Everyone these days oohs and ahhs at the trading blows between Marvel and DC Comics for our viewing numbers and dollars alike. It’s the primary talking point in most geek circles. This attention, in turn, translates to the cosplay scene, where regardless of how much or little information given, the sooner a cosplayer can translate a new (or updated) character, be it comic, anime, tv, or movie-inspired, the more attention points for you. Me? While I do possess a lineup of commonly known Marvel and DC cosplays, some recent cartoon season purchases have made me realize the need for a local convention that celebrates everything 80’s cartoons.
On the surface, this sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. For starters, I’m not talking about cutesy cartoons. I’m talking the manly, adventurous cartoons that invaded our television screen from the mid-1980’s forward. Ever heard of Silverhawks, Bionic Six, M.A.S.K, C.O.P.S., Swat Kats, Bravestar, Blackstar, Mighty Orbots?
Granted, Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Thundercats still hold enough traction on the cosplay circuit to remain relevant even today, but I believe there is so more potential to a ‘Nostalgia Con’ than just swapping vintage- toys. Yes, there were stereotypical characters and Public Service messages that wouldn’t fly the same way in today, but my hope would be that this event could be an effective vehicle to remind kids where morals were more less birthed before free-search YouTube took over. Sure, there would be vendors selling their wares, but including a collective of animators and voice actors who crafted the characters of Generation X’s childhood and cosplayers mimicking them would surely be ‘outrageous.’ Dare I say, “Truly, truly, truly outrageous?”
Just as I’ve used cosplay as a means to bring smiles to less fortunate children in my community, I would hope the timeless anti-drug, don’t-talk-to-strangers, eat your vegetables PSA-morals of my Saturday Morning generation would be the wake-up call needed for both the young and young-at-heart. More than chestnut advice on safety and good manners, though, I admired these animated action heroes for how they stood for right week in and out. They showed me why I needed heroes in my life. Whether it was He-Man, Blackstar, Hong Kong Phooey, or Optimus Prime, they consistently demonstrated how no matter what the odds, right always triumphed over might. This is a stark contrast from today’s anti-heroes like Deadpool who isn’t afraid to shoot first before asking any questions.
My biggest individual contribution in living out this underground battle with modern pop culture was my Matt Trakker cosplay I debuted three years ago at Alamo City Comic Con. Trakker, the leader of the heroic Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (M.A.S.K.) ran from 1985-1987 in conjunction with the Hasbro toyline of transforming vehicles driven by operators with super-powered masks. Joy filled me in finding someone to make the distinctive helmet as well as accurate flight-suit. Watching the build come together and the small following I gathered in the process was quite humbling. More so, I was happy there were still people, including one full-grown adult who rushed me at Alamo City Comic Con with boy-like exuberance, who were equally impacted by the action stars of yesteryear. Just like when I work with children, if my cosplay brightens just one person’s day, the weeks of preparation leading up to that afternoon was priceless.
So these are my hopes, perhaps just my pipe-dreams, behind Nostalgia-Con. Again, several classic TV cartoon heroes still have traction with audiences today, so if fans can rally behind this, the reality of a weekend event celebrating everything 80-90’s cartoon heroes appears more plausible than not. If Nostalgia-Con becomes a thing, who knows? Maybe the beats of my generation’s cartoons alone will plant those seeds of hope and joy for greatness in future generations. In the meantime, I’ll continue collecting my vintage cartoon DVD seasons and making every movie theater-sponsored cartoon cereal breakfast as they pop up. And if anyone ever wants to do a Silverhawks cosplay, I’m still taking applications for a Steelheart to my Steelwill.