This article by Scott Gargan for the Connecticutt Post online http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Comic-book-convention-culture-growing-by-leaps-5674658.php is interesting because it shows the attitudes of reporters to comic cons but, above all, it proves what I have been saying for years: Comic conventions are no longer about comic fans meeting up to talk about comics, look for those back issues and do what they used to do.
Now it has become more of a social get-together and having spoken to cos-players in the past I learnt a good few do not read comics but are inspired by movies, TV or seeing other cos-players and some use it for trying to find a date! There are cos-players who are comic collectors of course.
There does need to be an event that is solely comic orientated for creators and fans. No "we can't do this without all the big promo merchandise or cos-players" and all the other excuses. By 2013 it was rare to actually bump into a comic fan/collector at these events in the UK.
Anyway, over to Scott.
Comic book convention culture growing by leaps and bounds
But on certain weekends, the 30-year-old Stamford resident transforms into Wonder Woman, Robin (Batman's sidekick) or even a Storm Trooper.
Gatti is a "cosplayer," a fan who goes to comic book conventions posing as their favorite characters from movies, TV shows, video games and comic books.
"Going to cons, I meet so many like-minded people, and I get to show off my work," she said. "We have so much fun together."
Cosplaying is one of the most visible manifestations of the burgeoning comic book convention culture. Fueled by the Internet's community-building power, as well as Hollywood's popularization of comic book tales and characters, "cons," as they are referred to by attendees, have grown in scope and attendance, even as the most famous of them, Comic-Con International: San Diego, remains the ultimate geek mecca.
In Connecticut, ComiCONN, an event founded by Trumbull resident Mitch Hallock, has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2010. What started as a small, single-day convention at the Holiday Inn in North Haven has ballooned into a three-day extravaganza at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena. (It takes place Friday through Sunday, Aug. 15-17.) Thousands of people from across New England and New York are expected to attend.
"The evolution was not something that was desired -- it was a necessity," said Hallock, who initially intended ComiCONN to be an intimate affair. "It had to grow, it had to spread its wings. That's the nature of the beast."
That beast is feeding off the passion of fans like Gatti. Her obsession with cons took root around 2009 after she decided to dress up as Mara Jade (Luke Skywalker's wife in the "Star Wars" book series) for Halloween. Searching online for inspiration for the costume, she came across the 501st Legion, a worldwide fan group dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas of "Star Wars" characters. It was as a newly minted member of the organization that she attended her first con.
"I had never been to a con before," said Gatti, who makes all of her costumes by hand. "My first one was in Massachusetts. People were wearing a bunch of different costumes there. I said, `I want to do that.' "
At her next con, Gatti dressed up as Wonder Woman. Then she became a Storm Trooper. Before she knew it, Gatti had an entire arsenal of alter-egos at her disposal.
Donning her Robin costume at Wizard World Philadelphia four years ago, she wowed Burt Ward, the actor that played the character on the original "Batman" TV series.
"He told me, `It looks better on you than it did on me,' " Gatti said, laughing.
Other fans experience cons as civilians. Stratford resident Rob Pivarnik said he "can't compete" with cosplayers, who have "spent a lot of time and money on their costumes." His focus is on meeting his favorite writers and illustrators and browsing the comic books and collectibles for sale.
"I get to gush and be a fan boy," Pivarnik said of the chance to rub elbows with famed writer/illustrator George Perez, who is scheduled to be at ComiCONN this year.
Asked what draws people to convention culture, Pivarnik said, "Pure escapism."
"The world is so harried and stressful," he said. "Everybody is forced to grow up so quickly. This is a chance to step back from that, put on a cape and run around and play superhero."
Hallock said that there are a lot of superheroes running around nowadays. That wasn't always the case. For many years, comic book fans were ostracized -- "forced underground," as he put it -- by mainstream culture. However, with the advent of the Internet, fans are mobilizing. What's more, Hollywood is producing superhero films faster than viewers can watch them. Suddenly, it's cool to like comic books.
Scott.firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @scottgarg