Hey, That's My Cape! - My Way to Cosplay SDCC and Beyond

The big countdown is on. There’s just three weeks left until San Diego Comic-Con and odds are if you haven’t had your plans set for months, you’re not going. I’m not joking when I tell people: if you want to go to SDCC next year, start planning right now. Open a new bank account if you have to and put aside money for it each week to insure you’ll be able to afford it when it finally roles around again and research the best ways to get a room and how to get there. Just deciding to go to SDCC is a big commitment in and of itself,

Even if you are all set to go this year, there’s still lots to be done for those who cosplay at the big event. I’ve cosplayed the last two years I’ve attended SDCC (as well as at other cons and events) and I’ve come to realize SDCC takes even more planning than usual. That’s why I started preparations for most of my costumes this year almost a year in advance. Some people think cosplay is easy. It’s not.

Granted, there are many different levels of cosplay. Some people put on a Spider-Man mask and call it a day while others spend weeks at a sewing machine or molding plastic or foam until every detail is just perfect. I guess I land somewhere in the middle although the longer I cosplay, the more obsessed I become with perfection. There’s also a spectrum of intensity at play there too. As a cosplayer, you can choose a certain costume from a specific comic, game, television show etc. or, if the costume has changed through the years, design it to suit your individual preferences by using elements of all of them. Some people may tell you there are hardened rules for cosplay but I don’t subscribe to that. Not everyone is a master seamstress or knows how to work with metal. And I learned from experience that it’s just as difficult to purchase pieces for a costume as it is to make it yourself.

 

One of my favorite costumes I ever put together was my Red Lantern. I wasn’t doing a specific character from the comics, I was just my own creation. As a result I figured I could make the costume look like whatever I wanted. Some people called me Laira because of my red hair and as much as I love her I’m not at the level where I want to paint my skin purple yet (body paint is a whole other level of dedication). My thought was to do a basic Red Lantern costume but show some flair with my prop – Dex-Starr. From the moment I saw the rage kitty in the pages of Green Lantern I knew I had to include him in my costume. So, that was one costume for me, one for Dex-Starr. Luckily I know a great costumer named Amber Love who helped me out with Dex’s mini-Red Lantern outfit. I used a simple black bodysuit for the base of mine and went through two other red leotards until I found one that worked with my body. I knew of someone who does printing on t-shirts who was able to print the Red Lantern Corps symbol on it and then I just had three more important details to cover. Ring, contacts and blood.

Every Lantern must have a ring but finding one that would fit me was a challenge. DC hadn’t put out their plastic Lantern rings to the masses at the time but I managed to get my hands on one and of course it was too large. Though it did find a nice home on Dex-Starr’s tail. Amber directed me to The League of Lanterns online where one member was nice enough to make me my own light-up ring. The red contacts I found were really cool looking but you didn’t notice them unless you were close up and the blood came from a regular party store. Although I did wind up using a different brand of fake blood the next time I did the costume because the consistency and look weren’t as good as I’d hoped. In cosplay it’s all about trial and error.

 

I’d been wanting to do another color Lantern for a while but when SDCC rolled around the next year I already had another complicated cosplay in mind. So, I brainstormed for a while and came up with the idea for the Classy Lanterns. The idea for an entire spectrum of the Lanterns was something I’d wanted to do but knew would be extremely difficult to recruit for and accomplish. My idea was to recruit a group of women to wear dresses in the colors of the Corps and have us each wear a Lantern necklace with their individual symbols on them. It was fairly simple to get people involved, as it was something unique that hadn’t been attempted before. The individual members in my group had issues finding a solid color dress that worked for them and was the correct shade (especially since most of us didn’t live near each other) and getting a gaudy fashion ring in the same color to act as their power ring. As organizer of the group, my incredibly daunting task was to get the symbol necklaces made. After putting the word out for what I needed, a media solutions company called SanBox came to the rescue. They did a phenomenal job and the necklaces were the perfect touch.

 

That same year at SDCC I cosplayed Ravager which brought in a whole new factor to my cosplay skill-set – weapons. As you know, DC’s Ravager carries around two swords to kick ass but you can’t actually carry weapons on the convention floor (or on a plane for that matter). Amber helped me out once again by putting together the actual suit for me since I’m not a sewer. She had her own tough time using the sequined material I chose for Ravager’s chain-mail while I struggled to find the perfect wooden sword and then paint it appropriately. Of course you have to get your fake weapons checked at SDCC before you can walk the floor, even if they are those giant anime-style blades that couldn’t possibly be real. Hiding the bright orange tag they stick on them for taking photos is a challenge itself. While my Ravager costume looks amazing to me and came together just the way I wanted it, it’s one of my most uncomfortable to wear which is also something important to consider when cosplaying. Also frustrating? When you cosplay a Teen Titan and almost everyone thinks you’re a female Deathstroke.

 

That’s another big part of cosplaying. You can dress as Harley Quinn and everyone will know who you are or you can dress as a more fringe character who you really love but find no one the entire day who recognizes who you are. That’s what I ran into when I dressed as Amy Pond from Doctor Who at Wonder Con a few months ago. While the people who know and love Doctor Who are pretty fanatic about it, even some of them didn’t realize I was dressed as Amy. I honestly think part of the problem was that I have red hair naturally and women who cosplay Amy usually wear a wig that stands out a lot more and reads more as a costume. I had fun doing it, especially since I had a Doctor to walk around with for a while but as far as impact goes, it was small.

 

Cosplay doesn’t always have to be about a specific character though, it’s expanded far enough that there’s a lot of room for interpretation. Like last year when I was part of a group who used old character bed sheets to create 50s-style dresses. I used Dick Tracy sheets and got my hair done professionally in a classic 50s style and had so much fun. And that’s the most important part of cosplay to me, having fun. I try to choose characters or costumes I have an affinity for and interpret them the best way I can. This year I’m doing another big group, another prop animal and a non-comic book character. I usually like to keep my costumes under wraps as best I can until closer to the convention but I’m going to let one slip today.

I met someone at SDCC last year who solidified my interest in an idea I’d been rolling around for a while. You might know him, his name is Darkseid. And you know who rolls with Darkseid, right? None other than the Female Furies. As of right now I’ve got seven Furies set to walk the floor at SDCC including myself. I’m cosplaying Lashina and it looks like it’s set to be my most challenging costume yet. See, I told you. The longer I do this the crazier I get about it. You are definitely not going to want to miss us if you’re there. Honestly, you probably won’t be able to miss us with the way we’re going to look. Plus, it’s always a good idea to give Darkseid your full attention anyway.

Some people don’t like cosplayers. Why? I’m not entirely sure. Cosplay is just another art form. I can understand not being interested in doing it yourself but you have to admire the work and dedication it takes to put just one costume together. Even the ones that look simple usually aren’t. I mean, most of the time these costumes weren’t drawn with the intention that someone could actually wear them (Star Sapphire anyone?) but where there’s a good cosplayer, there’s a way and even the most unrealistic costume designs can be achieved.

Cosplaying is different than just throwing together a costume for Halloween or another event although since I’ve been cosplaying some of my intensity has bled through and now even my Halloween costumes are put together with the most critical eye. Last October I was Alice In Wonderland and decided I needed a caterpillar, an Eat Me cookie, a Drink Me bottle and flowers with faces on them. That, my friends, is when you know you’re past the point of no return. See you in San Diego!

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