Jo conquers the DragonCon Costume Contest!

>> Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jo entered the DragonCon Friday Night Costume Contest this year with an entry of her own construction! That's right--Jo sewed and crocheted that costume all by herself. (Okay, Wendi helped her with the shirt, as the material Jo chose proved impossible to work with.) She is Mistumi, a Pokemon trainer from the recent Pokemon Diamond and Pearl manga books.

Jo entered the costume contest last year in a Raven costume Wendi made, and we learned a lot. For one thing, the costume contest (as opposed to the Masquerade on Sunday night) puts the emphasis on construction and results, not performance. Jo's costume was great last year, but she didn't make it herself. Further, we had no reference photos for the judges to see what we were trying to match. People who knew what they were doing brought notebooks full of pictures, with reference photos as well as pictures taken during the construction of the costume.

We learned our lesson, and this time we took copious pictures of Jo creating her costume, and included as many images of the costume as we could from scans of Pokemon comics. We put them together in a book for the judges to look at, and then they asked Jo questions about her character and the construction of her costume. They were very impressed, and told Jo she had a future in professional costume design! They especially appreciated the boots, which are always one of the hardest things to make for a costume.

After Jo's interview was over, it was time to have her picture taken by the DragonCon photographer. I snatched a pic or two while she was up against the solid background.

All the costume contest contestants have to hang out in the same room while the judging and photography is being done, which makes for an interesting crowd... Here are the folks who would eventually win Best in Show: an apocalyptic Wizard of Oz collection.

Their Tin Man was pretty exceptional.

This was another of our favorites, taken from a painting. The costume contest rewards those who can reproduce something from other media in a costume format. This proved to be another of the winners. I think it was the winner in the Professional category.

This guy was great too--he made that helmet, which is a faithful reproduction of a helmet worn in a Daft Punk video. Pretty amazing! The thing strobed with LEDs he had painstakingly programmed to look like the original in the music video. He was a really nice guy too--we talked before and after the show about his costume. I listened in on his judges' interview too, and learned that he had to make six of these helmets, because the place he sent it off to to give it that chrome finish kept ruining them with the chroming process!

After the judging and photos are finished, the contestants are moved to the backstage area of the ballroom where the show is held. From the beginning of the judging process to the beginning of the actual show is three hours, and then the show often takes another couple of hours itself! Entering the costume contest is definitely not for those who have other plans on Friday afternoon--but then again, the line to get in to the costume contest has almost as long a wait!

People sit how and where they can when in costume. Last year, there was a guy with a costume where he had a dummy trailing him, bent over with its head stuck up his butt, and the poor guy couldn't sit down. He had to stand for five hours straight.

One of the best parts about being in the costume contest is getting to be up close and personal with the other costumes. I was pretty smitten with this steampunk Batman costume, which had working wings.

He gave me a private demonstration! Awesome.

Then, finally, it was time for the show! As the first person to sign up for the youth competition, Jo was the first contestant on stage of any age. But she was undaunted! I ran out through the side curtains to snap a quick shot. The audience loved her!

Backstage during the show. It's dark, so the picture isn't great, but you can see the backstage area in the foreground, with that incredible costume I took a picture of before being led off back to the waiting area. Through the curtain at the back, you can see a time traveling steampunk costume and the hosts currently on stage in the blue light of the ballroom spotlights. There are many, many volunteers who make these big shows go off without a hitch!

Another backstage shot. This time, I was trying to get pics of the post-apocalyptic Wizard of Oz costumes. It was too dark and they were moving too fast for a clean shot, but I loved the energy and dizziness of the photograph anyway. This is what it feels like to be backstage. For most of the show, everything's a blur--most costumes are on stage for less than two minutes!

At long last it was time for the awards, and Jo won first place in the Youth category! Congratulations, Jo! She was first on stage again, and she stood there holding her plaque up high and beaming nonstop through the rest of the award ceremony. I was with her backstage when it was announced that she won, so it took me a while to get back out into the audience and snap some pics of her up there.

Here she is with more of the winners, still holding up that plaque and smiling. Jo really wanted to win, but we had warned her ahead of time that DragonCon costume contests are very competitive. She did fantastic work though, and we were prepared for the judging process this year, so we all had high hopes--and we weren't disappointed!

At the end of the award ceremony, we were surprised to learn that this year they were going to let the audience applaud for their favorite costume. As the audience made their favorites known, I had a sneaking suspicion that Jo was going to get a big reception--and I wasn't disappointed. Check out the video clip, above, taken with our cheap digital camera!

So there you have it, best Youth costume, and audience favorite! Jo totally owned the Friday Night Costume Contest! Way to go, Jo! We're so proud!


tanita davis September 7, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

::waves sparklers from afar::

This is so awesome. Yay, Jo!

beth September 7, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

Congratulations, Jo!

What a great story--so happy she won!

Ally Carter September 7, 2010 at 1:54 PM  

Way to go, Jo! We're very proud of you!!

Maryrose Wood September 7, 2010 at 2:00 PM  

Jo, you look AWESOME! What a fantastic costume. Congratulations!

Dot and Grandad,  September 7, 2010 at 2:17 PM  

Grandad and I are so proud of you and so excited for you. I'll bet that you are already brainstorming ideas for next year! WE LOVE YOU

Kirsten,  September 8, 2010 at 11:24 PM  

Congratulations! I was at DragonCon, too, and I appreciate your description of the whole contest.

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