Written by: Gary M. Kenny, CC2K Comics Editor
Here at NYCC’14 we’ve seen some amazing cosplay. Lucky for us, this trio had a little time to talk to us about why they cosplay!
CC2K: You guys look great at NYCC’14, you must love it. How did you get started?
WQ: It’s fun for me, and I guess it’s just in my genes. When I was little I would make clothes for my dolls, and my mom did the same thing when she was a young girl. She eventually went on to make her sister’s wedding dress, and I ended up reproducing character designs. I’m the type of person who really loves seeing a final product after putting in a lot of effort into that product, and for me, cosplay is a great way to get that feeling.
CC2K: How long have you been doing this for?
WQ: For about three years now. My first cosplay was NYCC 2011, the last year when the New York Anime Fest was still a thing. It was my first time at a con and I threw together some stuff from my closet along with a hat of the character Mokona from XXXHolic that I’d bought and I went to the con like that. The first cosplay I actually made was for PAX East 2012: the Trickster from Assassin’s Creed Revelations. I still really love that cosplay, and I’d love to wear it again.
CC2K: Your Empress mask is sick, do you make your own costumes?
WQ: I sure do! Some of them are pretty quick depending on how much stuff I’m making from scratch. The shortest time to make a cosplay has probably been maybe 3 hours, because all I needed to do was replace some buttons on a shirt and paint a small thing – most of that 3 hours was waiting for paint to dry – but most of them I end up working on over a period of a few months.
CC2K: With NYCC becoming the biggest Comic Con, harassment is a major issue, have you had any problems?
WQ: I’ve been in a few uncomfortable situations, and I’ve never heard of a cosplayer who hasn’t been, which is really, really sad. This isn’t a new problem, however, it’s just one that is much easier to talk and hear about now thanks to social media. The problem on the whole is rooted in the way society views and treats women and there’s no quick fix for that, but for now we need to make sure people understand that someone wearing a costume doesn’t mean they are inviting any sort of lewd comments or actions – they’re not doing it for the attention, so to speak, they’re doing it because they want to. NYCC this year had a couple of banners and signs that read “Cosplay is not consent”, referencing a campaign to prevent harassment of cosplayers, and I was actually really glad people had that reminder. Hopefully in the near future people won’t need to be told that, though.
CC2K: What other conventions do you normally attend? Do you have any favorite characters to cosplay?
WQ: Castle Point Anime Convention! After that it will be Otakon and NYCC.One of my favorite things about cosplay is that, intentionally or not, cosplayers seem to just slightly inherit some of their character’s traits while they wear that costume. I honestly think it comes from having to pose in character all day, but it’s a really cool thing to have a little bit of a superhero or assassin or whatever in you while you wear that costume. I think, of my costumes, Handsome Jack is one of my favorites to wear. He really brings out the jerk programmer in me, I guess!
CC2K: Thank you for your time Jack, is there a main goal for all this amazing costumes?
WQ: I don’t make any money off of it, but I’ve met so many amazing people through cosplaying and the cosplay community and I have so much fun cosplaying at cons, so I’d say it has definitely helped me! Beyond this, I also now have a good understanding of how clothes and materials work, so this has helped me as an artist when I do character design. If any artists are reading this, please learn about sewing and clothing construction! There’s nothing worse than looking a great design and finding that there are absolutely no seams on it whatsoever. My goals for cosplay are just to keep making costumes and to be a part of the community. Being known for what I do would be cool, but it’s not really one of my main goals. My main goal is honestly to finish everything in my ever-growing list of future costumes!
CC2K: Again you guys look great. Young Justice is pretty cool. So R why do you cosplay?
R: Primarily for fun! I’ve loved dressup since I was a little kid and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so it’s kind of like getting Halloween a couple times a year. I also like making things — though whenever I’m in the middle of making a costume I’m always like, “ugh, I hate this, why do I do this to myself, I should run away and become a pet detective, I bet they never burn themselves with hot glue.” I also really like cosplaying with friends — I probably wouldn’t cosplay as much if I didn’t have friends who loved it as much as I do. It’s become a very social thing for me.
CC2K: How long have you been doing this for and do you make your own costumes?
R:I’ve been cosplaying on and off since about 2008 but it was more sort of a casual sort of thing. I kind of mark the start of my actual cosplaying at 2010.I do make my own costumes! If the costume is something like a t-shirt and jeans, I’ll modify preexisting items instead of sewing them from scratch myself but I never buy pre-made costumes. As for how long it takes, that depends on the costume: Wonder Girl I made in about three evenings, because it really wasn’t a lot of work, but other costumes have taken weeks. I’m kind of a slow sewer, though! Especially because I like to watch TV while I sew and then I get involved and get distracted.
CC2K: How did you get started with all this awesomeness?
R:It’s kind of a funny story, well I think it’s funny, anyway, my grandparents definitely don’t. I had a miniature breakdown over some school stuff in 2010 and I was just a devastated wreck. What got me out of my funk was realizing that it was almost time for New York Comic Con, so I made a costume in a rush and went and the experience was absolutely incredible. I hadn’t ever cosplayed at Comic Con before, just at smaller anime cons, and I had so many people come up to me and tell me that the character I was cosplaying was their absolute favorite, what a good job I had done, etc. One guy even showed me his tattoo of that character! It absolutely snapped me out of the sad spiral I’d been stuck in and made me start thinking about cosplaying more often.
CC2K: I ask everyone this, basically because it’s an issue and as a parent and a big nerd it pisses me off that there are people out there disrespecting cosplayers and fellow attendees of the con; Have you had any problems at NYCC this year?
R: I was grabbed last year at New York Comic Con while I was dressed as Black Canary. I was having my photo taken when I felt someone grab me from behind. It was a distressing experience. I don’t think this is a new problem, it’s just that we’ve started really talking about it, probably because more and more people are becoming involved in comic con culture and either experiencing or witnessing this kind of harassment. I think New York Comic Con’s “Cosplay is Not Consent” signs actually helped a lot. Most people that I’ve interacted with this year were very considerate and courteous about my personal space. It seemed to make people a lot more aware of the problem and it was definitely a step in the right direction.
CC2K: I’m glad NYCC is trying to step it up. Hey, here’s a better question: What are your favorite characters to dress as?
R: Definitely superheroes. You get to portray these incredibly bad ass, more powerful than thou, characters. They have years and years of history behind them and that just makes you feel like you could go toe-to-toe with the world too, and because there’s so much history there I have these incredible emotional connections with the superheroe genre. I gravitate towards the spandex crowd for that reason, lately I’ve been saying I want to cosplay a character who wears a big beautiful dress, because I never get to be over-the-top frilly, but then next thing I know I’ve just put eight more superheroes on my list. Jean Grey is probably my all-time favorite, though whenever I wear her I get an equal number of people coming up to me like “Phoenix is my favorite!” and then “You’re the worst X-Men ever!” It’s pretty intense. I wore Celty from the anime Durarara!! to a con once and it was incredibly fun because everyone wanted hugs. It made me feel like everybody’s big sister.
CC2K: So you noticed that sometimes cosplay can save lives! I mean hugs are infectious and only promote good things. Has cosplay helped you?
R: Absolutely. I used to be very self-conscious. I hated having my photo taken. Cosplay has improved my self-confidence and I’ve made a lot of new friends too!I think the only serious downside has been I have less spare cash for my other hobbies!
CC2K: Last question, what’s your cosplay goal?
R: With cosplay I mostly just want to have fun, improve my craftsmanship and make people happy. It would be cool to be paid for it, but I’m not aggressively pursuing it as a career thing. Of course, if Heroes of Cosplay wanted me, I wouldn’t say no.
CC2K: Hi Kristin, kick ass bow! How long have you been doing this and why?
KK:Three years, my first convention was NYCC 2011. I’ve loved making things and dressing up for as long as I can remember. Cosplay allows me to combine those loves with my love for video games and comics. It’s a perfect fit!
CC2K: Do you also make your own costumes?
KK: I make them all! Since I only make my costumes when I’m on break from school, I can usually do one in a week or two, depending on the difficulty.
CC2K: That’s actually pretty fast. I know it takes some people like months. How did you get started?
KK: I’ve been interested in cosplay ever since I found out what it was 10 years ago. I think I saw some really cool Utena (from Revolutionary Girl Utena) cosplay and was like “I wanna do that!”.
CC2K: You guys create such an awesome presence and displaying such iconic and powerful characters is amazing. Even dressed like a butt kicking powerhouse have you had any problems at the con?
KK: For the most part people are very respectful to me in costume, but I have definitely had people say inappropriate things or make gross requests (when in Power Girl some guy asked if he could put his head in my cleavage. No thanks.) I think the most important thing is for conventions to create a safe space for con-goers to report harassment and to be taken seriously. There should be zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior. I’m proud of NYCC for making the “Cosplay is Not Consent” harassment policy. Plus I love cosplaying as tough ladies who don’t take crap from anyone, while still looking good!
CC2K: You rock! Where will others be able to see you next?
KK: Well, I’m studying abroad in Japan next semester so I’m hoping to go to a convention while I’m there! Otherwise, I’ll be at Anime Next in June.
CC2K: Lucky! Japan is on my bucket list. Have a blast and make sure to go to one of their ice-cream shops. They make castles out of their sundaes. Putting so much thought and time into your craft, what does it mean to you to cosplay?
KK: Cosplay has changed my life. I went to my first convention during my senior year of high school, which was a really tough time for me. To go to NYCC and experience a world totally outside of that was phenomenal. I also met the people who would later become some of my best friends. Cosplay is definitely therapeutic for me – I can spend hours sewing, or painting armor. I lose myself in it. Cosplay has also done wonders for my self confidence. Both in and out of costume I feel comfortable in my own skin.
CC2K: Kristin, thanks for your time. I hope you guys knock some walls down and have a blast here at NYCC. Last question: What are your goals for cosplaying?
KK: My cosplay motto is, and always will be, “Look cute and have fun.” I ultimately want to incorporate sewing into my career – I want to make showgirl costumes! – but my goal with cosplay is always fun.
CC2K: Thanks YOUNG JUST-US for the time and emails. All the best and good luck. Please make sure to follow them on twitter, facebook, etc. And be good to each other by supporting all cosplayers with respect.
Gary is a husband, father, fireman, comic reader, gamer, body builder, and rocker. He also is a co-owner of a bakery in upstate NY. He likes to tell everyone his favorite band is the Beatles, when his actual favorite band is the Alkaline Trio.