As a new year begins, I find myself becoming more and more obsessed with a certain date circled on the calendar in February. In preparation for Pensacon, I have found myself trying much harder to get back into the type of shape that we all wish to be in during convention season -- although, to be quite honest, me “trying much harder” actually means that I’ve finally started thinking of making an effort. Pushups, cardio, and ineffectively portioning meals are a part of my attempt to strengthen the body, so that I can look dapper in tight spandex.
Winter is one of my favorite seasons, and I’d be lying if I said that I don’t feel a certain sense of joy the moment I start thinking of squeezing into that red suit. But that’s what a convention like Pensacon does to you-- it simply raises the spirits. You should have seen the smiles I saw on people’s faces as they saw my Deadpool trying to pose for pictures with a selfie stick. (Whether or not my inability to function said selfie stick was a genius attempt at classic comedy, or due to a lack of skill, is irrelevant.)
Convention season is something that really brings back the childhood feelings of awe and wonder. I mean, where else can an adult walk alongside the very heroes and villains that you grew up with?
Regionally speaking, Pensacola is the perfect place to make it happen. I’ve lived here for the past four years, long enough to be considered a local, and I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else. From the white sand beaches, to the textured visuals of Downtown’s historic architecture, Pensacola offers one of the most important things that any cosplayer can appreciate -- beautiful scenery for photoshoots.
As a Deadpool cosplayer, I’ve been shot all over the Downtown area. (Oh, the puns!) The city, especially in the evening hours, offers the perfect backdrop for any aspiring hero or vigilante. And when you’re done posing for the camera? The local food scene is something that makes me wish I had the same metabolism as The Flash.
As for the con, here’s the deal: I’ve been to a number of other conventions and, while they were fun in their own right, I found myself only wanting to attend two of the three event days, because, by day three, it just felt like you saw the same thing cycled over and over again. Pensacon is a different story, however, as I’ve found myself eagerly attending all three days without pause.
Don’t get me wrong, we are still technically in our infancy, but that is what I find the most intriguing-- we are able to simultaneously enjoy all the wonders of a big convention and, at the same time, help shape what we want our convention experience to be like.
There is an established level of respect and camaraderie among the attendees of Pensacon. That alone speaks volumes to any cosplayer, as they can rest assured that they are entering an environment in which the people know how to act. Comfort, after all, is something that every cosplayer looks for in a convention-- especially if they find themselves in red and black spandex.
Respect aside, the creativity of Pensacon cosplaying attendees is some of the best I’ve seen in years. Pensacon has somehow unleashed dormant levels of metahuman creativity. I’ve taken selfies with people like The Tick, Quailman, Harley and the Joker, Indiana Jones, Velma and Wolverine -- all within the same day! But it doesn’t end there -- I’ve locked fists with the Master Chief, Cobra Commander, Soul and Blair (from Soul Eater), and even shared some moments with a few Deadpool clones (probably from other universes, mind you). But that, to me, is what makes a convention the most fun -- the people.
The people of Pensacon are some of the most humble people I have ever met, and that is very important to me. You’ll find the cosplayers are more than happy to discuss their costume techniques, their craft, and even take the time to offer tips to help make your own setup look all the more aesthetically pleasing. For me, the camaraderie is what it’s all about. Being able to spend time talking with the fans and other cosplayers makes the experience all the more fun. And it gets even better when your hear some of the crazy fun ideas that they have for the photos…Trust me, I’ve had Carl (you know, the old guy from Up?) ask me to grab his walker and pose like I took it from him-- the picture alone makes me smile every time I think about it.
But what else is there to do, right? Well, if the daily convention festivities aren’t enough, Pensacon also hosts a number of fun little performances off site, costume contests, and restaurants in the area even host several themed nights with their staff-- where all cosplayers are welcome! There is nothing like grabbing a bite to eat Downtown and seeing Wolverine and Batman sharing an appetizer.
FYI - Circle your calendar for Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Pensacola Bay Center in Downtown Pensacola. To check out this year’s guest list, go to Pensacon.com.
Will you be attending? Make sure to share your photos with #ExplorePcola
By Mark Lua
Mark Lua is a teacher at Ferry Pass Middle School who uses science and mathematics to teach students how to program their own games. Fascinated by poetry and the written word, and possessing a self-described flair for the dramatic, Mark also teaches drama and theatre at the school and for the past four years has helped run the after-school Drama Club. Before making his way to Pensacola, Mark attended the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., where he majored in Secondary Education with a focus on English Language Arts.