenitude from Doctor Who.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found ample enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. A few guest cancellations dampened our spirits somewhat, but we persevered and enjoyed our couple’s outing anyway, especially since Anne’s entire weekend admission was free as a consolation prize given to her and a couple thousand other fans after David Tennant’s last-minute cancellation last year.

Now that site traffic has subsided to its normal insignificant levels and all our visitors and new acquaintances have retreated to their respective internet corners, we wrap our miniseries with one last photo gallery in honor of what it’s all about: all that stuff around the convention. Everywhere we walk in an exhibit hall, we’re surrounded by millions or nifty items , whether for sale or for display only. Two organizations in particular brought their finest collections to entertain, to educate, to raise funds, and/or to treat fans to deeper glimpses into revered elements from their favorite fictional multiverses.

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Jon Schnepp 1967-2018

Schnepps + Payne!

Once again, photo courtesy of the Department of Not Sure Why We Didn’t Just Take Their Photo When We Met Them.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Anne and I attended the 2016 Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL, whereupon…

…We also had the pleasure of meeting director Jon Schnepps and producer Holly Payne, the minds behind the recent documentary “The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened?”, the astonishing true story of that time Nicolas Cage, director Tim Burton, and writer Kevin Smith tried and failed to make a, uh, truly unique Superman film together. I’ve been wanting to see this for months even though I’m afraid to see it for myself.

We chatted for a minute at their table. I can’t remember a single thing about the conversation except that they were good people not that different from us. The last time I saw him in person was later that same weekend as we were wandering around the town’s “Super-Con” — the Superman Celebration’s equivalent of an exhibit hall for toy shops and comics dealers. During our lap around the building, we passed by Schnepp — no guards, no entourage, no disguise — standing at one table, rifling through their back-issue box like any ordinary average Joe who hadn’t made an actual film, accumulated Cartoon Network credits to their name, or once filmed themselves being wrestled to the ground by an unchecked, filthy rich studio exec.

After I watched writer/director/producer Schnepp’s candid, illuminating documentary about a massive failure of a Hollywood production, I eventually remarked

We rarely get complete stories as to why a given high-profile film turns out awful, let alone a tell-all about one that collapsed under its own bloated before it could harm the innocent public. Copious interviews with would-be director Tim Burton, several attempted screenwriters including but not limited to a candid and incredulous Kevin Smith, producer Jon Peters checking in from some bizarre mental plane far removed from our own, fans, pundits, and other crew members who put in hundreds of hours of labor before someone realized they were collaborating on a fiasco and had to be stopped. It’s a shame Nicolas Cage himself couldn’t chime in with his thoughts because I suspect they would’ve made Peters seem rational by comparison.

Cage’s absence notwithstanding, I had to respect the force of will it must have taken to coax such revealing cautionary tales out of the participants themselves. I never took the time to watch Schnepp’s signature work on the Adult Swim series Metalocalypse (my loss, I’m guessing), but from the strong showing in that documentary alone I’d assumed we would see more great things from him in the future.

Then came the events of the past week.

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“Ready Player One”: The Movie Based on the Book Based on the Lists Based on the Collections

Ready Player Cyclops!

A grimdark timeline in which the only survivor of X-Men: Apocalypse was Cyclops.

Everyone loves crossovers! Who doesn’t get excited every time two to 10,000 pop culture characters of varying degrees of familiarity get stuffed into the same frames or panels and generate mechanical synergy for the amusement of fans and the enrichment of corporations? As a young teen collector of both Marvel and DC Comics I was bedazzled by the one-two punch of Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, each of which tossed piles of IPs into dogpiles and let them take turns teaming up and punching each other into oblivion. This brilliant concept in apocalyptic storytelling wowed me at the time, but began losing steam over the decades as all the other annual Marvel and DC crossover events kept (and keep) producing diminishing returns for increasingly transparent financial cravings. Meanwhile in other media, we had the innovative novelty of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and mash-ups like Kingdom Hearts, Soul Calibur, and Super Smash Bros. We had obscurities like Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, while the previous generation arguably had their own predecessor in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Despite the amount of behind-the-scenes wrangling involved, the method is simple: pick lots of famous faces that each have had tons of stories and years of character development dedicated to them, cultivated by their creators and successors with some combination of time and care; strip away everything from them but their outer shell and a one-line descriptor of their most superficial traits; throw everyone into an arbitrary arena; make them fight and fight and fight; then, profit. Hurray! It’s a crossover!

To those who love crossovers and other spectacles a la Battle of the Network Stars, by all means keep loving what you love. After a couple decades or more of them, they’re not an automatic draw for me.

And don’t get me started on the crossover’s close cousin, the whole “Easter egg” fetish that’s become a mandatory element of every geek-related product ever, to the point that viewers spend so much time expecting recognizable tokens and high-fiving each other for spotting them that they become the point of purchase and the only reason to pay attention. Some works are so oversaturated with Easter eggs, they’re less like a narrative and more like an extended Highlight for Children “Hidden Pictures” puzzle.

That brings us to Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, adapting the novel by Ernest Cline that I couldn’t bring myself to touch after reading a lacerating review of its nostalgic self-indulgence that gave me more than enough signifiers to tell me it was Not My Thing. As if that weren’t enough, someone on Twitter (I wish I could remember who or in which recent month) shared numerous excerpts from the novel that confirmed it’s entirelty about the hero name-checking, listing, and pumping himself up with his never-ending stream of collector callback consciousness. Unless someone wants to pay me to bypass my gut reaction, count me among the viewers who saw the movie but didn’t and won’t read the book.

Frankly, I only saw the movie because I knew friends or family would ask me about it. In their defense and to my surprise, I’ll give them this: Ready Player One was a lot less anathematic to me than The Big Bang Theory.

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C2E2 2018 Photos, Part 7 of 7: Random Acts of Pop Culture

Cards Against Humanity!

We don’t play Cards Against Humanity, but their advertising is always the best.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The ninth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous cons in larger, more popular states. My wife Anne and I missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team.

In this special miniseries I’ll be sharing memories and photos from our own C2E2 experience and its plethora of pizzazz…

…and it all comes down to this: photos of stuff and things around the exhibit hall. If you’ve never attended a comics or entertainment convention, or if you missed this year’s C2E2, or if you just really like photos of stuff and things, please enjoy this gallery of geek sights and eye-catching outtakes, guaranteed to have 65% fewer words than Part Five and 85% fewer words than Part Six. Yay pictures!

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C2E2 2018 Photos, Part 6 of 7: Who Else We Met and What We Did

Svengoolie!

Warrior Woody Woodpecker cosplayer interviewed by Chicago’s own late-night horror-flick host Svengoolie. Can it get more comic-con than this?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The ninth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous cons in larger, more popular states. My wife Anne and I missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team.

In this special miniseries I’ll be sharing memories and photos from our own C2E2 experience and its plethora of pizzazz…

We’ve covered our latest additions to our jazz hands catalog. We’ve shared nearly five dozen cosplay photos. We’ve saluted the comics creators who successfully divested us of cash. That wasn’t all the fun that C2E2 had in store for us this year.

(The following narrative of our two-day C2E2 walkabout will make more sense if you’ve already read Part One and Part Five. As you go, you should see where the photos from those entries slot into the storytelling.)

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Keeping the Ships in Order

TARDISes!

I like to imagine myriad Doctors from across the multiverse fighting over which TARDIS is whose.

Pictured above is a forgotten scene from Indiana Comic Con 2016, a perfect example of how much work goes into planning and executing a convention, and how organized and squared everything appears to onlookers if you pull everything off without a hitch. Every large-scale convention requires a lot of moving parts — much in plain sight, a few under the hood, plenty moving across the counter if buyers and sellers each play their parts. Maintaining the order is no simple feat.

As the routines go for those behind the counter, so goes a different set for those of us approaching the counters, bringing our offbeat interests to the party, our want lists, our spending impulses, and other critical factors that make comic, toy, and collectible shops a viable career track for anyone. Planning is vital for the sake of the geek economy.

Right this way for not much more than this!

Motor City Comic Con 2017 Photos, Part 2 of 2: Who We Met and What We Did

Barbara Eden!

My wife with Barbara Eden, star of TV’s I Dream of Jeannie. This con was my birthday trip, but Anne was pretty elated with her end of the deal.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This weekend Anne and I had the pleasure of attending the 28th annual Motor City Comic Con in the city of Novi, a safe suburb northwest of Detroit, some 300 miles from home. Well established and catering to fans of comics and media guests alike, MCCC is a shade smaller than our two regular Chicago shows, but proved an excellent reason to return to Michigan for our first time in fifteen years.

Whenever we attend a new con, the same set of fears nips at us every time. How crowded will it be? Do the showrunners know what they’re doing? Is the layout simple or complicated? Are their attendees nice people? Is the parking convenient and/or affordable? How horrible is the convention center food? We were relieved to confirm by the end of the day that MCCC by and large has nearly all its gears locked properly in place, and plans afoot to solve the one issue that complicated matters for a bit of the afternoon. Every show has its issues, but the best ones are already working on solutions before you can tell them about their problems.

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C2E2 2017 Photos, Part 4 of 4: Who We Met and What We Did

Mike Colter!

Behold the smooth moves of Marvel’s next big thing, POWER MAN AND DOUGHY GUY.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The eighth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking…

Another year, another C2E2. Another ostensible three-hour drive from Indianapolis to Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center. Another two days of nonstop excitement and occasional consternation, of fun fan interaction and occasional physical breakdown as our aging bodies struggle to keep up with our youthful enthusiasm. Another list of reasons to leave the house for the sake of celebrating the engaging interests that give us reasons never to leave the house.

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Geek Shopping Now Easier Than Ever (for some)

Funko Joker!

Funko Pop presents Chibi-head Academy Award Winner Jared Leto, all yours…for a price.

It’s not this time of year without too much shopping! Or so I hear frequently from the media, TV ads, all surrounding retail shops, our local newspaper, the voices in my head that like buying new stuff for loved ones and myself, sometimes in that order. The true Black Friday experience — getting up ridiculously early the day after Thanksgiving and not one day earlier to compete for the privilege of loss-leader pricing on either understocked new merchandise or obsolete shelf-filler — lost my commitment when corporations decided a Friday should be fourteen days long.

The increasingly charmless holiday event notwithstanding, I usually have free time to spare that particular day regardless, so it’s still a good opportunity to leave my family behind for a few hours without guilt and go take care of my share of the Christmas season. This year I spent much of my morning at Indianapolis’ own Castleton Square Mall, where I usually don’t have a lot to do since women’s clothing and designer shoe shops aren’t my thing. This year, more than ever, quite a few stores were aiming specifically for my geek dollars with the kind of merchandise we normally see only at our annual comic and entertainment conventions. Suddenly “geek chic” is a thing and proprietors hope the masses will buy in.

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Whatever Happened to the Indianapolis Geek Convention Boom?

Deadpools!

An outtake from our Indiana Comic Con 2015 cosplay photos, starring three Deadpools and a pair of kids who are each probably a foot taller by now.

Large-scale geek conventions weren’t a thing in Indianapolis when I was a kid. We had tiny comic shows in hotel ballrooms, but nothing requiring the spacious accommodations of the Indiana Convention Center. My young-adult years saw the advent of an annual Star Trek convention that brought great joy on several occasions and would become beloved by many, though their fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the past two decades. In 2003 Gen Con became the first super-sized company to believe in the considerable forces of local geek dollars, and they’ve been rewarded handsomely ever since for their benevolence by tens of thousands of Midwest gamers as well as folks like me who weren’t strictly gamers but were content to enjoy any sort of hobbyist gathering validation. We took what we could get, and we liked it.

Another full decade passed before other convention companies and wannabe startups noticed we’re here and began bringing their medicine wagons to town in hopes of finagling our approval and our wads of cash, and not necessarily in that order. Over the past four years we here at Midlife Crisis Crossover have shared our photos and our experiences — the good, the bad, the distressingly inept — as we’ve explored these new contenders in hopes that sooner or later, someone would establish the Greatest Indianapolis Comic Convention of All Time. My wife and I still find ourselves driving to Chicago twice per year for geek satisfaction, but it’s nice to know folks are trying to save us some gas money. And they’re welcome to keep trying.

Anne and I are now preparing for our next con this coming weekend, for which we’re mostly excited but reserving the right to retain our qualms after the rockiness of the showrunners’ last two events, each of which ran more like dry-run learning experiences than like professional expositions. While we’re selecting our personal artifacts for autographing and deciding what camping gear is most suitable for an unsupervised photo-op line, let’s take stock of the cons that have been courting us Hoosiers, praise those who did right by us, bury those who aren’t coming back, and look ahead to what’s on the Circle City calendar so far for 2016.

Right this way for what’s coming and what’s gone away…

C2E2 2016 Photos, Part 9 of 9: The Things They Carried

Reading Pile!

The total addition to my reading pile from our two days at C2E2. On a related note, I’ve been suffering back pain flare-ups all week long. I normally don’t buy sketches or prints, but I bet fans who buy only sketches or prints didn’t share my problem.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I spent two days at the seventh annual Chicago Comics and Entertainment Exposition, where Midwest comics fans in particular and geeks in general gather together in the name of imaginary worlds from print and screen to revel in fiction and touch bases on what’s hot or cool at this moment in pop culture.

So it all comes down to this, as every convention ultimately does: stuff and things! Items for sales, displays around the show floor, the neat collectibles everyone wanted to get their paws on, and the big corporate advertisements that surrounded us and insisted we need more stuff. Thus we conclude with one last look at the inanimate objects that entertained, tantalized, or just plain baffled us.

Right this way for one last C2E2 2016 photo gallery!

C2E2 Kicks Off Our 2016 Convention Season in Style

SuperAnne!

Longtime MCC readers may or may not remember last year’s C2E2 experience, in which Anne and I met Gene Ha, a fine comics artist who’s worked on past books I’ve collected such as Alan Moore’s Top 10, Fables, Starman, Global Frequency, and guest spots on assorted DC super-hero projects. In 2015 he was at C2E2 to promote his Kickstarter project for the hardcover graphic novel Mae. My Kickstarter moratorium was still in effect, but I bought another item from him instead and wished him well.

Thankfully the Kickstarter was a rousing success and Ha had copies of Mae for sale today at C2E2. Buyers at the show (e.g., me ) were also entitled to a “small doodle” inside the front cover. The above photo is his idea of a “small doodle” — a drawing of my very own wife as Supergirl. Her one-time art-modeling role was his idea. When he suggested turning her into a super-hero, Supergirl’s was the first name that popped into my head. Anne is a lifelong Superman fan, and we’ve both been watching and enjoying the show. No-brainer.

This is many, many light-years above and beyond my expectations and may literally be the greatest purchase I’ve ever made at a con. I spent the next ten minutes just walking around with the book still open to sketch of the woman I love by the Gene Ha.

So our 2016 convention season is off to a stellar start. I’m betting that sketch will be the pinnacle, but the next-best is yet to come!

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Grieving the Erasure of Your Favorite Corporate-Owned Universe

DC: Where Legends Live!

DC Comics house ad from The Flash #339, cover-dated November 1984. A lot of ’80s characters are no longer around, and it’s been decades since fans begged DC to bring back “legends” like these.

We live in an entertainment culture where we take it as given that all the best ideas were conceived before we were born, so trying to forge new universes seems like too much effort. Reboots used to be a desperation move, but anymore they’re the norm for luring in new fans — not just for work-for-hire companies with an intellectual property catalog to keep fertile and growing, but for artists, writers, and filmmakers all too happy to make a lifelong career out of perpetuating the lives and histories of worlds and heroes they didn’t invent themselves. It’s a living.

It’s easy to scoff at reboots when they’re happening to characters that don’t matter to you. If you’re a geek for long enough, though, sooner or later they’ll get to a universe you do care about.

I’ve been there. I remember the first time I had a universe yanked out from under me.

Right this way for memories and lessons about two universes with a lot in common…

The Twilight Years of the Back Issue Hunter

Comics!

Once upon a time, at the very first comic book shows I attended as a teen, rooting through back issue bins for missing comics was the only thing I wanted to do. Once a year or so, my mom would drive me to the Marriott out at 21st and Shadeland, where the Ash Comics Show brought a bunch of dealers and collectors into a single ballroom and let them sell the heck out of comics — shelves, spinner racks, and packed longboxes from wall to wall. A few published artists would come in as guests. A TV and some chairs set up near the entrance passed for an anime viewing area. There may have been related events in another room or two. But mostly I wanted to plug the holes in my comics collection. The thrill of the hunt, the joy of discovery, the satisfaction of completism — whatever you call it, that’s how comics were my anti-drug.

I tried to get into the spirit in time for Wizard World Chicago last month. I took the above pic while going through my organized accumulation as a reminder to myself of the joy I once had rifling through hundreds of comics at a time in hopes of striking reader gold. I spent a couple of nights shifting from box to box, reuniting with old series, reliving classic arcs, stumbling across #1s I forgot I had (Reign of the Zodiac? That was a thing?), and generally immersing myself in the old-timey smell of newsprint and the nostalgic sight of crinkled, battered covers from decades past.

I was thiiis close to wanting more back issues. It almost worked.

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Wizard World Chicago 2015 Photos, Part 7 of 7: Why We Convention

Jeremy Renner VIP Badge!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time of year again! Anne and I are at Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we’re so far having a blast even though parts of it resemble hard work and our feet feel battle-damaged after two days of endless walking, standing, lining up, shuffling forward in cattle-call formation, and scurrying toward exciting people and things…

My wife and I took an okay number of photos over the course of our three-day stay and will once again be sharing the most usable over the next several entries.

Tonight’s episode: the miniseries finale! The panels we saw! The comics pros I met! The winners of the Annual “Convince Me to Spend Money in Artists Alley” contest! The troubles with conventioning while old! And more!

Right this way for one last batch of photos, anecdotes from the weekend, and one (1) costume pic!

Confessions of a Former Costume Contest Fan

C2E2 2015 Finalists!

C2E2 semi-finalists, left to right: a Warhammer 40K Inquisitor; Takuto Tsunashi from Star Driver; an original Norse Valkyrie; the Khorne Marauder, also from Warhammer 40K; and I believe you’ve met Groot.

Each time my wife and I attend a convention, we love coming home with dozens upon dozens of photos to save for posterity once we’ve turned elderly and forgotten everything we ever did, to show to friends and family interested in what we do, and to share with followers and passing strangers here on Midlife Crisis Crossover. To us it’s all a part of the geek experience, a sort of community service for those who couldn’t be there, or for those who were there but are looking for more shots, different perspectives, or simply proof of their existence when they were unable to take or locate any pics of themselves.

On a related note, for better or for worse, MCC’s highest single-day traffic figures every year are nearly always from cosplay photo galleries. Longtime readers who have no use for cons may wonder why I devote multiple entries to each con, but for me the math is easy: cons provide plenty of new content, anecdotes, and visual wonders to share with the world; and we usually see a traffic spike with each miniseries, especially when it comes to reporting costume contest results. Everybody loves winners, and even runners-up in such showdowns are impressive in their own right.

The grandest of them all is Gen Con, which we’ve been attending since before the recent boom in the Indianapolis con scene. Anne and I aren’t even tabletop or TCG gamers, but their exhibit hall contains scintillating multitudes and their costume contest attracts some of the most imaginative, hard-working, dedicated fans around with a penchant for representing characters and concepts far from the mainstream norms. I come away from each Gen Con a little more wowed and schooled at the same time. I’ve made no secret that the costume contest is the primary reason I attend Gen Con.

After our recent con experiences and no small amount of self-examination on my part, I think I need to let the whole costume-contest thing go.

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