October 2, 2009

Cosplayer of the Month: An Introduction

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Hi! This is the first ever Cosplayer of the Month! However… we’re starting off with an explanation. There are still many people who don’t know or understand what cosplaying is, so this will be the base to build our Cosplayer of the Month column.

Cosplayers as Jewel and Ms. Marvel from Wizard World Texas 2008

Cosplayers as Jewel and Ms. Marvel from Wizard World Texas 2008

To get started, what exactly is cosplay? The word itself is a combination of “costume play.” This is a Japanese based term, similar to the definition for masquerade: a costume or disguise worn at an event. Fans dress up in costume and act like their favorite character. Western cosplaying has actually been around since the mid 80’s. Due to the growing popularity of cosplaying, many conventions now have costume contests, cosplay shows, and skits where cosplayers can act as their characters on stage.

Cosplayers are usually considered to be people who are dressing as Japanese anime/video games/manga characters (you know, Final Fantasy, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, etc). This idea is changing slightly as Western cosplayers also dress as characters from comic books (such as Marvel, DC, and Aspen), television shows (such as Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Battlestar Galactica), and movies (such as Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Alien Vs Predator).

Cosplayers as Supergirl, Dr. Who, Capt. Jack Sparrow, Jack and Sally, and Rikku

Cosplayers as Supergirl, Dr. Who, Capt. Jack Sparrow, Jack and Sally, and Rikku

Cosplaying is a hobby that is, at this point, becoming more and more prominent in Western Culture. Cosplayers are definitely a staple at conventions, be it anime, comics, or sci-fi. If you attend a major, or sometimes even a minor convention, you’re bound to see a woman in a Catwoman costume being followed by a Batman.

Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bear fans

Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bear fans

Now, you may ask why somebody would willingly dress up in a character costume and step out into public. What drives these people? It’s simple really; we dress up in costume for the same reason sports fans wear jerseys and paint themselves. To show our love! We adore the characters in comic books, movies, television, anime, etc. There really isn’t much difference between a girl who dresses up as Wonder Woman and a fan who dresses as a Viking to root for the Minnesota Vikings.

What must also be realized is that many cosplayers who dress up make their own costumes. They spend a lot of time working on the costume, putting in many hours to style a wig, sew a costume, or create a prop, and they take pride in their work. Then there are the fans who don’t put much effort into their costumes. It’s a spectrum of effort and if you go to a convention, you’ll see what I mean.

phoenixrogueOverall, cosplaying is a chance to be someone else, someone exciting. It’s the ultimate way to show love for a character. In the upcoming months, I’ll be showing you the best of the best. The fans who dress up and give the character justice by not only their costumes, but hair, contact lenses, and make-up. So prepare yourself. You’re going to meet the fans who make cosplaying look good.

Dee McNamara



  1. Eli

    This should be rather interesting.

  2. Kristin

    I’ve seen some really amazing work in my limited con experience, but I’ve also seen some fantastic stuff online. And I gotta say…. As great as some Americans are at this, the Japanese know how to do it right. Just take a look at recent cosplay from last month’s Tokyo Game Show. Fantastic costumes.

  3. Jeff Jackson

    Great explanation, Dee. I’ve always wondered what cosplay was. Is it pronounced “co-splay” or “cause-play?”

    Anyone out there have an old costume for a 6′ 3″ dude for Halloween?

  4. Kristin

    Like the “cos” in “costume.”

  5. billy

    This article is awesome Dee! How informative. I love the pics of various characters. I could look at pics all day.

  6. Was that dude in the Batman costume following the chick in the Catwoman costume because of her huge ‘diamonds?’

    And you should see the people who dress up at Buffalo Bills games; I’ve never been so afraid of my electrical bill before in my life (GO BILLS!!)!

    But seriously, I can’t wait for this column to really get into gear and seeing what awesome costumes people have created!!

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