The first thing I saw at O Comic Con last year was a corgi in a Wonder Woman costume. The tiny dog looked proud, its back legs sticking out of a bright blue skirt. (Was that a corgi-sized plastic sword on its hip?)
A strong start.
This weekend, a menagerie of Trekkies, furries, otherkin, cosplayers, pixel artists, dungeon masters, Draculas and Crab People will again descend on the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs. The fourth-annual Omaha comic convention is on. Oh, there might even be some comic collectors there, too.
I met Wonder Corgi outside in the parking lot (there’s free parking by the way). If you’re brave enough to venture inside, prepare for a strange experience. A flock of Spidermans over here, a gaggle of Master Chiefs over there. Is that a hip-hop Stormtrooper rocking red Adidas and a ghetto blaster instead of a laser blaster? It sure is.
Here’s the cool stuff you shouldn’t miss at O Comic Con this year:
According to event coordinator Matthew Fujan, the corgis are back. There’s Cuddle a Corgi (9:30 a.m., Sunday), and an accompanying toy drive for Muddy Paws, an Omaha dog rescue shelter. “There could be as many as 30 corgis there,” Fujan said.
Klingon Jeopardy (1 p.m., Saturday) is not only open to Klingons, but also humans with a passable knowledge of the ancient Bat’leth. For real "Star Trek" scholars, there’s Klingon Language (1 p.m., Sunday) as well. Most useful phrase: “nuqDaq ‘oH puchpa’’e’ʔ” roughly translated — “Where's the bathroom?”
For the fur-curious, Furry 101 (Friday, 4 p.m.) will teach you everything you need to know about this fascinating subculture of people who dress up as furry animal characters. Take the next step toward your very own Fursona with Fursuit Construction (noon Saturday). No yiffing though guys. C’mon.
While the puppy cosplay is cute, the real draw will be costumes of the human variety.
The O Comic Con Official Costume Contest (6 p.m., Saturday) is always a centerpiece for craftsmanship and creativity. Elaborate costumes have become a fixture of geek fandom, particularly among those who frequent the vibrant convention scene. There are even professional cosplayers who make dressing up as their favorite characters into a lucrative career.
According to Rebekah Burchfield, another event coordinator, cosplay has become a source of shared camaraderie and nostalgia. “We are the kids who grew up with all of the cool toys in the '80s,” she said. “Now, we have families of our own, but those stories we learned as kids they remain an integral part of how we understand the world. We all have to grow up, but we don’t have to get boring."
Here’s a question — where else can you get a selfie with both Randy Jones (the cowboy from the Village People) AND Daniel Logan (Boba Fett from "Star Wars") on the same day?
“We spend a lot of time looking for guests that are different and unique. You’re not going to find the people coming to our our show that you’ve seen at other shows,” Fujan said.
Check out ocomiccon.com for a full guest list and schedule. Personally, I’ll be tracking down Roscoe Orman (Gordon from Sesame Street) and trying not to cry as I thank him for teaching me the alphabet.
Yeah, I know. Wrestling? Sure, it’s not something you usually see at a comic-con. But event coordinator Fujan thinks wrestling and comics are a natural fit. Heroes? Check. Villians? Check. Elaborate story arcs full of pathos? Check, check and check.
Maybe that’s why PWP Pro Wrestling Live (various times, all three days) has become a con favorite. For the first time this year, wrestlers will be duking it out for the official O-Comic Con Pop Culture Championship Belt. “How is a giant wrestling belt part of my job?” Burchfield wondered aloud. “It’s so awesome.”
Last year my buddy and I grabbed a beer — yes, they sell beer — before a panel titled “RPG Worldbuilding.” We had recently rediscovered Dungeons and Dragons, and were eager to pick up a few pro tips. However, it soon became clear that the moderator of the session had not shown up.
“Perhaps there was a scheduling mix up!” a Dumbledore theorized. After a few minutes of confusion, an enthusiastic young attendee stood up, took the mic and led a discussion on the importance of fictional map making. Natural 20 on initiative for that guy.
This is the kind of participatory spirit organizers hope to foster again this year. “What makes Omaha Comic Con special is that everyone there cares so much about it.” Fujan said. “We’ve worked hard to be something different.”
For many Nebraskans, this weekend will be the one time all year they can dress up, nerd out, and truly let that freak flag fly.
Seriously though, no yiffing. This a family event.