The first time I heard the alert for a lost child in the main convention hall, I was reminded how much Irving Convention Center feels like a suburban mall. From the outside, it looks sort of like an unfinished Rubik's Cube. Being in that space for my first Dallas Comic Con on Saturday afternoon was much like being in a very crowded mall, where nearly everyone is costumed. This might seem like a nightmare scenario to some, but others thrive on its essence. And there is a lot of essence.
There were some crowd-flow issues. Early in the afternoon, one escalator let off too many people, who collided with a line of people waiting to get into a talk on the second floor. There was a sudden comedic pile up of bodies, a pen-and-ink whir of arms and legs, and then a very real pang of fear that I might be trampled to death at Comic Con. The man behind me yelled, "It happened again!"
As I wandered around that big main hall, where all the vendors were set up, I noticed Comic Con was a place mostly free of judgement. It's not just young kids but also couples, families, best friends dressed as characters from a favorite comic. I saw a girl dressed as Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass; her boyfriend supported in plain clothes, but held her hand as they walked.
There's more emphasis on individuality than you see at, say, a rave, where the dress code for girls is often limited to hypersexualized fairies or angels. Here you've got your Batmen, your Ironmen, your Banes, your Catwomen, but also the more niche costumes, many of which had to be explained to this noob. There was a Cosplay red carpet, where the more elaborate costumes got a chance to shine, and "Who are you wearing?" was rarely uttered.
I overhear a domestic dispute near a photo-op with Chewbacca. A woman and man are whisper-fighting, and then she asks a more amplified question: "Do you want your picture with the Wookie or not?"
I learned a few other things:
The ladies are here Hoodratz in Space is new comic created and animated by Erik Reeves and written by Jackie Cannon, about "four young girls who dream of becoming the next hottest female vocal group," and have to save Earth from evil. Cannon says her heroines are "not so much feminists but rather strong, self-assured females."
One girl with a blonde fringe of bang and bloody scythe kept catching my eye. She said she was Maka Albarn, the female protagonist from the Japanese Soul Eater series, who attends a death weapon academy and has a scythe, called Soul Eater.
Elsewhere, three girls tell me they are characters from a video game called BioShock, a first-person shooter that also has a strong female lead (and, apparently, is based on Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism). In fact, I come across quite a few young women inhabiting video game characters, which points to a gaming and tech market teenage girls are elbowing into more frequently. Last week, the news spread of 17-year-old Jennie Lamere, who created a Twitter app that blocks TV spoilers. She just got a summer internship at Twitter. Another girl told me she was at Comic Con instead of her prom. She's going to coding camp this summer.
Andrew McCarthy is also here Down the hall, people peek their heads into Andrew McCarthy's appearance. "Who is this?," asks one guy. "He's the guy from Mannequin," his friend replies. He nods and says, "Sucks to be the guy who's always known as the guy from Mannequin." Look, guys, I believe that honor belongs to Meshach Taylor. Just let Andrew be Andrew.
The photo pile-up phenomenon I noticed whenever someone was taking a photo of people in costume, there was this strange magnetic force, in which people who were perhaps heading in the other direction would also pull out their iPhones to piggy-back on that photo. Economical, I suppose, but it caused another awkward pileup when someone tried to get Tom Baker- and David Tennant-era Dr. Who in a photo together.
People really love Dr. Who There is a Dr. Who convention coming to Dallas in November. You can buy a TARDIS snuggie. There is a Dallas Dr. Who viewing club called International House of Daleks. Yes, there is Dr. Who slash fiction.