And so ends another wild weekend of scantily-clad women in bizarre costumes.
What? No, Bike Week is still going strong. I meant MegaCon, the annual science fiction convention in Orlando. Thousands of fans of science fiction TV shows and movies and comic books and Japanese anime, gathered together to put on costumes, meet their heroes, and buy stuff. And they did, in brightly-colored droves.
Cosplay (which sounds way better than “dressing up as”) is huge at cons when fans take their opportunity to become the hero — or villain, or animal or yummy snack — they’ve always wanted to be, and with a lot more ingenuity than the old rubber pointy ears shtick.
They take their work seriously, they do, and their costumes often are intricate works of professional-quality art. But what if you’re a beginner fan? Never fear! Cosplaying is only as complicated as you want to make it, and I have some handy tips to get you started.
1. Be choosy.
Pick a character you enjoy, pick a character whose strengths you wish to emulate, pick a character whose antics delight you, but most of all pick a character you won’t mind seeing yourself as 10 years from now on Flickr. Trust me, that stuff never goes away.
2. Be realistic.
Take an honest look at yourself. Are you the superhero type? Can you pull off the spandex and cleavage look without your audience having to squint? Are you a Slave Leia that anyone would ever want to rescue? Craft your costume to meet your actual body type for a more polished look. Eschew Superman and Lara Croft if you’re more ideally suited to the Penguin or Olive Oyl.
Exceptions can be made for ironic costumes or Elseworlds versions, because fat Batmen are just funny.
3. Be comfortable.
I saw several guys this weekend cosplaying Wolfwood, from the Japanese manga and anime series Trigun. Wolfwood carries a massive cross-shaped gun called the “Punisher,” which contains two machine guns and a rocket launcher and delivers an amazing amount of firepower. As was hilariously demonstrated over and over again, the “Punisher” also is a bitch to manuever in your average food court or men’s bathroom.
Remember, you’ll have to deal with your costume all day. Make sure you can comfortably walk, drive, eat and visit the facilities without assistance, unless of course your costume includes a personal slave. Then go nuts.
4. Be accurate.
You’re walking (or slithering) into a room full of very harsh critics who know at least as much about your character than you do, and usually much more than the character’s own creator. Check your details carefully. Twice.
Also, try to pick something that people will recognize, or think they recognize. Having to spend half your con explaining your costume to people is just annoying.
5. Be wild.
Remember #2 above? Ignore it. Fans are more willing to accept a wider range of body types than most people and this could be your best chance to show off something you’ve always kept under layers for fear of laughter or villagers with torches. If you’re confident, you can get away with anything, and many do. Go for it.
6. Be social.
Groups of themed costumes get even more attention, and it can help to have backup. Be the X-Men, be the cast of a video game, go as a multi-headed dragon (just be sure you all agree on directions first). Strength in numbers, and all that, you’ll make for better photo shoots, and you can all gang up on the inevitable Domo Kun guy.
7. Be patient.
The better your costume, the more you’ll get stopped for pictures. The frequency of these stops can be determined by this simple formula: Your attractiveness / how much skin you’re showing = feet you’ll be able to walk uninterrupted. Black Cats and Poison Ivys measure their hallway progress by millimeters. Plan your schedule accordingly.
8. Be dynamic.
When stopped for a photo, have your pose ready. Don’t just stand there waiting, be your character! Your pose should be recognizable, exciting, and something you can hold without popping a hamstring when more photographers rush up and ask you to just hang on for a second more.
9. Be careful.
Remember your new dimensions when you move around, especially if you’ve gone for the larger wingspans or taller stilts. Nothing ruins the illusion of your imposing magnitude faster than whanging off a door jamb or taking out a row of Cokes as you go by.
10. Have fun.
SciFi cons are the biggest moving costume parties around, why not jump in? You might even make new friends when you pair up with other people with the same outfit or, better, other people cosplaying your mortal enemy. And if you’re in the right mood, nothing beats getting together with friends and grabbing dinner together at a nearby restaurant, in character.
Just don’t go as Domo Kun, that’s just creepy.
If you’re an anime fan or just feel the urge to work your Japanese schoolgirl outfit, check out the upcoming Anime Express con coming next week at ERAU and be respectful: the people dressed as Rurouni Kenshin, Sailor Moon or the Prince of Tennis will be flying your plane someday.