Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dragon*Con Survival Guide, 2011

These are the basics of making it through the con intact. For a more Dragon*Con-specific guide, see this Tumblr post from a seasoned veteran. Oh yeah, and there’s an app for that.

The con experience is a wonderful thing, full of grand adventure and glorious comraderie. However, like any adventure worth having, something somehow somewhere is going to go wrong at some point, and we stalwart explorers of geekdom must be prepared. To that end, the all-important Place to put your Shit should  be packed with carefully chosen supplies for every eventuality. Ultimately, your con survival kit should look an awful lot like your apocalypse survival kit. Don't make that face, you know you have one. For all intents and purposes, the convention floor is a wasteland, and you should prepare for your con weekend as you would a trek across the sands of Arakis.

 First Aid
Though it's highly unlikely that you'll get stabbed in the eye with a pencil, minor cuts, scrapes, and blisters are a real risk when you're tottering around in your costume, surrounded by thousands of people. There are paramedics and first aid stations scattered around, but it's a good idea to carry a few basic first aid supplies for quick fixes.

-Band-aids. Duh. Con-induced injury can come in many shapes and sizes, however, so bring a few different types with one or two of each.
-Cleansing wipes. Because sometimes things get gross.
-Hand sanitizer. See above.
-Antiseptic cream. For the especially nasty cuts.
-Nail clippers and small nail file. Partly for vanity, yes, but also to deal with broken or jagged nails, which hurt like all hell and can do some harm if not taken care of. Nail clippers are also useful for trimming stray bits of thread or opening tricky packages.
-Aspirin and/or Ibuprofen. You can get both of these in travel-size bottles or in individual packets. I'm prone to migraines, so I tend to carry knock-it-on-its-ass aspirin, anyway. If you have to choose one or the other, though, go for the Ibuprofen, as that will also help you with muscle pain.
-Tampons/panty liners. Seriously. You just never know.

Most pharmacy departments carry small, portable first aid kits, which I would definitely recommend picking up. The whole kit is a little overkill for con, though, so pick out the things you need and find a safe, secure place to keep it in your bag.

Food and Water
Any con survival guide worth reading will tell you to carry snacks and stay hydrated. Some small cons have  food suites, and it's worth paying a little extra overhead on your badge price for access to quick, easy food and water. At the big cons, though, you're out of luck. There are usually food and drink kiosks scattered around, but you don't want to learn the hard way what eating from a cart for three days will do to your wallet and your stomach. Here are a few suggestions for keeping yourself fed and watered.

-Bottle of water. I cannot stress enough how important this is. And, to all you soda drinkers out there, I have  some bad news: Your precious sugary beverages will not hydrate you. In fact, drinking lots of soda throughout the day is worse than drinking nothing at all. You'll also find yourself needing frequent trips to the bathroom, which cuts into your fun time and makes those long panels super uncomfortable. If you're driving, I reccommend picking up a BPA-free water bottle and filling it from water fountains throughout the weekend. If you're flying, pick up some bottled water at a convenience/grocery store and do the same.
-Trail mix, granola, or nuts. You want snacks that are tasty, filling, and easy to pack, and all of these fit the bill. Nuts have lots of protein, which will help keep you nourished and fill you up. If you're getting/making trail mix or granola, try something with dried or fresh fruit, since the sugar will give you an extra boost.
-Fresh fruit. A little more substantial than snack mixes, with a different set of vitamins, and generally easy to pack. If you want things that need to peeled, like oranges or bananas, you might want to do that in advance, just so you're not stuck holding the remains and looking for a trash can. If you've got juicy fruits, like peaches or pears, keep a napkin handy.
-Candy/cookies. Yes, we all need our processed sugar fix. Avoid things with wrappers, though, (see above) and go for candy pieces you can stick in a ziplock, like M&Ms, Skittles, etc. For cookies, stick a few in a ziplock rather than lug the whole package around.
-Sandwiches and such. If you're driving, go ahead and pack some sandwich fixings and utensils, or anything else to make a quick, portable meal. If you're flying, unfortunately, this isn't really an option.

These are mostly tips to keep yourself fed during the actual con events. For dinner, once all the hoopla has died down for the night, ask around for local restaurants, especially if you're in new city and your bank account can handle it. It's an adventure, remember. Try something new!

Sewing Supplies and Sundries
Like I said, something, at some point, is going to go wrong, and when it does, it's likely to be with your costume. Still, you don't want to be carrying your entire sewing kit around all weekend. You want to have a few small, essential tools on hand to deal with the inevitable rips, gaps, and general falling apart of things.

-Safety pins, the cosplayer's best friend.
-Thread to match your costume. You can use a bobbin spool or just wind a length of thread around a piece of cardboard. Either way, you want to carry some thread with you for quick fixes.
-A needle. Just the one. and you'll want to stick it through a piece of card stock or paper so you don't just have a sharp object floating around in your bag.
-Small scissors. You can find these in many travel-sized sewing kits, or you could just grab some kiddie scissors.
-Seam ripper. Because sometimes you need to get out of things in a hurry.
-Bobby pins. For hair emergencies, obviously, but they can be handy for securing wayward costume pieces, as well. Again, you may want to slide them onto some cardstock to avoid fishing around, and bring different sizes, if you have them.

Because you really just never know.

-Ink pen and sharpie. In case you run into that guy from that show and need something signed STAT.
-Business cards and/or small notebook. If you're doing it right, you'll meet tons of awesome people and hear lots of awesome things. You'll want to exchange information and take notes. The ink pen will also help with this.
-Comb/brush and compact mirror. For emergencies.
-Stain remover pen. These things are a life saver and can rescue your costume from food-smeared doom.
-Lighter. Okay, I'm a smoker, so I have, like, two or three on hand at all times, but lighters are good for a lot more than giving you cancer. You can use them it to seal the ends of frayed ribbon or string, sterilize a needle for pulling out splinters, or get a gummed pen working again. And, y'know, fire is cool.
-Camera. As much as it pains me to be leaving my lovely DSR at home, you don’t want to be lugging a giant camera around. Go for something small with lots of memory, decent megapixels, and a wrist strap.

This is what my basic survival kit looks like, and, remarkably, most of the items pictured fit neatly into that tiny zippered bag.

It's always a good idea to bring whatever other Just In Case items you might think of, but bring the things that, if you need them, you're going to REALLY need them. Extra pair of underwear for unforseen... circumstances? Definitely. Those super sexy boots that you might want if you decide to go out? Not so much.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, remember to share. If you're lucky enough to be going with a group and sticking together, consolidate your survival kits. Even if you're not with a group, if the person behind you in line has a sudden wardrobe malfunction, offer them a safety pin. If the person selling you comics gets a papercut from your purchase, give them a bandaid. If somebody's kid is crying because they're tired and hungry, don't grumble about annoying children, share your damn candy. This shit is cheap, y'all. There's no
reason to be stingy. As the wise man said: Don't be a dick.

You can follow the official Dragon*Con Twitter @daily_dragon and Facebook page for info and updates. For less informative but possibly more entertaining Twittering, follow me @joxwest, and, if you see Sabine or I, feel free to come up and tell us how great we look. Yes, I’m giving you permission to stalk us.

To the con, fellow cosplayers! It’s time for adventuring.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Cosplay Linkspam, 29 August 2011

Just a quick one this week.

Check out this amazing sugar skull make-up job from the FuckYeahDragonCon Tumblr, which we love.

While not directly related to costuming, this weeks' Sunday Sweets on Cake Wrecks is a celebration of all things geeky as Jen and John gear up for the con. See their Ode to Dragon*Con here.

No linkspam next week, as I'll be rather preoccupied all weekend, but we'll have a Dragon*Con survival guide for you on Wednesday, plus a con round-up on our return.

Hold tight, fellow cosplayers. It's gonna be a wild week.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cosplay Linkspam, 22 August 2011

This week’s linkspam is heavy on the weird and the sexy, with possibly a little more weight on the weird end.

First, we have two examples of Not Cosplay. First, some dude wearing a Ninja Turtle mask robbed a Wendy’s in Wisconsin. No word on whether he escaped via skateboard. Then, in Oklahoma City, Spiderman hit up a convenience store. Seriously, guys? Whatever happened to plastic US President masks? That's some classic criminal activity, right there.

Of course, the super hero weirdness reaches new heights in this now viral video a rather dumpy Spiderman terrorizing Warsaw with silly string. Y’all, I don’t even know, but I salute his dedication.

As a... we’ll say palate cleanser, check out this super cool TARDIS corset, made by Chandra Free (aka spookychan, who you should love and adore).

And, finally, some sexy Stormtroopers. Because why the hell not?

Just 10 days til Dragon*Con, fellow cosplayers, and my bags are already packed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cosplay Linkspam, 15 August 2011

Fellow cosplayers, I saw exactly ZERO cosplay news items this week. I guess everyone's still nursing their SDCC hangovers. the bastards *grumble*

Now excuse me while I go kick Sabine to make sure she's actually writing her post this week.


PS: Only 17 days til I'm at Dragon*Con!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cosplay Fail: The Purse that Never Was

Most costuming blogs are all about showing you the shiny pictures, focusing on the successful cosplay that makes you gaze at your sad little sewing kit in despair. Here at Frenemy Cosplay, we believe that our failures can be someone else's learning experience. To that end, friends, here is the story of the time I tried to make a purse.

In the interest of limited funds, I decided that I would make my own place to put my shit for the con, rather than hunting around trying to find something that would match anything that Dr. Girlfriend has ever worn ever. In the interest of limited space, I decided that I needed one item for both costumes and that it needed to be more or less collapsible. So I had this great idea. I was going to make a reversible purse - Dr. Girlfriend pink on one side, Lady Au Pair purple on the other - and use stiff facing to make it keep its shape.

Did I have a plan? Yes. Did I know what I was doing? Hell no. Did it work? Well... it turned out looking like this:

I think I'll just let that image speak for itself.

However, the very same day that I created this abomination, I went to the thrift store in search of an unrelated costume piece and found this:

Vintage black vinyl handbag for one stinking dollar. That, fellow cosplayers, is what we call a SCORE.

The moral of the story, I think, is that sometimes you have to try and fail before you can find the right way to do something. An alternative moral might be that you shouldn't be taking costuming advice from me, since I can't put together a fucking purse.

Either way, it's a good story.

Happy sewing, fellow cosplayers, and remember your thrift stores!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cosplay Linkspam, 9 August 2011

So I’m a day late. (And a dollar short, but that’s another story.) Here’s your cosplay linkspam of the week!

Ok, last one from SDCC, I swear! The Venture Bros. Blog (via Adult Swim) has a video from the Venture Bros. costume contest. Once again, this is most notable because it contains Sabine being epic. Watch the video here.

In fannish news of a different sort, fans of I Love Lucy celebrated what would have been the fabulous Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday by having the largest gathering of Lucy look-alikes in history. Not many pictures, but you can read about it here.

io9 has some good ones, this week. First, we have Japanese politicians in Dragonball Z cosplay. Y’all, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Check it out here.

Also from io9, residents of Vancouver can hire a live-in servant who promises to dress and act as the dinosaur of his empoloyer’s choosing for a full year. I kind of want to shake this guy’s hand... er, claw. Talon? Anyway, details are here.

And... apparently GenCon was this weekend? io9 has a round-up of some of the best costumes, including SFW pics from the con’s burlesque show and a Spike Spiege cosplayer, which I haven’t seen in far too long. See the pics here.

This has been your linkspam for the week! Now I’m going to go frantically write this week’s actual post. It’s not gonna be pretty, fellow cosplayers. It’s not gonna be pretty.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Cosplay Linkspam, 1 August 2011

Are you tired of hearing about ComicCon, yet? Good. Because we’ve got more cosplay photos from SDCC than you can shake a lightsaber at, plus a few other tidbits.

First, and most importantly, we have Venture-related links featuring our beloved Sabine, because she is awesome and looked totally fierce.
Here she is in the LAWeekly slide show.
And just peaking in on the second image in this post on io9. (The interview is also pretty hilarious, even if you're not a Venture fan, though perhaps not as funny as this one.)

IMDB has a great gallery of all kinds of SDCC pics here.

Movieline did a series of interviews with cosplayers throughout the con, but the best by far is The Littlest Hit Girl.

Finally, if you’re looking for all kinds of SDCC news, updates, and stories, LiveJournal has a community dedicated to the world’s largest nerdfest here.

LAWeekly also has a list of convention “Dos and Don’ts” for fans. The article is specifically aimed at us Venturoos, but it’s generally applicable to fans of just about anything. Read it here.

In other cosplay news, if you’re looking for costuming inspiration, I ran across this list of awesome women in science fiction. It’s limited, but very retro and mentions a few I wouldn’t have thought of. My next costuming project is going to be Rachel from Blade Runner, so keep your eyes peeled. See the list here.

In another blast from the past, courtesy of the lovely Harumania (who is a brilliant artist and you should follow her on twitter) we have an older post from the 4chan boards with a metric shit ton of costuming tutorials. It is, in fact, SFW, unlike many other things on 4chan. Check it out here.

That's all for today. Stay tuned for more cosplay news and Sabine's SDCC round-up!


Cosplay 101: The Costume Postmortem

Shadowen will have your regularly scheduled link roundup a little later, but I wanted to show you one of the most useful things you can learn to do as a cosplayer: a costume postmortem.

While you're wearing your costume, it's hard not to notice and focus on all the problems you encounter. This rides up, this falls down, this has a hole, etc, etc. But as soon as you take it off, you'll forget everything, only to remember it the next time you put it on, when it will be too late. So as soon as possible after you wear the costume, sit down and write exactly what went wrong and what went right.

As an example, I'll be showing you my postmortem of my gender-swapped Dr. Orpheus costume. I can't actually post a good picture, because all the good pictures of me are under copyright to people I don't know (you'll see some in the link roundup), so I refer you to this picture from Venture Bros. Blog. When I do this, I list every single costume piece, from the bottom up, including things like hair and makeup (even if you're going natural). So here's what my postmortem for the Orpheus costume looks like:

-The spats (not pictured, because I had already abandoned them) failed to work entirely. New provisions must be made. I'm not sure what, exactly. I've thought about actually sewing the top part of the spats to the shoes and then ripping them at the end of the day. IDK if it would look good. Buying shoes may be a better step (remember the insoles and the breaking in!).

-Why is the sock glue not working? Either way, they seemed to stay up fine on their own.

Booty shorts (underneath robe)
-No complaints. Saved my life.

-Robe blew open a lot, which is why booty shorts saved my life. Consider sewing shut? Would that work? If nothing else, Kimono straps are needed.

-Hem ends of sash. Starting to fray.

Dracula trophy
-This is the main problem here. It was attached by means of two clamp barrettes, but one was gone by the end of the day, and the other seemed ready to make a break for it. Maybe put on a necklace? Hot glue is not my friend here.

-No complaints. Check hem to make sure Jackson didn't fuck it up when he stepped on it (OMG y'all Jackson Publick stepped on my cape). Possibly put the red diamond that's missing from the back on it, but that's minor.

-No complaints. Shirt dyed it pink temporarily, but it is no longer after a wash.

-Not totally happy. Using my beloved red shadow was a great idea, but I need something bigger, I feel. The costume lacks a certain element of drama.

-This is a problem. IDK what I need exactly, but I need bigger hair. It looked incomplete, like I had just forgotten my wig. Maybe just tease it out? Maybe go back to my original idea of a black wig? Maybe wear it down? Provisions must be made.

So now, I have a full list of everything I need to work on before Dragon*Con. This is good even if you don't plan to wear a costume again- you might want to sell it, give it away, display it, etc. Writing is your friend! Remember every ticky detail you can, and get on it as soon as possible.