Monday, February 14, 2011

Event Report - Comic World Taiwan 27 (and the difference between Asian and Western cons)

Conventions are wonderful events where like-minded people gather to meet, have fun, buy stuff, and cosplay (if it is a media convention). I am not a super-avid con-goer, but I have been to 3 different cons 4 or 5 times in the U.S.A.

This was my first time going to a convention here, and it was quite fun!

I had heard that the MAIN difference between Asian and Western conventions is panels. Western conventions are built around panels! Con-goers pour over the panel schedules and figure out which ones they need to see, whether the panels overlap, what time one would be able to squeeze in a meal, etc. Asian conventions do not have panels at all. I have never been big on going to panels, so this did not bother me.

There is also, of course, the Dealer's Room with official merchandise and indie brands that are well-established enough to afford the higher vendor fees.

The Artist Alley is composed of beginner artists selling handmade drawings, paintings, fanart, fleece hats, etc. Some offer prints, some just do hand-sketches, and the quality is generally hit-or-miss. I have seen gorgeous art prints, exquisite jewelry, crappy, lop-sided clay pieces falling apart at the table, T-shirt paintings done with cracking paint, etc.

Usually the Dealer's Room is quite crowded and at Anime Detour (MN's anime convention) there was actually a flowchart of how you had to walk through the Dealer's Room in order to avoid traffic jams! Detour has a reputation for being just a huge shopping mall, basically haha.

Cosplayers populate the hallways and mingle with non-cosers everywhere. Impromptu photoshoots and random snaps happen in the hallways during a lull in foot traffic or in more open areas such as hotel lobbies. Cosers vary from eBay-purchased costumes that don't fit right to stunningly accurate and elaborate costumes handmade by the individual.

Activities continue late into the night with room parties and lots of new friends! When it comes time to crash, most people have either booked a room at the con hotel, one nearby, or live close enough to drive home for the night.

Such has been my convention experiences in America. When I went to Comic World Taiwan 27, I got a BIG surprise!

Normally, a convention ticket at the door is US$50. If you pre-order several months in advance, it is US$35, a couple months in advance is US$45 for all 3 days. CWT is NT$200 for both days. That equals less than US$7. WOW! I was really happy that it was much cheaper! CWT is held at National Taiwan University, not a hotel, so perhaps the renting fee is cheaper?

Another huge difference was the fact than CWT is not 24hours. It starts around 9AM and ends at 4PM. Then everybody goes home and comes back the next day :( No room parties, no rooms, no late night activities.

Also, the sheer number of people was ridiculous. I have seen photos of ComicCon, DragonCon, etc. but this was INSANE!
This is my view from 4F of 3F. There was traffic jams, much crushing and squishing, and a lot of "Hey! Don't push!"
I imagine this is what Black Friday looks like. Personally, I have never gone out on Black Friday and after this, I certainly don't plan to! I was caught in a jam for more than 5 minutes and couldn't put both my feet flat on the floor without stepping on somebody else

By the way, that's one of the Artist Alley floors. CWT is composed of almost entirely independent artists. There were 1,000+ vendor tables and they were all fanart. Almost all of them are selling fan-made comics, prints, sketches, and print-products. And it all looked professional! One vendor table costs NT$400 (SO CHEAP!!) and the more popular artists actually had lines forming at their booths. I waited in line with my friend for maybe 20+ minutes to get a comic from a popular artist. It is pretty crazy!

There is fanart for everything. A LOT of Axis Powers Hetalia everywhere, but also really random things like this:
Yes, that is Spongebob as an anime character. There was even one for internet browsers (FireFox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer)
ANYTHING can have a fandom.

A very small portion of the vendors sold BJD goods and one sold Lolita clothing. I wasn't able to take photos, but this is her blog

The Dealer's Room with actual manga series, on the other hand, was very empty and only consisted of one room and 2 or 3 different sellers
See? So sad and lonely!
There were no plushies, figurines, or official merchandise beyond the manga and a few artbooks. I had been hoping for Gloomy Bear plushies...

Now about cosers - at first I thought that there were VERY few cosplayers, and could definitely see why because the amount of squishing going on would ruin a costume in minutes. Later, I found that most of them were getting changed/hair/makeup in the 4F bleachers to go take photos outside. Photoshoots are done in designated areas outdoors. Unfortunately, since it was rather cold and rainy, very few cosers were outside when I was there :(
I did see quite a few people in the bleachers and back hallways getting ready though, and can I just say, "WOW!!!"
Usually the ratio of cosplayers goes like this:
awesome, put in a lot of effort:good, thought out most things and have only a mistakes:bad, lazy cosplay or last-minute cosplay:awful, why did you leave the house like that?::10:40:40:10
I blame the 40%bad on Death Note L cosplays ;D
At CWT the awesome:good:bad:awful ratio was more like this:
Almost EVERYTHING I saw at the VERY least fit well, had attention to detail, and most were actually pretty elaborate. I didn't see any bad wigs or sloppy makeup jobs. It was shocking, actually :o Hopefully I will be able to go to CWT28, which is in the summer, and get some photos!

There was also a tiny con suite, but the food cost money. No more expensive than outside food though, which is great! I really dislike convention vendors who overcharge for food :P

I know this post really doesn't have too much to do with Lolita in general :) But here are some photos of some of the things I bought:
Lolita Artbook
Alice in Wonderland poster print (re-drawn by the artist). The artwork on this is gorgeous!

A cute dog character based on the artist's dog

Cute nerdification of my EasyCard, which is sort of like a bus pass you can store money on, but some shops like 7-11 and Starbucks can use it too!

Overall, I think I prefer Western conventions because there is more intermingling, but that might be because I don't really care for fanfiction or yaoi. If you have a thing for either, CWT is like a treasure trove of goodies!! Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes and get ready to squeeze!