Sunday, March 27, 2011

Costumes I Have Known: The Question

On this lazy Sunday afternoon, I thought I would regale you with a story of my greatest, easiest, most unexpected cosplay triumph: Renee Montoya as The Question (II).
The whole crux of this costume, for obvious reasons, is the mask. Now, there are lots of different ways to make the mask. One of the most successful techniques involves cheesecloth, as you can see here. The advantage of this technique is that it gives a really smooth look from far away, though the illusion breaks down as you get closer.

But, my children, living as I was in a tiny apartment in the woods on the edge of nowhere, I did not have the requisite supplies. I also wanted something that would look good from close up and from far away. What I found was bathing suit lining. It's available from any good fabric store, it's relatively cheap, it's super stretchy, it's breathable and translucent, all of which make it a perfect material for this kind of application.

I tried a number of different techniques, including piecing the mask on, applying makeup over it, etc.

They all had one glaring design flaw: I couldn't eat while wearing them. And, my children, if you learn only one thing from me, learn that you cannot get through a whole day of con without eating unless you want to pass out. 

So in the end, what I did was cut out a piece of fabric roughly the same size and shape as my face, with enough to go around to the back of my neck, like so.

As you can see, I attached it around my hairline and around my ears, but left the bottom hanging. Because I had long enough hair to cover it, I stretched the fabric to the back of my neck and fastened it with a hair tie. I used eyelash glue to attach it to my face; if I had it to do again, I'd do it with spirit gum, but, again, I was in the middle of nowhere, and there was none to be had (and no time to order it by the time I decided to make this costume).

Since I took this shot at the end of the day, you can also see in this picture where I got mustard on it while trying to eat a hot dog. Whoops.

This method was not without its problems. Since the tie holding the bottom of the mask had to be undone and redone every time I wanted to eat or drink anything, it led to some problems of gapping and stretching.

Fortunately these were easily fixed, and I learned quickly not to adjust my mask without looking in the mirror. The mask also became easier to wear throughout the day, as the material became stretchier and more transparent.

At the time, Renee had just become The Question, so there was nothing particularly iconic about the rest of her costume. Accordingly, I wore what I had at hand (including the tie from my work uniform). I actually screwed up and forgot gloves, but the Rorschach who was travelling with us saved me.

NB: I don't know who this dude was, but isn't his expression priceless?

So that's pretty much how I did it. I think I paid less than 20 USD for the entire costume, because most of it came straight from my closet.

It was, I discovered, an easy costume to mistake, apparently. During the course of the day, I was mistaken for both the Invisible Man (several times) and Anonymous. Also, I learned that when you wear a full face mask, people assume that you can't see them, and they will gawk at you openly. I did freak a person or two out by waving at them as they stared intently at my face.

Would I do it again? Probably not, especially not for Comic-Con. Was it totally badass? Yes, it was.


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