BA Quest

Where College Students Meet Their Fate

A Day Behind the Table

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I have gone deeper down the rabbit-hole. This last weekend, I took another step in geek-dom. I have been a known fan of comics and cartoons, anime and manga, video games and role-playing games, ever since I first learned to mouth-breath. I’ve been to moist midnight releases for video games, I’ve maintained a pull-list for new comic books, and I attend a video game convention annually. My nerd pedigree is well documented, but there are still things even I haven’t endured.

This last weekend I attended Cos & Effect, an anime, cosplay, and fashion convention, as a vendor. I assisted my girlfriend, whose skills far outnumber mine, in selling her different plushies and charms. I would be behind the table, at an event that already made me quake just thinking about it. It wasn’t quite what I imagined.

We packed up our wares at 7am, and made our way to the University of British Columbia. The three of us, my girlfriend had a friend who was selling some Axis Powers Hetalia prints, ran into a crowd of characters. Their costumes ranged from slightly modified tee shirts to elaborate regalia. Attendees were somewhere between dashing and frightening, gruesome and inspiring. I had no time to observe. We moved upstairs.

Our place was in the ‘artist alley’. A room for amateurs to sell their goods. It was empty, a bunch of clothed tables in two long rows. A man was there to tell us which was hers. They set up their goods, set out little price tags. Just in time too, the doors opened to allow a rush of colorful customers.

A happy pair of artist

The table is prepared for the first wave

Fans lets out a squee, a high-pitched yelp, when they saw their favourite characters in art or designs. I watched as women in wigs rushed our table. It was difficult not to run, or at least cower. They were expressing their love, of a series, of a game, of a culture. This was what it was like to work a convention hall? Staring into the face of obsession.This was a place where they could speak, or squee, freely. What they adored was on open display. They were walking posters and ads, their clothing yelled out their interest. I saw costumes of characters from cartoons, games, movies, and comics. There were sub-cultures and styles. The gothic lolitas were out in force, as were steampunks, sailor fuku, pirates, and maids. This was their world.
Who is this character?

A satisfied customer

The artist in artist alley gave the everything they wanted to see. There was fan-art from anime, bags with game logos, pins with fan favorites, and comics from new artist. Our table included a wide variety, like scarves from internet memes and bookmarks with fan-art.When the initial flow slowed down, I was able to appreciate my situation. I was in the middle of a phenomenon. Some of these people were the socially awkward. I watched a man dressed as Sub-zero from Mortal Kombat as he murmured to himself for 10 minutes straight. Some customers avoided eye contact, left conversations unfinished, or spoke below a whisper. Here they were, in the middle of a thousand plus person event. Few of us there were fashion models, that did not frighten them here. Skirts rode high, and makeup peppered the air. There were high heels, speedos, garter belts, and ceremonial robes.Women came dressed as men, women came as fancy ladies, and men came as little boys. Many people were some part animal. Often, I had to wait for people to speak to know if they were women. Here though, more than anywhere else, the answer did not matter.
Prussia finds his bird

Prussia gets a bird

We sold out of most of our stock. There were request for her little yellow bird plushies until the very end of the convention. The room slowed down, and we packed up. I was exhausted. I knew though, that I was given the outsiders view to a wild world. Here it did not matter if you were Otaku or trekkie, a steampunk or a brony, you were just part of the crowd.

Written by MD Kid

08/18/2011 at 5:05 AM

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