Long ago, I became a fan of a show called Avatar: The Last Airbender. Then everything changed when Comic-Con arrived. Only cosplaying as the Avatar, master of all four elements, could take my love for this series to the next level…Two days of Comic-Con passed, and a panel, a meetup, and a signing helped me discover a new group of fellow fans. And I believe, it was the best Avatar-themed day ever.
Alright, well, ordinarily I’d go for the day-to-day, play-by-play, but there’s too much residual good feeling surrounding Avatar-related happenings at July’s annual nerd convergence in San Diego (a.k.a. San Diego Comic-Con, or SDCC) not to start with them.
The following events took place between the days of Friday, July 10th and Saturday, July 11. Bum bum.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, you can learn a little more about the characters and premise in my Avatar/The Legend of Korra Celebrating Female Characters set of posts. My goal this year (ahem, semi-frantic scramble) for SDCC was to complete a Korra costume for a cosplay based off of a design from the final season that aired last year.
Two Avatar panels were being featured on Friday and Saturday of the con, which acted as my high priority con goals on both of those days. And with a bit of luck and planning, two consecutive, early-to-be-on-the-safe-side, but not too bad mornings saw me make it into both! The first was a Dark Horse panel with the two creators of the series, Micheal DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The panel focused on both Book 4 with the end of Korra’s journey, and the comics that continue the original ‘Gaang’s’ story.
The big announcement? Well, actually, Korra’s journey isn’t quite at an end yet. Fans can expect her adventures to continue with her own Dark Horse comic, but that’s not all. Both Mike and Bryan will be the creative team behind this new Korra comic – flameo!
New Legend of Korra comic announced!
Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko at the Dark Horse Avatar Panel
Smoke and Shadow Avatar comic cover
The second panel on Saturday morning was an Avatar Legacy Fan Panel hosted by AvatarMom, and featuring a range of guests: Sculptor and artist Magda Escobedo Bazaldúa, Puppetbender creator Kevin Coppa, series director Giancarlo Volpe, head writer Aaron Ehasz, and Jack Desena (voice of Sokka), Dante Bosco (voice of Zuko), and Darcy Rose Byrnes (voice of Ikki).
It began with a few funny animations the crew had put together while working on the show, and ran through some other amusing videos such as Puppetbender outtakes and a show-inspired martial arts video. The panel also included a short preview reading of Smoke and Shadow, a cosplay contest, and a pretty interesting Q&A with all present.
Avatar fan panel at Comic-Con
Voice actors Jack DeSena, Dante Bosco, and Darcy Rose Byrnes
Waiting in line for an Avatar panel? Ain’t no thang.
Things I never knew: Iroh’s backstory was actually inspired by a question asked at an SDCC panel after the premier of the first season about him not being the current Fire Lord as the older son. Mike and Bryan only ever intended for ‘Cabbage Man’ to appear once, but the joke in his recurrences was something carried out by the writers. The argument in favor for the final decision to change Toph from being a male to a female character was made by a few of the writers who believed the fun and unexpectedness of girl Toph would be more exciting than generic tough guy Toph (here, here!).
And my personal favorite question asked? Favorite character growth moments. Answers included the Blue Spirit episode, beach episode, Zuko going on a date, Katara bloodbending, and Tenzin’s kids finding Korra in Book 4.
Waiting in line each morning was a breeze as fans chatted with each other and took awesome cosplay pics. Another plus one for best Avatar Comic-Con day ever? Oh, just the fact that I got a picture with Dante Bosco right after the fan panel. Dante. Bosco.
Go ahead, bask in the glory of this unintentionally close-up selfie.
While waiting for Saturday’s panel, an Asami cosplayer I happened to be next to in line on Friday mentioned that there would be a cosplay meetup after the fan panel. I had nothing pressing to get to afterward, so why not?
It was, without a doubt, the right decision. After the gaggle following Dante Bosco (who was so gracious and nice to fans who wanted an autograph or photo while staff were telling him he had to go) broke up, I hung around with other cosplayers still in the hallway, hoping to follow them to the meetup. Turns out most of us where in the same pickle, and luckily there was a Yue cosplayer who knew exactly where to go. It bears repeating that the Moon Spirit rules with compassion and lunar goodness.
The meetup was such a blast! Everyone was excited to be there, and everyone was kind, enthusiastic about each other’s costumes, and basically awesome. Photos were to be gotten as we mingled, followed by a big group photo on the steps, and a bunch of amazing group photos for each smaller grouping (Earth Nation, Water Tribe, Avatars/spirits, villains, Republic City peeps,…see overload of pics at the bottom of the post!).
Of course, both serious and goofy photos were to be expected.
I can’t get over how spot on this picture is
I was having such a good time, in fact, that I was one of the last to leave, which lead to taking an already fantastic day to being the best day ever. After a few more shots, the exchanging of information and where to find the Facebook group page, and an invitation to the Avatar meetup dinner that night, a small group of us cosplayers who I shall henceforth refer to as, ‘Squad’, was created.
Initially I had intended to be in line trying to get into the BBC America Doctor Who meetup happening offsite at the House of Blues at this point (and don’t get me wrong, Whovians, I would have be thrilled to have gotten in!), but I decided that spontaneity had been my friend thus far, so why not keep rolling with it?
And so it was that myself and four others formed an Avatar cosplay group where we set out to roam the halls of the convention center. Our four hour mission? To bring the Avatar style to all, and seek fellow cosplayers to take pictures with until a Nickelodeon booth signing happening later that afternoon.
This – this – is what Comic-Con is all about. Sure there are the appearances from awesome actors and professionals, sneak peeks, displays, art, and merch that will make your wallet tear bend. But when it gets right down to it, the joyful gathering of fans and spontaneous finding of friends is what it’s all about.
Now I had never really done a full cosplay group before, but there is something infinitely cool about being a part of one with copslayers from the same fandom. Any self-doubts about your passion and costuming efforts disappear, and you feel like you can take on the world (or maybe that last part is the unique effect of this group).
As we strutted our bending stuff, more people than I expected wanted to take our picture and we soon had poses down and a conch shell-like summoning call of ‘SQUAD!‘ to pull us together when someone requested a photo. I’ll freely admit it, vain as it may sound, but it’s a uniquely awesome feeling to have people admiring you and your group, legitimizing the work that went into your character presentation. More than that ego-boosting experience though, I had unexpectedly met a group of amazing people who shared this same crazy love I did, and we had instantly clicked.
Cabbage bending is a go.
(I know, my salute technique is all wrong. The Avatar should know better.)
We are the benders of the night…
Some friendships are so strong, they can even transcend lifetimes.
Now, understandably you may be thinking at this point, sure seems like an incredible SDCC experience so far to me – could it possibly get any better? Absolutely it could.
Remember that Nickelodeon booth signing I mentioned a few paragraphs ago? Let me explain; it was a Mike and Bryan signing. While only one of our Squad had gotten an actual ticket for this event the day before, we all decided to try our luck anyway based on some input from wiser con-goers than myself. In order to prepare for the ‘just in case’ scenario, we stopped by the Dark Horse booth to get beautiful art books from the show (think an animated show version of a ‘making of’ documentary) to get signed.
Ultimate Avatar selfie! Thanks to Bryan and Mike for being so awesome.
After standing faithfully at the Nickelodeon booth before and during the signing, proving our dedication as fans and attracting the attention of con-goers wanting photos as we and other Avatar cosplayers waited hopefully, the staff at the booth kindly offered us some left over passes (you rock, Nick booth!) to meet the duo and get our books signed. I fist-bumped Bryan, it was awesome.
And so, the best Avatar-themed SDCC day ever was had by all. Combined, the panels, the signing, and the cosplay meetup made my Avatar-themed days of Comic-Con unforgettable. Meeting and forming Squad made it something special.
The end. Until the next Comic-Con post. Which is coming soon, I promise.
Readers, deepest apologies for the delay and post hiatus. My excuse? The Women’s World Cup (USA!) and getting prepared for Comic-Con, then Comic-Con was upon us, and then a mixture of life stuff and blogger’s block came together to put a frustrating slow spell over sorting images from the con and getting this post up. Things are back in a more normal swing now, however, and I plan to continue posting more regularly.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read and I hope you find the photos of this post as fun and fantastic as I do. Cheers! Until then…
**Special shout out to the Squad member who took so many of our group photos for us (and is soon to be our Zuko!), and the various folks at the meetup who kindly took some of the group photos on my camera for me – you all rock!