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You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become a villain. Or, sometimes you can just dress up like one.
A record-setting 105,000 nerds, geeks and comic enthusiasts packed the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from Oct. 13 to 16 to revel in their collective love for the comic-medium, and some of the more adventurous even decided to dress like their favorite characters — a practice known as “cosplaying.”
“In real life you can’t dress up like a character,” said Arianna Battistiol, a 16-year-old cosplayer who was taking pictures with various intrigued attendees. “At cons like this you can dress up however you want. It boosts your self-esteem in a way.”
Across the expansive show floor, that included hundreds of vendor booths and countless rows of discounted comics, cosplayers mingled between the rows of fellow comic fans as they enjoyed the various entertainment options of the festival.
Cosplaying, or “costume playing,” was originally used to refer to those who dressed up as anime and manga characters, but has since been broadened to describe the
hobby of dressing up as a character from any game, book, film, comic, graphic novel or TV series, according to mangauk.com. The term is even recognized in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Julia Fell, a second-year theatre costume design major at SUNY New Paltz who
dressed up as the human form of the TARDIS from “Doctor Who,” said she believes the allure of dressing up as a character from a loved medium is a way for people to show off their passion and also their dedication. For some, cosplay is a just hobby, but for others it is an outlet to express their artistic endeavors.
Fell said she worked on her “Victorian inspired” costume for months, starting in August and finishing the costume the day before Comic Con started.
“I think it’s fun to show off that you love a show or movie or whatever so much that you want to dress up as a character from it,” Fell said. “People spend so much time and
have so much dedication, it’s a way to show off and get together with a bunch of people who share the same interests as you and be admired for your work.”
Jessica Pushor, a 29-year-old graduate student studying fashion history at Fashion Institute of Technology, said her Poison Ivy costume was a way for her to explore fashion in a different kind of way.
“I do this because it’s my art form and profession,” Pushor said. “I’m a costume artist, so naturally I’d enjoy dressing up in one.”
Her husband, 31-year-old Justin Bentos, had a different reason for dressing up like a fellow member of Batman’s rogue’s gallery — The Riddler.
“I do this because she makes me,” Bentos said. “But I also do it because I like it. How
often do you get to dress up like a villain?”
Not everyone who participates takes it lightheartedly. Some, like 28-year-old Adam
Gennari refused to leave his character at any point in the day — including interviews.
Others, such as 29-year-old Shana Goodman, had one of the day’s more detailed costumes — a spot-on recreation of The Joker’s haplessly-in-love sidekick, Harley Quinn, shouted famous quotes from the character while she smiled and posed for a sea of photographs and videos from curious onlookers.
“One day I’ll wear my costume to Comic Con,” Goodman said.