#3: Ridiculously Awesome Cosplay

selene cosplay

The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo is only a few weeks away, and I’m counting down my top picks for C2E2 2013! These are the top 5 people, events, and programs at my favorite comic con of the year. We’ve already made it through Kevin Smith and a host of local talent. Next on my list, the incredible cosplayers we’ll see all weekend long—and all the great C2E2 programming to support it!

I love a good costume. And although I’m not a cosplayer myself, I have great respect and admiration for those who are. I’m always particularly impressed whenever I see someone at a convention decked out head-to-toe, putting on display their talent, craftsmanship, and commitment. I’m talking about the hard work, attention to detail, and skills from the do-it-yourselfers. Store bought costumes can be cool—and there’ll be plenty of top-notch official merch at C2E2—but what’s really impressive to me is the stitching, soldering, and painting all done in makeshift garage workshops at home.

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It seems to me that a good cosplayer also has to make a lot of sacrifices at the con itself. While the rest of us are running amuck, buying collectibles, and attending panels, my guess is that our cosplay friends are having a very different sort of experience. What would it be like, I wonder, to be stopped every five minutes for a pose and a photo? How would I talk to the creators in Artist Alley with a steampunk gas mask on my face or shake hands with a robot claw? Where would I even keep my wallet? And do I really want to be ogled by needy comic nerds all weekend long? Ironically, the elaborate costuming which draws us in also seems to create a kind of barrier between the cosplayer and the rest of the convention experience. It’s a shame, but I suppose it’s a price cosplayers are willing to pay for their craft.

It’s nice to see C2E2 making sure cosplay gets the attention it deserves. In addition to the obligatory Costume Contests, there are multiple panels which delve into the subculture, from the legality of cosplay to the now ubiquitous (and tiring) debate about the so-called fake geek girl. But rather than preview the programs, I’m going to introduce you to two of my favorite local cosplayers, both of whom I met last year during my convention conversion. They’re the real deal, folks—artists browsing thrift stores by day, and toiling at their sewing machines by night. They do damn fine work, and I’m proud to feature them here on our website.

Sidney Vons

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Based right here in Chicago, Sidney’s a gamer first, a movie-buff second, and an artsy-fartsy cosplayer/comic book geek third. It was her love of World of Warcraft (and in particular, the Night Elves) that first got her into cosplaying. Sid went to school for acting, and there she learned all the various aspects of theatre—including handy skills like building sets and sewing costumes. She was also lucky to have some of that knowledge thrust upon her by her mother (a self-taught seamstress), so she ended up with all the tools she needed to start creating.

One of her favorite cosplays so far has been her phenomenal costume for the Witchblade. It was actually because of Sidney’s Witchblade cosplay that I got in touch with her on Facebook. I was trying to read through Artifacts and had no idea what the hell was going on. I went looking for someone who was obviously a fan of the comics, and once I saw Sid in costume I knew I had come to the right place.

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Sidney gave me a few hints about her upcoming cosplay for C2E2 2013. She promises to bring “a certain beloved jewel thief” and “the Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy.” Sounds promising. If you’d like to see more of Sidney, be sure to check her out on Facebook and Twitter, and also on her YouTube channel—where she walks you through some of her costuming tips and tricks. And if you’re a fan, make sure you drop her a line and say so! Sid’s super friendly and happy to answer any questions you’ve got for her—even if you’re a Top Cow noob trying to figure out if The Darkness is the Witchblade’s father … or lover … or both.

Chelsea Heilman

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Ever since she saw Jurassic Park as a kid, Chelsea’s been wanting to make dinosaurs of her very own. And believe it or not, she’s actually making that dream come true. She’s majoring in animatronics at Tom Savini’s Special Effects makeup program in Pennsylvania, where she has tools and resources that just weren’t available in her small hometown of German Valley, IL. Though she works on a shoestring budget, Chelsea’s been putting together some incredible work that’s turning heads.

Her favorite cosplay so far is her Rule 63 Cable. Chelsea’s always been a fan of Cable (mainly due to his giant, over-the-top guns and badass-ery), and wanted to take on the challenge of crafting a female version. For Cable’s awesome robot arm, she wanted to depart from the typical gray sleeve and vacuum tube that you always see around the cons. In the end, she built it using paper mache, craft foam, bondo, and a pair of silver metallic tights. The end result was impressive—as was her commitment to hot-glueing herself into it every time she needed to put it on. She also rigged up a killer glowing eye using a yellow LED and some spirit gum. Once it all came together, she pulled off one incredibly kick-ass Cable.

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Chelsea’s got some great new costumes to show off at C2E2 this year. But if you don’t want to wait for that, check out her Facebook page now to see some of her past work and current projects. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Next Monday we’ll be back with #2 of my Top Picks for C2E2 2013. There are only two more weeks and two more previews to go before the convention goes live in Chicago. And if you’ll be there, be sure to let us know. We’ll be speaking Friday, April 26 at 1:30pm in room W473 for CSC-1: Kickstarting Your Comics. We’ll also be tabling at Artist Alley Booth L14. See you at C2E2!

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