For Torontonians, the biggest conventions of the year are Fan Expo and Anime North. As the years go by and, as nerd culture increasingly grows in the mainstream market, these conventions get bigger and more packed each year. The extravagance can be seen in a variety of aspects of the conventions: the cosplayers are more beautiful, the photographers are more professional, and – instead of con deals- you get expensive con exclusive products.
I digress; this article isn’t about the large conventions. It’s about Toronto’s local smaller conventions like Toronto’s March and December Comicon.
This year, as has become a yearly tradition, I attended March comicon as an unprofessional cosplayer with a focus on what would typically be known as “Children’s media”. Over the past few years, I’ve largely done Power Ranger cosplays and now I’m moving onto a focus with Disney.
Now, let’s mix these two topics together: The changing of the cons in the view of a children’s media cosplayer.
The “biggest” thing that smaller cons have going for them is that they are friendlier. Alongside this, as my generation grows older and begins to do what would typically be considered “normal life things”, they bring with them a new generation to these conventions.
You’ll notice it more at the smaller conventions because of the friendlier/ family oriented atmosphere (coupled with the convention hall generally being less crowded). In general, the biggest cosplays of this year’s convention were (not surprisingly): Rey and Kylo Ren. Most of the Rey’s I saw, however, were probably under the age of 10.
There’s something about having little potential Jedi run up to you excited to see a Disney Princess.
This new generation of “nerd” is going to completely change the way the culture is. Already, the idea of a nerd is no longer adult male oriented, and this new generation will push that idea even further away.
I have been actively a children’s media cosplayer for close to 3 years---- which is actually not that long, but it is long enough to see a change. The reactions from the children are the same: a mixure of confusions and excitement. Some children are very open while others are timid and frightened. This has remained the same.
When I first started, the only children I would see would be on the way to the convention center. In other words, during the brief walk from the subway to the convention hall. On some occasions, the con would correlate with a Disney on Ice show. As a result, the interactions that occurred outside were notable. This was less the case inside. During the time I was a “current gen” power ranger cosplayer, the only people who would react to my cosplay would be children and the hardcore Ranger fans (Anything beyond “Mighty Morphing” is a very niche fandom ).
This year I was Princess Jasmine and, funnily enough, it was also a year where Disney had its 100 year Disney on Ice show next door. The little princesses I saw running around inside the convention center could be attributed to this. Perhaps the parents thought might as well as they left the show next door. I was not expecting the splurge of little Reys, Captain Americas, or the other adultlings running around the convention hall.
This change in nerd culture will also bring a change in the cosplay community. Not only do we have a new generation of cosplayers, but we also have a new audience.
One of my favourite encounters comicon weekend was with a little boy who was ecstatic about seeing princess Jasmine. He could not have been older than 5. He ran up to me and his parents took his picture. Afterwards he asked for a hug and started blowing kisses at me before he left.