Each convention starts early in the morning, but preparation begins even before then. Vendors take their place in their stalls, fussing with their wares. Fans and attendees rise from their slumber and descend to breakfast, ready and eager for a day of shopping, panels and activities. Cosplayers get to work. Body paint is painstakingly applied, and armor assembled with diligence. Next comes makeup and hair, to fully bring their chosen characters to life. Like dragons seeking treasure, everyone makes their way to the con floor.
Last month, I had the honor of experiencing Gen Con 50 as my very first Gen Con, and only my second con ever. Prior to this, my cosplay had always been limited to admiration among my coworkers for going all out every Halloween, with the exception of that first tiny convention. I truly had no idea what to expect. Nevertheless, I packed the cosplay outfits, emergency repair supplies, and giddily made my way to Indianapolis.
Simply put, Gencon was stunning. I never expected the scope of the place. Everywhere I looked, there was something new to discover. I originally hadn’t planned a cosplay for the first day, but that idea was quickly abandoned. I felt odd walking around in regular clothes, but once I changed and pulled out my Dr. Mrs. The Monarch cosplay from Venture Bros, the feeling quickly turned to comfort.
I loved the reactions people had to my cosplay. So many people’s eyes would light up as they recognized me. Almost constantly, someone in the crowd would be yelling iterations of my character’s name, and I lost count of the number of times someone would come up and begin geeking out with me about the show. There’s really something special about a character coming to life right in front of you, and that’s always what I strive for in my cosplay. It’s truly the community and love for the characters that makes the cosplay special.
Jeremy Hanke, of Goth Viking Photography, had originally pulled me aside for a short interview about what I loved about Gencon. I explained to him my love for the community and how important it is, a view that we discovered we shared. (This mutual love for Gen Con and its community would later lead to him offering to do a photoshoot.) I also learned that the host, Rocky Doll, had a similar love for Gen Con’s community, and that the best part of it all is letting your geek flag fly free. You never feel alone at Gen Con, ever. (And, as the game areas stay open all night, you could conceivably stay around your gaming “soul siblings” for 96 hours straight, if you were of the mind to!)
Later that night Jeremy reached out to me over Facebook about doing this shoot for DarkestGoth Magazine, since there is so much love for cosplay in this community. I was thrilled, and readily agreed. I’d never done a professional photoshoot like this before. I’d seen examples online and longingly thought, maybe one day. I never expected that day to come so quickly!
We met Saturday morning, spending a good four hours shooting. I had such a blast! I was really nervous at first. I was expecting a lot more positioning and instructions about what to do, but Jeremy made it very relaxed and easy.
We took our time exploring the Exhibition Hall. Due to me being so lost, Jeremy started things off by making a few suggestions. Those went well, and it wasn’t long before I was finding my own poses and backdrops. Soon it was more like magic, each of us finding inspiration and building off of each other for ideas. I think my absolute favorite was the floor Catan game, I had so much fun with that.
Oftentimes people would stop me and ask for my picture while we were searching for out next thing to photograph. At first, I was unsure, as I didn’t want to take any time away from Jeremy. His reaction was absolutely wonderful and really led back to the philosophy of community all over again. Jeremy readily invited others to take pictures of me, and would get a shot of them taking the picture. He’s right, it really is that sort of interaction that makes the con and the cosplay fun, and I’m so glad he was able to capture that angle as well.
Finally, we moved to another building for the Massive Cosplay Photo Shoot (hosted by Bsquared Cosplay) in Union Station. It was so much fun seeing so many cosplayers come together in one place. Everyone puts so much work into their outfits, it’s really amazing to see it all coalesce like that. I had a few moments of that special feeling of seeing a character I love come to life myself, there. The building was absolutely gorgeous, and Jeremy and I got some amazing shots!
Eventually, Jeremy and I parted ways. Him to get more photos throughout the Cosplay shoot, and I to decompress and soak my feet! I left feeling completely worn out, but elated and enhanced for a new experience. Level up!
Check out this visual walk through of just some of the fun we had at Gen Con!
All in all, my first Gencon went amazing. It was a blast, and I definitely got the cosplay bug. I’ll for sure be at Gencon next year and I can’t wait to add more cons into my life. I’m already planning my next cosplay, and I can’t wait for you to see it!
To learn more about Gen Con and be ready to get your tickets for next year (as they completely sold out this year), go to Gen Con’s official web page.
If you’d like to see more of my cosplay, go to Amaranth Cosplay on Facebook and Instagram. To see more of Goth Viking Photography, check out their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Finally, to learn more about Bsquared Cosplay and upcoming events they’re hosting, follow their Facebook page!