In a world saturated by video games, anime, comic books, and popular TV shows and films, cosplaying is a popular way to show enthusiasm and form a community of like-minded individuals. The term ‘cosplay,’ short for costume play, was coined sometime in the mid-1980s, but the activity has been around long before that.
“Cosplaying is a hobby and artistic expression in which individuals dress up in costumes and accessories to represent specific characters from anime, manga, video games, movies, TV shows and other forms of pop culture,” says Rachel Karch, an administrator with the group Oklahoma Cosplayers. “Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newcomer to the hobby, cosplay is a creative and inclusive space where everyone can enjoy and express their love for their favorite character.”
The amount of involvement can vary from individual to individual – all depending on how deep you want to go.
“Cosplay doesn’t have to break the bank,” says Jake Hookham, co-chair for Cosplay Alliance Tulsa. “It isn’t just the costume, it’s about the player and their connection to the character.”
Cost is always a factor, but if you’re not flush with cash, that doesn’t have to stop you.
“Some cosplayers simply enjoy wearing costumes they’ve purchased or put together with minimal effort, and this is perfectly fine and welcomed within the community,” says Karch. “The beauty of cosplay is that it accommodates a wide range of enthusiasts, from those who devote countless hours and resources to their craft, to those who approach it as a fun and casual way to express their fandom.”
Hookham is currently building two costumes from Power Rangers and Five Nights at Freddy’s, both of which will, in total, cost him a little under $400.
“Where costs are saved is being thrifty – finding the materials and doing the work yourself,” says Hookham. “Where costs are increased is when you commission an artist to build or create an outfit for you.”
Although New York and San Diego are some of the biggest places to show off your cosplay, Oklahoma is no slouch to the scene. New World Comic Con, OKPop, Tokyo in Tulsa, Sooner Con, StarWars Fest and Okicon are a few of the most well known events in the state.
“There are also many cons put on by local libraries, such as the Sapulpa STEAMCON and other one-day events,” says Hookham.
Besides Oklahoma Cosplayers and Cosplay Alliance Tulsa, Oklahoma is home to many groups dedicated to the activity.
“There’s OKIE Super Heroes; they use cosplay to raise funds for sick children as well as visit them in the hospital,” says Hookham.
There are divisions of Star Wars fan groups such as the 501st and Rebel Alliance.
“Many of these groups can be found on social media platforms like Facebook, where members share their work, discuss techniques and organize meet-ups or events,” says Karch. “These communities provide cosplayers with valuable resources, support and opportunities to connect with others who share their interests.”
Featured image cutline: Cosplay, or costume play, allows enthusiasts of TV shows, movies, comic books or anime to dress up as their favorite characters. Photo courtesy Oklahoma Cosplayers