Wizard World Cosplay: Optimus and Thanos and Hellgirl, Oh My!

Wizard World Chicago

2014

Above photos by Vincent Glielmi taken @ 2014’s Wizard World Chicago

Teased in our preview, Wizard World’s Chicago Comic-Con was again the destination for a very unique pilgrimage.

Lady Loki Lady Loki

Being considered a “Fan” usually indicates one’s distinct interest in a specific genre, product or performer. Derived from the word fanatic, the term fan can be a vague and understated description of many who entwine their lives with moments and memorabilia from that favorite thing they covet. But is it fair to label lovers of Stephen King or Star Trek with the same word used to describe religious zealots or political extremists? Yes.

No subculture proves that point more than the Cosplayer. Representing every genre – from film to TV and comics to anime – cosplayers take loving something a step farther than most. So you’re a (Insert favorite show/film/book/etc.) fan. Ever sit there watching Captain Mal saunter through the cargo hold, wishing you could look that awesome? If you cosplay, you not only answered yes, but then got up and made the outfit from scratch!

At each event while working the Con floor – interviewing artists and actors, following up on recent news, trying to get an early look at what’s new – I always stop to marvel at the incredible levels of creativity, passion and the guts needed to roam the square miles of a comic convention dressed as a genre icon. It ain’t easy spending 10 straight hours taking photos and walking the show in skin-tight leather or 50 pounds of armor, all with a smile.

I am Groot! Really, I am.  I am Groot! Really, I am.

To cosplay means to put your affection and craftsmanship on display for all to critique. In many cases it involves tens of hours and hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to replicate these idolized characters from the player’s personal mythology.

Cosplay has another critically important aspect to go along with craftsmanship and creativity and that’s community. While crossing a stage, vying for tops in their costume contest category, may look like a singular effort, each creation almost always has its own credit roll. It could be as simple as inspiration or as involved as hiring a seamstress, but often competitors are also collaborators. It starts with your first cosplay. You wanted to know how that guy got foam-rubber to look like an Iron Man suit. Enter Youtube. Cosplayers not only help their friends, but many post videos and photos featuring “How-tos” teaching each step of their process – minus a few show winning secrets of course.

The influence now exerted by cosplay is evident when walking around the convention. Where once a booth selling old He-Man toys sat, we now see products from a custom apparel shop displaying their latest Link accessories or a table full of replica swords covering both your Highlander and Game of Thrones fetishes. And more so than ever vendors reflect the growing middle ground filled by geek faithful who may not opt for head-to-toe costumes, but are eagerly willing to rock a Tardis poodle skirt, Superman Converse or a backpack covered in patches from their favorite shows.

Guardians of the Food Court!  Guardians of the Convention!

So next time you’re at a Con, enjoy the show! Stop, stare and admire each cosplay no matter now elaborate or simple, because they loved making it as much as you love looking! Take their pictures, ask them questions – trust me, they love it – and definitely see the costume contest, but first pull on that superhero t-shirt with the matching belt buckle you’ve been dying to wear. And if you want to go a little bit farther, let the Precious give you a head start. 

About The Author

Michael Pellegrini

Michael is a classic example of a child trapped in an adult's body - and I use the word "adult" very, very loosely. With interests ranging from comic books and movies to theater and fine art, Mike has followed humble journalistic beginnings that have led to interviews, reviews, news write-ups and opinion - though it's ever changing - pieces covering those same interests. All of that brings us here, to a site where a community of like-minded geeks can inform the rest of the world on the topics we adore. And on the personal side of things, Michael squeezes time for his lovely wife and house full of dogs between all the comic reading and video game playing.

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