Monday, April 05, 2010

A Tale of Two..Three...Four...FIve Canaries at Wondercon!

(Ashley in our first 'final' costume test)
Wondercon was our first real 'outting' to test the waters of whether or not anyone would actually RECOGNIZE our version of Black Canary as Black Canary. You'd think it would be obvious, but, I try not to take anything for granted. I thought "Vangelis" would be as beloved to "Angel" as "Hardware Wars" was to "Star Wars", but, well... it WASN'T. (And I'll be the first to admit there were some big things that didn't work in that project, but still glad that it was completed.) But, one learns (hopefully!!!), tries harder and better, and hopefully one progresses one step closer to that ideal in one's head.

Anyhow, on the second day of Wondercon, we went out to try to 'test run' the costume. It was a first Wondercon experience for Ashley and Matt, and the first cosplay experience, but while I had noticed some of the things that other more 'professional' cosplayers who were used to taking pictures with Wondercon attendees, I hadn't actually dressed up in costume before, either... but the rules seemed pretty simple- and, by and large, 99% of comic book attendees seem to be pretty good folks, not out to make others have a bad time.

As one would expect from Wondercon, there were a number of amateur photographers and just happy fans with cameras to capture the whole Wondercon experience, with people in superhero costumes walking about, as one of them. In any case, it was fun for us each time someone would nicely ask (and it was all pleasant) for a picture, or sometimes it would be just as gratifying to hear a 'nice costume!' or whispers from shyer convention goers who liked seeing our version of Black Canary pass by. I can't speak for Ashley, but for myself, it was a really neat first experience... and a nice boost that people may really enjoy our Black Canary short films when it's time to come out.

One other unexpected (and slightly dicey) issue was: what happens when one Canary runs into another Canary? (It sounds like a beginning of a joke: "So, two Black Canaries walk into a bar, then...") When I did "Vangelis", "Cherub" also came out at the same time, as we were the first two "Angel" parodies- but the filmmakers at "Cherub" could not be nicer, as well as most of the other Whedon parody filmmakers I ended up in contact with. But.... you do have those on occassion that feel threatened and it just feels weird, imo--- as if you've intruded into someone else's property and trampled their begonias (finally found an opportunity to use that word!) without meaning to. So.

It's too bad. I guess either one could see ten thousand Black Canaries at a convention and one could either say: "How cool! We all recognize the coolness of the Black Canary character!"--- or one could say: "this was my special one and only love, and it's diminished by this other person who couldn't possibly have put the love, time and effort into it, that I have." We got a little of both reactions- Some cosplayers smiled at Ashley and talked to her, 'welcoming her to the cosplay community' so to speak (especially Supergirl and the Star Wars Rebel in the photo) in a way.

Others.... became "Black Canary with the stinkeye from Juno". At the time of the con, I thought it a little funny... but then again, I've become a little callous after dealing with some life/death issues last year--- but after thinking about it, I realize that having a cosplayer with a simliar costume walking around could have been just as painful as having an art portfolio you've worked on for months be rejected in seconds onsite by an editor who may care less. It may seem small to others, it may not be intentional, nor personal, but it can be hugely devastating and inwardly humiliating.

So, I get that now. If you're another Black Canary reading this, then I finally get it. I hope that you enjoy (I hope everyone enjoys, actually) the films we're setting out to do, and hope that you enjoy it as mutual fans of the character, rather than as competition.

Anyhow, that's my blog for now. Things have slowed down much more than I thought it would....but now that the costume is just about right, and with the positive response we've got from Wondercon, hopefully the train will be moving a lot faster from here on out! Thanks, CAM


Roxana said...

Hi! Wow, this was really interesting to read and I'm glad I found it. I was one of the five Canaries on Saturday at WC, and truth to say, I think I may have "given you the stinkeye." If I may explain from the point of view of somebody who's been doing this for three years...

I have a couple of big body image issues and Canary is the very worst costume for those issues! She's a drop-dead-gorgeous babe character to live up to, and I honestly don't think I do. It makes it worse when some other cosplayer shows up on the same day who looks better than I do! So basically - and this, I realize, is horrible - in the catty way that women have, I size other Canaries up and decide how threatening they are. In your case, I concluded that you were hotter than me and therefore I was going to save face by not standing next to you.

Can you believe that? : P

Secondarily, yes, I do get very possessive of the characters I cosplay, but that's something I recognize as being unreasonable and I try to fight it. For what that's worth.

By the way, that's my Green Arrow in the pictures with you (there I go again, being possessive). But ain't he a sweetheart? : )

All the best and thanks for the food for thought - and deeply sorry for any stinkeye -

- Roxana Meta

Roxana said...

P.S. Ah, I realize this was not written by Ms. Ashley herself, so change all those "you"s to "her"s.

And yes, rereading what you wrote about love, time, and effort... that's another big part of it. It's hard when I see a woman more beautiful than me, who just threw on a cheap corset and a bad wig, getting a ton of attention. I put tons of thought and work into my costume and I worry about it constantly while wearing it. I'm not saying that Ashley's BC was cheap, but just that there is a sense of "did they REALLY put the love into this that I did?"

And that's honesty! ; )

This was wonderful perspective, though.

crazy_asian_man said...

Hi Roxana,

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts, it would have been nice to stop by and meet other cosplayers of the DC universe- but, like I mentioned on the blog, it was our first experience with bringing ANY costume to the show- while I love going to the conventions, I just never knew if there was a costume community so to speak, but just always loved seeing people in costume to add to the magic of these comic shows.

Anyhow, thanks for sharing your views and perspective as a cosplayer with Canary and concerns with body issues in the costume*- but, for what it's worth, you both look great as Green Arrow and Black Canary and look like you both work out a lot. (Personally, the only character I could play is bouncing boy from the Legion!) ;)

Also- While Ashley is my partner on the BC project, I actually have an idea that can incorporate multiple Canaries, and if we get that far into multiple short films, would love to have you two be IN another BC film as well- (I have to make sure the first one gets off the ground soon though).

Anyhow- let me know if you or your Arrow would be interested in being in one, I'm very serious about that.

Also, again about Ashley- she actually was the one reccomending that we steer away at times from other Canaries so as to not interrupt shoots, (unless there were signals that it was welcome) so she actually was very conscious of other Canaries- (although I was oblivious at that time -though, of course, I get it more now).

I've worked with Ashley on other short films with other actresses, and she's the first one to come up and greet them or try to make them welcome on a shoot. In short, for what it's worth, she's someone who is very conscious of others' feelings. So, hopefully, it's all good.

As far as 'cheap wig and corset' comment.... OW!! Having had to scrimp $$$ wise for some of the items, I have to share that there was a lot of fretting and searching for what felt like the right wig, boots, corset, and alterations-- it might not be the same level of pain I'm sure for custom costumes, there was definitely pain and frustration involved- definitely pain, if that helps. That's being very honest, too! ;)

(( An aside: we also have two completely different versions for BC. Your costume seems very much PERFECT on the new costume, but with the costume- which is very cool.... but I'm old school: I like the 1960's costume (blue blazer and fishnets) and Ashley preferred something more modern: so the composite we have is really a meeting of the minds. It's neither and both. ))

Anyhow (gee, I say that a lot), thanks again for sharing your thoughts- didn't need to share them, so I do appreciate it! (**btw, I was going to put a caption out that Green Arrow wasn't "our" Green Arrow or Batman, but with the other previous blog entries on the BC fan film, my thought was that people would already know. ) best,

NOTE: Edited several times for clarity and my longwindedness. ;)

Roxana said...

Oh dear! I knew I shouldn't have put in that bit about cheap costumes! I was making a generalization - believe me, I've seen a lot of cheap work. I was NOT implying that YOUR costume was cheap. For the record, I put together mine as well - it's all pieces I bought and altered over about three years. I want to apologize first off.

Onward - yes, there is definitely a costume community! Many of us use "stage names," and for the superhero costumers, there are several social networking sites and forums that are popular. You can find me, for instance, on Facebook and MySpace, and on the Superhero Costuming Forum (although I'm not on the League of Heroes, which is the biggest one for comic cosplayers). So there's definitely comraderie as well as etiquette in the community. A bit of a heirarchy, too, based on who's done the most costumes, with the best workmanship, and to a lesser degree who looks the hottest in them ; ).

You're a total sweetheart and it sounds like Ashley is too, so I hope that there are no hard feelings on your side either for my selfishness/lack of friendliness at Con. I suppose I got a little defensive from afar, and again, sorry for that.

I ran the idea of making an appearance in your films by my Green Arrow and he's totally enthusiastic. We both have acting experience (although mostly stage, which is quite a different beast) and would love to be a part of something like that. You can feel free to email me anytime at roxanameta @ gmail dot com - we should definitely talk more! And give my fellow-Canary regards to Ashley, too. : )

crazy_asian_man said...

Hi Roxana,
No hard feelings at all! And thank you for sharing the great info on the cosplay communities, I learned a little bit more at the costume workshop at Wondercon that I didn't know about this year.

I will definitely contact you on your email & thanks for your posts, it's always fun learning more about communities in fandom that I don't know much about (although my love of comics has been forever), and the perspectives have been really insightful! :)


Anson Jew said...

Wow! Very nice! Black Canary kicks ass!

crazy_asian_man said...

Thanks the kind words Anson! Hope you'll like how it turns out! :)

xBirds of Preyx said...

This is xBirdofPreyx from youtube- I keep commenting your Canary video posts!
I thought that was your Canary at WonderCon!!! I'm so mad I didn't stop to say hi!
I was having a bit of a hard time keeping my Birds of Prey group all intact and not being mobbed by photographers!
So where are you guys located? I'd love to talk Canary/Birds sometime- If you need any help, advice or encouragement! Let me know check out our website and shoot me an e-mail
~The Birds of Prey~

crazy_asian_man said...

Hi xBirdsofPrey! :)
Thanks for your comments on youtube & here, I would have loved to have talked to you & your group at Wondercon! I will definitely check out your website and email after work today! :)