C2E2 2014 – Confessions of a Cosplayer

comic con punch2

One of the more ubiquitous things about cons is cosplay. It’s like Halloween, only not scary (and usually, less slutty). People take pride in their costumes, and can easily make a day of simply existing in those costumes around the show floor. Retcon Punch’s own Shelby Peterson dressed up for the second day of the show, and as such, had an adventure totally separate from Patrick and Drew. This is us asking her about it.

Retcon Punch: First of all, Shelby, who were you?

Shelby: Xena. The Warrior Princess.

Shelby and Seline as Xena and Gabrielle

RP: Wouldn’t want to confuse her for other Xenas.

Shelby: Happens more often than you’d realize.

RP: How long have you been working on this costume?

Shelby: Months. Probably like four months. Something like that.

RP: A lot of it seemed to come together last night — that stressful?

Shelby: (laughs) Oh, my yes.

RP: Worth it though?

Shelby: Absolutely.

RP: What was it about Xena that made you pick her?

Shelby: It was actually my friend Seline who came up with the idea. I had been toying with the idea of going as Red Sonja and she said that would be awesome, and she would totally love it. But! Would I maybe be interested in doing Xena and Gabrielle with her instead? It was mostly her idea, but I have always had an affinity for strong barbarian women. I just really liked the idea of choosing an obviously strong, independent, but still feminine, character to play. And I’m a sucker for a group costume idea.

RP: What kinds of reactions did you get today?

Shelby: I was surprised by how excited people were. It’s a dated reference, so there aren’t a lot of other Xenas out there. We had so many people literally jumping up and down with excitement to see their childhood heroines walking around the con.

RP: What do you think makes that different from like a Wonder Woman or Black Widow costume?

Shelby: Not to speak ill of those costumes — because I saw a ton of great ones, and I would love to play Wonder Woman sometime — but there are a lot of them. While those characters are just as important to people, it’s sometimes not as meaningful when you see that many of them. When it’s a character that’s important to you, but you also don’t expect to see them, that makes it all that more important to you.

RP: You get any weird requests from people?

Shelby: Yes. One guy asked us for hugs. Which: a little uncomfortable because it’s a stranger and you’re basically in your underwear. One woman asked us to run up and kiss her girlfriend on the cheeks. We compromised with a hug. Even that started out weird, but ended sweet — once the girlfriend realized what was happening to her. Those are probably the weirdest.

RP: Any kind of uncomfortable encounters?

Shelby: Absolutely. A lot of the guys that we got our pictures taken with put their arms around our waists. No one was grabbing us or anything, but it was a little uncomfortable. The most uncomfortable was a guy who asked for a picture with us each separately, just so he could tell me that I could “take him anytime.”

RP: I trust you didn’t take him up on that?

Shelby: I did not. No.

RP: Is there a comradare between cosplayers? It’s hard to tell if there is from a normal’s perspective.

Shelby: I think so. Yestearday, everyone I saw with a costume just made me regret not wearing something. I can’t speak for others, but Seline and I felt extra pride when we got compliments or photo requests from other people in costumes.

RP: What’s the difference between to cosplay day and a regular day at the con?

Shelby: Cosplay Day is all about just existing in the costume. Suddenly, you’re this special thing. Like you’re a part of the con now. You’re an attraction that people are there to see. I don’t mean that in a bad way — otherwise I wouldn’t do it. It’s exciting to — for a small time — have that kind of “celebrity” attention and if I weren’t in costume, receiving the same sort of attention, I’d be uncomfortable, but in costume, it’s just kind of thrilling. It’s way more tiring because you’re passively performing all day. You don’t have any time to enjoy things as they are. At one point I went to get a hot dog and it took at least half an hour to get back to the booth. So many people stopped us for pictures. It’s fun, but you can’t turn it off until the costume comes off. That is tiring. I do feel like I accomplished something today. There’s so much stress leading up to it — will the costume work? How do I make this good enough? And from the first moment someone looks at you with that excitement in their eyes, you’re like “yes, I did this — I beat this.”

RP: That’s so cool. Any plans to do it next year?

Shelby: Seline is already talking about putting together a Rat Queens group — which would be amazing.

RP: A little bit of a deeper cut than Xena.

Shelby: True. But you also have to pick characters that are meaningful to you. Last year, I was Alice from Batwoman — which is a deep cut. Not that many people were excited to see that character specifically, but it was important to me. And it made the people for whom  it was meaningful, it’s a lot more meaningful.

RP: Plus, you can be kind of proud of that obscurity too, right?

Shelby: Actually, that doesn’t matter to me. I don’t believe in pulling out obscure characters to prove how much I know about comic books. If other people want to take it that way and be pleased about themselves, that’s fine. That doesn’t matter to me. I’m just going to pick characters that are important to me. If they’re important to other people too, that’s cool. And hey, even if it’s just that people are excited to see a cool costume, that’s cool too.

RP: Any tips for someone who might want to start cosplaying?

Shelby: Look on-line for tutorials (there are a ton of them). Don’t be afraid to wear something that’s not perfect. Make the costume to your own standards — if you’re costume is home-made, just be proud of that. You put time into it and you look great. Also, invest in a hot glue gun.

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