Anime fans from all over packed the World Congress Center over the weekend for MomoCon, a popular anime convention. After a two year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the convention returned with an abundance of activities for an increasingly diverse audience, including cosplay (costume play) competitions, gaming exhibitions, board games, music and other forms of entertainment.
The convention, which began as a 700-person gathering on the campus of Georgia Tech, has grown into one of the premier cosplay events in the southeast.
Anime events such as MomoCon have become a significant source of entertainment for many, particularly African Americans. Black fans showed up in droves, many who sported costumes designed after various anime characters.
The convention featured several fan-hosted panels, where convention goers could mingle and interact with other attendees. This year, a few Black panelists made sure to carve out a space for other Black people to have discussions surrounding their participation and existence within “nerd culture.”
Two convention goers, Harriyana Hook and Caylia Henderson, facilitated a panel called “Being Black and into animation.” Among other topics, the panel discussed navigating the anime community as African American fans. Hook and Henderson also talked about the importance of Black people in anime’s creative spaces, and why their work should be appreciated and respected. Ultimately, the panel presented an opportunity for Black anime fans to discuss issues of importance to them.
“We belong here just as much as they do,” Hook said.
MomoCon also gave an opportunity for convention goers to don costumes in tribute to their favorite anime characters. Markus Priest, a cosplayer, went as his own character.
Priest’s character, named Skull Thorn, donned in all-black costume with a skull-adorned chest plate made of resin. Priest designed every detail of his elaborate costume, from the knife holster to the spiked mask with LED eyes.
Along with Priest, there were many cosplayers that put an extreme amount of work into the costumes they donned at the convention. Many guests looked for opportunities to take photos of the many elaborate costumes, a practice that is commonplace during anime festivals.
Also featured at MomoCon was an exhibit hall for artists and other small businesses to sell their wares. Anime artists sold prints of their work, while others sold anime-themed clothing. Others, such as comic aficionado John Robinson, sold their stories.
Robinson promoted his comic book “Scorpio,” which he labels as an urban fantasy comic. Based on the zodiac signs, “Scorpio” is about the characters Danny and Naom, who fight against intergalactic beings in an attempt to keep their world safe.
2022 has been the first time in years that business owners like Robinson have been able to share their products with MomoCon. Many business owners acknowledge that the COVID pandemic was responsible for negatively affecting their small businesses. These business owners were understandably excited to see MomoCon return.
“For indie creators, these kinds of conventions are one of the best ways to make sales,” said Robinson.