05-JAN-2012 I was surprised at the responses I received when I asked costumers about how they feel when someone else is at the same event in the same costume. It boils down to personality. In Part 1, I expressed my own insecurities.
Something seems evident among the members of the Superhero Costuming Forum is that they strive to stand out with making personal choices and adaptations to characters rather than sticking to dead-on screen accurate varieties. There are certain message boards set up for niche costuming dedicated to one character or theme like Brotherhood of the Bat for Batman/Gotham costumes and the League of Lanterns for the Green Corps and more.
Personally, I embrace the new love all the various colored Lantern Corps. There are tons of options and many people are enjoying creating their own original designs rather than worry about continuity, accuracy and duplicates at an event. One possible set back of designing an original version is that often times people attending the convention will be less likely to photograph you after giving that capricious question, “Who are you supposed to be?”
There was a surge of the quite revealing BRIGHTEST DAY version of Carol Danvers’ Star Sapphire. Sexy still sells.
Costumer and moderator Spider of the SCF is known for coming out in obscure characters or in lesser known versions of popular characters. She is usually identified easily as Dazzler but since she was spotted wearing it, the character seems to have a resurgence in cosplay at cons across the US. At Heroes Con 2010, it was planned to have a gathering of Zatanna costumers to assist with the charity auction. Spider being who she is and wanting to explore the alternate worlds, showed up in a “Blue Sorceress” leotard version of the magician when all the other ladies wore the more classic tuxedo tails and top hat. Fans can expect more great things from Spider’s super wardrobe. In fact, if you follow her Facebook page, she often asks people to help her decide what her next costume challenge should be.
“I love it because I do the off-the-wall ones and I love seeing someone else’s interpretation. At the same time, there’s always that initial jolt of “Wha..?” and the critical eye that does the comparison. Buts as much as I like bits of someone else’s interp, I can find just as many on mine that I like just as much.” ~Spider
Clearly I am not alone in my self-deprecation when it comes to my costume designing and body image. Even women that I look at with envy have low self esteem on all fronts of this hobby. As someone else who is not a size 0, Jess of JessJupiter.com has been called every insult in the book. She tries to summon the inner strength to shrug off the insults and pay attention to positive aspects about the craft. Not only do women like me and Jess have comparison issues in regular street clothes, when you run into another Rogue at a convention the self hate comes out.
When you first see someone in the same costume as you (same version, design, universe, variant, what have you…) the initial reaction is to compare.
I used to be very jealous/competitive when I was a teenager (I’ll have to admit, to some extent I still am) and compare myself against thinner, prettier girls. It still bugs me somewhat that no matter how much work I put into a costume, if someone just goes and buys a 3 sizes too small Halloween costume, they’ll be plastered all over the interwebs as the next cosplay star, and there I was, 16 hours of sewing, 6 hours of sculpting, 3 hours of painting into a costume and getting called a fat bitch who shouldn’t cosplay. I still have this knee jerk reaction a bit whenever it happens to me now at cons, but I try to keep it under control, because I don’t think it fair to the other costumer to have such harsh hate for someone I’ve never talked too.
BUT, meeting another person who’s put a lot of effort into their costume as well, that’s a different story. I’ll still compare myself to them, but in a more positive way. Do I like their method of making ___ part of the costume better than how I did mine? Can I learn anything from them? Make any improvements? I try to keep the mentality that if I’m making a costume, I make it to the best of my ability at the time, so hopefully I can take some pointers from them.
I find myself more willing to approach them and talk shop with them, a lot more willing to ask for a picture with them. I’ll still be just as polite no matter who the other person is, but honestly I’d be more predispositioned to be friends with the person who also makes their costumes because we, frankly, just seem to have more in common. With the other it’s not that I feel the store bought/generically made costume unworthy or anything, but it just doesn’t strike my fancy. It’s kind of like the same way I can be a little bit pickier at larger conventions about who I photograph. If their costume isn’t striking in some way, then I probably will pass on a photo. (Hopefully this doesn’t sound TOO snobbish, haha. Writing it all out makes it seem very hoity toity. Lol)
There are other costumers like Tia who try to believe that her unique approach to costume choice is the inspiration for others when she sees a duplicate. Tia has done gender bending and created a female Kick-Ass costume which garnered a lot of online praise and photo opportunities. She was awarded 2nd Place in the annual WIZARD Magazine contest before the printed publication closed. However, it’s her girl next door appearance that makes her best known as Kitty Pryde from the X-Men. Even when Tia chooses to model in non-costume shoots and take risks like lingerie and pin-up modeling, her core fan base grew because of her high quality X-Men characters. Her Pixie is simple gorgeous and another rare but growing in popularity type of character.
“Honestly? I’m a girl, and a craftswoman – I just NATURALLY size the other person up. It’d be a [lie] if ANYONE said they didn’t immediately look at the other person and not instinctively compare costumes. It’s human nature. Now, after sizing it up, I make a strong point to be excited and nice to the other person (assuming they’re also nice, and they usually are) – I love to pose for ‘twin’ pictures with them, and make dumb jokes. But, yeah – the immediate response is always a competitive type. It just is.” ~Tia
Jeff found a way to make being a popular character a unique experience by taking Lex Luthor and making the Orange Lantern (Greed) Corps version that was seen in the DC BLACKEST NIGHT saga. Even as a brawny man, Jeff seems to get his hackles up at first when spotting another Luthor in the crowd of a convention. He debuted his extra greedy variation of Superman’s nemesis at Dragon*Con in 2010.
“But whenever I see someone else show up as the same character as I (or as someone in my entourage whom I have costumed), the naturally inquisitive costumer in me evaluates their costume against my own attempt, weighing the wisdom of different materials, construction methods, concept, etc. And I usually make an effort to stand apart from them so we don’t hog each other’s glory.
…On the other hand, whenever I see another Lex Luthor (whether “regular” or “purple power suit” or any other incarnation), part of me immediately reacts rather Lex Luthorishly (“How DARE he?!?”), but that’s because I typically internalize the character and that’s how Lex would react. And then the naturally inquisitive costumer in me clicks into play…” ~Jeff
Just like Jeff’s unusual choice of Orange Lantern Lex, another Dragon*Con attendee went all out. Adam seems to be the only person ever to dress as Uatu the Watcher from Marvel Comics. A Google Image search reveals that the only other one out there on the internet was a cleverly costumed baby. The only bits Adam didn’t craft himself were the gloves and boots which he recolored.
Adam admits to sizing up any other costumers that have costumes like other ones in his collection. This seems to be a common thread. All costume crafters want to check out “the competition” and see what techniques were used and compare end results. Adam comes out directly and explains that efforts in coordination a costume roll call list for an event should be respected.
“If it’s being coordinated and there’s not supposed to be two of the same character, it’s bad form. But, if it’s a con or essentially random, I don’t mind at all. I’m just glad to see other folks who are sharing in a love of a fun and creative hobby.” ~Adam
Stay tuned for Part 3: One Harley Quinn’s personal story.