Wizard World Comic Con: New Orleans, Day 1

By K.Hopson

"Comics Goes To College" panel at Day 1 of Wizard World Comic Con New Orleans
“Comics Goes To College” panel at Day 1 of Wizard World Comic Con New Orleans – Photo by K. Hopson

The opening day of Wizard World Con has arrived! Nerds and geeks all over the Dirty South rejoice!

Even though Friday is usually a “half day”, there was a decent turnout. The dealer’s room was full of marked-up goodies for us nerds to peruse, and the programming schedule looks worthwhile. This year’s Wizard World also has a nice array of headliners: Norman Reedus, Steven Yuen, Jon Bernthal, and Michael Rooker from “The Walking Dead,” our favorite Doctor, Matt Smith, and Stan Lee, the Marvel comic legend, to name a few. Oh, did I mention that the fabulous Pam Grier was there last night? *wallslide*

I had the opportunity to attend two panels on Friday: Getting Respect: Comics Go to College, and Costumes + Playing = Cosplay! So What Does That Actually Mean?

Comics Go to College gathered commentary from Louisiana university professors Sherri Craig, Eric Bailey, and Travis Langley about comics and graphic novels and the amount of attention they’ve been receiving in the academic world. I have to admit that this particular panel wasn’t all that informative. It kind of dragged on as the two male professors engaged in banter about their ideas and author credits, but there was some interesting discussion. The moderator was Danny Fingeroth.

Craig said she uses comics to draw more people into the English department at Southeastern Louisiana University, and can tell the interest in comics and learning to make them is out there, based on just the amount of participants in the artists’ alley.

Bailey, who also teaches ancient literature, offered the theory that comics much the same way classics such as Beowulf did in their time.

“I think comic books really began on cave walls,” he said. “But I’m interested in using comics historically, They’ve always been a stamp of their times because of the immediacy they have and how quickly they’ve been able to be published. They really reflect the changing spirit of the time.” Langley supported the connection between comic books and the classics by drawing a parallel between Superman and the story of Moses.

Bailey also said he is interested in using comics to examine how cultures use mythical figures to deal with adversity.

Fingeroth said that although academic courses geared toward comic books get less respect that art or film studies, the tide is slowly changing as comics and graphic novels become more mainstream. Langley said colleges are giving comic book a shot in academia because many administrators want something different from what other universities can offer.

The Costumes+Playing panel was a lot of fun. Featured cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty, “The Smoke”, and one other local cosplayer (I apologize, I didn’t get his name) offered helpful tips to cosplayers of all experience levels, along with pictures of some of their best costumes. I was especially interested to hear what Doomkitty had to say, since she’s a full-figured cosplayer. The moderator was Damian Beurer. Here are the highlights:

From Costumes and Playing Panel  - Photo from Wizard World Comic Con New Orleans
From Costumes and Playing Panel – Photo from Wizard World Comic Con New Orleans

– Comfort does not go with cosplay, in general. However, do what you can to minimize discomfort, such as going the comfortable pair of shoes versus the character accurate ones, taking off your helmet during breaks, etc. The panelists emphasized staying out of the elements during summer heat.
– Don’t be afraid to try new techniques to achieve the effect you want
– Try to focus on characters whose costumes will allow you to use the skills you already have to make, instead of trying to acquire all-new skills for every new costume
– Use your imagination to make your pieces — everything doesn’t have to be top-of-the-line for it to look awesome
– For beginners, in the words of Beurer, “Don’t try to do Darth Vader.” Or in other words, start small and build up your skills (and finances) before you take the plunge on a bigger, more expensive costume
– Use YouTube tutorials to avoid making potentially costly mistakes
– Always test your costume out before wearing it to your big event
– For cosplayers that are wearing something particularly difficult to take on and off, be mindful of how much you drink or eat while wearing it to avoid…accidents…
– Don’t be afraid to ask other cosplayers questions
– Do not leave your costume, wig, or even helmet in extreme temperatures
– Take care with your capes to prevent them from getting torn, hung, and stepped on
– And last but not least, you can never take your costume too far … unless it can hurt other people. (i.e., no tazers or stun guns on your Spawn costumes, please)

I asked Doomkitty her recommendations for fuller-figured cosplayers who want a little more support for their bouncy bits. She had this to say:

“Get a really good bra—I get mine from Fredrick’s or Victoria’s Secret. For costuming, they work beautifully. When you make the actual costume, do reinforce everything. Oh, and tape never hurts.”

She went on to say that she would not recommend using carpet tape to hold fabric in place. She had scars from her last attempt at using it.

Check in tomorrow for a review of Day 2!

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