Jul 9, 2012

Amateur Cosplay Diary: Cosplay Reflection & SDCC 2012

10:38 AM

With SDCC 2012 in just a few days, my twitter feed is chock-full of friends and internet friends sharing all the ways they are preparing for this yearly nerd mecca. Many of the people I follow are fantastic cosplayers. I myself have been prepping for SDCC and wanted to share a "diary" of sorts about my own involvement in cosplay.

I have always been a huge fan of costumes in general. Halloween was always my favorite holiday. I always had a costume prepared for Halloween and I refused to ever outgrow my love of wearing costumes.

And then I discovered cosplay. Before I went to my first con, I knew about cosplay thanks to the glory of the internet, which I was lucky enough to have access to since the age of 12. Well, having the internet that early was unlucky in some ways as I was too afraid to admit to anyone that I even had an email address as it was considered weird sixteen years ago, but that's neither here nor there. Please do me a favor and don't do the math to figure out my age, ahem.

Anyhow, I remember being amazed at seeing my favorite characters come to life. Playing endless hours of Street Fighter II and then seeing a real-life person dressed up as Chun-Li was astounding to me. It was like she walked right out of the screen. I grew up on Archie comics, but was introduced to a larger world of comics while I was in high school. Seeing more real-life people dressed up as characters from those comics:  Wolverine, Storm, Spider-Man, Batman and so on, blew my mind.

Finally, I attended my first con. It was San Diego Comic-Con 1999. I had a blast. Guess what my favorite part was? Seeing other fans dressed up as their favorite characters. 

Photos from SDCC 1999 with my little brother. 
I uh, was awkward in high school, okay?
It was incredibly exciting to me seeing everyone in cosplay and I decided that I wanted to be a part of it. There were two problems though. 1. money and 2. I didn't know how to sew. Also I had some self-esteem issues and thought that there was no way I would look as cool as others. 

In 2002 I gathered up some courage and decided to jump into to the cosplay world. I thought to myself "I dress up every single year for Halloween, why should I be shy about dressing up for Comic-Con?! Just do it, Crystal!"

After pondering my favorite characters, I decided to go with Elektra. Kind of ambitious considering I had no idea how to sew (I still don't really). But I went to a fabric store, picked a red fabric that I thought would be fitting for the costume, got a few yards of it and went to work. I measured my bust, waist, and hips then just guessed that I had to double that then sew it into one piece to make it fit. Through all the stumbling and fumbling, somehow I managed to put that cosplay together. The boots were the one part I thought I should buy because I wasn't willing to guess how to begin making boot covers. They should be flat boots but alas, I went with heels because it's all I could find in shiny red at the time. I even got a real pair of sais (and snuck them in past security). I wasn't incredibly proud of the costume overall, but I had fun making it. In the end I decided that  it was my love for the character that counted so I should rock it anyway.

That's me as Elektra! SDCC 2002.
Instead of staying in character I kept smiling during photos
because I was excited that anyone actually recognized me.
I remember thinking to myself that some people might recognize me as Elektra (I thought only some because I thought the costume wasn't that great). I thought maybe a fan or two would give me a high-five because we both love the character. But I figured that overall, that would be about it. I planned on walking around the con as I usually did like everyone else.

Little did I know that doing cosplay was such a big deal once you yourself are in a costume. Yes I got excited when I saw others in cosplay and I would always ask for photos. Seeing them would put a huge smile on my face. But I didn't think that would happen to me in such a ho-hum cosplay. I was shocked at the reactions I got. All the compliments, the cheers and the camaraderie that came with cosplay was truly overwhelming. It felt amazing to share in this love for a fictional character with strangers. And really, while I was in costume and speaking with other fans, we were no longer strangers. We were friends. I will never forget that experience. 

I only cosplayed once after that. I loved American McGee's Alice and decided to alter a regular Alice costume to be more fitting for McGee's Alice. In retrospect I wish I put more blood on that costume, but again it was fun talking to other fans about our love for the character and the game.

Always forgetting to stay in character.
My adventure in cosplay was put on pause after that, my love for it endured. I adored the cosplay greats from afar and always marveled at the work that fans put in to bring characters to life. I think part of the reason I stopped was because others were so amazing at it and I, well, I tried. But I figured why bother if others do it so much better? I didn't want nor expect to be the best, but I figured that my cosplay is likely to be considered laughable so I should probably stop doing it. That I should just enjoy others work.

I was always insecure about what others thought of me -- did I mention that? I always figured someone would make fun of me for embracing things that I enjoy. Or make fun of me because I'm not that great at it. Even after my two positive experiences I grew afraid and I stopped.

It was silly. But last Halloween I decided to return to cosplay. I stopped being afraid. Even if I am not that great at costume-making, even if someone does decide to make fun of me, who cares? I enjoyed making those costumes. I enjoy cosplay. I love these characters. That's really what it's all about, right? Also, I was older. Insecurity has a way of starting to wane as you get older.

I decided to cosplay as two characters over Halloween 2011. The first was an easy one since it was store purchased and based on the movie, and thus I only loosely consider cosplay: Silk Spectre II

With Kick-Ass and two of the guys from C&D 
The second cosplay I put a lot of work into: Poison Ivy

I glued every single one of those damned plastic leaves to that bodice. I even glued them on to my shoes! I even did a version of her when she has green skin, sans the legs. I was headed out and about and didn't want to leave remnants of green paint on her furniture when I sat down.

It's a cosplay I will be rocking again for this years SDCC. Only this time, I'm going full body green! Head to toe. No tights. I even got some green contacts that I will hopefully be able to wear comfortably. I've never worn contacts before so I'm a little nervous but I think it will really bring an extra something to the cosplay.

My second cosplay for SDCC 2012 will be Wonder Woman! I wanted to not try something too difficult as I'll be putting a lot of work into upgrading my Ivy cosplay. So I found a good base to start with: a Wonder Woman dress that I found for super cheap! It needed a lot of work though:

It was a dress and it was way too short to even wear as a dress. The belt looks OK in the photo but it wasn't sewn down to the bodice and so it was flying around and flapping everywhere. The tiara was super tight on my head to the point where I think I'd pass out if I wore it as is. I have super tiny rwists and the gauntlets were super baggy on me.

The past week or so I've completely chopped it up and reworked it as you see here:

Now the bottoms are shorts, the belt is completely reinforced onto the bodice and the gauntlets fit! Not pictured is the tiara which I can now just pin into my hair. Also not pictured are the boots I purchased. My last step before SDCC is buying some rope and spray painting it gold. I really wish I had time to order blue contacts to really make the costume pop, but alas, that may have to wait until next time.

Overall, I am definitely not as professional with my cosplay as others, but cosplay is something that makes me happy. I enjoyed cosplaying because I love these character.  I meet others that love the characters too and them enjoying my cosplay really makes it ever better. Through cosplay I get to meet  others that cosplay as other characters I love! We chat and we bond. It reminds me why it's so much fun and why we cosplayers do what we do. I can't wait to be among others in cosplay at this years SDCC! 

What will you be cosplaying as? :)

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