Granitecon and Back Again: A Shireling’s Tale


Devin Grayson, take note

So, I’m a bit late on the game, but Granite State Comic Con, also known as Granitecon, took place in Manchester, NH on September 28-29. To mark their 10th anniversary, the con was extended from its previous one day to a two-day weekend affair. I was lucky enough to go and, I’m embarrassed to admit, it was kind of my first con. I’d been to Conbust at Smith College before, but I’m not sure if that counts. So I was a semi-con-virgin, I suppose.

Given the number of friends I have who go to con after con, the crazy level of detail people put into cosplay, gatekeeping in geek culture, and high-profile harassment issues at cons, I was a bundle of anxiety, as well as a bundle of excitement. Much like comics themselves, cons can be more than a little intimidating to the outsider or beginner.

However, one overly enthusiastic teenage girl and a goblin who really needed to learn that sneaking up on me and growling was not a compliment aside, I’m happy to report that Granitecon was a fun, safe environment for all ages and flavors of nerd (although, that goblin deserves a swift kick in the gizzard). Both the attendees and the professionals were very friendly and easy to approach. Things were signed, awesome costumes were seen, and my coffee table is now covered in business cards. There was also some fabulous art to be found, including Disney Princess TARDIS illustrations by Karen Hallion and the incomparable work of Sara Richard.

Richard Horvitz (voice of Daggett from Angry Beavers and Zim from Invader Zim) was there for an alternately disturbing and hilarious voice actor panel where I succeeded in getting him to sing Beaver Fever. He also serenaded us with The Phantom of the Opera and decided that the Speed Racer theme was a good safeword, so my life is pretty much complete.

Friend of the blog Nightwing17 of Reviews by Lantern’s Light was there too. He’s the Nightwing in the above picture, posing for a CONsent booth put on by 16-bit Sirens, Hollaback! Boston, and Hollaback! Philly. Clearly, the aforementioned goblin could have benefitted from their booth.


Nightwing takes back the night

As much as they may look like them, cosplayers are not action figures. They are not toys, they are not the superheroine you had stirrings for when you first hit puberty, and they are not the anime villain you wrote self-insertion erotica or slash fanfiction about. They may be dressed as the characters you know and love, but they’re people underneath the spandex. People you don’t actually know, who may not appreciate your love (or all of its outward expressions). Respect their space and comfort, even if you think they wouldn’t or shouldn’t mind. Everyone has a different comfort zone, so what you might think is normal, innocuous, or a compliment might not be to someone else.

We’re fans. We’re nerds. We get excited and let our fan flag fly and show our love in squees and fits of joy. But unless you know the cosplayer personally, please do not initiate uninvited physical contact. Hugs are great, but ask beforehand. Always ask before taking someone’s picture and don’t get all hot and bothered if they want to know what you plan to do with said pictures. Most cosplayers will be happy to pose for a photo (after all that work they probably want to show off) and will be more than happy to geek out with you, but don’t assume.

Respecting cosplayers (and vendors and professionals and volunteers and everyone else) goes a long way to making a con a better experience for everyone involved. And having fun and meeting awesome people is the point, after all. That and the nerdswag. For those of you in NE, I hope you’ll consider going to Granitecon next year. For those attending New York Comic Con this weekend, I hope you have a great time. Also, I secretly hate you because the epic fantasy panel looks amazing.

Nightwing17 will be covering NYCC for Weekly Comic Book Review, so check back there for more con goodness.

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About boundandgaggedbooks

Shannon is a freelance writer and folklore buff. She has a degree from Hampshire College in Creative Writing/Mythology & Religion, with an emphasis on epic/oral traditions, their anthropological implications, and their modern counterparts. Her work can be found in Fabulously Feminist, Wolf Wariors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology, The Concord Monitor, Redhead Magazine, and The Climax.

2 responses to “Granitecon and Back Again: A Shireling’s Tale”

  1. thecreativecortex says :

    Awesome article, but it’s not just the people in cosplay who need to be protected from a rough time. Like you found out with the goblin, people in cosplay also need to know the boundaries of others. Just because they’re anonymous, they should realise it doesn’t mean they can get away with anything they want. I’ve found that people dressed as Aliens from the film are the worst ! They creep up behind me, do that mouth thing right by my ear… One even hugged me once without asking. Luckily, I’m okay with that kind of thing, but a lot of people aren’t. Just thought I’d add that people in cosplay aren’t always the victims they’re made out to be!

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