No to Cosplayers!
Cosplayers are ruining Comic Cons
You may have seen a variation on this headline over the past few days, after Pat Broderick posted on his facebook page a rant against Cosplayers.
The 61 year old comic book illustrator, best known for Marvel's Micronauts in 1979-84, now works as an instructor at The Art Institute of Tampa. When doing shows, namely Comic Cons, he is put out by the large number of attendees and guest that aren't there for comics. Comic Cons have grown to include many forms of entertainment media as comics themselves have gotten shoved to the back.
Pick up a copy of Diamond Distribution's monthly Previews magazine, and there are scores of Comic Publishers, but where are they at the conventions? Hidden behind Sony, Disney, Microsoft, Hasbro, and Blizzard. Yeah they're still at the conventions, but you have to get past the big companies, that have nothing to do with Comics, to see them.
I understand the frustrations of Broderick and Dave Dorman's wife Denise, in attending these events and getting little to nothing out of it. If you're going to call your event a Comic-Con or Comic Festival then lead and promote comics, otherwise call it a Cosplay Cavalcade, or Mega Movie Meet-Up, but Comics and Graphic Novels are a different entity, with a different audience.
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At the same time I understand those that reacted to what Broderick said. This is the ever changing industry that is the multi-media. Comic Books are now on TV, in cartoon and prime-time live-action. They're the biggest thing in movie theatres and most Comic Stores carry RPGs, Board Games, DVDs, Manga, Anime or other interconnected medium, and they and the Comic Books inspire the Cosplayers. Do you think Todd McFarlane or Stan Lee are getting ticked every time some kid shows up at their booths in a self-made Spawn/Spider-Man costume? No way! Todd and Stan are congratulating the hard work and shaking his/her hand.
I agree that cosplayers, or anyone, blocking the aisle of a small vendor/merchant is a pain in the ass, and more needs to be done to educate people in the ways of courteously moving about in a crowd, or convention space period. Education is what we need, not chatter about Cosplayers being jerks and ruining the show for everyone else. They are loyal fans, they want to meet and impress the people that created the fandoms that they follow, and each other. They are attention seekers just like the guy signing autographs at a Comic Con.
Cosplayers aren't ruining the show, they have shifted the focus and become the show, how do you win them over, provide the things they want. How do you find out what they want, try talking to them. In a world of Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook these "kids" want to engage, routinely on their phones, and sometimes with anyone that will listen. So telling the very people coming to the shows you attend that... "If you're a Cosplay personality, please don't send me a friend request." is the exact opposite of what you need to do. Advance your skills and connect with them.
So to any convention personality that thinks their sales are lacking due to some other element that is gaining ground, don't ask that huge element to go away. Get to know it and what it wants from you. Don't lash out and attack it, it will return the favor a hundred fold.