Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Shanghai Comic Con

Shanghai Comic Con was held on November 5-6, and it was so cool! This was my first time going to a comic con. I totally loved it! Please enjoy my photos:

Superman (超人 chāo rén) and Batman (蝙蝠侠 biān fú xiá) books in Chinese.
There was a cosplay competition.

I loved seeing so many people in costume. And it was really cool how people would just go up and talk to each other, say things like "wow you look so cool" and "can I take a photo with you?" As if we're all already friends because we are fans of these characters. There was one guy- who I had never met before- that I called "Obi-Wan" as if that was his name and we totally knew each other because, well, he was Obi-Wan.

And if you see someone dressed as a character from the same movie that your own costume is from, you don't even have to say anything. Excited pointing is enough to communicate "YOU LOOK SO COOL AND WE SIMPLY MUST TAKE A PICTURE TOGETHER." That crosses language barriers. I speak Chinese and English, but if I didn't, there still would not have been any trouble communicating that.

Nathan Fillion was the big special guest.
Nick Wild cosplay (from "Zootopia"). I love this.
Jedi Spiderman and Sith Deadpool.
There were tons and tons of these Avengers statues.
A Spock and a Harley Quinn.
This tiger is a really cool robot that's used for some TV show- Game of Thrones, I think? All different parts of its face can be moved by remote control.

Such a cool environment to be in. People were all admiring each other's costumes, and so many different characters were represented. (The costume I saw the most, by far, was Deadpool. Second place was Harley Quinn.)

(So there's a feeling of closeness with strangers because you like the same characters, but, it's not really real, obviously. I didn't have any conversations that went deeper than "wow I really love your costume/hair/ears, can I take a picture?")

Cosplay competition.
Magneto cosplay.
The Winter Soldier Lego cosplay.

Also, I'd like to talk about the ratios of men and women I saw at Comic Con. I didn't actually count, this is just based on my overall impression, so it might not be accurate, but here it is: It seemed like about an equal number of men and women attending Comic Con, but among those wearing costumes, there was a greater number of women. Specifically, I saw tons of women dressed up as male characters- Deadpool, Harry Potter, Spock, Thor, etc. (Probably because, in comics and sci-fi movies in general, there are way more male characters than female characters, but in real life- and among fans- it's a 50/50 ratio.) Among random people walking around in costumes, there seemed to be more women. But in the cosplay competition itself- these are the people that are super-serious and spend hundreds and hundreds of hours creating their outfits- it was about an equal number of men and women. (With more men in the "armor" category and more women in the "needlework" category.)

I wonder what kind of gender ratios comic cons typically have. (Again, I didn't actually keep detailed statistics, so it's possible I'm wrong about those ratios.)

And I noticed the English ability of comic con attendees was much higher than the average for Chinese people in this age group. A lot of random strangers talked to me in English, and it was good English, not "I haven't used this since high school and I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing it right" English. At the panels I went to, many of the speakers were from the US and there was a translator to translate between audience questions and panelists' answers- but actually, most of the Chinese audience members who asked questions asked in English. (And then the translator would be like "okay can you also say it in Chinese" so the whole audience would know what the question was. Lol. Translator doesn't want to do any more work than he has to.) At the cosplay competition, the host (the Asian woman you see in the photos) mostly spoke in English- she's not from China but she can speak some Chinese- and then the other guy with her translated to Chinese.

It makes sense that comic con attendees would have much better English ability than other Chinese people in their age group. Comic con is for fans of Marvel, Star Wars, and other sci-fi stories or comic book stories, most of which come from the US. (Also Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, from the UK.) These things are not native to Chinese culture, so the Chinese people who follow them are probably also very interested in western culture (and studying English), much more so than the average Chinese person.

Rey as a Sith.

And it was really interesting for me to see Chinese people who had such an in-depth knowledge of things like the Star Wars universe or the many many Marvel superheroes. People were asking questions to the panelists about this or that character in the Star Wars comic books- I didn't even know there were Star Wars comic books. Most Chinese people I know aren't familar with Star Wars at all (until last year when "The Force Awakens" was released and all kinds of related merchanise appeared here). And Hendrix (who is a huge Marvel fan) says Marvel didn't get popular in China until the first Ironman movie (2008). For Americans, there is a much longer history and definitely a huge nostalgia component in the fandoms surrounding things like Star Wars and Marvel. That's why I'm really glad I was in the US last year when "The Force Awakens" was released and I got to see it in the theater. The audience cheered when they saw Han and Chewie on the big screen. It was such a cool experience, and I could not have gotten that in China. Yeah, I could have seen "The Force Awakens" in a Chinese movie theater, in English with Chinese subtitles, but the whole culture surrounding Star Wars doesn't exist here. It's just not the same.

“很久很久以前,在一个遥远的银河系。。。。。。“ A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
Star Wars books in Chinese.

(As a side note, it's kind of interesting, when I see movies from the US in Chinese movie theaters, how the audience may or may not react to the jokes in the movie. Like in "Zootopia," when Judy was calculating how much income Nick didn't report on his taxes, she says, "I'm just a dumb bunny, but we are good at multiplying" and I LAUGHED OUT LOUD because that is HILARIOUS. Complete silence from the whole Chinese audience. That joke just did not translate at all. But they LOVED the sloths and their slow-motion facial expressions. And in "Finding Dory," there was one bit where somebody asks Marlin, "Are you okay? You look nervous" and he answers "I always look like that", and that got a huge laugh from the Chinese audience.)

ANYWAY. My point is, nowadays, the big action movies from the US are also released in China, but it wasn't that way, say, 20 or 30 years ago. (I suspect that "Titanic" [1997] was the first one that did extensive marketing in China because SO MANY Chinese people are HUGE fans of "Titanic." It's bizarre. Like back when I taught English, any time we talked about movies, we had to talk about "Titanic." They LOVE "Titanic.") So, because of recent movies, Chinese people my age at least know what Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel are, but I hadn't seen anything resembling the whole nerdy fandom surrounding those things until I went to comic con. So that was pretty cool.

Although comic con and the associated fandoms are very new in China (the first Shanghai Comic Con was just last year), cosplay has a much longer history here. People all know what "cosplay" means- actually, it seems like there isn't really a Chinese word for "cosplay"; they just say "cosplay." (Sort of like how the Chinese word for "iPhone" is "iPhone.")

This slide says "SHCC Cosplay 冠军赛". That's not an English and Chinese translation side-by-side; nope, it's just Chinese. "SHCC" is Shanghai Comic Con, the Chinese word for "cosplay" is "cosplay", and "冠军赛 [guàn jūn sài]" means championship.
Two Deadpools playing a video game.
Four Deadpools fighting a dinosaur.

Interestingly, many of the competitors in the cosplay competiton were dressed as characters from video games or anime that I'm not familar with. In contrast, most of the regular comic con attendees walking around in costumes were characters from DC, Marvel, etc- from media that's more western. Seems like the people who are most dedicated to cosplay and spend hundreds of hours on it tend to be more into the fandoms that originated in Asia or at least have a long history in China.

This cosplay, of a character from Starcraft, was the eventual  winner of the cosplay competition. All the joints- including fingers- actually moved. Wow.
All of the cosplay winners.
This guy was the champion of the cosplay competition.

In summary, Comic Con was great! I loved it so much- it's kind of ridiculous how I had never been to a comic con before this, because this is SO TOTALLY my thing. I hope you all enjoyed my photos and cultural musings.

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