3. What are some of the major fan convention, when did they begin and how to they differ from each other?
In America, the biggest fan play convention is Comic-con, established in San Diego in 1970 by Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger, Mike Towry, Barry Alfonso, Bob Sourk, and Greg Bear. Staring out as a comic book vending place focused more on fantasy/sci-fi television shows and content, it has since evolved into a large-scale fan convention containing cosplayers, merchandise, panels of actors, directors, etc. from all genres and areas of popular culture and brings in over 130,000 people, growing each year.
In Japan, there are several popular culture, anime and manga events that garner a lot of fan attention. These include Comiket, Anime Japan, and Jump Festa. Comiket started back in 1975 and had only 600 attendees in its first year. Now it brings roughly 500,000 attendees every year. Much like Armageddon, Comiket has plenty of popular culture pieces available and ten of thousands of comics for sale. There is also a cosplay culture within Comiket, as is there with Comic-con and Armageddon.
Anime Japan started in 2014 and focuses more on showcasing new animation products and special effect-based products or services associated with this field. Anime Japan brings in roughly the same numbers as Comic-con with reports of 130,000 attendees in 2016.
Jump Festa started up in 1999 under the name Jump Festa 2000 and its popularity grew to similar numbers as Anime Japan and Comic-con. Jump Festa, sponsored by Shueisha – the creators of the Jump anthologies – is used to showcase new animes, mangas from the Jump properties, and presents new games, game trailers, gameplay footage or game demos from Bandai Namco, Capcom and Square Enix.
Armageddon Expo is Australasia’s biggest popular culture event, first held in Auckland in 1995, Wellington in 2001 and Christchurch and Melbourne in 2007. In recent years, it has evolved from its roots of showcasing comics and trading cards to computer and video gaming, animation, film and television, cosplay, comics, live wrestling, and retailers selling pop-culture merchandise. The convention hosts celebrity guests from the worlds of movies, TV shows, animation, cosplay, YouTube, comics and gaming. On average, Armageddon Expos across NZ and Melbourne garnered a combined yearly attendance average of over 120,000 attendees which sets it on the same shelf as Comic-con, Anime Japan and Jump Festa in terms of its attendance rates.
Whilst these conventions all attract roughly the same number
of fans, they differ in their environmental atmosphere and their ways of
running entertainment for the attendees. I can only speak about the atmosphere
of the Auckland Armageddon Expos for that has been the only popular culture
convention I have attended, but from what I have seen in pictures and videos,
each convention has its own style and uniqueness that carries through into the
expression of cosplay and freedom of cosplayers in these conventions.
Armageddon, debatably, has the most freedom when it comes to cosplay as there
are no restrictions to where one can and can’t go in cosplay (that don’t apply
to everyone) and, if anything, it is encouraged to walk the floor in cosplay.