When we arrived at the hotel, we received mixed reactions. It ranged from excitement from the front desk (“Are you guys going to the convention center? I saw the coolest Harley Quinn earlier.”) to confusion from the other guests and elevator operators (“Is there a costume party or something? Who are you guys supposed to be?”). It still amazes me that by stepping through a convention’s doors, con attendees are transported from a world where people mock “childish” interests into a world that celebrates and fosters interest in stories, gaming, and pop culture.
It was in anticipation of this camaraderie and spectacle that several of us from We the Committee piled into a car and made the two hour journey to Tampa Bay Comic Con.
Friday was the most casual of the three days. Two out of the five of us attending that day cosplayed. We walked around the main convention hall and made a few purchases from various artists and vendors. One particularly unique vendor, Altruistic, sold handmade wooden clocks and tealight boxes. The two ladies working the vendor stall were incredibly helpful and informative, taking time to thoroughly explain their products, and several of us made purchases from them. The clocks feature emblems from popular shows and movies, and most of them can be assembled on a variety of solid backgrounds.
Saturday morning broke and our group was up and at ‘em – donning wigs and spandex, clipping holsters to our legs, and spraying temporary dye into our hair. We had all worked hard to pull our cosplays together with the goal of getting recognition from fellow fans. Ariana and I chose timely costumes, dressing as two characters from the recent hit game Overwatch. We were stopped for quite a few pictures, as were Alex R. and Alex B. who dressed as characters from the popular anime Kuroko no Basuke. Trey received special recognition from con-goers for the craftsmanship of his mask and helmet. One attendee in particular stopped him to ask if he could hold his helmet and give Trey a high-five.
We were also able to attend the Daredevil panel with Charlie Cox and Elodie Yung. While most of the audience questions excluded Elodie to the point of a little awkwardness, we learned quite a bit about what goes on behind the scenes of one of our favorite shows. For example (MILD SPOILERS FOR DAREDEVIL SEASON TWO AHEAD), when Charlie and Elodie were filming the car chase scene that takes place mid-season, the two of them kept trying to shove fake glass down each other’s costumes in between takes. Charlie also let slip that when he was filming with Rosario Dawson, he asked her about a fake cut on her face. She replied that it was due to something happening in Luke Cage, which premieres on Netflix on September 30th. This means two things: 1) Claire Temple, Dawson’s character, is going to be in some sort of danger in her storyline with Luke Cage and 2) Marvel seems to have all of its Netflix properties mapped out story wise to keep the intricacies of each show consistent.
In all the hubbub of the con, sometimes people forget that they are in a different city, and do not explore what the area has to offer. Fortunately, we had a Tampa expert with us: our friend, Joey. He insisted that we try a restaurant called Portillo’s, which boasts authentic Chicago cuisine. Needless to say, after hastily snarfing down lunches wherever we could find space to eat within or near the con, Portillo’s yummy food and diner atmosphere put smiles on our faces. Never let the craziness of a con keep you from finding new things to enjoy.
Sunday was a bit more relaxed, as it usually is. After two days of slightly uncomfortable costumes and overwhelming crowds (not to mention sharing a hotel room among six people), we were all ready to go home. But not before we walked the floor one last time.
Trey’s wife, Amanda, and their kids met us in Tampa for the last day, and that’s when we found out that we were on a mission. Claire, who is four, has recently become interested in Pokemon, largely due to the Pokemon Go app. She brought money of her own to Tampa and was on the hunt for an Eevee “pet” (Claire-speak for a stuffed animal). We walked that con floor for a few hours but were unable to find any Eevees. Vendor after vendor shook their head and told us that they were sold out. We found a stuffed animal of a Ponyta, a horse Pokemon, that Claire fell in love with and bought that, but we could still tell that she wanted to look for Eevees. Finally, Shauna asked the right vendor if they had any Eevee merchandise at all, and he produced an Eevee keychain. Claire’s face lit up. However, she had used most of her money on the Ponyta and didn’t have enough to buy the Eevee. Shauna and I knew there was no way in heck that we were leaving that con without some sort of Eevee token, so we slipped in a few bucks with Claire’s money and had her pay for the keychain. She was super excited and informed us that the Eevee was going to go on her backpack for school this year.
All in all, Tampa Bay Comic Con 2016 was exhausting, but all good cons are. We all came back with our wallets significantly lighter and our ideas for next year’s cosplays already brewing. (By the way, if you have an idea for a unique group cosplay, hit us up in the comments section.) We cannot wait to return next year for this con, as its beautiful location, excellent celebrity guests, and one-of-a-kind vendors solidly keep its standing as our favorite event.
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