The only place to run into Deadpool, a female Deadpool, a robe-wearing Deadpool and a Deadpool that will follow you around while dancing to any song you request was at the Long Beach Comic Expo this weekend.
Cosplaying has been around since the 1930s, but only in the last decade has it blown up and become the phenomenon it is now. Since its boom in popularity, two forms of cosplay have emerged: the diehard fans who spend money on making or purchasing costumes of the characters they love, and models who are hired to represent characters they don’t always know much about.
Despite their difference in dedication, most fans and fellow cosplayers have no problem making room for paid models who dress up.
Andy Holt, a database administrator, walked the expo with a fully extendable set of mechanical Hawkman wings on his back.
“I have no problem with that,” Holt said. “Some people, honestly, they just look better than others. If you look good at it and get paid for it, I’m all for that. I have no problem with that.”
Some cosplayers are both legitimate fans of the characters they dress up as, hand-making their own costumes, while also earning money by selling images of themselves in costume.
“I’m a fan of what I’m doing, I’m not just a chick who threw on a costume,” said Sara Moni, an insurance worker by day and cosplayer by night. “I make all of my costumes, they’re a labor of love.”
Moni doesn’t mind that others gets paid to pose as characters, with one condition. “The only time it becomes an issue is when they put it on and act as a real fan, but they’re really not.”
Prominent cosplay groups such as Agents of Khaos and Star Wars Steampunk have become so popular that they’re a staple across different conventions.
Eiraina Schmolesky cosplays as Steamy Leia with the Star Wars Steampunk Universe, a group of cosplayers who put a steampunk twist on Star Wars.
“We are licensed by Lucasfilm so we do get certain privileges, but I’m not paid to do this,” Schmolesky said. “We volunteer our time, our money and our energy to conventions and children’s charities in Southern California.”
These privileges include small, humdrum things like attending the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiere in Hollywood.
Some fans even think that cosplaying has grown in popularity, in part, because of models.
“When models get into costumes it just means regular people can get into costumes and we get to rock it,” Joshua Moxham, an artist and exhibitor at the expo, said. “I’ve seen a bunch of fat dudes in Silent Bob costumes and, you know, they’re okay with that. Girls who barely can stuff themselves into a Psylocke costume, and they’re okay with that, and a large part of our ability to accept that is because these models are going around and putting themselves on display. If they can do it, why can’t we?”
It seems that whether they’re fans who spend $300 on a costume, or they’re just dressed to make money, with great costumes does not come great responsibility.