An introduction to the world of cosplay


photo provided

Amanda McCarty and Hannah McCleskey dressed as their favorite Supernatural character, Sam and Dean Winchester.

Hannah McCleskey and Amanda McCarty

Halloween is upon us. That means it’s time to break out the makeup and crazy costumes and embrace the month when adults dressing up is widely accepted. However, there are people all over the globe that dress up as characters from books, TV shows, movies, and video games every day. They are known as cosplayers. Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a book, video game, or movie. It is a fun and underappreciated way to make new friends and find new hobbies.

People around the world have found a love for fandoms that goes beyond just watching a TV show, reading a book, or playing a game. They often find a joy in dressing up and acting like their favorite characters at conventions and Comic Cons. Cosplay was inspired by and grew out of the practice then-known as fan costuming at science fiction conventions, beginning with the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in New York City in 1939.

When people come together and so openly share their interests, they are able to meet new people and make friends of similar interests very easily. It is also an easy way to earn some profit; many convention-goers who go above and beyond on their cosplays participate in competitions that reward prize money. Professional cosplayers (people who cosplay to win contests) can make around $5,000-$10,000 a show. When you add up costume cost and travel cost that may not seem like a lot, but if you restrict yourself to local events, you’re pretty well set.

Although cosplay may seem like a wonderful idea there are some slight downsides to it. If you’re uncomfortable with rude comments from other people, cosplaying may not be for you. A majority of the time there are only positive comments from the crowd, but don’t be surprised if some people question your costume, especially if it is genderbent.

I am a huge Supernatural fan, so I often dress up as Sam Winchester. Most people seem to love Sam and Dean, so aside from a few stares and double takes, it doesn’t seem to matter to most that I am dressed in the opposite gender.

Another drawback about cosplay is a certain amount of stress put on you each time you search up a character and decide to replicate their looks and mannerisms. It’s a lot of work depending on how detailed you want to get. Another downside to cosplay can be the time and cost. That, again, goes along with how serious you are with actually replicating a character. Usually the downsides do not outweigh the advantages to the art of cosplay. Not only do people enjoy participating in it, but it can brighten someone’s day if they see their favorite character walking down the sidewalk.

Having a passion for fandom of any kind is nothing to be ashamed of. “I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing,” said Stan Lee, former editor-in-chief of Marvel comics.

A huge part of cosplay is the entertainment that comes along with it. Your ability to get into a character can completely turn someone else’s day around. Being able to do that is a very special opportunity.