Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
We were invited to this con because of our Batman 66 cosplay that the con organizers saw us do at Fan Expo in April. They gave us five free two day passes. We knew we'd be doing Batman again because the reason they invited us was because they were going to have the 66 Batmobile and Commissioner Gordon's cars there. We knew we'd need one more cosplay for the other day, because we get too sweaty and do not want to repeat costumes in Texas in the summer ever. We checked the guest list and saw that Melody Anderson and Sam Jones were going to be there and that's when Seth suggested we do Flash Gordon. That is one of my all time favorite costume designs so of course I said yes even though I knew (because of my production schedule and our college trip to the UK that I'd only have four weeks to do five costumes. It would be difficult, but I was willing to take on the challenge, which you can read all about here in a previous blog.
Flash Gordon cosplay: Seth is Flash, I am Aura, Rob is Ming, Sarah is Dale, Sylvan is Dr. Zarkov. Photography and graphic design by Briumbra Photography.
Batman 66 cosplay: Sylvan is Riddler, Katryna (Sarah's friend) is Catwoman, I am Robin, Rob is Batman, Seth is Joker, Sarah is Penguin. Photography and graphic design by Briumbra Photography.
We wore our Flash costumes Saturday and got our photos taken first, then immediately went to get Melody and Sam's autograph. We paid extra for the photos with them. Melody in particular loved our costumes. The best part was that NO ONE ELSE dressed as anyone from the movie. Sam Jones got a big laugh out of Seth's wig. Later, while we were waiting in the line for Doug Jones, John Wesley Shipp (The Flash) walked up to us to tell us how awesome our costumes were. It was a Flash moment of awesomeness!
The Flash panel was at 1 that afternoon. I got to ask the first question which was, "What was it like working with the costume department?" Melody talked about there being a roomful of old Italian women hand sewing on thousands of bugle beads and how heavy all of her costumes were. Her wedding dress weighed 33 pounds! She talked about how her orange headdress (that she disguises herself in to get away from Ming's bedroom) was made out of leather and bugle beads and it was super heavy and kept falling forward onto her face so that while she's doing her fight scene if you keep your eye on the headdress it moves forward and backwards on her head everytime they cut to a different angle.
Sam talked about how Max Von Sydow would get fully dressed in costume and makeup just to do Sam's close up shots when Max would never be on camera. He told Sam that any considerate actor knows that it's your job to give your fellow actors everything you can so that they can give their best performance even (and especially if) you're not even on camera in that scene. It's advice Sam took to heart and continued to do throughout his film career.
Rob and I are huge Star Wars fans, so Rob's made it his mission in life to collect all of their autographs on one poster. We were really glad we finally got to meet Paul Blake who said definitively, "Han shot first!" He was a super nice man and I loved his green glasses.
Doug "hug" Jones
We have seen almost every movie Doug Jones has ever made plus all of his guest appearances on Face Off. He is such a talented actor. My husband compares him to Boris Karloff for being able to act so well under all of whatever appliances he's wearing. He gives super great hugs too!
Focus Comics Panel
From left to right: autistic intern Tabidi Elkhalil, celebrity advocate Tony Todd, Sylvan, creator and certified social and cultural anthropologist Yvonne Wan, and main artist Douglas Herbert.
I had seen an advertisement on facebook for this comic about an autistic superhero before we left for the Con. So I made sure we went by their booth with Sylvan to check it out. We made it there on Sunday and learned they were having a coloring contest so Sylvan entered. You had to color in one of the variant covers of the comic book and everyone who entered won a bookmark with art drawn by the comic creator, Yvonne Wan, featuring Tony Todd (their celebrity advocate, who also played Candyman). I told them that Sylvan was autistic and they wanted a photo with him. We bought him the first issue. They had 16 variant covers (which Office Depot sponsored getting them all printed). Sylvan picked his favorite which was drawn by Tabidi Elkhalil, one of their autistic interns. He's the man on the far left in the photo. Then they told us there would be a panel at noon where the prizes would be announced. I would have gone anyway, even without the lure of prizes for Sylvan.
We went to the panel and we listened to what they had to say and it made me cry. The main artist, Douglas Herbert, is a K-8 art teacher in Arizona who has had many autistic students over the years and who understands just how difficult it is for them in school and how much art helps them to realize their potential. Tony Todd is involved because he was taken away from an abusive mother at 3 years old and then helped raise his younger brother who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. The autistic intern who did the cover Sylvan chose, Tabidi Elkhalil, talked about how diversity should be celebrated and how important art is to him and how he hopes that this comic book would help other autistic kids to realize that they are not alone. Then they told us about the internship program being run by the main artist, Douglas Herbert. Each kid is paired with one older intern, both of them autistic and lessons are done through Skype. This year Malekith George (12) was paired with Tabidi Elkhalil (21). Now Tabidi has been promoted to regular artist.
From their website:
"Focus is an autistic super hero, founded and created by Yvonne Wan (A Social Cultural Anthropologist & Autism Documentary film maker). We have a large creative team who have previously done work with DC Comics, Marvel, Universal Studios and more.
Artist Douglas Hebert (Award winning artist, and Elementary school art teacher with experience in teaching some autistic kids) and Artist Yvonne Wan (Award winning artist) are leading the creative team and autistic internship program."
As it turned out, Sylvan won the coloring competition. He won a free night in a hotel in Cedar Park, a gift certificate to Office Depot, and a pad of Strathmore Comic Book paper, as well as a goody bag full of chips and soda. That's Douglas Herbert holding up Sylvan's cover that he colored. Afterwards, I asked Douglas about the internship and Sylvan can apply online for next year. Sylvan was really excited about that. He loved art all the way through elementary school, but Rapoport didn't have an art elective while he was there, so he was in band. I had given him one of those "adult" coloring books of cats for Christmas, so now he has a reason to get it back out and start coloring. Maybe when it's time to apply for the internship, he can email them some pages.
We saw some great cosplays this weekend. My favorite was the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy girls. Those characters were the reason that we did Batman 66 in the first place. Long story short, I saw them on Spongebob years ago when Sylvan was little and thought they were hilarious. Rob's favorite superhero is Batman and Adam West and Burt Ward were going to be at Fan Expo two years ago. We both wanted to meet them so I thought we could cosplay them, except that in the back of my mind my subconscious was telling me we were too old and too fat to be them. But then I thought of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy being old and in the nursing home together and still a team, and somehow that made it all OK. I think this may be a problem only women make for themselves. My husband certainly never thought he was too old or too fat to be Batman. So there you go, I am forever grateful to the Spongebob team for dreaming up Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy so I could allow myself to have all kinds of fun after 50.
We also saw another husband/wife Batman/Robin team up. They spotted us across the concourse and came running over so we took a bunch of photos together.
MOre Great Cosplays
Costume Contest gallery
When I was in conversation with Vo Nguyen, one of the organizers, I offered to provide a full ride scholarship to MCC for majoring in theatre. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out for this first year. When I made the offer I asked to be allowed to choose the winner of my scholarship so Vo said I could be one of the judges, which is why I didn't enter my family in the costume contest. Then we went off to the UK and none of that materialized. If I had known that I wasn't going to be a judge, I would have signed us up for the contest. Oh well. Maybe next year.
Here are the photos of the four winners as well as the other really great costumes (IMO), Two of them I'd judged before at Geekfest. Lauren Knowlton as Hawkgirl (Best of Show) and the man who does Captain Jack Sparrow. Their awards were trophies for Best Pop Culture (Cpt. Jack), Best Anime (Sailor Jupiter), Best Comic Book (Shredder). There were maybe 20 entries total. They had the judges on stage with the contestants, which blocked the audience's view of them. There was no pre-judging or any inquiry of the build process before or during the contest. The other three cosplays that I really liked but didn't win were Dark Pit from Kid Icarus, whose wings were articulated and were made entirely with real feathers. If there had been a video game category, she should have won it. The other was Silk Spectre from Watchman, which wasn't as complicated as Hawkgirl or Shredder, but still great. The African guy was not a character from Black Panther, but I didn't catch what the MC said it was. But it was also good.
My angle for photos was not good since I was seated right behind the judges who were all crowded over into the corner which was the side of the stage that the contestants entered from so they mostly stood there in front of the judges who were on raised stools. By the time they were done, they were walking away from me with their backs toward the camera.
I thought it was very successful especially for a first year con. The costume contest could use some work, but at least it started on time, which is a rarity. The HEB Center in Cedar Park is a lovely facility with plenty of spacious bathrooms for costume adjustments. The parking was $5 a day, but there was plenty of it. The food was very overpriced, so I recommend leaving for lunch. The air conditioning was cranked up and I was cold in my Aura costume but just fine in my Robin costume. My husband never broke a sweat and he sweats all the time. The only annoying thing was that you had to have both your ticket and your wristband to leave and get back in each day. We were afraid they weren't going to let us leave to go back to Waco Sunday afternoon because we couldn't find two of our five tickets by that point. They said it was a fire marshal thing so that they could keep track of how many people were in the building at all times. They finally did let us leave and weren't too terribly unreasonable about it, seeing as how it was 4pm and the con was ending at 5. We had to go through a metal detector every time as well as having our bags searched. Also, there were no backpacks allowed but this fact wasn't publicized by the con, so a lot of people were turned away to go put them back in their cars. One kid had been dropped off by his parents and had nowhere to leave his backpack, I have no idea how that worked out. All in all we were really pleased and had a great experience. We will definitely be going back next year!