It is no surprise that the world is filled with astonishing conventions where people go to embrace themselves through cosplaying their favourite character. I went to the MCM Comic Con in London and snooped around, and of course found some quite interesting people, whom I asked a few questions. To be completely honest, I only had one question – what is cosplay to you? I was interested in the psychology of it. Why do people do it? Is it art or just fun?
I had to gather quite a bit of courage to approach my first heroes. Ironically, it was the lovely gentlemen above. They were very open in sharing their views on cosplay. The general opinion was that it was fun, something to do together as a whole. The idea was taken slightly further by the cross-dressed Deadpool – he said that cosplaying for him is a way of self discovery. I guess only he knows whether he was joking or not. Turning up without a costume was not an option for the latter, thus his costume was put together last minute. They also touched on the idea of being someone else (freaks) for a day… Cosplaying for them gives a sense of belonging, embracing their inner heroes while enjoying themselves.
These three should be familiar to most of us; Dr Seuss’ Cat in the Hat along with Thing 1 and Thing 2. Again the first reaction to my question was that cosplaying is entertaining. They love to do it together with friends and take the most out of the experience. It gives a sense of release, it is something completely different to everyday life. “There are so many good cosplays here! It scares me!” claimed one of the Things. Her friends started laughing and confirmed how amazed she gets seeing awesome cosplays, and indeed they all agreed on that point. I cannot blame them!
A large group of cats had claimed an area in the aisle between the two halls, they were posing to everyone who passed by, everyone who pulled out their camera to take a few shots. They were doing Cats, the musical. It was uncannily realistic. I got a chance to chat to a few of them, and ask my question. They told me they do it for, again, fun, and for reaction. I hadn’t thought about that before, so I asked them to elaborate. They told me that they like making people smile, it creates so much positivity, But on a personal level, they claimed that they enjoy transforming themselves with make up and costumes. “We have done this for quite a few times, and sometimes you see the people without makeup after a long day and go ‘OH! That’s what you actually looks like!'” one of the Cats added. Cosplay to them is also a lot of skill, it’s art – making and being. Check them out on Facebook – Conventional Cats!
I was on another stroll around when I noticed a very genuine Little Mermaid, or Charlotte Baker as she’s called in her days off being Ariel. She was posing to a bunch of photographers, and of course I joined. The way she posed gave away that she has quite a bit experience with this. “I love bringing characters to life,” Charlotte told me. And she really does bring them to life! If Disney is looking to do a live action The Little Mermaid, then I wholeheartedly suggest her. Ariel also told me she has been doing cosplay for a while, and she enjoys it very much. Her skill has been increasing in time and she loves feeling connected to the characters she cosplays.
Above you can see Venom and Carnage cosplays. Unlike most cosplayers they were very much in their character – lurking around, crawling around, shuffling between people. Therefore it might not be that surprising that I didn’t get a chance to chat with them, they were too fast, and perfectly into their performance.
The artists valley was by far my favourite place in the whole Comic Con. The artist Giuseppa Barresi, or Ryuuza. She wasn’t your typical cosplayer, she was there to sell her art. After admiring her work I decided to ask her what cosplay meant to her. Like many others, she too told me it is just fun. But she went further and explained that it is another creative outlet for her as an artist. Ryuuza had always been interested in cosplay and had built up her skill. She took a break from it a while back, because it started being too much for her. That point opened my eyes to the darker side of cosplay, the possible pressure and stress it can cause. But now Ryuuza is back at it, and she looked great! Check out her art here.
The lovely ladies above also told me how entertaining cosplaying can be. The Steven Universe character on the left is an artist who has been cosplaying for as long as 11 years, and the one on the right for 5 years. Initially they did it to meet people, because they were fans. They all agreed that cosplay is a great way to spend time. I believe from them I got one of the most concrete answer to my question – cosplaying is half fun and half art form.
From across the room I saw a group of Disney princesses. I approached them hesitantly, like one would approach any royalty. After posing for my photo they told me, like many others had, that cosplaying in conventions is a fun group day out. They had done it before, and told me how much they enjoy kid’s reactions to their costumes, the happiness they see in their eyes.
Last, but not least, I spotted two Agent Carter character cosplayers in Enver Gjokaj’s panel . Both of them lined up alongside me to ask questions from the actor Daniel Sousa. I caught up with them afterwards to talk. They both told me about how fun it is to be someone else for a day. It is empowering to cosplay a strong female character, and naturally they both hinted at how attached they are to the characters they are cosplaying.
What I gathered from speaking to a variety of inspirational people, I think I can safely say that cosplaying is a way for people to embrace something inside them that allows them to let go, and genuinely enjoy themselves, forget their busy lives, and just be a hero for a day or two. Cosplaying lets you be creative about something you’re passionate about, whether it’s Marvel, DC, anime, manga, or something completely else. It is a fun form of art that does not require you to be an artist.