Cosplay is a long and decorated practice, encompassing everyone from those sporting Captain America t-shirts to those spending a lot of time and energy on complicated costumes. Whether you’ve attended comic con or simply gone to the movies, chances are you’ve been a part of an event that involved cosplayers.
Michael Gonzales, 25, lives in Sacramento and participates in cosplay events on a regular basis. Over the past 6 years, he’s dressed up as characters such as Starlord (from the Marvel Universe), Jack Harkness (from Torchwood), Malcolm Reynolds (from Firefly), Hawkeye (from the Marvel Universe), and as gender-bent versions of Scarlet Witch and Jessica Jones (both also Marvel characters).
He creates the various looks using a combination of images from comic books and movies; initially a lot of the costumes come from thrift store items combined with pieces found in the closets at home. Michael says that many of his first costumes started out as halloween costumes. Once the concept is created however, perfecting it is the real challenge. “Now that I’m further into it, it’s more like, I wonder what it would be like to try this?” he said.
For example, Michael’s Hawkeye costume took many custom pieces including the bow, the vest and the gloves. He made his own arrows as well. This was his most expensive costume, reaching into the hundreds of dollars; the lower range of costumes can be as inexpensive as $30 or $40. As Michael says, “It all depends on who you want to be, what kind of props, weapons, or specialized pieces they have, and how well you want to portray the character.”
One piece suits such as a Spiderman costume are one price, sometimes around $100.
Once you’re all dressed up though, where do you go? Michael hails from Sacramento, CA, and apparently there are many comic cons in that area: “There are so many more cons than people are aware of! There are 2 SacAnime per year, 2 Sac-Cons per year, and several others, not to mention abroad.” Getting to San Diego for the big con can be difficult, as it’s expensive enough to go without already getting time off of work, but checking around your area for local events is always worth a shot!
Michael even dresses up at promotional events occasionally. Sometimes he and his friends will coordinate their cosplay; for example he often dresses up as Hawkeye while a friend will dress up as Black Widow. This is always impressive due to the sheer exactness of his Hawkeye costume and the time and preparation that went into it. For his Malcolm Reynolds’ costume (his favorite), Michael’s wife sometimes dresses up as Inara. Even the Jack Harkness costume sometimes comes with the David Tennant incarnation of Doctor Who.
Captain America is next on the list, but the really exciting new idea comes with a new edition to Michael’s family. “Someday I’ll be Incredible and my wife will be Elastigirl, and we’ll have a tiny dark haired baby who would be Violet,” says Michael.
While cosplay can be very involved and sometimes expensive, as Michael pointed out it often starts with a simple costume. Many of the items involved can be found around the house or in thrift stores. As you continue to add to your costume, you can create better and better versions of your cosplay until it looks exactly how you want it to.
And for a much less hands-on costume, simply purchase a t-shirt with your favorite characters insignia and wear your pride on your chest! Check out our Marvel Store, DC Comics Store, and Star Wars Store.