Cosplay Is More Than Just Dressing Up
A true cosplay enthusiast scoffs at costume-donning amateurs on Halloween!
Besides candy and ghoulish decorations, Halloween is also the one time of year when adults and children are socially permitted to dress in apparel without feeling restricted to social norms. From humorous and clever costumes to fictional heroes and favorite public icons, Halloween costumes are typically a representation of a person’s passion or interest. Imagine feeling so strongly connected to your Halloween costume that it’s actually a part of your identity and essence. Imagine transforming into Batman from head to toe, internally and externally, not only because you enjoy “The Dark Knight Rises,” but because the heroic vigilante resonates deeply and passionately with you.
While someone may throw on a store-bought muscle costume and call himself Captain America, a true fan actually becomes Captain America! Costume stitching is done by hand, and a character’s stance and facial expression are practiced for perfect replication. The cosplay community embraces these individuals who feel so strongly connected to a fictional character that they feel compelled to actually become that character.
Donning the outfit of a movie protagonist or mannerisms of a comic book hero make cosplay participants feel alive and whole. Dressing up isn’t disguising a person’s identity; it’s the self-expression process of connecting with a character and wearing the appropriate garb and personally adopting the persona.
Cosplayers care deeply about a character that they’ll go to great lengths to master the aesthetic representation. Creating the perfect costume for a cosplayer involves exceptional attention to detail and skill. Fictional characters come to life with handcrafted costume pieces, specialized accessories, extensive body makeup and even prosthetics. Considered a hobby or craft, cosplay is also experiencing a fantasy brought to life. Since it’s generally unaccepted to wear a Superman costume to work or live daily life as the persona of a heroic fictional character, cosplay enthusiasts turn to cosplaying, anime and comic events to feel at home.
NY Comic-Con: Cosplay Costumes as Art
Comic-Con is a widespread organization celebrating the comic culture and art forms with pop culture conventions and events. New York Comic-Con is one of the largest conventions where people who are passionate about “comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies and television” gather and interact. Held at the Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan, NY Comic-Con invites fans from all over to take sneak-peaks and meet illustrious individuals from the entertainment industry, among other exciting cultural activities.
In New York City this past fall, more than 115,000 people dressed up in science fiction, fantasy and gaming costumes for Comic-Con. Forbes.com highlighted a slew of the best costumes displayed by role-playing enthusiasts at this cosplay soiree. The costumes included everything from zombies and the Transformer Bumblebee to Batman super villain Harley Quinn and Avengers.
Photographer Senén Llanos captured and showcased the best of the New York Comic-Con convention by concentrating “on the windows to his subjects’ souls.” Llanos tells Wired.com that “it’s an almost surreal experience, where everyone takes their inner geek for a ride.” He adds that, “it’s a real joy” to witness everyone showing off impressive costumes and seeing people really take on character identities. The beautiful Llanos photographs are a testament to how cosplaying events and costumes are an actual art form.
Unveiling Your Perfect Costume
If you’re new to cosplaying or if you’re attending a Comic-Con event for the first time, crafting the perfect costume requires a little soul-searching introspection, creativity and research. Consider your favorite anime or comic book series to start. Think about what it is that creates a connection, whether it’s impressive qualities of an iconic character or an abstract theme. Before attending a cosplaying event, familiarize yourself with the culture and groups by visiting forums. Online comic, Sci-Fi or anime forums serve as gateways for meeting other cosplayers with whom you can share ideas. Also, mastering the perfect costume deserves the right amount of preparation. To mimic the exact look and achieve the right amount of details, cosplayers may spend months — or years to create a costume.
Keep in mind you’ll want to think about any essential wigs, accessories, makeup and props to complete your look.
Once you’ve designed the perfect costume, analyze the mannerisms and disposition of your character. The participation is more than just donning a costume; it’s the idea of fully engaging in the character with the most accurate representation. Practice poses by mimicking how your character moves in the game or show. Integrate a prop or environmental elements for full effect. For example, Samara from the video game Mass Effect takes a fighting stance with an emotionless expression, and the Joker would look smug and vindictive. As long as you take the time to identify a character that echoes your innermost sentiments and take the time to fully prepare, your costume will be successful. The Comic-Con International in San Diego or WonderCon in Anaheim 2013 are exciting upcoming events where you can show off your costume and release your inner hero.