What would Forest City Comicon be without cosplay?

Downtown London played host to many familiar faces from the Marvel and DC universes, as well as anime and video game heroes and villains this past weekend.

Cosplayers of all types assumed their alter egos for the fourth annual Forest City Comicon, held at the London Convention Centre.

Madisson Ford and Rose Quartz. Photo by Emily Stewart.
Madisson Ford as Rose Quartz. Photo by Emily Stewart.

Cosplay is an essential part of any comic convention. It’s fascinating to see all of the costumes and admire all of the hard work and creativity involved. However, you don’t get to know the inspiration for the outfits until you ask cosplayers themselves.

They are happy to oblige.

The stories behind the costumes include more than just fan love for cosplayers’ favourite characters. Getting the outfit together takes a lot of hunting to find specific pieces, and finding whatever you have at home to fill in the gaps.

Uncanny resemblances

Some costumes are easy to put together when you already look like the character. That was the case with Hunter Lawrence, who went to his first comic con as Jon Snow.

Hunter Lawrence as Jon Snow from "Game of Thrones" at Forest City Comicon. Photo by Emily Stewart.
Kit Harrington’s long-lost brother? Photo by Emily Stewart

“I was told I look like him without the costume,” he said. “So I thought why not?”

It took Lawrence about three months to create his outfit. He even taught himself how to sew by watching YouTube videos.

Other cosplayers go even further beyond the costume, practicing the mannerisms and voices of their characters. Zachary Peebles looked exactly like Captain Jack Sparrow and talked like the Captain himself the whole interview.

Zachary Peebles as Captain Jack Sparrow. Photo by Ed Phin.
Surprisingly, a jar of dirt was not part of the costume. Photo by Ed Phin.

Peebles has been practicing the voice, facial expressions, and aesthetics ever since he first saw Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Peebles wanted to be just like Depp, and become an actor.

“It’s strange,” he said. “I’ve been an actor for many years now, and I find I am most myself when I am another character.”

Paying Tribute

If you were going to see your favourite band in concert, you would wear a t-shirt or an accessory supporting your love of the band. Similarly, cosplayers go to conventions knowing certain celebrities will be there, dressed as different characters from their shows.

Amber Nash – the voice of Pam Poovey from Archer – was at the event, prompting fans Meagan Reid and Rebecca Norman to dress up as characters from the hit cartoon.

Rebecca Norman and Meagan Reid as Ray and Cheryl from "Archer." Photo by Ed Phin.
Rebecca Norman and Meagan Reid as Ray Gillette and Cheryl (or is it Carol?) Tunt from Archer. Photo by Ed Phin.

“We wanted to impress her with costumes from the show,” Norman said.

Even some of the vendors dressed as their favourite characters.

Laurel Kotewicz, owner of Wire Princess, has been Sailor Moon at the past two Forest City Comicons. She’s been a fan ever since she was young and first donned her Sailor uniform for Halloween. The anime even inspired her fashion designs.

Laurel Kotewicz as Sailor Moon. Photo by Ed Phin.
Laurel Kotewicz of Wire Princess loves Sailor Moon, and dresses up like the character at events. Photo by Ed Phin.

“When I started making all of my crowns and all of my designs, I thought ‘Why not make something inspired by Sailor Moon?’” she said.

However, not everything has to be a carbon copy of the cosplayed character. Matt Williams regenerated his own Doctor Who outfit, wearing a vest, bowtie and suspenders to create his own version of the Doctor.

 Toni Quiltoni and Matt Williams. Photo by Ed Phin.
The next Doctor? Photo by Ed Phin.

“Doctor Who can be you,” he said. “Doctor Who can be me. He could be absolutely anybody.”

Crafting the Costume

AJ Jarvis created his Red Skull costume over the course of the year after finding the main piece.

AJ Jarvis at the Red Skull. Photo by Ed Phin.
A red skull from the drug store inspired AJ Jarvis. Photo by Ed Phin.

“I found a Red Skull at Shoppers Drug Mart,” he said. “And then based the entire costume around that.”

Katrina Desjardins put her Kiki’s Delivery Service costume together with what she had in her house.

Katrina Desjardins as Kiki from "Kiki's Delivery Service." Photo by Emily Stewart.
Katrina Desjardins as Kiki from “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” Photo by Emily Stewart.

“I had a purple dress, a red bow, and a broom,” she said. “I wanted to throw something together pretty quickly.”

One of the younger cosplayers spent two years building his own Dalek from the Doctor Who series. Lance Stronghill began building his Dalek Omega at just eight years old. He finished building it when he was 10.

Lance Stronghill with Dalek Omega. Photo by Ed Phin.
EXTERMINATE! Lance Stronghill was only eight when he started building his Dalek Omega! Just let that sink in… Photo by Ed Phin.

“He’s a humanized Dalek,” Stronghill said. “Which means he questions the Dalek empire instead of doing what the emperor says.”

Lots of Encouragement

It’s not about who looks the best or most accurate. Cosplayers are in it for the community. Justin Hoag and Stephan Raposo said cosplay is an opportunity to meet new friends.

“It’s a community where people don’t really judge you,” Raposo said.

As he was speaking, an attendee walked by them and exclaimed: “You look amazing!”

Justin Hoag, a gender-bent Harley Quinn, and Stephan Raposo, a merman at Forest City Comicon. Photo by Ed Phin.
Gender-bent Harley Quinn (Justin Hoag), and Merman Stephan Raposo spread the positive vibes from fellow cosplayers. Photo by Ed Phin.

Team Skull cosplayer Andy Coutts encouraged anyone who is unsure about cosplaying to try it.

Andy Coutts and Bailey Stacey as Team Skull from "Pokemon." Photo by Ed Phin.
Andy Coutts and Bailey Stacey as Team Skull from Pokemon. Photo by Ed Phin.

“Even if you think your costume is bad, it doesn’t matter,” Coutts said. “People are going to love it anyway.”

Alison Marco, who was Fiona the Human from Adventure Time, enjoys cosplaying for the same reason as many others.

“It’s like Halloween, but a lot earlier'” she said. “You get to hang out with a bunch of people you don’t even know, and you get to express yourself”

Interacting with the Community

Advanced cosplayers get plenty of fan recognition for their costumes. Serge Parent turned many heads with his portrayal of Titus from Final Fantasy X.

Brendan Danielson and Serge Parent were recognized for their Cabbage Man and Titus costumes. Photo by Ed Phin.

“I just went up to a vendor playing a game,” he explained. “The vendor said, ‘Man, I remember playing Final Fantasy as Titus, and now Titus is playing my game.’”

Kids also wanted to interact with their favourite characters at the convention, from Pikachu to Gandalf.

Lita Thompson was awestruck by Pikachu and Squirtle. Photo by Ed Phin.
Lita Thompson was awestruck by Pikachu and Squirtle. Photo by Ed Phin.

“They are absolutely adorable,” said Cameron MacDonald, who was dressed as Poison Ivy. “They always get so excited when you dress up as a character that they recognize.”

Alison Marco, and Cameron MacDonald as Fiona from "Adventure Time" and Poison Ivy. Photo by Ed Phin.
Alison Marco, and Cameron MacDonald as Fiona from Adventure Time and Poison Ivy. Photo by Ed Phin.

Want to cosplay? Go for it!

Why should you limit dressing up like your favourite character at Halloween?

Whether you want to build your costume over a period of time, or whip something together at the last minute, be sure to cosplay for the fifth annual Forest City Comicon!

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