To highlight the diversity in the Marvel fandom, I’m going to feature a different Marvel-lover in each post, where we’ll talk about their hobbies outside of the fandom, how they became involved in the fandom, and even current events. This week’s feature is part two of my interview with Jenny Riddle.
I understand you recently went to your first convention. How was it? What was your experience? What did you/didn’t you like?
My first convention was so much fun! It was a convention local to us (Magic City Con in Birmingham, Alabama), and it is much, much smaller than the popular ones. I was really nervous because it was the first time I was cosplaying around other cosplayers; I just really wasn’t sure how I would be received and didn’t really know what to expect. And, in the midst of all that uncertainty I decided to enter my Agent Carter costume in the cosplay contest. In all honesty, my stomach was in knots for several days before, but it was all for naught. The people there were incredibly gracious and kind. I felt like a celebrity for a day, with so many people asking to take my picture. People loved Peggy and really want to see more of her.
The organizers also made it extremely family friendly and even had a KidCon area on Saturday morning. There was a Jedi Training and Harry Potter School experience for the kids, along with so many other fun events for the kiddos. My son loved it and absolutely could not get enough interaction with the Star Wars organizations that were there. Being there with my family (and my more experienced Nerd Culture husband) was an incredibly unique experience. Of course, we didn’t get to as many panels as we would have liked, but the experience for our son was unforgettable. Even the people who called me Carmen Sandiego were kind in response to my rebuke (kidding).
There were a few things I would have changed, but they are pretty minor—like having an information table and a little more organization for the costume contest. Really, it being our first experience, our expectations were not high, so there wasn’t much that we just didn’t like.
By the way, I ended up winning the cosplay contest in the Intermediate category. I entered as a beginner, but they bumped me up.
Since we are going into “Con Season,” do you have any recommendations for people going to their first con this summer?
I don’t have a lot of advice as a newbie, but the advice given to me by others proved to be true, so I’ll pass it on:
Take care of your feet! (Our Con had a cosplay check-in, so I stashed some flats for when I wasn’t in the judging or stage-walking for the contest. I can only go so long in 3” heels.)
I will also add this: If you are cosplaying, think about one or more poses that are fun for your character. Then, when people ask to take your picture, you’re not just standing there awkwardly like I did. This did not even cross my mind, but poses make for some fun pictures! Finally, toward the end of the day it occurred to me to pretend to punch Loki, and it’s one of my favorite pictures of the day.
Look at the schedule and consider what events are most important to you. Plan accordingly for those and then try to schedule in some down time in between.
Our con didn’t have a lot of big celebrities or panels (although what was there was pretty good), so I can’t really speak into advice for those.
What made you decide you wanted to start cosplaying?
I didn’t start with the intent to cosplay begun falling in love with the show Marvel’s Agent Carter, and after some very frustrating health challenges in our family, it became a fantastic weekly escape for me. I had this idea that I would dress up like Peggy Carter for Halloween. Except, I couldn’t find the items I needed, so I realized that I might need to actually sew a costume. A suit and blouse, however, were well beyond anything I had ever sewn previously and involved lots of pattern modification, which I had never done. My mom even suggested that I not attempt it alone. I took that challenge and ran with it. The project took on a life of its own and became a creative outlet for me when I was in a dark place emotionally and spiritually. Being able to spend time creating with my hands and delving deep into a fun distraction brought some creative therapy to me in a time when my heart was in deep pain. The Lord truly used it to bring healing as I was sewing and thinking and praying and fighting with seams, new techniques, and circumstances I didn’t understand. When I look at that blue suit, it’s a reminder of a time when God used some creative ways to uplift and bring healing into my life at a time when it was desperately needed.
Do you prefer to copy a specific character’s outfit or do your own interpretation?
Right now, I lean more toward copying a character’s outfit. I leave the designing to the designer at this point in my cosplaying, but I have great respect for those who are creative and skilled enough to do some cool things with design. For example, there were some ladies at Magic City Con who were dressed in some really neat vintage-esque dresses in the line of R2D2 and BB-8. I loved those and could see myself doing something like that in the future!
Who is your favorite character to cosplay? Why? Would you ever cosplay another character?
Agent Carter is my favorite because I just love her character so much (and it’s the only costume I have)! But, I also love the way she looks, and the designs that Giovanna Melton have done for the show are absolutely works of art. That vintage style is so fun to wear, and there’s something about cosplaying Peggy that gives an instant boost of confidence. One man at Magic City Con told me that Peggy stood out from among the other cosplayers. I fully agreed—that red hat, the colors of her wardrobe, her classy look, and that amazing red lipstick just make her stand out. Thus, trying to represent her well is an incredible experience.
I’ve definitely thought about doing another character. Rey, from The Force Awakens is one that intrigues me, and I’m toying with that idea. She’s another strong female with a strong sense of justice. But, there’s not one so far that has grabbed me like Agent Carter did.