"Todays heads up. If you’re a Cosplay personality, please don’t send me a friend request. If you’re a convention promoter and you’re building your show around cosplay events and mega multiple media guest don’t invite me. You bring nothing of value to the shows, and if you’re a promoter pushing cosplay as your main attraction you’re not helping the industry or comics market. Thank you." ~Pat Broderick, Artist (Batman: Year Three, Green Lantern, Swamp Thing).
This statement, which was posted on Pat Broderick's Facebook account in December 2014 created a firestorm of controversy within the cosplay community. His comments followed Denise Dorman's Blog entry which she posted in September of 2014:
"I have slowly come to realize that in this selfie-obsessed, Instagram Era, COSPLAY is the new focus of these conventions – seeing and being seen, like some giant masquerade party. Conventions are no longer shows about commerce, product launches, and celebrating the people who created this genre in the first place. I’ve seen it first-hand – the uber-famous artist who traveled all of the way from Japan, sitting at Comic-Con, drawing as no one even paid attention to him, while the cosplayers held up floor traffic and fans surround the cosplayers – rather than the famed industry household name – to pose for selfies. The hard-working artists and creators who are the very foundation of this industry…the reason there even is an industry… those creatives who have busted their asses and spent money they perhaps didn’t have to spare in order to be there exhibiting for – and accessible to – the fans… have been reduced to being the background wallpaper against which the cosplayers pose in their selfies. At what point do you start to wonder if–other than your faithful, loyal regulars who are like family and who find you every time–the general fandom population even gives a shit about the creators more than they care about their Instagram profiles?" ~Denise Dorman, wife of comic book and sci-fi illustrator Dave Dorman.
I wanted to address these statements when they were originally released in late 2014 however discussion on social media had exploded into online fighting, name calling and other immature drama that I simply walked away from the negativity and chose not to Blog about it until now. First I would like to address Pat Broderick's statement. I completely agree with him that Comic-Cons these days focus on booking actors and cosplayers as featured guests rather that the people who created the industry itself: the creators. Comic book writers, illustrators and creators do in fact get pushed to the side or are not invited to shows at all in favor of actors and cosplayers. This is actually why I have attended less and less shows the last few years. Gone are the days where I can grab my comic and stand in line to get my book signed and hopefully have a discussion (and take a photo with the creator whose work I enjoy). Very few shows offer that experience. In todays world, comic cons offer separate tickets at an additional price for a quick meet and greet or photo with an actor. Aisles are filled with table after table feturing a cosplay guest and yet the person who created the character they are dressed as is no where to be found. Let's celebrate this Dawn cosplayer and all things related to Dawn without inviting or involving the actual creator himself. See the problem? Do you also see where the fault lies? The fault lies in the convention organizers. They are responsible for bookings and they are the ones who are booking actors and cosplayers over creators. It is not the cosplayers fault.
I sympathize with Denise Dorman's statement.This is her husbands career. His art is what financially supports his family and puts food on the table. They aren't making any money. I'll say that again: they aren't making any money. She is understandably frustrated. She has a point that attendees aren't spending any money at shows and would rather flock to take a selfie with a cosplayer. Why? Because it's not only cool but it's free. I'll say that again: it's free. The price is right. The price of attending a convention has skyrocketed the last decade. Hotels raise the price for an overnight stay, food at the convention center (no matter how lousy) is ridiculously high, tickets to the actual show have been raised higher and higher. You must pay a separate fee to take a photo with an actor. Some shows such as Wizard, charge to attend a panel. Transportation, whether you are flying, driving or taking public transit can also cost a pretty penny. To be blunt, it's freakin expensive going to a con and many people cannot afford to shop once they get there. Having a place to sleep is a priority. Eating is a priority. Transportation is a priority. Again, this fault lies at the convention organizers. They continue to raise the price on everything. It is not however the cosplayers fault. Artists aren't making money because attendees can't afford to spend.
I agree to a certain extent on what Mr. Broderick and Mrs. Dorman are saying and I support them but they are blaming the wrong people. They should take these issues up with the convention organizers. Incidents such as cosplayers blocking aisles is also something that should be taken up with staff at the show. It's not a cosplayers fault that a mob of people are demanding photos and it can happen quite quickly and quite suddenly. That's when a staff member should step in (nicely, I might add. No need to be rude) and redirect the cosplayers where they can grant photo requests without congestion. Yes, some of these conventions are very silly and should wipe the word "comic" from their name so take this opportunity to talk to them about it. You have that power. These shows should be respecting creators 110%. Without them we would have nothing.
Take the time Dear Creators whom I have the utmost respect for, to consider that there is room for the cosplay community at these shows as well. One or two cosplay guests are not a bad thing. Cosplay is an extension of your work done in a labor of love. We also help the show with costume contests and panels thus we are working. Don't get me wrong; having a "comic" show with 10 cosplay guests is ridiculous and uncalled for (and something a local show here recently had) however a couple of talented and artistic cosplayers who also serve as staff members is beneficial to programming and attendees who sometimes come out to see and speak with their favorite cosplayer. In closing, there's room for us all ;)
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