Nathan's Laserium: Comics 101 - Cosplay and Co-opting Cons

Did I ever tell you I'm a coal miner? Maybe once or twice, right? Not a bad job, running giant Tonka toys for a living. Plus there's mountains and aurora borealises and grizzly bears. The downside is sometimes you almost get killed.

One such incident happened last week. Without getting too technical and inside-baseball, I was helping a driller change her drill bit. I was outside pushing on the drill steel and the deck bushing was being held up by the sandline, but it was binding on the steel and it had all sorts of tension on it. Well, the tension let go and the deck bushing went shooting up the steel as if it were a cannonball or something. It brushed my hands back and I felt the wind from it under my nose. I guess another inch or whatever and it would have taken my head off or caved in my face. But it didn't!

This past week, the drill operator never showed up for work. Didn't even call in. Leaving me to run the drill for her. No problem, I like running drill. Lots of time to read and listen to podcasts (Rachel and Miles Xplain the X-Men is my new favorite podcast!!). But it was kind of strange that she just never showed up, right? Turns out she's taking stress leave. Because I almost died. Know who isn't taking stress leave? This guy.

I can't speak for her. Maybe she really is stressed right out over almost killing me. Certainly depriving the world of me would be a crime against humanity. But still. It's not a secret that she's just hoping to get laid off so she can get a severance package rather than just retire for free. So, at the risk of minimizing actual, real emotional turmoil, my read is that she's just co-opting this situation for her own purposes. I was the guy who could have died! And at no point did my heart rate even go up. Seriously. Not a big deal.

So that's a situation where someone co-opting something from someone else kind of sucks.

A situation where it doesn't suck (if you even concede that it happened in the first place) is when cosplayers co-opt comic conventions.

An article going around this week [LINK] seems to bemoan the loss of revenue to comic creators thanks to selfie-taking instagram-posting cosplayers. To be 100% fair to the article writer, she said she likes cosplayers and even has some as friends. So she's totally not a hater yo! She's just sayin'.

I think the salient question to ask here is, who are comic conventions for? The people who go to them, of course. I think the author is coming from the assumption that conventions are there for exhibitors, so that they can make money. In a perfect world, all such exhibitors would make money- that way they can keep coming out and enriching the convention experience for everyone. But that is not why comic conventions exist.

Comic conventions were started back in the day by comics enthusiasts. Fans of comic books and other nerdy pursuits. They were small, dungeony get-togethers, usually in hotel basements. Over the years they grew, and soon comic retailers and even creators started going, and they grew some more. And more. Now they're huge. Some people bemoan the fact that they're not really about comics anymore. Which isn't true, and also, who cares? They're about nerdy pop cultural things that we love. Things like comics and science fiction and yes, cosplay. I mean, what is cosplay but people spending hours and hours and moneys and moneys to dress up like fictional characters that they love, for their own happiness and yours. Yes, yours. How much prep do you do to attend a con, if you aren't a cosplayer? Fill up your backpack and your wallet and you're good to go, right? Not so for cosplayers.

I'm so glad cosplay is a huge part of conventions now. If they weren't there, cons would be a gathering of fat, bald white guys in their 40s hunting for comics and toys. A flea market, as someone on twitter pointed out. No thank you. And it's not like cosplayers get anything out of it. Well, I guess they do- they get con crud and sexual harassment so obviously cosplayers are only in it for what they can get out of it.

I love comic conventions. Hate that I'm missing out on this weekend's convention in Edmonton- I'll be busy operating a drill in a coal mine. I should try and think up some scam so I could get out of work... nah. I'd have to be some kind of asshole to do that.


- Nathan Waddell