By Victoria Evans
If you had traveled to the Jarvis Center in New York City between October 11 and 14, you might have found yourself surrounded by many people in costume. However these weren’t people getting an early start on Halloween. They were cosplayers attending the 2012 New York Comic Con.
Cosplay is short for “costume play,” and is a popular subculture group for people who enjoy donning costumes and accessories to represent different characters from TV shows, movies, video games, comic books, and anime. To some people, this may just seem like simply dressing up for Halloween. But cosplayers will tell you it is so much more than that.
Katie Bienvenue, a film/video production major at Fitchburg State, gave some insight into the cosplaying world.
“Basically cosplay is a way to show your love for a character,” she says. “I started doing it back in junior high, and by accident. I would see an outfit that a character would wear and want to wear it myself, so I would go ahead and try to find the same thing.”
Many cosplayers make their own outfits, which Bienvenue says is a big part of the joy they get out of it.
“It can be stressful at times but also very fun! I find it peaceful to put on music or a movie and just sew away. Also, it’s a really great feeling when you can say that you made this!”
Bienvenue is currently working on a Red Riding Hood costume, a replication of the one worn by the character Ruby in ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.” Bienvenue attended the New York Comic Con portraying Regina Mills from “Once,” and Sarah Jane from “Doctor Who.” This was her first comic con experience, and she had nothing but good things to say about it.
“Cons are so much fun! There are people in all these amazing costumes… when I first went to New York Comic Con I had to stop a moment and just take it all in because I was blown away,” says Bienvenue.
Conventions are not only for cosplayers to get together and show off their costumes though. There are also panels which feature cast and crew members of different shows or movies. Bienvenue was able to see the “666 Park Avenue” panel, which consisted of the show’s entire cast, the producer and the creator. It wasn’t just a matter of walking up to the panel however, Bienvenue had to arrive early just to get a place in line. According to her, “people were on top of one another [and] stopped in the middle of walkways to take photos.”
The most exciting part of the convention for Bienvenue was being able to walk around with other “Once Upon A Time” cosplayers and getting stopped to take group photos. Cosplayers are a very friendly subculture group, and aren’t afraid to make conversation with people they don’t know at the conventions.
“I met up with a few people that I had planned it with a few days ago. But while waiting in lines for signings I ended up meeting and talking to the people around me because that’s when you are with people who like the similar things as you,” says Bienvenue. “Doctor Who was the major player there. The amount of Whovians I met and am now Facebook friends with was huge. We would gush over one another’s costumes. It’s like a sudden burst of energy and flailing whenever I saw someone dressed as someone I knew and loved.”
Besides venturing to comic cons, cosplayers also enjoy recreating different scenes with the characters they are portraying. Bienvenue mentioned that she had a “Doctor Who” photo shoot coming up where her and other cosplayers are going to Central Park and recreate the last episode that takes place there. She also talked about how she has friends who will travel to where movies have been shot to recreate scenes.
“Two of my cosplaying friends went all the way to North Carolina for a Hunger Games shoot,” says Bienvenue.
Clearly cosplaying can ring up quite a few expenses. Bienvenue says, “[It’s a] very expensive hobby. I’ve probably spent a couple hundred bucks over my costumes, but they are worth it.”
That seems to be the general consensus of this subculture group. Bienvenue remarks that as long as you are enjoying it, a cosplay character can be just about anything.
“If you see a character on a show or movie and just want to recreate that costume and you’re having fun with it then that’s cosplaying. That’s what makes it different from just costuming, it’s the joy and fun you put into it,” says Bienvenue.