Over the past few years, there’s been an ongoing discussion about the increased focus on cosplay at comic conventions. I understand how this kind of sea change can be confusing, frightening, or even anger-inducing to someone who came into comics (professionally or in fandom) in an era before cosplay was prevalent.
To a fan or pro whose earliest exposure to comics was limited to the stories and art on paper—before comic book films, television shows, cartoons or cosplay existed—this has got to look crazy. And it probably looks wrong, too.
I’m sure there’s an unspoken sentiment of “You’re missing the whole point about what’s great here!” in every rant that surfaces. I get that. In some ways, it reminds me of a once-relevant writer-artist who still rails about how badly the comic industry screwed up by creating the direct market and how everyone should have listened to him thirty years ago.
Times change. You can’t stop it.
Cosplay, the loss of newsstand comics, the death of commercial radio, MTV no longer airing videos, Cartoon Network renaming their brand “CN” and supplanting cartoons with live-action programming…times change. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and sometimes it just IS.
But the people who complain about the change fail to realize that they’ve probably also embraced changes similar to what they’re griping about. The comic creator who constantly reminds everyone how he saw the problems with the direct market? He proudly says he no longer watches traditional TV as it airs and only checks out TV on DVD.
Times change. You can’t stop it. So why not take a look and try to see what’s appealing about cosplay. Look at the excitement that the cosplayers demonstrate for a character or the medium that you love. Underneath it all, you probably have something in common with them. They react to a well-crafted Carol Danvers costume in the exact same way that you react to finding an Alex Toth page in a stack of original art.
You’re both nerds—we all are. There’s no higher ground here.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather find a way to enjoy myself in a changing world instead of complaining about how things used to be so much better five, ten, or twenty years ago.