Ever wandered around a convention show floor, seen the guys and gals bedecked in their cosplay finery and thought about how you could get involved in this sometimes insulated world? Well, look no further than veteran cosplayer Rosie Fletcher has taken a break from smelting her latest Space Marine costume to dish out some handy pointers:
1.Don’t dress as Harley Quinn
…or do. Dress as whoever you want. But you’ll find that people are way more excited about bumping into Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (or their mutant offspring, Unbreakable Squirrel Girl, complete with light up trainers and fluffy tail) than another Harley or Deadpool. And I should know. I cosplay Harley Quinn.
For me, a lot of the fun of cosplay is seeing people’s reaction to your costume and Harley is the Rattata or Pidgey of the cosplay world. If someone doesn’t catch you, eh, there’ll be another one along in a minute. People at cons running up to tell you that you alive, damnit, and get a photo makes frantic late-night sewing and wig adjustments all worth it. Find a character you love because if someone clocks you as their obscure favourite, it’ll make both your days.
Or be a Disney princess. No matter how many they see, people always get excited about meeting a Disney princess.
2. No but seriously, dress as whoever you want
Here are some things that matter in cosplay: are you having fun, are you comfortable, are you letting your geek flag fly. Here are some things that don’t matter in cosplay: your race, your gender expression, your weight. Black Captains America, boy Poison Ivys, plus-size Sailor Moons. You want to be a character, you damn well be that character. The fact that some people can accept wizards and hobbits and Sith, oh my, but can’t get their dumb brains around an Asian Loki, a wheelchair using Wonder Woman or, horror of horrors, a female Ghostbuster, boggles the mind. You do whatever you damn well want.
Unless you are white and are still asking why you’re “not allowed” to black up, in which case, we’re having this conversation again I guess.
3. Comparison is the thief of joy and also your sleep and sanity
Before I properly took up cosplay, my only experience of conventions was photo round-ups of ‘SAN DIEGO’S BEST COSPLAY’ or ’27 MIND BLOWING COSPLAYS TO COME OUT OF MCM EXPO’. And truly, my mind was blown. The incredible craft that goes into cosplay, from building armour to theatrical make-up, intricate embroidery to styling wigs, can seem totally unachievable. The night before my first convention, I was up past midnight, watching Hellboy 2 and trying to make Snow White’s collar stand up with drinking straws. I was obsessed with everything being handmade and everything being perfect.
Then I got to MCM and realised that that is absolutely not what it’s about.
Those photos I had seen were incredible, but they were in those round-ups because they done by dedicated cosplayers with a lot of experience and time and money. While I was worried about my dodgy hem and the safety pins in my dress, people were coming up and telling me how much they liked the fabric I’d chosen or just chatting to me because I was Snow White and people find her trustworthy. Do not drive yourself mad trying to make exact screen replicas on your first go.
4.Work out how you’re going to pee
Look, I’ve been to conventions in a leotard and enormous squirrel tail that was sewn to my clothing. Practice how you’re going to deal with that before you leave the house. You will thank me.
5. If you can’t have fun, have fun
Some Real Talk for a moment: conventions and cosplaying are a safe space to be a big ol’ geek. You can dress as whoever you like – heck, you can be whoever you like. Cosplay lets our inner Emma Frosts, Kylo Rens and Queen Elsas out. Conventions are our opportunity to shout “I LIKE THIS THING” and more than likely, someone will answer “YES ME TOO” right back. Dress up, make friends, spend way too much money on Funko Pop figurines.
If you’re around at LFCC this weekend and spot a Rockford Peach, come say hi. There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no crying in cosplay either.