Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Official Rules of Costuming | Dispatches from NY Comic Con 2011

There were some pretty weak costumes at Comic Con this year. I overheard several exhibitors and attendees complain that there was a greater commerciality about the event this year, an air of Big Business and less of an emphasis on independent artists.

But mostly we were all just unimpressed with most of the costumes we were seeing. Expect a teardown of the best costumes in the next couple days, but for now, let's establish some ground rules so as to avoid these issues in the future:

Rules of Proper Costuming:

1. Costumes may not be purchased as-is. Yes, NY Comic Con is in October, but this isn't Halloween.

2. Costumes must fit your body type/ethnicity. No scrawny Supermen, no morbidly obese Deadpools, no Caucasians posing as Japanese 14 year old school girls.

3. If you choose an iconic character, you must have a spot-on likeness. Do you look nothing like your favorite character? Don't feel like making an effort to look more like him/her? Then don't do it. Find a character that suits you better or skip it altogether. We're not against enjoying something even if you don't look the part, but remember that you are judged on quality at Comic Con.

4. Interesting and interactive costumes are more impressive than even the most perfect reproductions. Of course both is the best case scenario. Have a good pose ready, at least, for those who want to take pictures with you.

5. Group shots are less impressive with three Dragon Ball Z villains and a Power Ranger. Two people, fine. You can be different. I saw a couple dressed as Misa and her giant, creepy shinigami from "Death Note."

Awesome. Yet they were walking with a white (rage) Asuka from "Evangelion." I took their pictures separately, and one of them was for pity's sake. You can still see her in the edge of the frame, yet to be cropped out. Why is she so pissy looking? Because she's been a third-wheel all day and she's tired and getting a yeast infection from her plug suit while the scrawny blonde is going to have sex tonight.

6. Know what the hell you're dressed as. It's cool to get your girlfriend to put on a Mary Marvel costume while you wear red and run around shouting "SHAZAM!" But for gods' sake, give her a little back story. Last year a comedian asked a smoking hot Green Lantern girl which Lantern she was, paired to her boyfriend's Hal Jordan, and she didn't know. He just dressed her in an outfit that showed off her ass. Thank you, but you looked like a fool and we all knew what was going on.

7. Some notes on quality:
  • No camel toe. Ladies, double up on underwear. Men, get a friggin' cup. I know you played peewee something back before daddy gave up on your sports career.
  • No papier mâché or visible cardboard. If you can't make it yourself, commission it. If you can't afford it, don't do it.
  • Avoid wigs unless A) you can't physically grow your hair long enough in time, or B) physics otherwise would preclude natural hair from taking that shape. That said, a box of hair color and some industrial strength holding spray go a long way.

Irony Exemptions:

1. You can alter the race/gender/physical profile of any character if it is well performed. Black Ken and Ryu? Sure, they had great costumes. Sexy Girl Han Solo? As long as you have the right clothes and gun.
"Hana Solo?" I'd herd her nerfs, alright.

2. Your costume can look like crap if the joke is it looks like crap. Cardboard box robots and child-sized Halloween costumes stretched over 6-foot grown men included. Hell, buy a generic Superman costume and add black rimmed glasses and a cardboard sign with "Totally Not Superman" scrawled on it, and you'd got the best Clark Kent costume I've ever seen. (Wit > Visuals.)

Or you could be this guy. Hilarious commentary. Good quality; homemade. And child appropriate.


  1. Asuka is German - why shouldn't she be cosplayed by white girls?

    Although you're right, the interesting and quality costumes were pretty few and far between. A lot of lazy eleventh Doctors and Clark Kents. On the upside, the handful of Star Wars groups I encountered had done a really great job.

    I really can't complain about corporate influence, for two somewhat obvious reasons.

  2. Asuka Langley Soryu is half-German and half-Japanese. That is why she should not be played by severe looking American girls. At least she was a natural red-head.


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