As many of you probably already know, this last weekend saw one of Cape Town’s biggest conventions take place at a new venue - the CTICC. For many Capetonians, Reader’s Den has delivered a great event each year - starting with Free Comic Book Day, and then turning it into a full-blown convention as recently as 2016. This year, once again, FanCon didn’t disappoint. Where FanCon 2016 was a first step towards being a proper con - with a few fumbles along the way - FanCon 2017 was a vast improvement and showed the event’s true potential.
The choice of the CTICC as a venue was definitely the right one. With ample space, very few queues, and actual air conditioning - something that every cosplayer I spoke to was very grateful for - the CTICC is by far my favourite venue that Reader’s Den has made use of to date. The only criticism that I might have of it is the catering. However, that’s mostly just personal preference, since I like light fast food at cons more than sandwiches, and fish and chips.
As a cosplayer, and someone very involved in the cosplay community, the cosplay aspects of the con are, of course, what stood out the most. One of the things I love about FanCon and Reader’s Den is the effort that they put into organising the cosplay side of their convention. With something happening for cosplayers on every single day, it was a massive step-up from anything cosplayers have had the pleasure of enjoying before. There were so many panels and events that I had a tough time choosing between all of them. And if the non stop events weren’t enough, FanCon was even able to get Calssara, a cosplayer from Germany and South Africa’s first international cosplay guest, as a judge and a panelist. Even better was that I was able to get an interview with her on the Saturday. Below is what transpired in that interview:
Me: So, how are you finding Cape Town and South Africa?
Calssara: Oh, it’s really exciting, I’ve never been here. I’ve never been on the continent, even. We saw many things in the town and the beaches, it’s really beautiful.
Me: What’s your favourite part of it?
Calssara: The beaches (laughs). Cause we don’t have that in Germany! It’s really beautiful.
Me: So what got you into cosplay?
Calssara: Um, it’s super boring (laughs). I went to a convention and I saw the costumes, and I just wanted to try the same, so the next year I just made my costume by myself and it was fun, and I met new friends, and I planned my friend’s cosplay, and then it continued.
Me: What cosplayers do you most admire?
Calssara: It’s really hard, because there’s so many which are really amazing, ones that are amazing at making armor, ones that are amazing in sewing and making embroidery, so it’s really hard to pick, but I really admire my cosplay partner, who was my partner for the World Cosplay Summit, she really taught me a lot, she inspired me a lot. Her name is Lumis Mirage, and she’s really amazing, like she’s not so into cosplay at the moment because she just became a mother, but yeah, she’s the person that inspired me the most.
Me: If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice when you first started cosplaying, what would it be?
Calssara: I think, everything how it went was totally okay that way, but just be patient with stuff, don’t overdo yourself, don’t overwork yourself, just try take it a bit more easy. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be the ten costumes a year, maybe six is enough! (Laugh). Something like that. So take it easy, and take your time to craft the stuff you want.
Me: Any advice for people who want to become “career cosplayers”?
Calssara: For me it’s also just a hobby, but it’s really great to travel to other countries, to meet new people. It’s a great experience that helped me a lot in my job. My day job is being a librarian. We have a very modern library, we have all kinds of courses about robotics, about programming, about cooking, about everything. So it’s very high and modern. I love my job, it helped me a lot to be more open to people, and um, be more outgoing and learn about different cultures. Because the city where I work is very multicultural. We have so many people come from other places, so it helped me a lot to understand different cultures more, which is great.
Me: What’s your favourite character that you’ve cosplayed?
Calssara: I think so far it has been Sumiya, from Fire Emblem. I’m a huge Fire Emblem fan, and she is a pegasus knight, which means she is riding a horse, and I’m a horse person. I was riding since I am six years old, so I was very happy to finally have a costume with a horse and we did a beautiful shoot with the horse, and it was amazing. I really like that one because of the horses (laugh).
Me: What was your favourite outfit you’ve most enjoyed making?
Calssara: Um, let me think. I like sewing the most. Like, armor making and stuff, it’s okay, I’m not too good at props. I more like sewing. Something that has ruffles and a lot of like applications is my favourite, cause I think it’s very relaxing to just sew.
Me: And how are you enjoying FanCon?
Calssara: So far it’s really amazing. People are very friendly, extremely open, talk to you a lot, take many pictures, which is really great. I’ve been at events where people were too shy, that they just sat there and nobody really talked to you. But here everybody’s really outgoing, so I’m having a great time.
Me: What’s your favourite part of the convention so far?
Calssara: Um, I think so far it’s been, like, there have been cosplayers who talk to me, like great conversations, and that’s also the thing I remember the most about cons, like the great conversations I have with people.
Me: And anything in particular that you’re looking forward to this weekend?
Calssara: Yeah, the competition, especially the one on Monday. I really love judging. I love seeing the people on stage, because it gives you another feeling again about the costumes, like the way they walk around the con is different than the way they are on stage. To see them acting in character on stage is really amazing, I love that. It’s why I really love judging, I love competitions, so it’s really great.
Me: What’s your opinion on your local talent/cosplayers?
Calssara: So far I have seen really cool costumes. People have given a lot of thought into their craft, who use the easiest things to make really cool costumes. I’m really looking forward to seeing even more cool costumes tomorrow.
Me: If you could change one thing about cosplay, what would it be?
Calssara: I think it’s the way how we view especially women in cosplay, because still we get judged a lot about that men don’t get judged for. There are many sexy male cosplayers, nobody complains about them, but then the woman does the same sexy content, she gets called all the bad names, which is horrible. I had a friend who made a sexy cosplay calendar, she got so much sh*t for it, and I had a male friend who did the same, and nobody said anything. So I really wish that the respect for women in the community would be much higher so we can see them the same as we see men.
Calssara was a total sweetie pie the entire time that I talked to her, and I’m super grateful to the FanCon organisers for the opportunity to meet her.
The level of cosplay this year was also spectacular; there were so many amazing-looking costumes on all three days.
Vanity Insanity Cosplay as Emilia, Blissful Wonderland Cosplay as Ram, Kinpatsu Cosplay as Rem, Kombokitten as Jigglypuff, and Calssara as Saber Alter
Of course, FanCon wasn’t just cosplay. It is Cape Town’s comic-con, after all. There were tons of other things to do and see - both comic-related and otherwise. There was an entire display dedicated to Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary, as well as an array of different stalls and panels.
FanCon didn’t shy away from relevant topics either, even including panels on such things like ‘Women in Comics’ - which were very well-handled and interesting to listen to. Their choice of guests was also excellent, with such people as Lauren Beukes (Ed - The Shining Girls is fantastic!) - one of South Africa’s top local authors - as well as many international names in the comic book industry.
The stalls themselves were wonderful, with tons of awesome merch and art of all kinds. If I wasn't broke at the start of the con, I definitely would have been after. As it was, all I could buy was some awesome art of Daenerys from Game of Thrones, and a signed Calssara print - as much as I cried over all the other cool stuff. Sadly, vendors don’t seem to accept tears as currency.
And that just about wraps up my thoughts on FanCon 2017. Hopefully we have an even bigger and better con next year - I’m looking forward to it! If anyone else attended, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
Cosplayer, avid anime-watcher, and maybe a little unhealthily obsessed with Dragon Age. Also loves to write occasionally (a lot).
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