Hey everyone! So we’re all getting ready for San Diego Comic Con — it’s only 30 days away, and some of you must be getting ready to cosplay. For some of you it might be an old habit, while for others it might be your first time. Regardless, cosplay is for everyone, and I mean everyone. No matter skill, years in the game, or complexity of cosplay, if you are having fun with what you are dressing up as, that’s all that matters.
That being said, cosplaying at SDCC presents some interesting and specific challenges — and exciting opportunities. To give you guys some background into myself: I’ve been cosplaying for over ten years, all over the country. I presented cosplay panels at NYCC, C2E2, and ECCC, and I also do press for another website (that has a close friendship with this site). I have also cosplayed at SDCC for 4 years, and can give you guys some insight into what you need to expect from the biggest convention in the country.
First off, let’s be serious. Planning is a huge thing. If you’re going to be doing a big costume I’m sure you’ve already started planning things out by now. If you haven’t, well, get started! It’s difficult to throw things together in less than 30 days, and if you need to purchase things (wigs, costumes, shoes, props), they often take time to get to you. The more time the better, especially with all the bumps that can happen with the mail service these days.
It also helps giving yourself a cushion in case things go wrong. And trust me, things will go wrong! I’ve had packages stolen, commissioners decide they can’t finish a costume part in time, or a paint job go so badly on a prop that I’ve had to strip paint off and start over entirely.
If you’re new to cosplay, especially, try to start small and do your research. There is no harm in going small, or buying your costume — this is all about fun, after all! Etsy and Ebay are your friends — but always pay attention to ratings and reviews.
And remember, you get what you pay for. In cosplay, there is an old saying. Quick Time, High Quality, Low Price–choose two. Meaning, you can get something high quality in a short period of time, but you’re going to pay lot for it. Or you can pay for something less expensive, in less time, but it’s going to be lower quality. You can’t get high quality, low price, and little time. You have to choose two.
Another part of SDCC that you need to think of, when it comes to cosplay, especially, is crowds. While most conventions these days are very crowded, SDCC is especially jam-packed. Inside the convention center, outside — everywhere is insane. There are very few places to find a place to sit down, and you will be packed in like sardines almost everywhere you go. What does that mean for you and cosplay? It means that you should try and pick things that aren’t overly cumbersome.
While some people do go for the ‘go big or go home’ mentality (I have once or twice) it hasn’t always been the best idea. Unless you have a hotel close by, where you can recharge easily, you can become miserable very very quickly. For example, I have two costumes I have worn that, after a few hours, were nearly unbearable.
One I couldn’t sit down in (due to the nature of the suit), and the other due to the shoes and the amount of fur/feathers I was wearing was so hot I thought I was going to pass out. While I knew what I was getting myself into ahead of time, for people who aren’t prepared — they could be in for a miserable experience. So try to pick things that you can wear for long periods of time, or switch out of quickly.
Also, try not to wear things that have have large props or have a lot of things that hang off of them. Wings or large hats are not something that work well at SDCC. While you may be aware of your surroundings, many other people will not be — and as no one is going to be able to move well on the floor, you will be knocked into, and there is a high chance that your props and/or your costume could be damaged.
Many people who go to SDCC never go to another convention, so they don’t know how to walk around costumes very well. So try to make it easy on yourself, and others — pick things that don’t require you to have a large ‘personal space’ bubble.
Self care is incredibly important. It gets hot at SDCC. When in costume, sometimes we lose track of time. We forget to get meals, we don’t get to sit down, and we don’t get to do a lot of the things other non-cosplayers are doing. So what do I suggest?
Always keep water at hand. While water bottles can be expensive and annoying to carry around, they make really cool plastic, foldable water bottles that are easy to put away once you’ve finished with them. They are pretty cheap, too, so I would suggest investing in one.
Additionally, always try to carry around a granola bar or two — balance bars, cliff bars — something high protein, high carb, so you can eat on the go, and can be a meal replacement if necessary. While cosplaying is a blast, fainting is not.
Additionally — when taking pictures, for yourself (and others), move to the side of any walkway. I cannot stress this enough. Nothing is more annoying than having someone stop in the middle of a very crowded walkway to take a picture. No one is going to be happy with you, trust me! So just ask the photographer nicely if they don’t mind moving over to the side with you, and take the picture.
On the same note, you can always say no! If you don’t feel like having your photo taken, at any time, just say no. You never owe anyone your photograph, ever. We’ve all heard cosplay is not consent, and guess what — it goes for photographs, too!
One of the great things about SDCC is that you might have the chance to meet some of the creators and actors behind some of your favorite shows. While there is no guarantee, if you dress in a costume related to one of the shows you love, and they are there, there is a chance you might get to meet them. I’ve been lucky, twice.
The first time was when I dressed as Gem, from Tron: Legacy. I ran into the producers of the film, and also the writer behind the cartoon Tron: Uprising on the floor of the convention. They loved my costume, and I got to talk to them for more than a few minutes about my costume and my love of Tron.
Additionally, I dressed up as the Ravenstag, the creature that Will hallucinates from Hannibal. While on the floor of the show I ran into a few of the assistants on the show who took pictures, but when I went up to wait in line for the panel, I ran into Bryan Fuller (Show Runner/Show Creator), who asked for a picture. Again, it gave me the opportunity to share my love/passion for the show with him. Both of these costumes were insanely hard to wear, but it was worth it, for both these moments.
I also had a very random encounter with Lucas Till (X-Men) in an elevator where he got incredibly excited over my Dragon Age costume, once. Honestly, while you can never plan/set out to meet any celeb, these opportunities are just icing on the cosplay cake.
In conclusion, this is about fun, people. If you aren’t having fun, you aren’t doing it right! I’m serious — while I’ve been cosplaying for over a decade, and I take it very seriously, I still remember one simple rule: fun is what it has to be about. So cosplay what you love, first and foremost. Don’t worry about how many people recognize you (or don’t), how many people take your picture (or don’t)–just enjoy yourself.
Cosplay what you love, and the rest will fall into place.