I have been interested in cosplay for quite some time, even if I never did give myself the means to actually throw my body and mind (…and wallet) into it.Why, you may ask ? The desire of cosplaying is simply wanting to give life, through yourself, to a character that you like, that you feel close to, or that you simply admire. Creation, first. All the process of creating is definitely long and difficult, but also terribly fun and rewarding. The more you work, the more your baby becomes close to what it was meant to be. As you keep trying to make it perfect, you will also learn : by sewing or modeling clay again & again, you willeventually get better. And when you wear the piece, then comes the acting. You are not yourself anymore, but the character: you need to drop the mask before you transform again. The acting part may appear easy if you devote yourself enough, it should not be overlooked, though. Because costume-playing literally means “wearing the clothes & becoming the persona”. Believe me : most of the fun lies in wearing your creation and parading in it !
Moxxi from Borderlands, Zoya from Trine, Tsygan from Sanctum 2… There are many characters on my list. Will they see the light one day ? Maybe. How did I get the idea in the first place ? Well, as you play a video game, read a manga, watch an anime… you may stumble upon some into which you take a real liking. At first, the idea crossing your mind might sound like “How great would it be to have the real deal IRL !”. Then, why not transform that bud into “I could make it happen… somehow”. While wandering on the internet, I found numerous cosplay pictures of characters I liked, some even looked like they were made for the role ! Cosplayers sell dreams… for free. Or actually, at theirown cost. Yes, to make a good cosplay, you do not need only skills. It is a time-consuming and money-spending hobby. Not done for fame (well, you can, and you better be damn good !), money (the rare talented beings that develop a fandom eventually get a tiny source of income), nor for women (hmmm… it can actually work)… it is for yourself, and the passion.
The time ? Just ask a cosplayer how long he spent on his fully articulated Iron Man mark42 suit with incorporated LEDs and self-removable head, or how many hours it took another one to build from scratch a Diablo III Demon Hunter costume with handmade crossbows. Hundreds hours, few monthes, a year… depends. To begin with, you need pictures, screenshots… then schematics – that you draw yourself based on your model. After that you have to think on how to make every piece of the costume, and in what to make them. When you finally acquire everything you need is the starting point, and depending on how detailed / big / complex your work is, it could very well take your following entire days & nights
The money ? A sewing machine, fabrics, materials, tools, glue… there are so many things to obtain. And it can cost a fortune. And not only will you spend money on the costume, but also on convention tickets…
What the heck is a convention ? To name a few convention : the Comic Con’ in San Diego, the Tokyo Game Show, Paris Games Week, Pax East, Japan Expo… This can be heaven and hell, dear. Amazing cosplayers, new meetings, adorable huggy strangers… Dorky fanboys and -girls, annoying crowds, over-expansive goods… It is basically an event gathering individuals interested in japanese culture, comics, movies, webseries, video games… In France at least, here is how a convention goes : you can buy fake katanas, gay mangas, various goodies, japan-ish food, sweet candies, colorful lenses, nail polish, cute jewels ; meet actors, talk to them, get a picture and autograph ; collect pictures with cosplayers, or collect hugs from Free-Huggers (big sign, and affection issues) ; enjoy the uncovered skin of pretty
underaged ladies ; be seduced by cuddly cat plushies ; listen to conferences and ask questions to those famous people that you adore ; try out new games on new consoles, or made by indie developpers ; wander through the corridors with your 3DS to assemble a StreetPass army… And when you are cosplaying, be prepared to pose before the lens ! You being one of the attraction…
For those who do not know – or those who do not care -, the TGS (T standing for Toulouse) is a convention happening in the city of Toulouse (France) twice a year. There is the big one around the end of November or beginning of December in a quite enormous Exposition Hall, and the smaller one around mid-April in a slightly narrower place – next to a very delicious restaurant, if I may add. The smaller one used to be dedicated particularly to Japanese culture, mangas and anime, and just changed to welcome the universe of DC comics and merry-go-rounds. Not a bad change, if you ask me, as the the japanese-only version lacked in activities and interest. Actors, illustrators, creators, people to meet, games to try out, indie developers to check out, conferences to attend, cosplays to show the world… No time to get bored !
I have been going for the last two years, and I will probably continue going as long as I have an interest for cosplay ! Actually, my first real try at cosplay was at the TGS in April 2013, and it was a personal creation : a ninja named Aoi wearing a blue kimono. I wanted to present something else, but had nothing prepared at all for the next convention, not being able to choose any character from my list. That is when, just before the TGS in december 2013, I met a person that was all about fun and going all out, who eventually got us to create a group for a Payday cosplay. “You know the game ? Alright, we are going together, then. It is going to be awesome ! We will be amazing ! Let’s do this. You’re in, right ?” Clown masks, guns, suits, blue gloves: sounded great ! Not too much to spend, moderately difficult to realize… I ended up making clay masks for both of us – my try at claywork was not that laughable anymore when it began looking good. We became Wolf and Dallas, accompanied by my brother as Hilary Clinton, and our flatmate in a paper hockey mask. Nonethless, we had our few fans. They got on their knees, hands behind the head !
It was very exciting, but not perfected at all. Everything was just begining ! The masks could have been better (especially Wolf that looked like a Gorilla – and I blame the model that I should not have chosen !), and the group was not complete either without Chains and Hoxton. For the new TGS, I remade Wolf, created Hoxton and Chains, retouched Dallas (no time for a remake !), and we were finally ready. I took a plastic base mask and used clay, painted with acrylic paint. Time, patience, accuracy are the three master words ! We got new weapons, even new suits, new gloves, and a whole new atmosphere to the group. We even had a fifth member, him being Twitch, the driver, that decided to get a mask as well.
Full of flaws, but still looking quite good ! These are only my first claywork creations. I am particularly proud of Chains, though, because it is the most accurate one. Dallas’ chin should not be flat, Hoxton should look sadder, and Wolf’s face should be narrower, if I have to list the major problems.
We got a real recognition from people that simply recognized us and told us that the masks looked great, to people that asked for pictures with a big smile. The TGS was great, a lot of people liked our bunch, and we had fun at meeting and/or scaring others. Remember, convention is not just about cosplaying : the most awesome happening of the week-end was probably chatting and riding bumper-cars with Torri Higginson (Elizabeth Weir) from Stargate Atlantis & Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne) from Game of Thrones.