The more I go to conventions the more I get sucked into the cosplay community and the more I see conventions through the lens of cosplay and costumes even when I am in regular clothes.
Each convention has its own cosplay scene. At New York Comic Con there is a higher percentage of comic book cosplays than you will see at a convention like Dragon Con, but anime costumes are also incredibly abundant obviously since NYCC is paired with New York Anime Festival.
Cosplaying at New York Comic Con has unique perks and drawback that some other conventions may not have. For instance the drawback of the convention not taking place in a hotel is that many cosplayers have to either change in the Javits Center bathrooms (which holds up stalls and is not really fair) or travel on the subway in costume. The New York City subway system is not always a friendly place for cosplayers but people tend to give you a wide berth so your ride is sometimes much more comfortable than your normal commute would be.
As seems to be the case with many conventions this year, cosplay is on the rise at NYCC. Not only is the amount of people cosplaying at NYCC increasing but the quality of cosplay there is increasing as well. That means that craftsmanship and scale is at levels that were previously not witnessed at NYCC. And this is an amazing sign for the convention as a spectator, because who doesn’t love to see large elaborate costumes running around?
I was discussing the increase of cosplay at NYCC with an exhibitor at the show and we were both pleased as punch with the change. Not just because the more cosplay we see the happier we are but also because the demographics of cosplayers is also expanding. And those demos are expanding in many ways. This year I think I have seen more children and families in costume than ever before and it is, in a word, adorable. It really warms my heart to see a family come together and see that they are all just pleased as punch and having a good time as an awesome unit of cosplayers.
Another group that has been getting into cosplay more, as evidenced by their numbers at New York Comic Con, is Baby Boomers. I don’t know if this makes me more or equally happy as seeing little kids in costume but it really warms my heart to see people of my parent’s generation expressing themselves through cosplay where so many in the past (and on the subway) have looked down on me personally for my affinity to play dress up.
While there were obvious trends in cosplay as a whole at NYCC 2013, there were also trends in costumes. One newish trend was the group cosplay. I even got in on the group cosplay action myself this year and this is where the never-ending work being done to the Javits Center seems to have paid off. In the past the space was so cramped that it was unconscionable to cosplay as a group because you would stop foot traffic completely anytime you stopped to take a picture. Now the flow of the convention center is so much better that group shots are easy to take without blocking everyone’s movements. And the construction zones make for awesome backgrounds for photo shoots depending on the theme of your costume.
I was speaking to Ian, host of the YouTube show Comics and Cosplay and we agreed that this is the year that the cosplay remix was not just steampunk anymore. What I mean by cosplay remix is taking a character and re-envisioning them through the filter of a time period or genre. The most popular example of this in recent years has been the steampunk remix. This year at NYCC the popularity of the steampunk remix seemed to be waning while the rockabilly/pin-up remix is on the rise. This is due in part to the number of amazing artwork that can be found on Deviant Art, where artists apply this filter to a number of our favorite comic book characters.
All in all this was by far one of my best NYCC experiences; which I am thankful for since a lot of friends and I were losing faith in the event. A lot of the issues that we used to gripe about have been addressed and we are now looking forward to next year’s NYCC with even more cosplay and good times.
I would also like to thank Ian for providing these awesome pictures!