The second annual Salt Lake Comic Con is now in full swing. With all of its celebrity appeal and superhero pageantry, one thing is undeniably clear: cosplay is exceedingly cool. Once a luxury reserved for the super geek and perhaps Halloween, cosplay has seemingly bled its way into mainstream pop culture.
For fans like Adam Galloway, cosplay is a lifestyle. “I’ve been cosplaying for about nine years,” Galloway said. “This year’s (Salt Lake) Comic Con I am going as Ezio from ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and Arkham City Joker from the video game ‘Batman: Arkham City.’”
Galloway uses social media to connect with other cosplayers, as he also learns to master the art of face makeup. “I do all my own makeup,” Galloway said. “For my Arkham City Joker, I studied how they looked on Google and YouTube to see if there were any tips on how to perfect the look.”
Local cosplayer Eric Browning has been creating his original costumes for less than two years. However, Browning is already turning heads in the cosplay community with his current work-in-progress.
“This year I’m going as General Zod from ‘Man of Steel,’” said Browning. “I fell in love with the look of the Kryptonian ceremonial armor that Zod wears in the first few scenes of the movie. The ethos of Kryptonian design is inspired by biology, everything is very organic.”
Browning, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in design, started creating his latest masterpiece last December.
“I decided this was an all or nothing project,” Browning said. “I had to do it. Go big or go home . . . I started off with all paper templates, then I scaled up the DC Comics statue of the armor from a 1:6 scale. I figured if I can make it in flat paper I can make anything.”
The process of creating such an elaborate, authentic-looking costume requires the use of carefully chosen, high quality materials.
“My armor is created mostly from Worbla’s Finest, a thermoplastic,” Browning said. “I also used 2 millimeter craft foam for big, non-structural shapes, as well as the thicker EVA foam tiles for other shapes.”
“I designed and 3D-printed several segments of my outfit,” Browning said. “I had custom, one-of-a-kind 3D silicone-printed fabric . . . I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the country with a black bodysuit made from this stuff.”
Creating professional looking cosplay costumes can get expensive. Browning has spent an estimated $1,300 perfecting his villainous vestment. However, costume designer Katelyn Larson proves that cosplay doesn’t have to break the bank.
“I am a low budget cosplayer,” Larson said. “I haven’t spent too much money on one cosplay alone . . . You will find me constantly in thrift stores like Savers and the Deseret Industries sifting through different old products I can use.”
Larson’s approach to cosplay costume creation takes a more traditional route. She emphasized a deeper meaning to cosplay was not found within the price of the costumes, but in the spirit of the craft.
“(It’s) sharing something you love so deeply with others, and maybe, just maybe, giving them a little dose of joy for the day,” Larson said. “Cosplay is expressing love. For yourself, for others, for the world!”