Cosplay culture invades Emerald City Comicon

The 15th annual Emerald City Comicon will attract thousands of people to the Washington State Convention Center, many of whom will be dressed up as their favorite science fiction, video game or comic book character.

“I am so excited,” said Anna He.

He is one of many “cosplayers” who will attend the ECCC in full costume.

Cosplay – which is combination of the words, “costume” and “play”, has become its own culture at comic book conventions around the country and world.

“Internationally, there are a lot of cosplayers and we all know each other from across the border which is amazing about this hobby and culture,” said He. “People are very passionate about their characters and they put time into their outfits.”

He, who is a fashion designer by trade, says cosplay gives her a chance to become an artist.

She keeps a sketchbook full of drawings and designs, that she says is challenging to bring to life.

“All these in game models are 7 feet tall, and I’m 5’2” in a half on a good day,” laughed He. “So how to make that fit me, and capture the essence of the design, I find really important and find it challenging.”

In the past five years, He has designed more than 50 costumes.

The designs take anywhere from 2 weeks to half a year to complete.

An intricate costume of “Lana – the White Witch”, a character from Zelda’s Hyrule Warriors took her nearly six months to finish.

“I had a friend donate an old wedding gown to use because it took so much fabric to capture the fullness of the dress.” said He.

This week at ECCC, she will dress in a simpler design—as the character “Rey” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia was supposed to attend the convention before she passed away,” said He. “And I wanted to honor Fisher, whose character is like an empowering mentor to Rey in the next generation of the film series.”

But she promises, hundreds of people will be dressed in elaborate cosplay costumes this week. And she says, it is ok to stare.

“I am pretty comfortable with getting looks. It is hard not to get looks when you are in costume and that is to be expected. Plus, cosplayers love the attention,” said He.

The Emerald City Comicon begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.

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