COSPLAY FEVER

COSPLAY FEVER
Written and Photographed by Rob Dunlop and Peter Lumby
Published by Ablaze Media

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Ahh, cosplay. Outside of TWILIGHT fans, nothing divides the geek set quite like it. On one side you have the men, women, and children that display their love for their hobbies through clothing and make-up, immersing themselves in the worlds they care about in the most literal way they can. It’s a powerful devotion, one that takes up hours of time and effort, and not a small amount of money. And on the other side, you get the nerds that sneer at cosplayers’ level of nerdity, that consider them a blight; fodder for the local news cameras that want to make fandom look as bad as they can.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as usual.

Rob Dunlop and Peter Lumby, creators of the satiric comicbook TOZZER, have spent years setting up tables at conventions, and through those years, their interest and intrigue with cosplayers grew until they decided that more attention needed to be paid to the phenomenon. Thus was born COSPLAY FEVER, a photographic essay exploring the scene at various U.K. conventions between March and July of 2009. The result is something quite fascinating to behold, and might broaden your mental portrait of who and what cosplayers really are.

The surprise comes from how the creators explore the broad spectrum of costume types. Unlike what every San Diego television news division would like for you top believe, not everyone dresses up as a Klingon. Are there STAR TREK costumes to be seen here? Sure. STAR WARS, too. But you also get superheroes (Marvel, DC, and others), manga characters, anime characters… and then it expands past those.

How about plushies and furries? Yep, they’re here. Those animal costumes are seen as something more than a sexual fetish by the authors. They also include young women that have immersed themselves in the Gothic Lolita scene, too. Are either a traditional form of cosplay? No- but they are cosplay just the same.

What this really accomplishes is to deliver proof of something I have believed for many years, having written a column about it a while back: the geek community and the fetish community are separated by an extremely thin line, and should embrace their similar interests.

Most of the cosplayers featured in these 256 pages have offered details about how they put their outfit together, what it cost, and why they take the time and trouble to do it- interesting information, no question. But ultimately what impresses is the diversity of those behind the make-up. Young men and women. Mature men and women. Men that dress as female characters and women that dress as men. Small children. Families dressing together. You cannot pigeonhole who and what cosplayers are any more than you can a comicbook fan- they are everybody. They are geeks.

They are us.

COMIC ARTIST’S PHOTO REFERENCE: WOMEN AND GIRLS

COMIC ARTIST’S PHOTO REFERENCE: WOMEN AND GIRLS
Written and Photographed by Buddy Scalera
Published by
Impact Books

Tired of picking up comics and looking at page after page of crudely drawn, anatomically impossible women? Now, thanks to books like this, there’s no excuse for an artist to struggle with anatomy, poses, and facial expressions. Comics scribe and photographer Buddy Scalera has taken women of four different ages (16, 22, 26, and 34) and modeled them in various ways to help artists determine how their characters should look on the page.

What’s available? Flying. Jumping. Punching. Blasting. Using swords. How capes look draped across the body. Proper make-up. Facial expressions. Lifting. And much, much more. Basically, anyone who wants to work on their skills and would like to actually not turn off their potential female reading audience could use this book to make huge strides in developing their talents. Plus, Scalera brings in some ringers; Josh Howard, Terry Moore, Jamal Igle, and J.G. Jones do short chapters on using some of the applied skills being offered in the book, giving the book even more added value.

But that isn’t all- at 136 pages, this book is very thorough- but Scalera shot a lot more than could possibly be printed. So inside the back cover you’ll find a cd-rom with over a thousand pictures, many of which are variations on what you find between the covers, so if you don’t see something here in print to match your intent for the panel you’re drawing, you can check the disc and flesh out what you’re trying to do.

This book, and the series it is a part of, would be a fine addition to any budding young artist’s educational tools. It’s very useful, essential stuff.

Marc Mason