Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In Praise of Cosplay

New York Comic Con
Summer is here and that means that convention season is in full swing.  From San Diego Comic-Con, to Gen Con, to Dragon Con, not to mention the myriad smaller local cons that will happen over the next few months.  In addition to making sure you have a pass and a hotel and the cheapest flight humanly possible, even if it means you have a 4 hour layover in the middle of nowhere, you also have to think long and hard about what you're going to wear. 

You'll be on your feet, walking around all day, so you need comfy shoes.  This is also the time to break out your favorite geek t-shirts since nearly everyone you pass will actually get what "Han Shot First" means for a change.  But, the biggest decision many con-goers will make is what sort of cosplay outfit they'll show off this year.

Now, I have to admit that I've never done cosplay at a convention.  I've dressed up like Zoe from Firefly at Halloween and I've played the buxom wench at a few renfaires, but that's as close as I've come to actual cosplay.  Those are costumes I've thrown together in a matter of hours, but that is definitely not the case for most convention cosplayers.  I am always impressed at the level of detail their costumes possess, from the fabric to the shoes to the accessories.  These folks don't generally put their costumes together in a day, but more likely over the course of several months.

PAX East
I love taking pictures of all these very creative and dedicated fans and am dismayed when I hear them fall under some derision for their choice to dress up like Spider-Man or Slave Leia.  They're seen as just wanting lots of attention, or even as fake fans who don't really know the first things about they characters they've chosen to portray.  In my experience, that couldn't be further from the truth.  Cosplayers adore the characters they work so hard to emulate.  They spend lots of time and lots of money trying to make everything look just right.  I'm sure there are some that do it just for the attention, but there are so many more who do it for the the love of the characters they adore.

And it's for those people, the truly devoted fans who want to be a Stormtrooper, or Dr. Who or Wonder Woman for a day that we owe a word of thanks.  How much less fun would the con experience be without them?  They happily pose for pictures after wandering around in armor, carrying axes, or in ridiculously high heels.  No one pays them to do what they do, they just do it.  I'm thrilled when I see a well-done costume, especially one that's not done often and I have been know to run after people just to snap a shot of their handiwork.  So, next time you're a,t a convention, don't laugh and question the motives of these dedicated fans.  Walk up, take a picture with them, and be sure to say thanks for making the convention a bit more fun.

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
    I dabble in cosplay, so thanks for writing this!
    Yes, this girl plays cos. Up to and including participating in a flash mob at ComicCon in Starfleet red....wearing Trek uniforms to church on a few occasions...knitting Jayne hats, dressing her kids up before they knew what a costume was, and having an entire closet dedicated to the family's Ren Faire costumes. Did I mention the pinstripe suit and Converse I'm just looking for an opportunity to put on?

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a cosplayer myself, I am incredibly frustrated by the number of people who deride cosplayers/costumers for many factors. The most frustrating is when people pass over some costumes that may be beautifully made and within an inch of perfection for cosplayers in cheaply made costumes because the person in it is "hot". I've seen this happen for both men and women cosplayers. Or worse yet, when others outright mock the costumer for portraying a character they love simply because they don't match the body type 100%. Most of the time we do this, it is because we love the character and want to show homage to them. I at least, also love a technical challenge. So it is frustrating when we are mocked for our hobby. Please show some respect to all cosplayers, because we don't make fun of what you enjoy, general public.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog TFG!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great op/ed about cosplay! Thank you for pointing out that "most" of us do it for the love of the characters and for the craft as an artform. There are a select few who are actors/models/wannabes that are hoping some company will "notice" them at a con and cast them in a role. It's usually pretty obvious who they are - they're at large cons, have vacant smiles, actually look creeped out by fans, and can't answer too many questions or keep their answers generic ("I'm dressed like Wonder Woman because she's a role model," but they never elaborate as to how this character is a role model.)

    ReplyDelete

If you've got something to say, this is the place!