Picture Courtesy: Neel Bose
Ever wondered about the people who dress up as characters in Comic Con? Who are they and how did they come to be? Got too many questions? Let me help you out with that!
Cosplayer is a word formed by merging the words ‘costume play’ where people dress up as specific characters and represent them in plays and conventions. There is a lot that goes into becoming a cosplayer from picking a character to making the costume to playing the part.
Let’s find out more about Cosplayers from Neel Bose, who cosplays at conventions very regularly and will give all an insight into a life of a cosplayer.
- What character did you choose to cosplay as?
Since I’ve been cosplaying from 4-5 years, I’ve cosplayed a lot of characters. I’ve also been a part of a club called Dubai Anime Club which was basically a group of anime fans who would cosplay at local pop culture conventions in UAE. So, I think over the years I must have done at least 5 to 6 cosplays.
- Can you name all the characters you’ve played?
The first one was Natsu from Fairytale. I’ve done The Crow from the comic book series in which Brandon Lee starred in the movie. Marco from One Piece was one. Mephisto from Blue Exorcists and most recently Archer from Fate Stay Night and in addition to that there are definitely a few more which I might risqué forgetting
- What is it about the character that made you cosplay him?
To give you a gist, Archer is a real antihero. He’s not the main character but he’s not your typical good guy either. He’s very blunt and he has an attitude on him. Archer doesn’t show emotional connection to things which is what kind of appealed to me about him. The whole ‘I’m too cool for you’ sort of thing and ‘I’m not impressed by you’ or you know ‘ how do I know you’re worthy of me’ kind of attitude. If you were to watch the skit, Archer is basically summoned by his master and he is not impressed by the master so he’s like “Why should I obey you?” and he radiates an air of arrogance where he is completely dissatisfied with what he sees in his master which is very unique about him.
- How do you make the costume?
I bought two foam boards from a craft store and then I cut the shape out of a sword and stuck the two foams together with a hot glue gun. Once that was done, I painted on top with the sword colour and then drew the intricate designs and finally painted it. For this one, I’ve procrastinated a lot and I made the two swords by pulling an all-nighter!
Whereas, for the clothes it depends. There are somethings I’d need help from a tailor to do because I cannot stitch. Other things, if they can be pieced together like the armour, for example, I use EVA foam. EVA foam speciality where once a shape is cut and you heat it, you can mould it into different shapes around your arm, your shoulder and chest. For armour, you could then craft foam shapes and use spray paint to make it look like metal. The article looks realistic but its foam and really light weight and easy to handle.
- How was your experience as a cosplayer?
It’s incredible! As there’s so much work going into it. You’re making props, styling the wig, you’re running around looking for materials for the outfit and when you finish it all, it’s worth it. When you do it, it is so much fun.
- Which cosplay is your most favourite?
I think the recent one, Archer, was neat because this is the first time I did a cosplay duet. I was the main male character of the anime and my friend was the main female character and we did a skit with the dialogue and scene from the anime itself. This was the most fun one as I’ve done a few unique ones.
It wasn’t one of the most complex ones because, previously I’ve done a character which needed wings and massive ones at that. It was one of the most creatively challenging ones since it tested my craftsmanship and they took the longest to make. The outfit was fairly easy but the wings were very difficult.
- Do you use readymade outfits or do you prefer to make them yourself?
Cosplayers who do it for a hobby won’t buy anything because they want to make most of it since it has an artistic aspect to it. If you were to compete here, you couldn’t buy stuff because that’s immediate disqualification. The judges would know what is bought and what is handmade. I prefer to make my own costume so that I can add my touch to it.
- Could you share a line or two by the cosplay character?
When Archer first appears, his master who summoned him asks him who he is and he just smirks and says “That’s the first thing you say to me? Well, well, well, I was summoned by quite a master oh boy! I must have drawn the shortest straw.”
He goes on to say “You know I’ll obey you as my master but form only. So in the war to come, I’ll not obey your commands, I will see how I battle, you don’t object that… Do you? I suggest you sit tight down in a cellar and if you do that, you should be able to stay alive.”
- Was this your first convention or have you attended some other conventions as well?
I’ve gone for every comic con since comic con began and when I was in Dubai Anime Club, we organised the first ever anime convention in Dubai called Animeyhem. It had 400 people come and when you think about it, it was a place that had a capacity for 250 people and when 400 people show up for an anime convention, you know how popular anime and manga are over here.
- Why did you decide to attend ANI:ME festival?
It was organised by the same people as the comic con and it was ‘UAE’s first Japanese pop culture festival’, but that’s not entirely accurate. Primarily, the winner of the cosplay competition would represent the UAE at the world cosplay summit in Japan. It is where the best cosplay teams from multiple countries around the world compete in the world’s biggest cosplaying competition.
- When and how were you introduced to Anime and Manga?
When I was in high school, my closest friend introduced me to a series called Death Note. It took me a while to watch it but once I finished watching 2-3 episodes, I was completely hooked and then I wanted to watch more so I started Naruto. I like the way anime builds series in terms of character development, plot development and how thought through everything is, in terms of the story line and the creativity going behind each character and everything is incredible. I mean even the sound tracks associated to it goes so much further in terms of the creativity behind it.
- Are there any tips you’d like to share with future cosplayers?
Well, I would say that learn craftsmanship that might be stitching, crafting crops, and familiarize yourself with how it’s done. It’s easy to learn because there is a massive cosplay community online, on YouTube and Deviant Art where there are some pretty good cosplayers giving tutorials on how things are done. Choose a cosplay character you love as well. It just makes it so much more fun.
The other thing is to choose a character that resembles you in some way. That might be the body structure like if you are super slim, you don’t want to be someone who is super buffed. If you are very tall, you don’t want to be someone who is very short. If you are dark skinned, you could be someone who is white with makeup. But, what first time cosplayers often do is that they pick some character who physically doesn’t resemble them at all. So, it just looks like a complete misfit.
You don’t want a skinny guy to be the Hulk. You’ll be like, “Okay. I can see through the paint.”
- Will you be cosplaying at other conventions that come?
Next one is Comic Con but I’m not so sure. I’ll probably attend Anime Con because that’s what I watch the most in terms of Pop Culture fiction. I’ve been thinking about Sweeney Todd for a couple of years so I might consider that as my next cosplay. Apart from that, I’ll probably be an Anime character. Although, the most popular genre to cosplay is gaming. I think in the vision gaming, in terms of all pop cultures, segments gaming is the most popular. Like League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and all the others. Which is why gaming characters are the most common to be cosplayed over here.
If you have any cosplay questions or tips and tricks, comment below and let me know!
All the Love, R.