Many of you probably don’t remember way back when it was a matter of pride to fill every available inch of your jean jacket with buttons. Protest buttons, political buttons, character emblems…you name it, we’d put it on the jacket.
These days, enamel pins are all the rage. Some people still put them on jackets, others on lanyards, still more on backpacks, or even on a piece of fabric that hangs on the wall. The truly industrious and avid frame their collections or put them in shadowboxes.
Like stickers, pins are a relatively inexpensive way to flaunt your fandoms (well, mostly). I always feel inspired to share my acquisitions with the world and, like the kid who opens a toy to play with as the deities intended, I tend to lean toward backpack display. I’ve lost a few of my babies bringing them out in public, though. Not long ago, one of my friends suggested replacing the backs with the locking variety, and I don’t think I’ve had a fatality since. Some are large, some small; some are bookish and others draw on comics or animated fandoms. My “America’s Ass” pin gets a lot of attention; you’d be surprised how many friendships have been initiated via a sparkly version of Captain America’s butt.
I know. You’re desperate to start your own collection now, aren’t you?
Here, I’ll help.
There are many variations on the America’s Ass pin, but this one, designed somewhat ironically by a Canadian artist, is my absolute favorite and the one I chose to purchase from among all options. The heart shape is both adorable and suggestive, the colors bright, and the edges and finish are very smooth which means it doesn’t get caught on sweaters or scarves. It’s a substantial pin that stands up to getting slung about with my bag and if it were to fall off, I’d most certainly hear it hit the ground and rescue it from exile.
Artist Jen Bartel is famous for her bold color palate and her gorgeous figural drawings, many of which have graced comic covers and, when we’re all very lucky, interior art as well. Her pins are just as vibrant and impossible; I love all of her queer positive and non–gender conformist designs, but my absolute favorite are her “Girl Gang” options. Because we all need to have one another’s backs on this spinning dirt ball we call home, and what better way to signal your readiness to fight for your fellow females than a glitter-bombed switchblade? This pin is definitely on my acquisitions list, though my bag currently sports one of Bartel’s older offerings: a cat emblazoned with the motto “Dead Men Don’t Catcall.”
The problem with going to Karen Hallion’s Etsy shop to buy one of her “She Series” pins is that you see the rest of them and want or (possibly) need them as well. Each character (from Korra to Ahsoka Tano to Okoye to Captain Marvel) is matched with one of her attributes, every one as aspirational as it is beautiful. Like the fist pin on the list, these are sturdy works of art able to survive falls and dropped bags without any problem. They’re a bit on the heavier side, though, so I would make sure to use locking backs and would urge double checking that they’re slotted into the grooves on the posts before you run for the bus.
You laugh, but have you ever worn wedge boots that were so unstable you fell in public three times and still walked around in them all day? Sweated under your foam armor until it started to disintegrate? Worked on something for months, had it fall apart five minutes after you put it on, and still smiled for pictures? Congratulations, you’ve survived con season. Done 14 interviews in four days? Convinced your introvert self to extrovert during a million roundtables and press events and parties and one-on-one interviews and not fallen apart until you’re back at your Airbnb wondering if you should bother to go looking for food? Congratulations, you’ve survived con season. Found yourself surrounded, for the first time in your life, by a geek tribe you can call your own? Found a perfect comic? A perfect piece of art…Congratulations, you’ve survived con season. All of you deserve this badge of honor.
It’s funny because the cranky monster-killer has a rubber duck. I don’t make the rules.
I have yet to run a search for a character or fandom pin that returned zero results so, if you’re willing to look, you should be able to find your fandom represented in shiny, enamel form. And, if you do happen to come up empty, there are plenty of companies whose sole purpose is to make custom pins. So go wild! Just not so wild your bag is too heavy to lift.