Inspiration, fandom, creativity and at times competition.
These are the keywords to anyone who is involved, casually, competitively or at times addictively, in the world of Cosplaying.
Now, for those who are unfamiliar with this term, here is the official Webster’s Dictionary:
Cosplay: the activity or practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction (such as a comic book, video game, or television show.)
So, think of this as Halloween on overdrive with multiple themes!
Although traditionally inspiration for cosplaying is derived from sci-fi/fantasy shows and movies, Japanese animation commonly known as anime, eastern and western pop culture trends and video games, cosplay is most certainly not limited to these categories.
This is an activity and for some, a lifestyle choice that anybody can quickly get into — just simply think of your favorite character, and think of how you can come as close to their likeness as possible, then build, or buy away! And yes, you can do both! You don’t need to have the mind of Tony Stark to replicate his Iron Man armor, just the drive and passion to make it happen.
The art of cosplaying is not limited to and doesn’t discriminate against gender, religion, sexual orientation, or background of any kind. It allows anyone to be anyone. Cosplaying is only limited by your imagination and, unfortunately, at times, your budget. It is also not limited to the arena of comic book and sci-fi fantasy conventions. Tons of active cosplayers conduct casual and social activities such as meeting in the park, meeting in a mall lobby for lunch, going to the movies, and attending social functions at a peer’s household.
The casual side of cosplaying is usually explored by those who don’t generally do it regularly due to time constraints, work schedules or lack of funds. The avid veteran will have anywhere from 5-20 different outfits on standby for any and every type of occasion; the competitive cosplayer averages 1-3 costumes, but heavily invests financially into them and constantly making improvements to win local, regional, and even worldwide championships and awards.
Money, unfortunately, will always be a common denominator in any costume design. You also might have to accept the fact that there is always going to be someone who can build a better proverbial mousetrap (There will a lot of people cosplaying Deadpool or Harley Quinn at these events, just accept it).
Getting involved in this lifestyle requires a tough skin as we live in an age where the pen is truly mightier than the sword, and you’re always a keystroke away from a fabulous compliment or a crushing insult. The cosplayers’ mantra is to always stand by your product. Because there has to be some type of connection for you to emotionally invest and making the best version of your favorite character that you possibly can.
One of the reasons why people cosplay is to pay homage to a particular character that has a special meaning to them. Everyone has different reasons for picking the character they have chosen to emulate, but everyone’s motives are not the same.
You don’t have to be an attention seeker to be a cosplayer but you do have to realize that if you choose to cosplay, you will draw the attention of some. This can be broken down into so many categories: the typical rags-to-riches story of investing every penny you have into building your idea, some choose to wear clothing that can be deemed risque. Many conventions and events are very rapidly applying guidelines and standards so that the “skin to win” mentality is not influential and is most certainly not appropriate for many events.
Competition is also broken up into categories to prevent somebody with a high income or an MIT background from going up against a novice attending their very first convention in their very first cosplay from being intimidated.
This creative art form is showing no signs of slowing down. In a recent study conducted by Yahoo in 2014, 55% of event and convention attendees were in cosplay. In 2018 that number rose to 72%!
If you are new to the world of comic book and sci-fi conventions and you are wondering if this is for you, the answer is yes.
If you are a parent wondering if this is an appropriate hobby for your child (with guidance and supervision), the answer is yes.
No matter how old you are, no matter how young you are, and most of all no matter who you are, anybody can be anybody. After all, as the old saying goes if you build it they will come.
(Omar Jeter has been a resident of Colleton County for over 25 years. A historian and enthusiast of pop culture and science fiction, he owns You-Niversal Nerd events-planning company which has been putting on productions and free events for over 10 years, including providing Colleton County with its first-ever comic book convention.)