Elite Con, will be held one day only, Sunday March 12 in Tampa FL, and it’s a little different, a a trade show/collectors event. It has many unusual features, as laid out on its website, and it fancies itself a bit of an upscale collector marketplace:

A Premium Collectibles Marketplace.

Are you an advanced collector of certified and raw comics, toys, Legos, Pops!, and pop-culture related artwork?  Have you soured on attending modern “media-driven” conventions, because they often have too few of the quality items you are looking for?  Do you enjoy the hassle of long lines, cosplayers, crowded aisles, and endless rows of stuff you have no interest in buying?  Well, as collectors ourselves, we don’t either.

What if there was a convention where the vendors were hand-selected because of the quality of their merchandise?  What if your collecting interests were known to those vendors ahead of time, so they could better tailor their show inventory to you?  What if everyone in attendance was also a serious collector, with similar interests, and you were free to network, trade, buy, and sell with them?

‘What if’ is now ‘What is’……welcome to EliteCon.

Oh my! So Wimbledon Green! Wimbledon-Green-int.jpg
Now if you read the above you may have noticed that among the hassles of comic cons, along with long lines and crowded aisles, they mentioned…cosplayers. Indeed Elite Con does not want cosplayers sullying its oh so refined atmosphere. In a now deleted post on FB, they came right out and said it:

elitecon.jpg

After that post garnered hundreds of angry responses, it was deleted and a new statement put up:

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OK, so as it appears the outcry will continue I want to consolidate to one post if you would please be so kind. While we continue to hope for a respectful dialogue it appears that may be asking too much based on many of the posts we have received. We do not wish to suppress your opinion of dissent, we only ask once again that you try and keep the comments civil.
Since we cannot respond to all of your posts individually just want to address some common themes that have come up. We are not trying to engage in argument but simply to clarify some points.
1. No offense was intended, plain and simple. We have not said one single derogatory word about cosplaying and any such negative inferences are inaccurate. We have many friends who cosplay :)
2. Our show was named Elite “Con” meaning convention or gathering of people.
3. We have made it known since day one in our posts, videos and website that this would be an event focused solely on the collectibles and not cosplay, autographs or panels. So no deception there as suggested. No one needs a refund because it was made known right up front many months ago and many times since then.
4. While we appreciate the concern for low attendance, we are a small show in a small venue that could not hold all of you even if we were to have cosplaying. The larger conventions are better equipped to handle that volume of attendees and activities that are not vending related. Our show is focused on comics, action figures, lego, die-cast, funko pop and artwork. We honestly do not have anything in the way of cosplay vendors.
5. The “Elite” name is in reference to the collectibles. Not elitist even though that is convenient. Our show is designed for collectors who are seeking items they are not likely to find at a “flea market” “garage sale” and yes our dealers are regulating what they bring to meet a higher standard and at fair prices. We have posted hundreds of pictures and some videos to show attendees exactly what to expect. So again no deception here.
6. The people who have expressed interest in attending our show (a lot more now actually since this went kinda viral) generally like the idea of having the option to attend a non cosplay event and do not mean that as an insult to anyone. There are so many shows that do accommodate cosplay I am not entirely sure why so much backlash to just one that does not. To say that we cannot have an event called a “con” unless we have cosplay is debatable and we will agree to disagree here.
7. We have put together and worked very hard towards a show that we feel directly meets the requests of so many collectors that we have spoken to over the years. Our show is not about excluding anyone but if attire is paramount over the collectibles then we agree with you that this may not be a show you want to attend. It was not designed to simply draw large crowds there are shows for that. It is meant to service a specific niche of collector who sees the collectibles as paramount over the attire.
So, we know this breaks from all accepted conventional wisdom these days but that is our show and we hope those who attend will be pleased. One final note, and then the bashing can resume. A lot more bullying going on here than productive commentary. That is unfortunate. Best Regards to you all. We honestly mean no ill will to any of you. Even the bashers :) By the way, love the memes!

While one appreciates the attempt to stand out in a very, very crowded con marketplace as a high end selling show, the claim that “We have not said one single derogatory word about cosplaying” would seem to be contradicted by calling them one of the “hassles” of going to cons.

As opined by Nerd & Tie, Elite Con was certainly in its rights to have a policy like that…as dumb as it is. Why would cosplayers WANT to go to a boring old selling show for items $50 and up only? By banning them outright, Elite Con created this whole uproar.

TCAF, one of the three greatest shows in North America, also discourages cosplayers, but for opposite reasons:

We don’t encourage cosplay for the safety of the cosplayers and the public. To make it as simple as possible, comic book conventions, regular comics events, are a ‘safe space’ for people to express themselves without fear of criticism or rejection. There’s a sort of mutally-agreed-upon pact between attendees, about “letting your freak flag fly” to use an olds expression. TCAF takes place in a public library, with a lot of people who don’t consider TCAF to be a comic convention (including me, including the public, including the thousand people there just to use the computers and check out books). There is no mutually agreed upon pact between attendees of TCAF and the members of the general public at the library that day, other than the general social contract that governs us all in our day to day… and that general social contract doesn’t make a lot of room for dressing as characters from comic books, which means the verbal gloves can come off, to mix a few metaphors there.
I don’t want anyone at all to be hurt by mean words or bad encounters at TCAF, and because we can’t guarantee a ‘safe space’, a non-agression pact by everyone who’s going to be there, it would be flat-out irresponsible of us to get on board with cosplay. But as always, we respect an indvidual’s right to express their identity, and like I said, no one should be a jerk to anyone else whether they’re wearing a costume or otherwise.

At the end of the day, Elite Con looks to be a boring afternoon for gentleman collectors. You do you. And there are certainly places where cosplay is less desirable than others, acorss this sqath ofhundreds and hundreds of nerdish events around the world.

But to brand it a hassle? Gimme a break. Like it or not cosplay is one of the BIGGEST reasons why con culture has taken off, both in a participatory manner and as part of the spectacle and carnival nature of comic cons in the 21st century. Elite Con had every right to run their show as they see fit, but their PR skills are awful.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry to hear that TCAF also feels that way. VanCAF, the Vancouver version of the con encourages cosplay and along with little kids dressing as the more mainstream characters you get some deep cuts from the alternative comics world.

    Cosplay makes cons better.

  2. You know what kills me, everything about this screams that want to be viewed as refined purveyors of valuable pieces of pop culture servicing only the most selective of clientèle. Yet in the very first line they mention Pop! figures, the Beanie Babies of our time. So I think it safe to say this isn’t so a convention as it is speculators trying to convince people their junk is an actual investment.

    From that viewpoint, them banning cosplay makes total sense. They probably want to attract an older crowd, who have probably been shared stories on Facebook about how this or that toy went sold for fortune.Young people hanging around having fun would destroy the idea that this is a sound fiscal venture.

  3. >> Elite Con had every right to run their show as they see fit, but their PR skills are awful. >>

    Maybe. But on the other hand, they got the word out about their show, much more widely than they otherwise would have, and if the message they’ve sent out is “Elite Con? That’s that snobby con that bans cosplayers because they’re all about high-end collector’s items and nothing else,” well, that’s what they are, and people who actually want that are more likely to go “Yeah? I like the sound of that” than “How dare they?”

    Me, I don’t have any interest in high-end collectibles, so I’m not part of their target audience. Let me know when the con that bans everything but panels and conversation groups starts up…

  4. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival doesn’t allow cosplayers but that’s because it’s not a con, it’s an art festival. And it’s also way overcrowded for the venue (the Toronto Reference Library, which they continue to use so they can keep it a free event) and cosplayers would get in the way.

    Elite Con, however, doesn’t appear to be an art festival. It’s not even really much of a con. It’s more like a flea market, by the sounds of it. Maybe just call it that.

  5. I will go on record as saying I find it a bit of a “hassle”, as I am navigating around a con trying to visit the various vendors (including finding the ones that are of interest to me), to have my way barred by people taking pictures of each other, or wearing outfits that take up more than the normal amount of space a human being is supposed to take up. It is not the only hassle, but it is one.

  6. They seem totally reasonable to me, but I’m in the older half of fandom (41). I like comics as a medium, not as a character delivery service. If kids want to dress up, that doesn’t bother me. But I don’t want anybody confusing me with a cosplayer if I say I’m going to a convention (and I have been asked if I cosplay by non-comics people more than once).

    As a teen reading comics, I wanted to make more comics, not pretend to be Batman.

    It’s a personal opinion, and the people angered over this need to check their privilege. The world is not about them and servicing them to the extent that they should heap anger on the organizer. If a restaurant has a dress code that forbade flip flops, protesting beach bums would look pretty dumb. Cosplay has helped make comic culture and cons more popular, but that doesn’t mean people can’t look for spaces without it too. (Similarly, I want a comics site that isn’t 50% superhero movie news, and a comic shop that isn’t front loaded with toys and t-shirts, regardless of how those have boosted the industry. It’s tiring and no other art form operates this way.)

    I’m old. I’m free to be old.

  7. Actually, TCAF does allow cosplay, they just don’t encourage it. When people have shown up in costume they’re allowed in like everybody else (it IS held in a public library after all). I have seen people in there costume before, but they would literally be the only person dressed up among hundreds of people. It probably felt really awkward for them.

    As others have said, TCAF is an arts festival, not a pop culture convention. By and large there are no superhero or pop culture type books being sold there. It celebrates other types of comics instead.

  8. “Trade show”? It’s a “dealer show”, albeit one aimed at a more lucrative market.
    Hotel. No programming. No celebrities.

    I did notice that there were no original art dealers listed on the site, which seems a glaring omission, but maybe, there aren’t any in the region.

    My big quibble: $25 for 6 hours on Sunday, to a dealer show.
    Where I a retailer, I’d question that price.
    Perhaps it’s to discourage the riff-raff and lookie-lou’s.

    Comic Art Con, held in New Jersey, is a show specializing in original comic art. $10

  9. They ARE a hassle! Im there to read and buy comics. Not get stopped every ten seconds for a photo of a crappy costume worn by a person who isnt buying anything to support the artists who created or worked on the characters you are wearing! The game has changed so much, its unreal. I miss the comic cons of old. Where new discoveries were happening, instead of articles posting pics of only the cosplayers, and the writers and artists were never mentioned. There are plenty of other pop culture shows to go to. Methinks the people complaining here weren’t even going to the show in the first place.

  10. And this folks is why fursuiting beats cosplay: because the vast majority of fursuiters at least make an effort to create their own characters and costume / creature designs, instead of dressing up as someone else’s intellectual property.

  11. Simple answer: Don’t call it a con. Call it a collector’s show.
    How about this? Elite Collectors Show or ECS.

    Con is now a descriptor that is associated with fun, cosplay, comics, animation..Elite sounds nothing like a con.

  12. And for those of you who grump about cosplayers, get over it. They make the shows fun. They are a new generation of audience. Just because they dont buy your stuff doesnt mean they are not spending money. Either you dont have good stuff, or it’s just not what they are looking for.

    If it’s a con, you want as many people/fans/nerds/otaku/geeks as possible. A con is a fun thing that brings in fun people. If you dont like that….stay home.

  13. How about people who unwittingly cosplay as Comicbook Guy or Forry Ackerman? Will they get the chance to explain themselves or will entry be barred outright?…

  14. John Shableski is exactly the sort of privileged kid I was writing about.

    No, every con does not need cosplay. Yes, it’s okay to make a con with different goals.

    In terms of cons full of cosplay? Yeah, I will stay home. I haven’t gone to one of those cons in 15 years, and I’m happy not to go. But if someone wants to organize a con without cosplay, the grown up response is, “Power to you! A place for everyone to enjoy what they like!” If you don’t like it, you should stay home, or go to virtually any other convention, since they cater to you personally. You may as well moan about the Harry Potter con not selling Batman, cuz Batman is popular and brings people in.

    What a brat.

  15. It’s so hard to keep track of which types of fan enthusiasm Heidi allows and which ones she decided deserve only sending contempt.

  16. for def: brat? Dude, I’m older than you.
    For everyone else, I totally understand why some comics guys get pissy about the cosplayers. They feel it’s an invasion of the space they (the old-school comics guys) used to own. What you are seeing now is the natural evolution of the market place. More and more fans are coming out of the woodwork to celebrate everything fun about con life. You’re just going to have to accept it. Sure there will be smaller cons that are the old style table deal but those too are beginning to fade.
    It’s the nature of the business-the next gen kids are moving in and if you let them show you how, they’ll make it a lot more fun.
    Hell, they wont wait for you to “let” them do anything. They’re already doing it and they’re having a blast.

  17. I don’t care how old you are, you sound like a brat.

    And I’m fine with cons being overrun with cosplay, that is the way of the marketplace. What I’m not fine with is the bratty attitude people have when someone creates a space where cosplay is unwanted… Rather than tell people to get over it, respect them for creating/finding their own space. Christ.

  18. A lot of time you’ll notice the ones that tell others to get over something are the ones who have the problem.

    Having said that, it’d be nice to be able to take my 9yo to a con and not have to explain to him why the clown women are all showing their chests.

    It’s ONE show in FL. Cosplayers are not being imposed upon.

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