For now, I thought I’d start off nice and simple (and a bit schmoopy, be forewarned) with a list of things I love most about cosplay, with a little about me mixed in. Hopefully, it’s also some of the things you love about it as well, whether you’re a participant or a spectator.
Being Someone You’re Not…For a Day
Growing up, my favourite holiday was always Halloween for this reason: taking the role of a favourite character or personality for a night and being allowed to run crazy with it. My dad and I would spend all month preparing for the holiday, making a costume or improving last year’s. It’s not too much of a stretch to translate that to the “adult” me now, looking for another outlet for this aside from Halloween (though we still have some kickass Halloween parties, let me tell you).
For many, cosplay is more than the physical aspect of wearing a costume and walking around showcasing it. It can also be about becoming that character, as opposed to just looking like them. Sometimes, it can be what separates a great cosplay from a good cosplay; the ability to act out a well-known role can add a whole new level of believability to the character.
Personally… well, I’m not the best at this, but I try! I can’t throw or twist my voice like so many amazing cosplayers can, but I love it regardless. Watching people act out my favourite characters (or favourite characters to hate) is some of the best parts of being at a convention. It’s a great, unique way to bring to life the characters we care about and love, and interact with others who feel the same.
I’m just going to go out and say it: I love the attention wearing a costume gets.
Granted, okay, I know, being a female at a convention wearing a spandex suit doesn’t always get me the correct kind of attention, but looking at the positive over the negative? It’s really nice to have the immediate appreciation of something you’ve worked on for days or months to complete.
There’s definitely some etiquette breaching that drives me nuts (but that’ll have to be another post I think), but on a whole, it’s always a lot of fun. I don’t think I’m ready to deal with that “get two feet and stop, rinse and repeat” movement all the time, though. We definitely plan the days/times we’ll be in costume around the things we want to do that require being anywhere by a specific time. Celebrities, I feel for you; after only one day in costume at SDCC, I’m exhausted and I’m not even anyone important or recognizable.
So in conclusion: paparazzi must suck a lot, but a single day of non-stop attention is great.
Plus: so many good photographs!
I have a mohawk, so I’m pretty used to the curious stares of children (and adults, truth be told), but even with that in mind, there’s something inherently charming about a child running up to someone in costume and giving them a hug or recognizing them, isn’t there? I mean, that’s some of the best parts of Disney World when you’re a kid – the magic of seeing your favorite characters coming to life in front of you.
Plus, children more than adults tend to be more willing to interact with you as your character. Their excitement over seeing someone they recognize is infectious, and posing for photos with them is always hilarious. As Harley and Joker, it never ceases to amaze me how many kids actually run up to us to ask for photos, but most especially the ones dressed as Batman or Robin – they totally play along and love it as much as we do.
Even just walking by, they get so excited to point them out – “Look, there’s a Batman!” or “Mom, I see Iron Man!” and even though they might be too shy to do more than that, you know that they’re going to be talking about it for a while.. that is, until they see another character they recognize.
Community…For Better and For Worse
I really like the cosplay community. I think that, as a passionate group of individuals coming together over shared interests, it has its ups and downs, but the positive experiences far outweigh the negative. Even on places like Tumblr, where people can hurt and get hurt very fast, I think there is a strong, solid base of support and encouragement if you look for it.
But forget about the internet for a second, okay. Here’s what I REALLY like about community.
Going to conventions, wearing costumes, I think there’s always the concern that someone else is going to be wearing the same one and it’ll look better than yours. And sure, later on, when you’re looking at photographs under the millions of tags on Flickr (because why can’t someone just unify that, please), that insecurity is definitely there.
With that in mind, I think the magical part of cosplaying is seeing other people wearing the same costume as you. There’s some unspoken sense of kinship between you and someone cosplaying the same character. My favorite part of San Diego Comic-Con is the giant Harley Quinn meet-up we have on the stairs in the middle of the convention hall on Saturday. Traipsing around with dozens of other Harley, Joker and Ivy fans is just a small little niche that you rarely get to share with so many people at once… and that’s what makes cosplay so great.