Cosplay is an underground culture dedicated to bringing the worlds of fantasy and role-play to life. Various genres of sci-fi, superheroes, anime characters and gamers join together to celebrate their common interests.
Conventions such as “Comic-Con” and “Zombie Crawls” have become mainstream in recent years, so much so that some feel it has lost touch with the original social aspects and personal interactions within the Cosplay community. Therefore, new groups are emerging in an attempt to bring it back to its roots. One such group is Project Cosplay.
“Think of a scene where the cosplayers are getting their pictures taken in their brand new awesome costumes by great photographers,” said Iggy Michniacki, editor-in-chief of Project Nerd Publishing.
“There’s 20 other people with cellphones that keep them bombarded, getting in the way. The booths are in the background of the pictures. That’s not a good scene setup.”
Michniacki wants to give the cosplayers a chance to work with about nine or ten photographers without distraction from the public.
Project Cosplay is an annual event in Denver, typically in February, focusing on organized photoshoots, workshops and panels. It ran for the first time last year, where, they had about 120 attendees. The event was held at Embassy Suites in Denver from Feb. 3-5. Their theme is “Think of it as the convention
without the convention… just more time for you to enjoy cosplay.”
Another group, Club Cosplay, also emphasizes smaller events such as Nerd Karaoke. It started as a Southern California event, particularly in Inland Empire, Los Angeles and Orange County, which is where Sarah and Greg Shupe grew up and how they became familiar with these type of events. The Shupes, who are the founders of Club Cosplay, explain their mission behind the club.
“It’s very casual,” Sarah said. “We want to make it feel like more of a small party and share the community.”
While they also do bigger events, the whole concept is to have a sanctuary for cosplayers to mingle and hang out together without all the pressures and spectators of mainstream conventions.
“We saw how strong the community was here in Colorado,” Greg said. “There are all of these tight-knit groups of nerds, gamers and cosplayers. We just didn’t have enough to do together so Club Cosplay can be that place where, every month or two, they can get together and talk about all the nerdy things. No one rolls their eyes at you. We want to be able to entertain nerds wherever nerds go.”
With about 125,000 people expected to visit San Diego’s Comic-Con each year, it has become diluted with people who are not there to participate, but to spectate.. Project Cosplay and Club Cosplay are finding ways around that to reclaim their community and cosplay culture.