Monday, August 4, 2008
Flying the Freak Flag
All of my grown-up friends poked fun at me, saying I must be trying for the Gold Medal in the Mom Olympics, but I have to admit it. I had fun at the ComicCon in Hartford. My four kids and I, plus some of their friends, spent Sunday at the new convention center for the last day of the Con.
For those of us who remember when disco was dead, the notion of a convention devoted to comics brings up memories of superheros on faded newsprint. But the ComicCon is mainly about the explosion of Japanese pop culture among our youth (think video games and cartoons and graphic novels/manga) It's sort of a cross between Halloween and a few thousand people all sharing the same inside jokes. If you were so inclined, you could have spent the whole weekend wandering from workshops on how to build your own plush-toy weapons, to lectures on "Androgyny in Japan", to giant exhibition halls filled with people playing board games, card games, and pushing legions of toy soldiers across the table.
My personal favorite was "CosPlay Chess" (short for Costume Play)which reminded me of going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Greenwich Village back in the 1980's. While a pair of chess players sat on the stage, two teams of "pieces" made up of costumed characters acted out the moves, assisted by an MC that seemed to be channeling Alice Cooper.
In this photo, he is asking the audience to vote which piece should die, the Captain from the Bleach series (on the left) or Yugi-Oh. The audience decreed that Yugi-Oh must die. The only cultural reference that came easily for me in this tableau is the presence of Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd. At first I thought that Broadway must be making a comeback, but then I remembered the recent Johnny Depp film.
The real show takes place in the lobby of the convention hall, where people pose for photos in their home-made costumes.
The costumes ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime.
I'd definitely go back next year.