words and photos by Betsy Scott
I’ve been going to cons since 1997. In the first years, my perception was there were very few women, some non-white men and almost no families, but this has been steadily changing every year. The increased interest in cosplay reflects this. It’s a beautiful and creative display of real affection for characters across a broad spectrum of media (comics/manga, movies/television, video games).
There is an interesting aspect of wish fulfillment in cosplay that is sometimes overlooked: many cosplayers dress as characters of a different race or sex than they are, showing a desire for characters who look like them. The photos I took show some examples of this. I also saw quite a few gender-swapped costumes which I wasn’t able to photograph: Mr. Marvel (a male version of Ms. Marvel); female versions of Captain America, Iron Man and Hawkeye, all dressed in armor or “sensible” costumes.
Cosplay is a measure of the popularity of certain characters or genres, too: the most popular costume this year was Peggy Carter from the Marvel television show. Another upward trend is for whole families to cosplay together (such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Hellboy families in the photos), which is an excellent way to pass on love of superheroes, fantasy and science fiction to the next generation.