Saturday, October 17th. The early morning air crisp against my face and legs as I walked, a box of Super Heroines, Etc. precariously balanced beneath a large glass jar for tips. The glass doors of the Chalet were busy, sliding open and shut for travelers and patrons with bags slung over their shoulders or rolling behind them. Check out time. Each one who happened to look my way stopped and smiled or chuckled. One said, “Wow, very cool!”
I smiled and hefted the box up, the weight slowly sliding closer to the ground, and smiled beneath my stark white face decorated with red lips and cheeks and cell shaded detail. Mad Moxxi has always been my favorite character to portray and people seem to like her, sex appeal to the side.
Making my way through the hotel lobby and down the stairs to the lower conference level, there it was: Project: Comic Con! The floor hadn’t opened yet and artists, exhibitors, and sellers worked to finish setting up their tables, but there was a buzz. This would be the first year that Super Heroines, Etc. had partnered with Project: Comic Con, and everyone on both sides was really excited.
When I first discovered this year’s theme would be women in the comic industry, I knew that a partnership between SHE and PCC would be incredible, and Steve, organizer and one of the founders of the con, was an absolute delight to work with. Very supportive of us and our cause, he gave us the space to develop all new panels and events to facilitate over the weekend.
The first of said events was the panel Achievement Unlocked! Promoting and Profiting from Your Passion. This panel featured our very own president, Carolyn Noe, as well as Adron Buske (of Nerd For A Living), Rori! (a wonderful web comic creator), and Em Piro (runs the St. Louis Fringe Festival). The panel featured such a vast wealth of knowledge on how to create and run a business born from a geeky passion, that we are going to bring it back for one of our own upcoming events! (Stay tuned for more information).
As the day progressed, the floor began to fill with more people, including more cosplayers. Wasting no time, I grabbed a folder and a sheet of paper and began to approach everyone my legs could carry me to.
“Question!” I called out, and the subject of my attention would stop and turn. “Where are you going to be at one o’clock?”
Many didn’t know but were interested in where I was going, or at least humored me.
“Super Heroines, Etc. is having a Cosplayer’s Fashion Show, and I would love to have you in it!”
A Cosplay Fashion Show has always been an idea for a bigger event that we’d kicked around for some time, but this was the first time we kicked it into the goal of reality… terrible metaphor but you get the idea. Not only was this our first time with this event, things once again fell serendipitously into place. There was no immediate plan for a cosplay contest, which allowed us to show off cosplayers in a way that would allow them to be appreciated and not judged (making everyone a winner!)
When one o’clock rolled around, we had thirty cosplayers and a decently sized audience ready to enjoy the show with a little something, something extra we’d thrown: cosplay bingo- spot certain cosplay features, make a bingo, win a prize!
List in hand, I grabbed the mic and stepped forward. “Welcome, all of you beautiful people, to the Cosplayer’s Fashion Show!”
That event ended up being one of the most fun parts of the weekend. The costumes were amazing, the crowd enthusiastic, prizes were won, and Mad Moxxi walked away completely satisfied.
It wasn’t long after that the next, and very appropriate, panel was up: Cosplay Bombshells. A panel moderated by yours truly and filled with incredible talent, it covered taking one’s own cosplay to the next level as well as dealing with consent on the con floor. PippiStix Cosplay (an incredible cosplayer that won a national contest put on by the game company Gearbox), AJ Marion (a wonderful burlesque dancer), and Aaron Rabe Cosplay (the Capt. Jack Sparrow cosplayer who had been hired by Wizard World for his portrayal of the character) filled the panel with a wide array of perspectives and insight.
As soon as the panel drew to a close, the next event was queuing up in the next room. For this, we had partnered with the St. Louis County Library to screen the documentary Wonder Women, a piece that follows the history of Wonder Woman against the backdrop of the Women’s Liberation Movement. It’s a wonderful film which, following, we were incredibly fortunate enough to facilitate a talk back with Trina Robbins, comic creator of over 30 years and featured in the documentary, Susan Kirtley (of Portland State University), and Gene Kannenberg Jr. (of Northwestern University).
The evening shifted gears, and after a quick bite at a walkably nearby taco joint accompanied by PippiStix Cosplay and the lovely Marissa Roe (and, yes, all in costume), we made it back through the downright frigid night air into the dark, music-filled air of con’s after party, where we would be tending the ‘suggested donation’ bar with all proceeds to benefit SHE.
Around 11:30 pm, I was spent and had to call it a night, while the bar powered on. (I have to also take a moment to call out Marissa who, like the Super Heroine she is, managed a pushy and drunken individual who wanted to drive home into renting a hotel room instead).
Day two of Project: Comic Con. The lack of such exciting makeup and costume made for a much easier and quicker preparation on my part, and I was able to get a little sleep through the night.
Our table was ready by the time I arrived, and Marissa, Sarah, and I made our way to where our first panel for the day would take place. Kicking off with a classic, we brought back the Geek Feminism panel, and spoke with a small but incredibly engaged group about feminism in the geek community and why it mattered.
Following, we shifted into the room next door for our final panel on Creating Safer Spaces, an incredibly important discussion on how to make our spaces more comfortable, inviting, and safer for everyone. It was a panel that could have gone an hour longer than we had, and toward the end there were several really valuable questions from the audience (including what to do if you were to see someone who is harassing people at an event and won’t leave- the short answer being: if it is brought to their attention and they won’t stop, get organizers involved, and if they continue have them removed from the event).
Following our final panel, there was one additional that I participated in, which wrapped the event. After everything was said and done, with the help of PCC, we raised almost $800, gained new members, shared insight and information, and had a really incredible time! Organizing, being supported by some of the best people I’ve ever known, and just being involved in such an amazing event was so inspiring and energizing that I already have my hands in a few upcoming things.
About the author: Fox Smith is the Vice-President of Super Heroines, Etc. Illustrator, designer, actress, and gamer, she works from her home studio with her Shiba and two cats. In the coming months, she will be raising money for Children’s Hospital through Extra Life and participating in National Novel Writing Month. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (@fivetailedfox everywhere).