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 Life Skills for Fanboys:  Cosplay Blowback

 written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.  Previous columns are indexed at the end.

War on Cosplay

That’s the headline over at Bleeding Cool.  I tried to warn you.  Cosplayers, the comic book guys aren’t happy about you.  I know, I know, you have your own problems.  That doesn’t mean the problem of the comic book guys aren’t real.  We need a truce here before it gets ugly.

Comic Book Guys

Hey guys.  Look, I understand.  Cosplayers can be annoying.  They don’t have any money and when they walk through artists’ alley, they get stopped in front of your table to get their pictures taken.  It’s really fucking annoying when you’re trying to sell some art or comics.  Even worse, when you try to sell some to a cosplayer and either he or she refuses to blow off the pictures for a minute to consider a purchase.

The solution is not to ban the cosplayers from the con, but promoters should consider banning them from artists’ alley unless they are there to promote an artist.  Probably the best thing to do is to have a clear area where people can take picture and the rest of the con can be off-limits.  Not always practical, depending on the size of the con.  Clearer rules for cosplayers would help.  Perhaps educating your staff of volunteers by saying, “Don’t let the cosplayers block walkways or tables.”  I mean, is anyone really going to get bent out of shape if a staff member says, “Excuse me, please take your pictures away from walkways and tables.  Thank you.”

Here’s What Doesn’t Help

Bitching about it publicly on Facebook.  I realize that Facebook is often “your” personal Facebook for your friends and your fans.  But if you keep your settings pretty public so all your fans can see, as I do, you might as well be holding a press conference to prove that you’re a cranky old comics man.  Something like that goes viral and you might as well be holding a press conference in the middle of Times Square.  You’re going to look foolish and old.  Asking promoters not to invite you to cons?  Um, no.  Bad move.  Especially when the cycle turns and you need to do a con.  Someone might remember your diva request.  Can you just ask about cosplayers and then politely turn down the con?  This publicly complaining does nothing.

Use your clout to make the promoter do some of the things I suggested.  If a promoter really wants you there and you’re a name, it’s not a big deal to say, “Hey, I’m coming, but I swear to Christ if one of this cosplayers blocks my table you owe me $50.”  Then he might actually police artist alley.  I mean, they can’t do anything unless you say something,  Squeaky wheel and all.

I could complain, but who listens to me?

Get Really Cosplayers

Here’s something you might not believe:  Your days are numbered.  Your fad will fade.  Thanks to rants like these, you’ll last a little longer, but you’re still a fad.  Eventually, there will be too many cosplayers.  We’ll hit some costume saturation point and fans will go, “Cosplaying?  Nah, that’s so 2014.  Now I’m into ____.”  Maybe it happens next year or the year after, but it will happen.  Then your hobby will plateau back to it’s original position on the geek scale, just like vampires and pogs and chromium covers all did.  You’ll still be around, but it will no longer be “the” thing anymore.  So enjoy it while it lasts.

And if you want to make your way “down” pleasant, be nice now.  Reach out to these old guys and say something like, “Hey, we didn’t mean to annoy you, we’re just fans that like to dress up.”  Who knows?  Maybe some kind of cross promotion could happen.  The comic guys sponsor a cosplayer if the cosplayer dresses up like one of his characters.  At least then we’ll have some different costumes instead of 47 variations of Harley.

Geeks Gotta Stick Together

People outside of this hobby are always going to marginalize or use it for their own purpose.  Right now, geek is “in”, but only the stereotypical geek.  That means, San Diego Comic Con is always going to be a news report featuring cosplayers because they are visuals and the celebrities there to promote.  Comic guys need to get on board with cosplayers and get them to help promote the comics.  Cosplayers, you’re just being used by the local media, who tend to portray you as freaks.  At least if you’re part of the promotion of an actual comic book, then it makes more sense.  Viewers already know you’re not part of Warner Brothers or Disney, but if you’re dressed as an indie character, it’s much more likely you’re directly involved with the comic.  Sure that’s only image, but it’s an image that makes sense and makes you look better in the eyes of the public.  We look united and like we’re working together.  The last thing we need is to let this go public and have the local news cover how comic book guys “hate” the cosplayers or the other way.

Let’s make peace before this “war” goes any further.

Previous Columns
Obesity at Cons
The Art of Conversation
The Line Between Fans and Pros
Geek Elitism
Convention Panels
Convention Volunteers
Food Gifts
Women and Cons
Get Your Room Party Together
Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons
The Face of Geek Needs Work
Fixing the Face of Geek
Franchise Worship
Presenting Your Project
The New Image?
Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool
 Rethinking the Comic Book Con
Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People
Geek Stereotypes and the Big Bang Theory
Con Locations
Traveling to Cons on the Cheap
Con Economics
Comics, Sexism and Trolling
Searching for the Words
How to Fix Comics?  Stop Reading Them
Shopping at the Con
The Hollywood Double Edged Sword
Beware the Geek Scams
Success Kills
In Response to Chuck Dixon, Paul Rivoche and Janelle Asselin
Fanboy Reporters
Dealing with Critics and Haters in the Internet Age
Who Are the Creepers?
The Cosplayer Treaty of 2014: A Proposal
Female Thor
Comics’ Non-News
Geek Feminists and DC’s T-Shirts