“What is… going on here?” asked Betabeat’s confused cab driver, as we bore left onto W. 37th street and the entire block began to fill up with people in costumes.
Since we had never been to ComicCon before, we found ourselves at a loss to explain to him the scene that was unfolding before us. Halal carts and hotdog stands swathed Lolita cosplayers and superheroes in heavy meat smoke. Girls in thigh-high boots stumbled out of an event hall decorated with Pokemon characters. Homestuck fans, cosplaying as trolls with orange horns protruding from their heads, scurried across 10th Avenue towards the Javits Center.
“It’s… a convention for people who like comics?” we offered by way of explanation. Our cab driver shook his head with a mixture of bemusement and disgust.
“Enjoy?” he called after us, as we stumbled out of the cab and into the street, immediately sucked into the hoards of costumed convention goers.
This was Betabeat’s first time attending New York ComicCon. Though we admittedly own both Wonder Woman and Sailor Moon costumes, we had spent the better part of a week fretting over what to wear. We were going to don those Necomimi brainwave-reading cat ears, but a fellow Betabeat reporter who has attended ComicCon before gave us a stern warning: “If you wear cat ears to ComicCon you’ll get creeped on by the dudes who are into lolita anime girls & they’re the WORST.”
We eventually decided to just wear our normal clothes, much to the chagrin of our boyfriend, who failed to keep himself from drooling the entire time we meandered through the convention center.
Upon entry into ComicCon, we could not stop saying “OMGOMGOMG” under our breath. 90 percent of attendees–old, young, big, small, “nerdy” and not–were dressed in costume. We immediately wished for our cat ears, if only to help us blend in. “Do you feel like you’ve found your people?” we asked our boyfriend, whose history with video games and old Macintosh computers and science fiction extends far beyond our own. “Kind of, yeah,” he said, a smile creeping onto his face.
Mostly, Betabeat just felt overwhelmed, worried that we might trip and be trampled by people in Ghostbusters costumes. Like ComicCon vets had warned us, the whole event was pretty commercialized. We stumbled past some video game booths and a book publisher selling copies of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Sauntering by the Hi-Chew table, we sated our budding hunger with free sour apple candies as the droves of costumed kids descended on the table like vultures picking at a rotting carcass.
A gangly college-aged kid with a machine gun laugh attempted to engage us in conversation about a Stormtrooper’s costume. “He has the VOICEBOX!” he exclaimed, accidentally elbowing us really hard in the boob. Paralyzed by the awkward interaction, we just laughed and popped another Hi-Chew.
We stopped by a booth selling My Little Pony t-shirts to take a picture, then headed over to The Oatmeal’s booth, where Matthew Inman was dutifully signing copies of his new book, How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You. Since we’re admittedly pretty clueless about comics, he was the most “famous” person we could pick out of the crowd.
“I like your costume,” an adorable little kid dressed as one of the doctors from Doctor Who said to an old steampunk with stringy hair walking behind us. “Thanks! Take a picture with me and I’ll put it on my blog,” the dude said, as the kid’s father hesitantly raised the camera handed to him.
A ComicCon noob, Betabeat didn’t realize until we got there just how integral photo-taking is to the whole experience. Everywhere we turned people were approaching others and asking them to take pictures of their awesome costumes.
“I kind of get it,” we said to our boyfriend as we picked our way through a family dressed as the Ghostbusters. ComicCon is kind of like going to a gigantic family reunion, where every family member shares similar interests and enjoys dressing up in wacky outfits.
People at home or at school or at work might not get you, but at ComicCon you can be yourself–even if “yourself” is this guy.