Summer is here and that means that convention season is in full swing. From San Diego Comic-Con, to Gen Con, to Dragon*Con, not to mention the myriad smaller local cons that will happen over the next few months. In addition to making sure you have a pass and a hotel and the cheapest flight humanly possible, even if it means you have a four hour layover in the middle of nowhere, you also have to think long and hard about what you’re going to wear.
You’ll be on your feet, walking around all day, so you need comfy shoes. This is also the time to break out your favorite geek t-shirts since nearly everyone you pass will actually get what “Han Shot First” means for a change. But, the biggest decision many con-goers will make is what sort of cosplay outfit they’ll show off this year.
Now, I have to admit that I’ve never done cosplay at a convention. I’ve dressed up like Zoe from Firefly at Halloween and I’ve played the buxom wench at a few renfaires, but that’s as close as I’ve come to actual cosplay. Those are costumes I’ve thrown together in a matter of hours, but that is definitely not the case for most convention cosplayers. I am always impressed at the level of detail their costumes possess, from the fabric to the shoes to the accessories. These folks don’t generally put their costumes together in a day, but more likely over the course of several months.
I love taking pictures of all these very creative and dedicated fans and am dismayed when I hear them fall under some derision for their choice to dress up like Spider-Man or Slave Leia. They’re seen as just wanting lots of attention, or even as fake fans who don’t really know the first things about they characters they’ve chosen to portray. In my experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cosplayers adore the characters they work so hard to emulate. They spend lots of time and lots of money trying to make everything look just right. I’m sure there are some that do it just for the attention, but there are so many more who do it for the the love of the characters they adore.
And it’s for those people, the truly devoted fans who want to be a Stormtrooper, or Dr. Who, or Wonder Woman for a day that we owe a word of thanks. How much less fun would the con experience be without them? They happily pose for pictures after wandering around in armor, carrying axes, or in ridiculously high heels. No one pays them to do what they do, they just do it. I’m thrilled when I see a well-done costume, especially one that’s not done often and I have been know to run after people just to snap a shot of their handiwork. So, next time you’re at a convention, don’t laugh and question the motives of these dedicated fans. Walk up, take a picture with them, and be sure to say thanks for making the convention a bit more fun.