Costumes, celebrities, and torn catsuits; a weird and wonderful weekend at Silicon Valley Comic Con


Here at SF Critic, we took a quick break from music to check out Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose. The ‘con,’ supported by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, is now in its second year and brought all kinds of magic to downtown San Jose. A total of 65,000 people attended across the three-day festival.

The event was busy throughout, with long lines forming for many of the talks, panels, and actor spotlights. There was a slightly awkward interview with John Cusack, expertly moderated by KFOG’s Dana Han-Klein. During the discussion, we learned the High Fidelity actor made “a lot of money,” from the critically panned 2012 following a mischievous question from an audience member. Other highlights included Pam Grier and senior engineer at Slack, Erica Baker, discussing the trials and tribulations of making it as black women in industries (film and tech) which are sometimes reserved for, and run by, rich, white men. It was an inspirational talk with two pioneering women full of anecdotes and motivation. Other talks ranged from how to deal with bullying, over 30s cosplay and the linguistics behind the Oscar-nominated movie, Arrival.

Any convention would not be without cosplayers adding surprise, awe and wonder. The cosplayers, some of whom took the time to pose for portraits with us, were out in force throughout the weekend. There were many intricate, self-made designs on display with characters ranging from across the spectrum of Marvel, DC, anime, video games and beyond. There were even a few interpretations of Judy Hoops, the barrier-breaking bunny from Zootopia! Not every costume was well known by the Silicon Valley crowd. Gemma Morgan, who dressed as Lori Pretty’s incarnation of Tank Girl on Saturday, shared how she was surprised at the number of people who were not familiar with the character.

There were creative fusions, such as Terry Goss and Olivia who were Spockquaman, and Wonder Uhura respectively, and Mr M’s Nurse Joker. And unexpected moments, such as when Marissa, and Marisa, who were both separately dressed as DC’s card wielding magician Zatanna, who met unexpectedly while taking portraits. Sunday also saw two of the special guests, cosplayer Abby Darkstar and make-up artist Chrissy Lyn collaborate on a wonderfully rich and detailed Twil’lek from the Star Wars universe.

The great diversity and intricacy of the costumes kept Danica, who stationed at the Cosplay Repair Center, busy for much of the three-day event. Problems requiring her skills varied from more mundane requests for a variety of specialist glues to her having to sew the ‘split behind’ of a catsuit while the cosplayer was still wearing it. Tested’s very own Adam Savage was on hand to do some of the on-site repairs; one of which called for him to grab a welding gun to help fix the cooling system in a Boba Fett costume.

Silicon Valley Comic Con was a weird, wonderful and at times inspiring weekend. Steve Wozniak (and friends’) event brought people from all walks of life together for a surprising weekend. All I have to do now is figure out what costume to wear next year.