The art of cosplay is a unique thing. Take a sizeable measure of geek passion, a couple of servings of creative talent and a pinch of courage. Mix it all together on an Iron Man chest piece, whilst stirring it with Mjolnir, in a pan made out of Captain America's shield. Make sense? No? Great.
This week, Moviepilot gave me the awesome opportunity to attend London Comic-Con as press. As a UK blogger it's awesome to know that writing for this site has perks wherever you're located! I got to do a bunch of super mega awesome cool stuff - I've already posted an article showing teasers of everything I got up to, feel free to check it out - and this is one of the (many) posts that I'm writing thanks to the experience, covering what I discovered in more detail.
Naturally, at the biggest pop culture weekend in the UK, there are a bunch of people suited & booted as their favorite comic characters, which is awesome. I mean, until one dressed as Bane jokes about snapping your neck. Honestly, I think Barry Allen himself would be proud of how fast I ran...
What this post is set to show off is the beautiful and sometimes heart-wrenching side to costumed, ordinary (well, that depends on your definition of the word) people, who are all passionate about their favorite characters. I got to show off my press pass to & interview all the people below - thanks to the super cool showrunner of the site we call Moviepilot!
A special thanks goes to everyone pictured below too - if any of you guys are reading this by coincidence, you guys are awesome, and really made my day extra cool!
The guy beneath the helmet here is a dude called Ash, a very impressively dressed dude called Ash. I soon realized that if you re-arrange the word Ash, take out some letters, put a few letters in, you get the words "Tony Stark." Coincidence? His cosplay disagrees.
Ash was a really cool guy, and after asking a few questions he told me a lot about what it's like to be a member of a costumed society.
Sometimes I think it can be hard for people to express themselves. Cosplay is a great excuse to go all-out, and really tell people who you are without saying anything. For me, it's a big reflection of personality - but there are still a bunch of heroes I want to dress up as!
Cool, huh? Clearly a level-headed guy devoted to promoting self-confidence. You should have seen the amount of people swarming him - I'm amazed I got any questions in at all!
For me, this demonstrates a lot about the basics of cosplay - it not only inspires other cosplayers, but you could clearly see he was inspiring others to be more confident, and more like Iron Man, in everyday life.
Keep up the good work, Ash.
The scarily accurate Weapon X you can see above amazed me in a lot of the things he said... I asked him a few questions, and here are his (pretty seriously cool) responses:
People are so caught up in everyday life. With the internet and the whole new generation of constant connectivity, I feel a 'normal' life is now a very stressful thing, like, it's always hectic. For me, it's an escape - kind of like a holiday - a great way to get away from the stress of being yourself.
As a die-hard fan of the mutant known as Logan for 26 years, he told me this:
This little guy here [points to four-year-old] is my son, and I actually named him after Wolverine, his name's Logan. I think it's nice to show the world how much you appreciate something.
How about that? It seems as if Logan's legacy isn't just a series of comic books, but a little kid somewhere in the UK too. Not only is cosplay just cosplay, but it's part of a huge fandom that branches into many parts of the world, and unites, well, geeks everywhere. Woohoo!
This girl was pretty cool. She spent most of her time posing awesomely next to the life-size version of the Batman: Arkham Knight bat-mobile that they had on display, and so me landing an interview was a really cool opportunity to get to know more about DC and game-based costumers.
Not only that, she had some pretty deep stuff to say for herself. Check out the PSYCHO-logy (see what I did there?) of this awesome person:
For me, I love the attention. Wait, that sounds vain, doesn't it? Sorry! What I mean is, when I'm in costume and people like you come up and ask questions, i get an awesome burst of satisfaction and feel really self-achieved with my costume. Whereas normally I don't feel as if I've done much, cosplaying gives me a chance to prove to myself I can achieve what I want.
Prior to my questioning of her, I was told to be careful, and that if she didn't like me I'd get on the bad side of her character-loyal baseball bat. And yet, by questioning her, I discovered a whole new reason as to why people dress up - to make themselves feel secure, and to prove to themselves and to others that you can achieve your goals.
So, if you don't find much else inspiring, just picture people dressed up as superheroes. That should work.
This fella was one of the few that tugged at my heart strings a little. He was one of the most accurate cosplayers I saw, and was unaccompanied except for the passers-by who frequently seized the opportunity to snatch a quick selfie.
But for me, I wanted to get to know the dude, so I asked him if I could have an interview, and we actually spoke at length after I stopped asking the set of questions I'd prepared. Here's what Bane had to say about why he was doing what he was doing (and I'm including summed up snippets of our personal, non-interview conversation here, which he also gave me permission to use, so count yourselves lucky. ;) )
Oh, and feel free to play a saddening tune in the back of your heads whilst you read this.
Originally, I was invited and given my ticket by my girlfriend. We'd been together for a good few years, and I thought it was going to be a really great time - we'd planned a lot of things to do. Anyways, um, we broke up recently... and I'll be honest it shook me a little, I mean, a break-up should shake anyone, so that's not unusual. But honestly, I wasn't sure about coming here today, I thought it might be, I don't know, a little painful, but I've come along, and look where I am! Sharing my costume with a bunch of people, meeting new friends and guys like you [I got complimented by Bane, beat that], and putting smiles on people's faces. I've only been here two hours, and I swear, most of my problems have been lifted by being surrounded by awesome people. Are you going to post this online? ["Yeah, I am."] Great. In that case, I want to say thanks to all the people who've shown me appreciation and made me feel like a new guy today. You're all awesome. Thanks guys!
How touching is that, huh? A guy dressed like he's made of steel, but in reality he's as soft as the rest of us. It seems as if putting on a mask helps people through all kinds of sadness, so if there's a god of costume play, we owe him a thanks, don't you think?
On a personal note, Bane, if you're reading this, thanks for showing me a whole new side to comic fandom - and how our love of characters can bring complete strangers together into vivid friendships.
Speaking of bringing people together, though...
Batman & Catwoman
Now these guys didn't have so much of a tears-to-your-eyes story behind them, but more of a aw-noise-to-your-brain anecdote. After getting to know them both a little bit, here's what I found out about Gotham's two most controversial animal lovers:
Cosplay brings people together, no doubt. It certainly did that for us. We met here, at this comic-con, dressed as these characters a few years back, and now we're happily married. We both feel like we owe cosplay something, so we come back here every year and introduce ourselves to new people, and to prove to others the miracles that superheroes really can make happen for you.
So I learnt not only can cosplay create lasting friendships - but cosplay can allow for people to meet soulmates - forgetting entirely the fact that most costume-players wear lycra.
The guy pictured above was the second Bane that I had the pleasure of talking to. Well, that's if you count talking to a super-villain who broke Batman's back a pleasure. Interestingly, what's different about this guy is that he's been at cosplay conventions for years, and was there professionally with a costume company. Check out his company, Thunderstruck Cosplay, assembled below:
Naturally, this Bane had a little more knowledge of dressing up, having had years of getting to know the profession. Here's his view on the art of cosplay:
I love the social aspect of the dress-up stuff that goes on here. In my view, you're no longer a stranger in a room - you're a recognized character, so people feel as if they already know you. I think that's what makes it so easy to meet new people when you're dressed up, and why so many friendships are created. I love, also, to make people's days, and to put smiles on people's faces. What I love is that to an adult, you're in costume - but to youngsters eagerly dressed as Batman, you're not a masked normal guy, you're their mortal enemy. And for them, it's great for them to be able to beat their favorite hero's villain in real life, and I love watching their faces light up as they see that they've 'won a battle.'
This woke me up to the fact that cosplayers are really (mostly) selfless people, who love helping others have a great time. And hey, what better thing in this world is there to do than to make sure people are having a great time? Cosplayers, we salute you.
And finally, perhaps the most heart-wrenching of all the people I met...
I'm going to skip the introduction to this guy - except for saying he's truly one of the nicest and friendliest people I've ever met - and let his words do all the talking. Start playing that sad tune again.
Wait, you want to interview me? You're press? For real? ["Yeah, I think your outfit is awesome!"] (cue massive, sharp teethed smile) Wow, that's so brilliant, thank you, thank you, um... ask away!
At this point, I asked my questions and here's what I got to know about him...
Well, um, for me, the best thing about cosplay is that, well... let me start from the beginning. In everyday life, I suffer from a mental condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder, also known as B.P.D.. It makes it very hard for me to socialise, and making new friends for me is a very difficult task. But that changes when I put this mask on. It's great for me to be able to, um, become something I want to be, and um, the most magical thing about it is that when I put in these fake teeth and paint my face blue, I call myself a superhero, and in my own eyes i truly become a superhero. Whilst I'm here, I'm no longer me, and so don't have B.P.D. anymore - it's as if, temporarily, it all goes away, and when I get home in the evenings I wash my face off, take out my fake teeth, wash my hair and realise: "Wow, I made friends today." To you, that might not be such an amazing achievement, but to me that's a major thing, and it, um, doesn't happen very often. If it wasn't for cosplay, I would have nearly no people to call friends. I come here every year to show my appreciation of the art, spread the good word, and meet new people. It really is a great thing.
Now, is that amazing, or is that amazing? Cosplay can actually alleviate the symptoms of genuine mental illness! It seems as if the art of impersonation can truly, truly work miracles.
So, I hope more than anything that I've successfully gotten across how amazing I think donning a mask & costume can be, and maybe even changed your own opinion of cosplay. And hey, I guess it goes to show, superheroes can and do save the day.
That's it for now! I'll be paying homage to more of the astounding cosplayers I met (not in so much detail) in a later post, but for now I'll say "until next time"! Special thanks to all the guys & girls above, and to Moviepilot for giving me the chance to meet all of these spectacular people.
Teen blogger out.