Cosplaying has become more and more mainstream over the past ten years or so, I can still remember how just a few years ago it would have been regarded as weird for people to leave the house dressed as their favourite video game character but fortunately those times are passing. Sure, you might still get some weird stares on your way to a convention but I think that more and more it’s being considered an acceptable pastime and even better people are understanding that it’s an immensely enjoyable and liberating experience to dress up as characters you like and spend time with like-minded individuals.
The community that has built up around cosplaying is a vital part of the experience and I think that the community itself is a vibrant group of people and for the most part I like to think that it’s a widely accepting group. The usual elements that separate us such as gender, race and religion don’t really matter when you’re actually a Time Lord or a Saiyan or a Wizard so it’s easier to just share in an experience and be accepting of people no matter who they are.
Now, I want this article to be positive and all the responses I’ve had have been positive but I don’t want to mislead or cover up the negatives so I have to say that while there is an accepting and supportive majority there are elements in the community that aren’t as wholesome. First off realism and accuracy to a costume can mean wearing something that’s revealing or otherwise shows off skin and while people should feel free to wear what they like and feel safe in their choices there are always bad elements and any potential cosplayer must be careful and the rest of the community must also be careful to watch for these individuals who see conventions and cosplaying less as a chance to enjoy themselves and more as an excuse to leer and perv. But like I said as long as fellow cosplayers remain vigilant these bad elements won’t have a chance to spoil an otherwise good experience.
Another element that can be quite disheartening are those that feel they need to gatekeep the community, and that if you don’t measure up to a certain criteria of geekiness or commitment to cosplaying that you can’t be allowed to be a member but that fortunately isn’t true of the larger community. For most, you don’t need to know every detail of a TV show you’re cosplaying a character from and you don’t need to have made your own costume, all that matters is that you are respectful and willing to accept others for who and what they are.
Now as I said I don’t want to paint a negative picture of the community because it can do better and for many it’s a great experience where friendships are formed and where people grow and come out of their shells so what I want to do now is take some time to give the spotlight to a few members of the community who were nice enough to take the time to talk with me and share some of their experiences.
Victoria AndersonBio: My name is Victoria! I’m 22 years old and I’ve been cosplaying since my early teens and you can find me on social media by clicking here.
Personal Story: My personal favourite experience cosplaying was MCM 2016. On Saturday my friend and I joint cosplayed Sharpay and Ryan Evans from High School Musical and lip synced to ‘What I’ve Been Looking For’. Not only was it the first time people properly recognised my costume (as most other times it was a kind of ‘oh you’re that character, okay’ Sharpay got a lot of squeals and excitement!) we also won Best Performance in the masquerade! The next day, I was Tinkerbell (another one of my favourite cosplays which I’m in the process of upgrading just now!) I was told by one of the judges that I should have taken part in the masquerade on Sunday for costume, not realising I was a winner the day before!
I think the best part about cosplay though is the feeling of eliciting pure joy and excitement in someone just from being a character they know and love. As well as that you can be a completely different person from one day to the next.
Jack AttfieldBio: My Cosplay name is Jack Attfield I’m 19 years old and I’ve been cosplaying since 2013. I’m a fan of comics, TV and movies and my first convention was Glasgow ComicCon 2013. I’ve cosplayed as a variety of characters such as Daryl Dixon, Finn the human, Ash Ketchum, Nightwing, Golden age Flash, Dipper Pines, Luke Skywalker, Morty Smith, Hawkeye, Trainer Gold,Neptune Vasilias and Homemade spider man. You can find me on Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube.
Personal Story: I haven’t really got a lot of funny stories, but I’ve had my fair share. At Glasgow Film and Comic Con 2016 I was talking to my friend Matthew who is 6 foot 6 and I’m like 5 foot 4 so I say to him that we should get a selfie and for 5 minutes it was just me and him trying to get into an optimal position for a selfie. It culminated in me saying “You take the selfie. You’re taller” we had a good laugh about my remark and took the picture. My friends Henry, Julie and Kim and I were hanging out on Halloween at a cosplay event. We were watching the masquerade when Henry’s cousin went on stage as Mulan (she actually won in case you were wondering) and both Julie and Kim started singing “I’ll make a man out of you” and I couldn’t help but join in. At Capital Sci-fi Con 2017. My friend Becky held an owl. Not really a funny story but it’s still cool.
John MurrayBio: My name is John Murray I’m 20 years old and I’m a cosplayer from Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire.
I started cosplaying 3 years ago in a comic-con event in Glasgow and since then I’ve hardly ever missed a con. Like I said thanks to all my free time I’ve been to almost every con in the past 3 years and I love the atmosphere of the community so loving and accepting.
Personal Story: My experience with the community is very vague as I don’t really interact with many people as that’s just who I am as a person and as a cosplayer. I love seeing young kids faces when they see their favourite heroes come to life that’s what makes getting up at 7 am and going to Glasgow worth it. Cosplaying is addictive, once you’re hooked it’s very hard to let it go. I’m probably more “famous” for my Beast cosplay as I’d be bold enough to say that no one else cosplay’s him.
Lewis PennycookBio: I am a somewhat quiet person with a nice personality who is laid back and gets on with everybody and is also a huge anime and manga fan. I am studying 3D animation at college right now. I also have a Deviant Art account where I upload my artwork. I also have a YouTube channel where I do commentaries over my favourite games and recently speed paints.
Personal Story: My story with the cosplay community started way back in 2014 when i did my first ever cosplay of monkey D Luffy and it was amazing seeing so many people recognise the character and welcome a newbie to cosplaying and getting hugged by someone and exclaiming “Monkey D Luffy I love you” no one was ever looking down on me for showing my love for One piece like so many had a school. I went to the next year’s megacon as Wario from the Wario land series with one of my best friends in the cosplay community Yuuki kimidori who after inviting her to come to megacon that year she invited me to come to MCM comic con the following year. while this wouldn’t be the only time i met her we both went to Raicon in 2015 as the fan ship of Prussia and Canada from hetalia and I was introduced to the Glasgow Cosplay community which i must say is even more welcoming to people and there were so many nice and compassionate people it was like I was at home with the people there I even made friends with a couple of girls on the train ride home from Glasgow. Going to MCM comic con was amazing to say the least I met some of the cosplay super stars like Henry woo and many others and besides a little negativity from a few people I had met before the convention and from other sources the community has been a great laugh to be around and I always keep coming back with bigger and better cosplays including a few I have wanted to do for years such as Eliwood from one of my favourite franchise’s Fire Emblem and Ranma Saotome from one of my favourite Anime’s/Manga’s Ranma 1/2. With each year I make more and more friends with the same interests and I love being able to finally have friends with the same interests who won’t take the piss out of me for liking something out of the norm.
Hayley CordleyBio: Well I have been cosplaying for just over a year. My first costume was Captain America for MCM Scotland in 2016 which was also my first convention. I’m from Gretna in Dumfriesshire. You can find me on Instagram and YouTube.
Personal Story: I think the main reason I cosplay is getting reactions especially when you could be the one making someone’s day, especially when it’s kids they look up at you in wonder when you’re in full costume, it’s just a great feeling. I’ve also made a lot of friends throughout the cosplay community and gotten closer to people because we are interest in the same things. Meeting guests who I never thought I’d meet is another reason to love the community, if people weren’t so interested in cosplay and the whole comic/anime/movie movement we probably wouldn’t have the cons we have. I mean meeting idols of mine like Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn and Troy Baker would have probably been impossible without the cons that have been set up by really dedicated people and of course the whole community who keep them running.
Alan SunterBio: So, here’s the basics. I’ve been going to comic cons since 2014 and I particularly love cosplaying as villains. I have been studying to be an actor, so I’ve always loved getting into costumes and playing characters. Villains are especially fun to act and cosplay because of how fascinating they tend to be as characters. My favourite cosplay is the Joker.
Personal Story: Well, all I can really say is that through the cosplay experience, I’ve met some truly wonderful and lovely people and made very good friends. Sure, there are bad apples, but on the whole, the cosplay community is wonderfully warm, inviting, and supportive.
Craig GardenBio: I’m Craig Garden or ‘Scotland’s Sorcerer Supreme’ and I’m a Scottish Cosplayer well-known for my awesome cosplay of the Marvel Comics character Dr Strange. I’m a media student and you can find me on Instagram.
Personal Story: The cosplay community I find is very easy to immerse yourself in and meet new people. Especially with social media sites like Instagram and groups like the MCM forums on Facebook, it’s really easy for people to connect with other like-minded people who share the same interests, are part of the same fandoms and share a passion for cosplay. I also have some experience in working for capital sci-fi con and raising money for CHAS children’s hospice and it’s really surreal seeing the change in the public pre and post the doctor strange movie. I did Dr Strange for a charity fundraiser a month before the movie came out and nobody knew who I was (I kept getting mistaken for Superman and Dracula of all things) but the response post the release of the movie was incredible, I had kids and parents coming up to me and asking politely if doctor strange would like to pose for some photos. It was a lot of fun and it’s all for a good cause.
Chris HamillBio: A 22-year-old Scottish Cosplayer. Still new and exploring the scene, but enjoying it all! Massive fan of Star Wars and Spider-Man (Main two cosplays).
Personal Story: I was invited out to a cosplay party by a cosplay friend once. I didn’t really know anyone there and was incredibly nervous about being out in costume, but after getting their everyone was really nice and talkative. People cosplaying characters from all different types of media and genres and coming together to have a good time. Even strangers coming up and talking to me simply because they liked my cosplay. It was a fantastic night and really helped to boost my confidence about my cosplay and cosplaying around others.
Bee ParkinsonBio: My name is Bee Parkinson and I am a character based cosplayer. Through cosplay, I have visited children in hospital and brought them presents and I have helped the capital Sci-Fi con team with their fundraising efforts for CHAS.
Personal Story: When I was down in Sheffield at WOSCON helping out the GCUK team with their fundraising, I got into a conversation with some cosplayers and we discussed why we started cosplaying. I told them the reason why I cosplayed Harley Quinn and that it was my way of coping with surviving domestic abuse, I’ve been very open with this and one person at that con and then another and more people at other cons confessed to me that they have experienced these things too and that they found me to be inspirational. We’ve also had some real laughs in cosplay including my Joker interrupting Batman’s conversation with some children to remind him that he was taking him out for dinner that night. Another time, James was Arkham Security Guard Ken and he arrested my Harley and dragged her around the con, escorting me and then throwing me out of the building. When I was Daphne, I arranged it with the rest of the Scooby Gang and the convention runner for Daphne to be kidnapped by Loki. The scooby gang then searched for me with the help of one wee girl dressed like a ladybug and her mum. I’m also sure that anyone who knows me in the community will remember Harley running after her rubber chicken and Wanda arguing with Magneto outside of the front of the SECC.
Through cosplaying, I made quite a few friends and I met the love of my life. Last year, at MCM we had just finished the Marvel VS DC photo shoot and James had asked me and some of our other friends to stand all together with me at the front. I thought it was a photo he wanted to take but he turned round and asked the crowd gathered there if they wanted to see Captain America do something funny (that was his cosplay). Then, he went down on one knee and took out a ring from his pocket and asked me if I would marry him.
Head of Medusa CosplayBio: I am an artist specialising in props and costumes. I have studied in a variety of areas within the creative arts including ‘Model Making for TV and Film’, Applied Arts’ and I am currently studying ‘Props’ on the ‘Production Arts and Design’ course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I attended my first convention in 2014 and have been cosplaying ever since. I am best known for my Digimon costumes which, so far, include Minervamon, Sakuyamon, Kuzuhamon and, most recently, Nefertimon X-Antibody. My costumes are entirely hand-made using a wide variety of materials such as worbla, EVA foam and upholstery foam with additional sewing elements. Most of my armour is hand-painted and incorporate shadows and highlights to give the costumes their unique, cartoon-like appearance. I have been cosplaying for 4 years now regularly attend events as a judge. Cosplay is my passion. Its art with a purpose and I love it. Cosplay encourages us shy folk to be sociable, it’s amazing for building confidence.
Personal Story: Cosplay has been a massive part of my life for the past 4 years. As a teen I was bullied and battled depression and anxiety, like many of us do in the community. I was incredibly nervous around people and would be so uncomfortable in groups that I’d cry and shake uncontrollably. I was an introvert, a wallflower and I kept to myself and generally didn’t have friends. Cosplay however, gave me something to focus on when I was alone. I have always been artistic and found that I enjoyed making costumes and props, this had such an effect on me that I am now pursuing a career as a prop maker. Conventions helped me overcome my anxieties and confidence issues. While they aren’t completely gone, I am a much better, happier person for joining the cosplay community. I am sociable, chatty and have much more confidence in myself as a person. I do things that I never thought I’d be capable of. I can go on stage and compete in competitions and host panels to teach people about my passion. I have made all of my friends by attending conventions.
I think cosplay encourages us shy folk to socialise and come out of our shells. It makes us more able to talk freely and enjoy the company of like-minded people who understand us. The majority of the cosplay community are lovely, kind, welcoming people who will help you without hesitation. I have had other cosplayers looking after me in costume, complete strangers (now good friends of mine) who spent their entire weekend making sure I was okay and managing to survive in the convention hall due to the size and weight of my costume. We nicknamed them the “digi-squires” since my friend and I were in digimon costumes. We honestly couldn’t have managed that convention if it hadn’t been for them helping to suit us up, get us through crowds and get a rest when needed. It’s amazing how selfless people can be! Since that convention we’ve all become good friends and attend conventions regularly together. Its great when people are excited to see you in costume. It’s such a brilliant feeling. People really appreciate the work that goes into making the costumes and it just makes it so worthwhile. The most recent example I can recall was at GFCC where I was a guest and judge. I was talking to some young teens waiting to go on stage and they went into what can only be described as full fan-girl mode. Screaming and jumping, fussing over me of all people. It was hilarious and completely unexpected. We ended up dancing in the queue which resulted in me being late for starting the masquerade. Ooops. I’ve come so far from the shy, timid girl I was and it’s all thanks to the cosplay community with their enthusiasm, encouragement, compassion and kindness.
And so there we have it, from my own experience and from the experiences of a few members of the community its clear that while their are still issues to be fixed, the overwhelming feeling in the community is that its a place of support, compassion and acceptance where people can come to grow and find themselves. I feel it’s important to note that the community is only going to continue to get bigger and more diverse and we need to make sure that it continues to be the great community that it is now where people can feel included regardless of who they are. Speaking of which, if you are interested in related content, check out this interview I did with Mel Rowlands from AnimeLeague, a community which regular attends conventions and hosts cosplaying events.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/