Five years ago, I talked my dad into driving with me up to Kansas City to check out Planet Comicon for the first time. It’s the largest con in our area, and I wanted to see what it was like but didn’t want to go alone. We loved it so much that we’ve been back to every Planet Comicon since, and this year was one of our favorites ever.
The con has hit around 70,000 attendees in pre-COVID times, and it generally draws a good group of celebrities, cosplayers, and vendors. If you live in the Midwest, it’s well worth the trip.
This year, my two main cosplays were Kate Bishop from the Hawkeye show on Disney+ and Rey’s look from Episode IX (don’t ask me how many different Rey cosplays I have at this point, because it’s a lot).
Normally I recommend that you start a new cosplay well in advance of the event you plan to wear it to, because inevitably things go wrong and you don’t want to rush through the project and end up with sloppy work. Well, this year I didn’t listen to my own advice, and like a college student waiting to study for a test until the night before, I lost a decent amount of sleep as I worked frantically to finish my Rey cosplay in time.
But it was worth it, because I got to bring along my new lightsaber that I bought during my trip to Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World last month, and dressing up as Rey always makes my heart happy. She’s not only my favorite Star Wars character, her courage and persistence have inspired me during some very difficult periods of my life. Whenever I go to a con dressed as her, I feel so empowered. Plus, I didn’t get any stains on this all-white costume, which for me was a major win!
People know me as a major Star Wars fan, and most of my cosplays are Star Wars themed. So it was fun to mix things up a bit and go as an MCU character, Kate Bishop. This cosplay was a little challenging to put together, since I made the quiver and shoulder harness without a pattern, but I was really proud of how it turned out.
For me, this year’s panel highlights were seeing Adam Savage of MythBusters and a group of voice actors from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, including Ashley Eckstein. My brother and I loved watching MythBusters as kids, so it was cool to see Adam Savage in person, and to hear behind the scenes anecdotes about his time on the show and his cosplay adventures.
Similarly, The Clone Wars is a very special series to me, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the Star Wars saga. So seeing the voice actors for Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein), Anakin (Matt Lanter), Obi-Wan (James Arnold Taylor), and Kit Fisto (Phil LaMarr) was a memorable experience. It was interesting to hear Ashley talk about her struggles dealing with the initial fan pushback against the character of Ahsoka. This character is so iconic now that it’s easy to forget how divisive Ahsoka was at first. I’m glad Ashley feels more welcome in the Star Wars community now.
It’s always amazing to me that no matter how many days you spend at a con, you always leave wanting more. My dad and I got to participate in a Star Wars cosplayers group photo shoot, which was a lot of fun. It was cool to see everybody’s costumes, and I had fun joking around with a cosplayer dressed as Ben Solo from Ep. IX, since I was dressed as Ep. IX Rey.
At every con, I try to buy a piece of artwork or other souvenir from an exhibitor, because I think it’s really important to support creatives in the geek community, especially those with smaller platforms. I got to meet Ryan Valle, an artist who has designed pieces for some of my favorite Star Wars board games, and also illustrated a Star Wars lightsaber book. I bought a couple prints from him, and he also autographed my copy of the book and one of my cards from my Star Wars game.
My favorite experience of the con was getting to share my love of all things geek with my one-year-old daughter. I know that technically, she probably won’t remember this trip, but it made me so happy to see her watching cosplayers and enjoying the sights and sounds. Plus, she got her photo with a replica of one of my favorite Star Wars droids, Chopper from the series Rebels.
If you’ve never been to a con before and you love geek culture, you should definitely find one close to you and check it out. Whenever I get discouraged about the negativity in online fan culture, I remember what a fun and welcoming experience going to a con is. There really is nothing else like it.