Tamamo no Mae
September 6th, 2012
05:21 PM ET

Costuming at Dragon*Con: It's like a sauna in here

Decked out in full Tamamo no Mae regalia, I drove from my home back to downtown Atlanta, Georgia, where Dragon*Con was being held. And I was already uncomfortable.

Not because - as I overheard in many conversations over the four days of Dragon*Con - costumers are often stressed and working down to the wire, sometimes finishing their grand creations in their hotel rooms while the con is happening. I'll cop to being a procrastinator, and having my costume done just in the nick of time. And yes, that was stressful.

No, I was uncomfortable because I was sitting on the bottom half of my 60-inch straight black haired wig, which was pulling the other half (and my neck) back into a very difficult position for driving a car. That turned out to be a constant issue as I met friends and strangers throughout the night. It's hard to sit down with hair that long, and it quickly dawned on me why Heian era women were always depicted either standing or kneeling.

I also had to bunch up my entire costume just to get into the car. My mobility was absolutely compromised in this cocoon of brocade and satin. I worried one of the costume's fox tails might get torn off when I finally extracted myself from the driver's seat.

Once into the muggy, mid-seventies Atlanta evening air, I knew right away: it's going to get worse. FULL POST

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Filed under: Dragon*Con • Fandom • Otaku
September 3rd, 2012
04:41 PM ET

Costuming at Dragon*Con: Be brave

Sewing is not for the faint of heart, or any other body part.

There's an incredible potential in fabric. It's easy to dream up beautiful possibilities for a few yards of alluring fabric. But, as soon as you press the foot pedal on the sewing machine, an irrevocable commitment has been made. At that point you can easily ruin the fabric and all that potential. And you can injure yourself doing it.

In total, I  started with 22 yards of fabric and a pile of rabbit fur scraps that I was going to turn into the outfit of a Heian-era Japanese fox demon. And anything could go wrong.

In the frenzy of stitching together long swaths of the costume's robes, I could accidentally catch my finger in the path of the sewing machine's needle (something of an ultimate fear for every person I know who sews). Or the sewing needle could hit one of the hundreds of straight pins holding yards and yards of fabric together, break and fly off God-knows-where, poking someone's eye out. There was a good chance I could end up bleeding all over this costume.

Luckily, the worst thing to happen was  stepped on a pin. It hurt, and now I have a small, bruised battle scar near the arch of my left foot to remind me of Dragon*Con 2012 and Tamamo no Mae.

As I started working on my costume, I made no assumptions about my ability to actually create the version of the costume that exists in my head: A Heian era (the period of Japanese history that lasted from 794 – 1185AD) court lady with nine red-tipped fox tails emerging from the train of her robes.

Check out iReporters' Dragon*Con costumes

I know how to use a sewing machine and follow a pattern, but I am far from a seamstress. I know what historic Japanese fabrics look like, but I also know there are no modern recreations of those silks and linens available at the local Hancock Fabrics. I know that an accurate version of a Heian era outfit consists of 12 large robes, layered on top of each other, with an undergarment robe and pants, to boot; but I also know that Atlanta, Georgia, is not the best place to wear 12 robes in the summer.

There were bound to be people on the internet who've been in similar circumstances, I hoped. So I took to Google to find their stories and figure out how to maximize my comfort and the finished product. FULL POST

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Filed under: Dragon*Con • Dragon*Con
August 29th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Costuming at Dragon*Con: Why I’ll be a Japanese fox this year

If there's one thing any self-respecting Dragon*Con attendee does not want to do, it's "Halloween it."

Dragon*Con, the Southeast's largest fantasy and sci-fi fan convention, has long been a venue for impressive costuming. But as cosplayers, costumers and artists continue to develop sophisticated fabrication techniques, the bar for an awesome costume is set higher at Dragon*Con than at any other fan convention in the country.

Dragon*Con attendees don't just put on a costume: they sculpt gravity-defying wigs, they vacuum-mold armor, they airbrush their entire bodies.

The costumes of Dragon*Con send a complicated message of commiseration, appreciation and imagination.

Costuming, in the nerd community, can be a deeply soulful thing. The choice to display a persona, well-known or mystifyingly niche, at once communicates what media you consume, (video games? anime? comic books?), what attributes you value (are villains more interesting?), your artistic ability and aesthetic, as well as the fact that you are part of the tribe of fans that admire a particular franchise or idea.

In essence, costumes are a nerd calling card.

So those wearing only store-bought  fright wigs and fairy wings will likely not win over the crowds when more than 50,000 people descend on Atlanta, Georgia, this weekend to attend Dragon*Con

If you could bare your soul with a costume, what would you say? This year, I've chosen to broadcast my interest in Japanese mythology. FULL POST

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Filed under: Dragon*Con • Fandom • Otaku
After Aurora shooting, a nerd braces for impact
Signs for "Dark Knight" are removed in Paris, France. The movie's French premiere was cancelled in the wake of the attack.
July 20th, 2012
07:26 PM ET

After Aurora shooting, a nerd braces for impact

A man opened fire in a crowded theater during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, killing 12 people and wounding 59. Along with the alleged shooter’s family and the NRA, I expect nerds and other outcasts will get some unwanted attention today.

My stomach dropped when I heard news of the mass shooting for the same reasons everyone else's did.

But as a nerd and CNN's resident expert on geeky subcultures, I readied myself for pointed questions which I expected to get from outside the geek community: "Why 'Batman'?" "Is the shooter a nerd?" "Why is it always the loner?"

There's a precedent for labeling people considered nerds or geeks or outsiders as potentially dangerous individuals who might snap. After the Columbine shootings, Goths were given a wider berth than usual. Post school shootings, video gamers get to field a slew of weapons-related questions. Now my gut tells me comic book fans and movie geeks might face closer scrutiny even though there's no evidence the alleged shooter was either. FULL POST

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Filed under: Comic Longbox • Fandom
Comic-Con tuned in to TV
The final "Fringe" panel at Comic-Con was filled with laughter and tears.
July 16th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Comic-Con tuned in to TV

There were certainly some big movies being promoted at San Diego Comic-Con this year, but the glitz of the big screen seemed no match for the momentum of the small screen. Television has gained a huge foothold at the annual event.

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Big Bang Theory’ panels got star treatment in the main presentation area, Hall H. "Fringe" and "Doctor Who" also held panels on the biggest stage at Comic-Con.

Two of the most eye-catching "wrapped" buildings near the convention center this year featured ads for "Revolution," NBC's much-hyped fall offering, and the upcoming Syfy TV series/video game "Defiance."

Sunday's final panel for "Fringe," which enters its last season on Fox in the fall, was a memorable event: Producers of the series put together a montage to thank fans for their efforts in keeping the show on the air.

Cast members Anna Torv, Jasika Nicole and Lance Reddick struggled not to tear up as they recalled their most memorable scenes.

"The thing that holds 'Fringe' together is the power of love," star John Noble summed up. FULL POST

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