DragonCon 2018 - Post-con Reflections
I didn’t talk a lot about DragonCon this year. I mean, I did but I didn’t. It was a weird time. I’m going through a lot of transitions, both purging and growing my networks, learning who I can and cannot trust, allowing myself to be open to new people and new experiences…it’s a lot. Plus, I’ve had some job transitions I’m trying to manage, as well as growing my portfolio. And because of all this, DragonCon has become a different type of convention for me.
In the past, it was all hang out, cosplay, and hang out some more. Now, it’s where can I participate in and create spaces that prioritize Black women and Blackness. I want to continue seeing people like me represented and celebrated at conventions, cuz goodness knows we been out here, pushed to the back or erased from the narrative these communities want to represent. Dudebro geeks want to find the “hot geek girl” who doesn’t know she’s hot and has tragically low self-worth then change her into his spankbank fantasy for all to see and congratulate him on having. They want women without the humanity attached – fantasies that they control. And that control is insidious. It appears in ways you never imagined and can change friendships into war and conventions into battlegrounds. It’s a reality that we see play out in movements like Cosplay is Not Consent, Cosplay AnyWay, and Black Cosplayer Here, and Body Positive Cosplay. Taking up space when your physicality is not considered normal is an actual battle against yourself and everything the world is telling you.
All that is to say that my goals at DragonCon have changed quite a bit. It’s still my favorite convention. I mean, it’s like 10 conventions rolled into one very long weekend, with some of everything for every one. This was the second year I was on a panel. Last year, I was on a panel about good and evil in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. It was a fantastic topic with a great audience, except the room was hot as hell. I mean, like ridiculously hot. But despite that, it went extremely well. This year I was on a panel titled Diversity in Cosplay, moderated by local comic book owner, Tony Cade with two other diverse cosplayers. That was on Friday. Saturday, I had an interview with New York Times reporter, Jamal Jordan on building my Proxima Midnight cosplay. It was during that process that I realized I fucked up my knee and was having trouble walking and maintaining my balance. I was able to rest and ice my leg enough to do the final shoot with him, but I had to skip the big Marvel shoot, which I’m still disappointed about because there was an amazing Thanos there with whom I wanted to get some photos.
My second panel, the one I was most excited about because it contained original content developed by Kecia Stovall and myself, was on Sunday and titled “Politics and Patriotism in Comics.” For the unaware, DragonCon hosts The Comic and Popular Arts Conference (CPAC), an academic conference, during the convention. It didn’t really hit that this was a real academic conference until I was on stage, but it worked out. I like presenting. We did a 15-minute presentation titled “Codeswitching: Loki as a Survivor of Imperialist Regime” and it rocked. Like, I know it shifted some people’s thinking, although I wish we had time for more discussion after because there were some points I wanted to hit after people had time to think about it. I am extremely proud of that achievement and I hope to do more work like this in the future. Footage of the panel is available on my Patreon for $10 subscribers, if you’re interested in viewing it.
To be completely honest, while the panel was one of three very specific things I wanted to accomplish at DragonCon, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I wasn’t sure about that NYT photo shoot either. I literally sat in bed late Saturday afternoon with ice on my leg until the swelling went down enough for me to hobble outside and take pictures. Between my leg issues and Kecia’s migraine that had her vomiting at midnight, that panel didn’t look like a possibility. But we were too stubborn not to go and it was worth it. I even limped over to the tail end of the Black Geeks of DragonCon photo shoot where I interviewed six curvy cosplayers for my YouTube channel. And while I was not happy about it, I made my way back to the hotel, packed my shit and went home a full day early. Fuck it. Life happens.
While this year’s DragonCon had extreme highs and extreme lows, overall it was a pretty solid weekend. It’s definitely a clear manifestation of many life changes I’ve made. We’ll see if I keep moving in the direction I want or if my plans will rearrange themselves around my life. Who knows what the future brings? Well, death, but there’s a lot of things that can happen before that.
Wins: Diversity panel, CPAC panel, wore ALL my cosplays, Like the new Proxima Midnight wig more than the last one, LOVE my Storm afro mohawk, got some interviews.
Losses: Missed big Marvel photo shoot. Hurt my leg. Didn’t make it through the dealer room.