It’d been a project that consumed her evenings for weeks now. Meticulously checking and re-checking to fabricate the perfect set of wings. Finally it was time for the masses to see her creation, in her mortal world she was simply 23-year-old Brianna Dowdell, but here amongst the crowd of costumed fans she could always be a little more.
For three days in Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor district; those who enjoy anime, manga, music, and movies celebrating East Asian popular culture can immerse themselves in the world of Otakon, an annual anime convention held during the latter part of July or early August.
This year Otakon was July 24 – July 26, and we met up with three ladies after they returned to Philadelphia, from the 22nd Annual Otakon; to see if they’d experienced it differently. They proved that the three-day weekend had something for everyone.
Emely Roman, 25, was the first back from the trip. Though she declined to dress up for the two days she’d been down there she did take a special interest in some of the merchandise sold at the convention.
“There were two sections, the dealers and the artists alley; the dealers had mainstream things while the artist had their personal twist to them. So if you did purchase something from them you’d know it was a one of a kind item that you wouldn’t get anywhere else,” said Emely who scored a set of handmade earrings.
Many of Otakon’s guest come down just to shop, and Dealer’s Hall and Artist’s Alley are definitely the place to be for your Convention Purchases. The Alley is generally reserved for individual artists and writers, web-comics, and small-volume crafts workers whereas commercial retail businesses are pretty much confined to Dealer’s Hall.
“Crimson chain is always fun. It’s a leather goods booth that I’ve always wanted to buy from.” said Brianna, “I saved up specifically for it…Yaya Han’s is fun. It was also cool to see artists [whose work] I’ve bought, [such as] bookmakers and prints [from] over the years get big enough to migrate to the dealers room.”
Don’t get discouraged if you’re a smaller business interested in larger sales, as the reps from Otakon will advise, “If you’re just interested in selling a few pieces of art, consider entering them in the Art Show and Auction.”
Though Neenia O’Neal, 25, was unable to get the full Alley experience she did take advantage of another feature Otakon had to offer. “I didn’t make it to artists alley until 15 minutes before they closed the last day but it was amazing,” she said, “I went to several comic book panels, the history of fan-fiction, one on how to make tiny top hats, one for subtitles gone wrong and a few others”
Of the many she checked out on her one day stay, she recommended History of fan-fiction and the Three part comic book design panel.
“Comic book design was the process from concept to coloring and the fan-fiction one was just a really fun recap of the origins”
Every convention goer makes the decision to either dress up or not and over the years the lengths some people go through to make their costumes stand out is so extensive, so outrageous and so mind bloing ththe fantasy must stand back andtake notice. Otakon acknowledges these crafty DIY-ers with a very special weekend of cosplay themed events.