Dressing up sounds like something that kids do right? And fancy dress makes it sound like someone’s wearing a pirate outfit and going to a party to get drunk, yes? So it’s no wonder that a new term was found. That term is cosplay. A mixture of the words costume play.
Who – anyone! Literally anyone can cosplay. Age, race, size, gender it doesn’t matter. The cosplay community is generally a friendly and welcoming one and will encourage you to just do whatever you want to do.
What – Originally started in Japan and mainly people dressing as their favourite anime & manga characters, cosplay quickly spread across the rest of the world and people were off to conventions dressed as their favourite characters from any genre. Some buy shop bought outfits, some pull bits together and create their own, some make their own, screen accurate, from scratch! There are so many different versions of cosplay I’d be here for ages if I wrote about them all! Mainly you will see people dressed as a character, as a female or male version of that character or a male dressed as a female character and vice versa. But as I said, there are so many more ways to cosplay!!
Where – anywhere! Mainly done at conventions, cosplay can be done wherever and whenever you want to. Who gets dressed up on Halloween?? Go one better this year and dress up as a horror movie character! If you enjoy cosplay but don’t find enough times to do it, then check out your local groups, comic shops etc and even ask them if they would like to run an event to encourage people to cosplay. Our local comic book shop does and they have a competition for best outfit. Get yourself off to some more, smaller, local conventions. They are cheaper to get in and you can get the opportunity to show off your awesome outfit.
Why – well why not? It’s fun. It’s different. There’s a great sense of satisfaction when you pull it all together. There’s a sense of pride when people stop and ask for your photo. And by going out there and doing this, it makes more people have the confidence to go out and do it too.
Also, there are professional cosplayers out there, yes really! They get paid to go to events because they are brilliant at what they do. They have perfected the art of cosplay and inspire others to go out there and do it.
Photo credit: Lindsay Elyse
And there’s celebrity cosplayers ….
photo credit SDCC John Barrowman
Okay no that’s just John Barrowman in a sparkly TARDIS dress but you get what I mean.
Most conventions will have a cosplay competition. You enter and can win a prize. Some are judged purely on your outfit, some you have to act as your character on stage. Fun to watch even if you don’t take part yourself.
My first cosplay
Whilst I’ve done fancy dress before, mainly at drinking events, I’d never heard of cosplay until I started doing conventions. The first time I decided to cosplay I didn’t have a lot of spare cash but I wanted to make it look as much like the character as I could. And just to make things difficult I decided I wanted to be Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who/Torchwood (really don’t do things by halves). So I sourced some trousers from a charity shop, a plain white tee for about £3, braces from Ebay. I got an official RAF shirt, brand new, from the internet. That was almost it. I knew I couldn’t afford his long coat and the only other thing I needed was his vortex manipulator. I looked at making my own (not creative) and I also searched the internet for a replica or toy version. Finally found a toy version, with Ten’s screwdriver so I bought that. I think, in total, it cost me less than £50. I met a few Torchwood actors whilst wearing the outfit, including John Barrowman, and they all said I looked great. I was very happy about that as you can imagine. So the next thing on my list, when I can afford it, will be his RAF Greatcoat!
Myself as Captain Jack Harkness next to a replica TARDIS and a cutout of Doctor Who (Ten)
Since then myself and both my girls have cosplayed different characters and it’s something I would like to do more of.
I love sitting and watching people go by when I’m at conventions. Even if I don’t know the character, I can clearly see the amount of work that’s gone into the outfits. And I will always tell someone if I think they look fantastic.
Hopefully this will give you more of an insight into what cosplay is and why people do it. If you fancy a go yourself, we always put an entry into Ulverston Carnival, the first Saturday in July. We are also going to be looking at holding a couple of events in the area so keep an eye on our website and Facebook pages for more details.