V. What did the fans think of the show?
As with last year, I got hold one of my friends who attended this year’s convention to ask them what they thought of their experience. Julia Coelho often attends conventions, including past editions of the Rhode Island Comic Con. She is an avid cosplayer, and in addition to her opinion of the show, I asked her a few questions about her hobby.
TYF: What got you into cosplay?
Julia Coelho: When I was 16 years old two friends were headed to Anime Boston. I had never gone to a convention before and asked to tag along. When we got there it was a magical experience! There were so many of “my people” — just all these fans coming together and celebrating what they love. I had noticed many were dressed up, each person looked awesome and seemed to be in their element, I wanted to emulate that. The next year, I decide to buy a costume and give it a try!
TYF: Do you have any tips for those who want to get into cosplay?
Coelho: There are some people who believe they need to look a certain way or be perfect, truth is you just need to be you. I have bell’s palsy, a bone condition that left one arm dwarfed and my legs uneven, but I make the most of it and don’t let anything stop me from dressing up. If you love the character, dress up as them. Buy or make the costume. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t give into negative criticism. It doesn’t matter if you don’t look exactly like the character, what matters is that you are having fun!
TYF: Any tips for photographers?
Coelho: If there is a cosplayer you want a picture of, just politely ask them! There are a bunch of guides one can follow via the internet to improve! I’m not a photographer, but I have met many wonderful ones while on my adventures!
TYF: You went as Rogue this year. Why did you pick her?
Coelho: Because I am mutant and proud! Just kidding, I had always adored the character since watching the show as a kid, I decided to give it a whirl, and try it out!
TYF: How was this year’s con compared to previous editions of the Rhode Island Comic Con?
Coelho: With conventions it can be tricky. It has definitely improved, but there is always room to make changes, and strive for a better show with each passing year! Rhode Island is such a small state and so many people came for a chance to meet celebrities, dress up, and congregate. 8
TYF: Was there a specific character or property you saw more of in terms of cosplay this year?
Coelho: I did notice a lot of Walking Dead cosplay groups, characters from Overwatch, and Harley Quinn. It is always interesting to see how guests and themes influence people’s cosplay choices. I was excited to see other X-Men cosplayers! It made my day when another Rogue noticed me!
TYF: Did you see any panels, buy any merch or get any autographs?
Coelho: Sadly I wasn’t able to attend most of the panels I wanted to go to due to my own poor planning. I had a lot of wonderful friends hosting panels, I am proud of each and every one of them! Shout out to Raymond Ramos and The AngryGeeks Show! I did however make sure to spend some time with the people behind Autism Speaks, they were working so hard and raised lots of money towards their cause. It is nice to see contentions have tables for organizations.
TYF: What did you think of the logistics this year?
Coelho: So I think with each passing year the convention itself is improving. It can be tough to facilitate all these people. It does get crowded with most conventions. There are lots of lines. I however managed to move around pretty well. I think it was also due to the fact that I didn’t want autographs, I came for the convention atmosphere, to make friends, tell a few jokes, look at all the wonderful merchandise (which I didn’t end up buying), and of course to take lots of selfies!
TYF: What was the crowd control and traffic like for you this year?
Coelho: I think crowd control was good, there were lines, but it was to be expected. Conventions used to be seen as small, but with pop culture and the media, conventions have expanded into so much more! 1
TYF: Overall, what was your experience like this year, as both a fan and a cosplayer?
Coelho: I got to say, it was worth it! I am happy I got to spend time with friends and loved ones, rock a brand new costume, and pet some cute service dogs (with the owner’s permission of course!) I hope all those who attend managed to have fun as well!
VI. Final thoughts
Overall, this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con was probably a lot of different things to different people. Attendees that we personally talked to had a blast, but I can definitely understand that some fans who were there for autographs were upset by the lines in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center . The convention’s Facebook page has a wide range of feedback and comments from attendees from positive to negative.
In general, the vendors, props, artists and booths were all well spaced, with plenty of room to move between them. Even though a majority of the stuff to do at this con took place in the main exhibition hall, that room never once seemed overcrowded and felt well managed. Comparatively, the most crowded spots in the convention center were the various lobbies and walkways as fans went on their way to the next panel, vendor or other destination, which is to be expected. Although those areas felt very crowded on Saturday, they were a breeze to walk through on Friday and Sunday.
One writer, Marise Lessing from the University of Connecticut’s Daily Campus newspaper, complained about the prices inside of the show for food, autographs and photos. Lessing reports that an autograph with Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot cost $125, and a photo would run $300. Compare this with the prices we saw for autographs with Christian Slater ($50), Millie Bobby Brown (also $50) and top draw Jeffrey Dean Morgan ($85). Reports on the con’s Facebook complain of an expensive or confusing process to purchase photos and autographs. We saw a line for fans to pay for photos in various “zones” – A line to stand in another larger line, if you will.
I’m not sure what can be fixed to alleviate Lessing’s concerns. Putting big-ticket names like Morgan, Lee, Cooper and Gadot into a specific, giant space entirely devoted for lines to see them seems like a good idea in concept. Unfortunately, it apparently didn’t work in execution for many con-goers. It’s understandable that the long wait times disappointed convention goers who felt they were missing on panels or other parts of the show and left to vent their frustrations on social media.
Ultimately, this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con was a solid, well-intentioned event with a handful of logistics issues involving autograph lines and Saturday’s overwhelming crowd. Some of the changes from last year worked, while others need further tweaking. It will be interesting to see what improvements that convention organizers Altered Reality make to the show next year, and whether the complaints about logistics from attendees this year will have any effect on the floor plan. Only time will tell.
Did you attend the Rhode Island Comic Con this year? Let us know your thoughts on the show in the comments.