Many of us GeekMoms are cosplayers. From my casually thrown together thrift store costumes through Mandy’s hand-sewn Kaylee Shindig dress right up to Dakster – our very own 501st Legion member. Although the level to which we each take our cosplay depends on our individual free time, available finances and confidence, we all love sharing photos of amazing cosplays created by others, so when I heard about 1000 Incredible Costume & Cosplay Ideas – a book part compiled by professional cosplayer Yaya Han— I was excited to have a read.
First of all, the book was not what I was expecting. I had been hoping for a book with detailed looks at some of the costumes, perhaps construction photos or information form the creators about how they put the outfits together with sources and advice on materials.
Instead, the book is nothing more than a large photo album. Each costume gets a single photograph, most measuring around 2.5″x3″ and many cropped so that large portions of the costume are not visible. Sure, the costumes are often spectacular and many are beautifully photographed by professionals who are given credits, but I can see gorgeous cosplay photos bigger and better online, often with links to the detailed information I’d been hoping the book would provide me.
Secondly, the book is deeply off-balance regarding its content. Costumes are featured from a wide range of sources: anime and manga, movies and books, video games, and even custom characters. But the book is heavily weighted toward certain groups.
There are 375 anime and manga costumes but only 43 in the television chapter. Even the comics chapter only contains 100 costumes and this is probably the most common style of cosplay I see. The imbalance doesn’t stop at the chapter sizes either. Within the video games chapter, I counted 40 Final Fantasy costumes but Bioshock had a grand total of zero costumes representing the series, despite the number of excellent Bioshock costumes I’ve been seeing recently.
Other popular game series, such as Portal and Elder Scrolls, racked up one each (Elder Scrolls could count for two as a replica of Mehrunes’ Razor from Skyrim is included in the props section.) In the TV chapter, ten of the 43 costumes are from Doctor Who (including a set of three showing the same two people in the same costumes). In case your math is off, that means almost 25% of the chapter is given over to one show. Star Trek, on the other hand, possibly the show most associated with cosplay in the public conciousness, gets just one costume.
Part of this issue probably stems from the way images were sourced, simply by reaching out online and asking cosplayers for submissions, although it’s difficult to think of another way it could have been done.
Around 300 people contributed images for the book, meaning that many were featured multiple times, great for those few but dropping down the variety somewhat. The book won’t exactly help the “fake geek girls” and “sexy cosplay” debates either – the number of women featured wearing costumes approximately one inch away from being legally indecent is impressive .
As much as the idea of a book about cosplay appeals to me, I’m struggling to see the point of this one. Without useful information on actually creating the costumes, how often am I going to flick through a book to look at the same few photographs when websites like Fashionably Geek and Cosplay Girls update with new pictures every day and don’t charge me $25 RRP for the privilege of seeing them?
A copy of 1000 Incredible Cosplay and Costume Ideas was provided free for this review.