Cosplay is on the rise, and I don’t see it hitting a plateau in the foreseeable future. More and more convention attendees head to exhibit halls in costume alone or in groups to display their latest creations. I’ve seen the cosplay scene alter in the last ten years. There are even a fair number of cosplay celebrities who have tables at shows. I love it. I love seeing the creativity, passion, and hard work on display. We feature cosplayers every week because we appreciate their talents.
However, some comic book artists who seem to be of the “get off my convention lawn, everyone who’s not spending money,” variety think that cosplayers are impeding sales. Known Star Wars artist Dave Dorman’s wife Denise Dorman recently wrote about how they’re losing sales and indirectly tied that to cosplay culture, and now former Batman artist Pat Broderick states cosplayers bring nothing of value to the shows.
“todays heads up. If you’re a Cosplay personality, please don’t send me a friend request. If you’re a convention promoter and you’re building your show around cosplay events and mega multiple media guest don’t invite me….You bring nothing of value to the shows, and if you’re a promoter pushing cosplay as your main attraction you’re not helping the industry or comics market..Thank you.”
Here we go again. It’s a pity to see this line of thinking. First of all, cosplayers do spend money. All of them? No, but not all non-costume attendees spend money either. Secondly, value doesn’t have to just be about the dollars. Just the hobby of cosplay brings in attendees to see the cosplayers themselves, from photographers to fans. Bringing more paying attendees into a building increases the chances that someone will purchase your merchandise.
Plus, sometimes seeing a cosplayer is enough to get a person interested in a character. When I wear my Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, costume, not many people recognize the outfit. She had a short run as a DC Comics character in the 80s and was briefly resurrected for theNew 52 and an animated short for DC Nation. Upon learning who she is, a handful people have asked me what titles feature her. That’s more than no value.
One of the issues about arguments like Broderick’s and Dorman’s is that they have no way of knowing if cosplayers are spending money at their tables unless they are in full costume. It can be difficult to shop and carry purchases when you’re in costume so many cosplayers I know, myself included, browse the convention hall and hand over money in civilian clothes. Anyone you sell to at a convention could be a cosplayer, and you’ve just insulted them by telling them they don’t add any value to events.
Commenters on both sides of the cosplay divide replied, but I want to highlight one commentin particular from Raymond Lui. He sells Japanese toys and collectibles and states that cosplayers buy the least stuff from him and apparently has no patience for people who don’t know everything:
I had a cosplayer pass by my booth all excited about the upcoming DOCTOR STRANGE movie, and wanted to dress like him, but the cosplayer had no idea what Strange does, if he’s a real doctor, and when I remarked that he was created by Steve Ditko, the man who made Spider-Man, the cosplayer asked me if Strange was related to Spider-Man. I had to boot him out of my booth.
That’s a jerk move. If Lui would have taken a minute to nicely and enthusiastically explain who Doctor Strange is and shared a few of his favorite Doctor Strange titles, that cosplayer might have gone to a comic book vendor at the convention and left with a handful of Doctor Strange books, excited to learn more about the character. But since Lui made him feel stupid, he might never pick up a Doctor Strange book. The point being, there’s absolutely no freaking reason to be a gatekeeper. None. Let people into your fandom. Let them all in. If they don’t know the way, give them some helpful, non-condescending pointers in the right direction.
Times are changing. Broderick has been in the comic book business since the 1970s. Conventions now are nowhere near what they were even 15 years ago. Astute artists and exhibitors like Lui should see these changes and adapt with them, not rail against a group that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.