Originating in the 1970s as a hobby for Japanese students to dress up as anime characters, today cosplay is an integral part of any gaming exhibition and beyond. However, cosplay is surrounded by a certain veil of secrecy for the uninitiated, and the inner world of this profession is not entirely obvious to the average player, not to mention outsiders. Meanwhile, cosplay is not a simple matter, but preparation for an exhibition with all the design, sewing, makeup, etc. is a very labor intensive process. Fortunately, with the development of the gaming industry, this work pays off more and more, and cosplay opportunities become more flexible.
Michael Wilson, nicknamed Knightmage, a former sheriff with 15 years of experience, took up cosplay relatively recently, but quickly gained popularity due to the fact that he thought of linking his favorite business with charity.
In Michael’s case, cosplay started with a love for comics, for which he thanks his brother. He recalls that he spent a lot of time watching his brother read comics and draw characters from them.
When Michael first started cosplaying, his co-workers looked at him like he was crazy. But once they saw the big picture—the places he visits, the people he meets—they changed their minds.
“Now they are constantly asking how I am doing and if I can spend their children’s birthdays.”
Knightmage chose the first suit in hopes of causing controversy in people’s minds. He acted as John «Green Lantern» Stewart, traditionally portrayed in movies and comics with a different skin color.
Arriving at the exhibition in a costume that was originally intended for Halloween, Wilson realized how high the quality standards are in modern cosplay, and in the future, with each new role, he tried not only to keep up, but also to move the bar higher.
Since then, he has already changed quite a few roles, including Luke Cage, Blade, Spawn and Tic.
The latter stands out among the rest with relatively little popularity, which only added to Wilson’s desire to act as the Tick Man. He even managed to make his favorite toy, the «Little Wooden Boy».
Michael hopes his cosplay work can inspire fans to take a more positive and nobler outlook on life. This is also why Knightmage is more and more involved in charitable projects. Among them, one deserves special attention — The Fighters Cause for The Wounded Warrior Project.
Twenty cosplayers arranged a photo shoot, where each of them portrayed a famous character. All proceeds from the sale of prints from this photo shoot went to charity. An interesting point is that it depended on who was depicted on the purchased print, where the proceeds from the sale would go. Thus, the buyer could decide for himself who to donate money to by purchasing the desired poster.
As for other hobbies, Michael simply does not have time for them. Of course, the love of video games and comics has not gone away, but Wilson still has regular workouts in the gym as a priority, which is understandable.
When asked what role he would most like to play, Wilson replies: “Voltron! For me, this is a dream project. In the near future, I plan to transform into the transformer Soundwave, and I expect that this will be a great warm-up for Voltron.
The cosplayer D-Piddy is known to the world, first of all, for the role of Deadpool, which he can say forever reserved for himself with his trademark defiant behavior at game exhibitions. D-Piddy thanks his youtube channel for his immense popularity, where he regularly posts his adventures as a «talkative mercenary».
The most successful of these were videos from the Deadpool vs series, in which D-Piddy challenges other cosplayers to a dance competition.
“In my life I do dances, that’s why you so often see me doing different steps with other characters. Sometimes, however, I interact with them in a different way. For example, defiantly afraid of Slender or epic fight with Goku.
As a rule, D-Piddy asks other cosplayers for permission to shoot in advance, but if he stumbles upon a refusal, he can afford to act like a true Deadpool and record them on the sly.
“It promotes a genuine natural response. True, when they nevertheless find out that they are being filmed, they often become furious.
D-Piddy’s popularity grew exponentially when he released parodies of two of PSY’s biggest hits: Gangnam Style and Gentlemen. The finisher was a parody of «Family Guy», in which D-Piddy fights with the same rooster that Peter Griffin fought more than once in the cartoon. Each of these three videos scored approximately 20 million views and added fans to the author.
It’s hard to imagine that it all started with a spontaneous purchase of a Deadpool costume on eBay. I had to alter it for myself and, of course, get katanas, the necessary belts and pockets before D-Piddy appeared before the visitors of Anime Expo 2009 as we know him.
Despite all the popularity his brash character has brought him, D-Piddy prefers to remain anonymous and show up at exhibitions in other costumes.
“I am very flattered that people are entertained by my actions, but I think once they know who is under the mask, all attention will turn to me as a person. But when I’m dressed as Deadpool, I want to feel like Deadpool, not myself.»
“He has no sense of justice and does what he sees fit. It seems to me that people often try to do the right thing and in doing so harm themselves. Deadpool, on the other hand, takes care of himself first of all, and in this we are very similar. I think the whole point of him is that he wants to live life doing what he does best.”
Russian Anna Moleva was able to fulfill the dream of any cosplayer. She didn’t just portray her favorite character — she, one might say, turned the character into herself, becoming the face of Elizabeth in the acclaimed BioShock: Infinite.
Anna recalls: «As soon as I saw Elizabeth in the trailer, I realized that I had no other choice — I simply had to recreate her image.»
Since the release of the first trailer, the developers have radically changed the appearance of the heroine more than once. New image, hairstyle, clothes. Anna had to prepare everything again twice, but the result was worth the wait.
After finishing in two months, Anna decided to take test photos and immediately shared her work online. The feedback was so powerful that the photos caught the eye of the developers at Irrational Games. BioShock lead designer Ken Levin immediately contacted Anna and offered to collaborate with her.
First of all, the developers scanned Molina’s face for use in the game’s advertising campaign. Immediately, to Anna’s delight, she appeared on the covers of magazines and huge billboards in different US cities. Also, Molina’s largely unchanged face was used in the final trailer, featuring realistic CGI. The trailer was the final stage of the promotion and was launched on television.
All these events for Anna became an incredible and unexpected adventure, because she never aspired to popularity. Molina got into cosplay as a teenager, like many others, through her love of anime. Her first skin was Yoruichi (Bleach), and her first playable character was Elika from Prince of Persia. After her, she never returned to anime.
Before becoming Elizabeth, Anna tried a huge number of roles: Kitana (Mortal Kombat), Mystique (X-Men), Lilith Hesperax (Warhammer 40,000). According to many, she was best given the image of Jane Shepard from Mass Effect. For this work, she received first place at Miss Gamer 2012.
Anna assures that every time after the reincarnation she takes out something for herself from the character’s character. So when choosing an image, it is very important for her that the character can give her something in return in terms of self-development.
As for her work as Elizabeth, after participating in the promotion of the game, she created several images of the heroine, which also did not go unnoticed by Irrational Games. She also participated in the voice of Elizabeth in an unofficial project to translate Bioshock: Infinite into Russian.
Steven K Smith (SKS Props)
Before cosplaying American Steven Smith devoted fifteen years to the profession of an illustrator, working on newspapers and magazines. There are more than thirty editions of children’s literature with Stephen’s drawings alone.
Suddenly, in 2012, one spontaneous idea dramatically changed the direction of his entire career. One night, while sitting for hours at his beloved Borderlands 2, Stephen had the idea to recreate the mask of one of the characters in the game — «Psycho». Having not found anything intelligible on the Web, he was eager to make it himself, connected all his artistic skills, and two weeks later presented the mask at one of the competitions. Smith also added Psycho’s signature weapon, the Buzz Axe, to the mask.
After that, Stephen immediately got into the review of all the top cosplayers and not only. The work has been featured on a number of well-known portals such as dudeiwantthat.com, laughingsquid.com and thisiswhyimbroke.com. The mask was also used as a prop for the filming of two Borderlands films, including the notorious Jack’s Exodus.
Smith’s popularity as a craftsman continued to snowball, and over the next four years he worked with several gaming giants, including EA, Microsoft, 2K Games, Bungie, Gearbox, and BioWare.
For the latter, by the way, he made armor from Dragon Age: Inquisition. The armor turned out to be well-designed and very similar to its counterpart from the game, so success with the gaming community was once again guaranteed. Geek culture flirtatious violinist Lindsey Stirling used a helmet in her official Dragon Age music video. In addition, Smith’s work has received many awards and now hangs in BioWare headquarters in front of the entrance to the main office.
Another significant achievement was the costume of the third level from the horror Dead Space. One look at this work — and you understand that Smith simply does not have a development ceiling. The costume won numerous prizes, including second place in the Instructubles Spectrum competition, beating over a thousand contestants.
By the way, the first place in the competition went to the Iron Man costume, and the grand prix took away an unusual table for playing Pong.
Finally, if you’re a fan of the movie «Turbo Kid», then you probably remember the assassin in the mask that resembles a skull. I think you yourself guessed by whose hands it was created.
Obviously, Smith has a great future ahead of him, and he will surely find himself on the set of some blockbuster soon. For the unexpected turn in his career, Stephen credits his ability to trust his intuition first and foremost and encourages newcomers to his business to focus on what they really like, regardless of trends.
In conclusion, I would like to mention the actor Michael Mir, who gave the voice not to anyone, but to the commander of the Normandy, Captain Shepard (Mass Effect). One fine day, the promoters decided to put Michael in Shepard’s costume and take him to Dragon Con 2012. Mir’s appearance was in harmony with his computer hero, not to mention a decent acting game. Although, in general, Mir did not appear as a space soldier very often, he can still rightfully consider himself part of the army of cosplayers.
As we can see, there is much more to cosplay than meets the eye, and in an age of social media and the internet in general, cosplay can only serve as the first step towards any other creative pursuit.