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Dressing up a serious hobby for dedicated group

For a small group in Sudbury dressing up as your favourite characters from comic books, movies and genre TV shows isn’t something you only do on Halloween.
Chris Van Beek made his elaborate Star-Lord costume himself. Van Beek said it can take months, or even a couple of years, to complete a cosplay costume. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.
For a small group in Sudbury dressing up as your favourite characters from comic books, movies and genre TV shows isn’t something you only do on Halloween.

A group of cosplayers gathered at MojoVerse, a new store on the Kingsway for all things geeky, to share their passion for the elaborate costumes they make and wear.

Cosplay, a contraction of the words “costume play”, started in Japan, where young people part of that subculture started to dress up from their favourite Japanese manga and anime characters – that country’s comic books and animated shows and movies.

Cosplay eventually made its way to North America, where it has since become a staple at comic book, movie and video game conventions.

There are now professional cosplayers who have their own fans, and make a living touring the various large conventions, where they sale their own merchandise and autographs.

Sudbury’s Chris Van Beek hasn’t quite reached that level, but he does travel to conventions across Ontario and Quebec dressed as his favourite characters.

At MojoVerse he was dressed up as the superhero Star-Lord, from Marvel Comics’ “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

The character was popularized in 2014 when he was portrayed by actor Chris Pratt in the movie of the same name.

Van Beek said he made the costume himself; including the molded mask that is one of the character’s trademarks.

Serious cosplayers don’t buy their costumes at stores, but instead teach themselves to sew, work with leather and even chainmail in some cases.

Van Beek said he enjoys going to conventions in costume because he gets to feel like a movie star for a day.

“It’s a very fun thing to do,” he said. “There’s nothing like going to a convention and being the focus on attention.”

Kathleen Schofield got into cosplay 12 years ago, before she knew the word existed.

“I loved Halloween and I always dressed up,” she said.

Schofield was dressed as an elf of her own design at MojoVerse, and said she likes to dress as more obscure characters, mainly from Japanese anime, when she goes to conventions.

She said people who recognize those less well-known characters are often appreciative.

“Seeing someone appreciate the work you’ve done is the best part,” Schofield said.

Some cosplayers even compete in competitions similar to beauty pageants.

Janelle Taillon, who was dressed up as the character Astrid from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon”, said cosplayers usually compete for bragging rights and ribbons, but larger conventions, like Toronto’s Fan Expo, also have cash prizes.

Moe Charette, co-owner of MojoVerse, said he and his partner Joelle Lavoie were always interested in cosplay, although they had never really participated themselves.

“We can appreciate the craftsmanship,” he said.

Charette said he hopes to stock items cosplayers may find useful, like wigs and certain accessories.

Jonathan Migneault

About the Author: Jonathan Migneault

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