Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Counterpoint: The Never, Ever List

Hello, my darlings, it is I, Sabine. Did you miss me? I certainly missed you.

Shadowen has already showed you her Bucket List, but I'd like to take a moment to display why I am the pessimistic one. Ergo, here is my Never, Ever List.

While the Bucket List is devoted to attaining your dreams, the Never, Ever List is devoted to keeping yourself in check. It's a list of costumes that, for whatever reason, you adore but won't ever make.

Despite its apparent pessimism, I find this list to be a freeing exercise. It's a way to keep your feet on the ground while paying homage to what you'd do in a perfect world; it makes me feel okay to put things on this list, because it takes the pressure off. I don't have to do these things, and once I've acknowledged that, it stops me from frantically trying to figure out how to do them.

So let's see the list, shall we?

Elizabeth's wedding dress, Frankenstein (1931)

About the costume: Oh, the doomed love of Elizabeth and Henry Frankenstein. This, like The Mummy, is one of those movies where the heroine is supposed to go for the milquetoast friend character instead of the devoted, tortured, creeper-hot madman/reanimated corpse (Henry/Ardath Bay). Elizabeth's unfortunate end is inevitable, and she meets it in this glorious, innocent yet elegant wedding gown. It's a piece that not only looks good, but really impacts the scene that it's in; the way she gets tangled up in her veil as the monster attacks is just so spooky, precisely because it is a wedding veil. Really gorgeous sequence where the costuming and the cinematography mesh in a great way.

Why I haven't made it: This dress epitomizes the problems and benefits of making a showpiece costume. This is in no way con-appropriate. The dress is not particularly complicated, as wedding dresses go (which is to say that it is quite complicated), but the veil is. The veil is, near as I can tell, at least cathedral length, maybe a little more, which has a beautiful effect but is insanely unwieldy, from a construction, budget, storage, and transportation standpoint. This is some shit you build a case around.

Isn't it insanely gorgeous, though? God. I just want to touch it.

Rally Vincent, Gunsmith Cats

About the costume: Rally Vincent, still and yet, is my favorite manga/anime character of all time. Her look is simple and badass, suitable for fighting and generally tear-assing around, featuring a distinctive red double shoulder holster (which doubles as a boob enhancer, natch).

Why I haven't made it: I'm selfish and lazy. I actually have pieces of this costume and know where to potentially get other pieces of it, but, well, I really like to be recognized when I'm in costume. It's one of my things, y'know? And these damn kids today with their Naruto and their Bleach, I remember when we used to have to watch the first three episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Gunsmith Cats OVA over and over because that was all the video store would stock.

::shakes cane::

So even though it's a simple costume, I don't think anybody would get much joy out of it but me, and it's not complicated enough for me to get enough joy out of fabricating it on its own.

Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg's office attire, The Fifth Element

About the costume: Oh my god, Zorg, you guys, Zorg. There is no one better than Zorg, and his costumes, each and every one of them, are OUTSTANDING. The iridescent suit he wears in his office is my favorite. So representative of the movie's whole aesthetic, and so unique.

Why I haven't made it: Uh, talk about WILDLY impractical. Let's start with the fabric, shall we? You know how you can't actually make a proper BSG jock smock because the fabric is no longer made and the costume department owned all of it? Or how you can't make a proper Tok'ra costume without using tripe and latex? Same principle. Secondly, there's that damn collar. I managed to BS a stand-up collar for the Orpheus costume, but this is in a whole different league- probably one of my least concerns, but still.

Biggest problem though? No model.

I don't know any dudes who are committed to the cause enough to wear, help fund, and rock this costume. And let's face it, dress forms are not made to mimic Gary Oldman, and if they were, I wouldn't own one, because, y'know, other than this I don't really need a dress form shaped like a dude, because I don't make clothes for dudes.

So, stopped before we start. :/

Servalan's lizard dress, Blake's 7: "Pressure Point"

About this costume: Servalan is a baaaaad bitch, and all of her costumes are pure gold. This is one of my favorites and the one I would come closest to fabricating. I love how slinky it is.

Why I haven't made it: Biggest problem is, again, no model. Everyone I costume with is either too curvy or not curvy enough.

Second problem: that goddamned lizard. Where in the hell am I going to get a huge rhinestone encrusted lizard?

Cally's Volvo dress, Blake's 7: "Horizon"

About this costume: God, I love how completely ridiculous and how completely Blake's 7 this costume is. In my head it has always been the Volvo dress, because it looks like what you could make if somebody stripped out the interiors of a higher-end Volvo and told you to make a costume out of it.

Why I haven't made it: Okay, secret confession time: I cheated. I have made this costume before.

This costume was a real labor of love. It was made in seven or eight straight hours, with my mother's help, plus scouring the internet for pieces I couldn't fabricate. Much of it was made without use of patterns, especially the overskirt. It's actually really close to screen accurate, aside from the "wings," which I never made, as they were to be the last part.

I put the rest of it on, took one picture, looked at it, and swore to never wear it in public.

I knew I was taking a risk, because Jan Chappell and I are roughly the same height, but I have at least a hundred and fifty pounds on her. Even that aside, it was a Hot. Mess. All the pieces are there, everything is exactly where it should be and how it should look, and somehow it just doesn't come together at all.

I have seen unconvincing Servalan crossplayers who looked better.

Maybe one day I will try it again, but let's face it, I will never be the right shape to wear this costume- and if I did, it might be cursed.

Prop Making Bonus Round:

Liberator transport bracelet, Blake's 7

About this prop: You should have figured out by now that I love all things Blake's 7, most especially the Liberator, and this is one of the most distinctive things about it. Nobody could get through an episode without breaking one, or losing one, or leaving theirs at the TSA checkpoint, or whatever.

Why I haven't made this prop: The directions making the rounds on the internet all suck, and I am not very good at prop fabrication.

It is as simple and as complicated as that. The most popular set of directions going around starts with a Pringles can or postal tube, and we CANNOT BE HAVING WITH THAT. If my hand was even small enough to fit through it, which it's really not, that is tacky. Look, okay, I know the show used cardboard bracelets for a while, because 1) plastic ones were slow to fabricate 2) the crew kept jacking them, but really? I want something I can be proud of and keep for a long time

Unlike everything else on this list, however, this is a "never say die" endeavor. I will make me a transport bracelet somehow.

So that's the list, my darlings. Thoughts?

The Cosplay Bucket List

Greetings, fellow cosplayers! Today we’re going to talk about the most intimidating costumes of all: the ones we haven’t done yet.

Everybody has them. Those cosplay ideas you keep coming back to. That outfit in that one episode that makes you all atingle just watching reruns. That showpiece concept that makes your hands itch just thinking about it. The costumes you tell your friends about and say, “One day when I have time/money/skills/lose weight/find a group/make it to SDCC/build a time machine/whatever, I will do this costume, and it will be GLORIOUS!”

You know the ones. The ones that tantalize and terrify us. The ones on the Cosplay Bucket List.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a bucket list, it’s meant to include all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”, i.e. go to the great sewing table in the sky. It doesn’t have to be reasonable, realistic, or practical. It’s not necessarily things you’re going to do; it’s the things you want to do. You can take things off and tack them on at will, and the bucket list you make now might be totally different from the one you make 10 years down the line. It’s all up to you.

Making a cosplay bucket list is a good idea for two reasons. One, it puts all these ideas on paper (figuratively speaking, in this case) and gives you a record to go to when you’re stuck and looking for ideas. Two, it helps organize the ideas and maybe makes them not so scary after all, turning those wild pipe dreams into a list of doable goals.

I put together my bucket list specifically for this post, but I found it to be a really great exercise. It even helped me make some decisions about my costumes for this year. So, without further ado, here they are: the costume ideas that set shadowen’s heart aflutter.

Death’s gown, Sandman: Endless Nights: “The Heart of a Star”

About the costume: Death cosplay is done to, well, death. It’s generally just your best goth outfit, an ankh, and some fancy eye make-up. Hell, I’ve done it. No shame. This dress, though, is the antithesis of the perky Death we all know and love. It’s a floor length Victorian ball gown with serious detailing, and it’s gorgeous. It only appears in those four panels in Endless Nights, and I’ve never heard of anyone taking on this particular costume.

Why I haven’t done it: Time and money, the adversaries that kill so many costumes in their infancy. This is full on Victorian formal wear and, not being a dedicated steampunker, I don’t have the skills to turn out one of those in a week. Plus, if you’re going to make something that fancy, you don’t use cheap fabric, and I, fellow cosplayers, am permanently broke.

Dr. Girlfriend’s dress, The Venture Bros.: “Hate Floats”

About the costume: Honestly, I just want to own this dress. Forget cosplay, I’d wear this to the store. You can’t see in the picture (There are no good reference pics. For serious.) but it’s a mini dress with an open back. Yes, it’s only in this one episode. Yes, I’m aware that Doc Hammer hates it. No, I do not give any number of fucks. I love it, and I want it.

Why I haven’t done it: The print on that dress? Does not exist. I mean really. Who, other than me, would even want purple fabric with giant pastel polka dots? The fact that it’s so unbelievably 60s-tastic is what makes it so great, but it also makes it nearly impossible to recreate. But don’t loose faith, Venturoos. The search continues.

Dalek evening gown, Doctor Who

About the costume: So you’ve seen the adorable Dalek dresses, right? Well, I want to take that idea and translate it into an all-out showpiece gown. It will exterminate with extravagant elegance.

Why I haven’t done it: Honestly, as much as I like the design that I have, it needs work. The concept is so high-fashion, it needs a truly epic execution, and I don’t think my skills as a designer and costumer are quite there yet.

Marvin the Martian, Looney Toons

About the costume: I can’t possibly be the only one who remembers “Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 th Century”, can I? It truly blows my mind how many people give me blank looks when I mention Marvin the Martian. This pains my little Martian soul, fellow cosplayers, and I want to spread the message of Marvin love. Like the Dalek evening gown, this one is more of an interpretive costume, hitting those iconic high points I love so much while creating something new and different.

Why I haven’t done it: Engineering. How do you make a skirt that sticks out that you can (a) transport in a small space and (b) sit down in? I have ideas, but this is another one that isn’t quite there. Some day.

Alice, Superjail!

About the costume: I’m not even sure how to quantify the gender politics of a cis woman dressing as an MtF trans woman (who is also a cartoon), so I’m just not going to go there. All you really need to know is that Alice is the best, and that I am dedicated to the cause of Superjail!

Why I haven’t done it: It really only recently occurred to me that I could do this, and it would be awesome. My only hesitations are entirely the result of vanity. Alice is not a traditionally attractive character, and, frankly, I like being pretty. Doing this costume right would mean sacrificing a lot of pride for cosplay that would be an absolute hit with a very small group of people. And that, my friends, is a really stupid reason not to do it. I’ve resolved to strike one costume off the list this year, and this might be the one.

(I could also make the police dress do double-duty as a Victoria Seras costume, plus one big ass gun. So there’s that.)

Lust, Fullmetal Alchemist

About the costume: I have this dream of one day doing Homunculi group cosplay. Or any FMA cosplay, really, because it is the love of my anime life. Let’s face it, my cleavage was made to have an ouroboros stamped in the middle of it.

Why I haven’t done it: Right now, I’ve got the wrong hair, but I’m tentatively putting it on the docket for the 2013 con season.

Rachel, Blade Runner

About the costume: It’s everything you love about 1940s style with an extra helping of robot. A lot of people talk about Rachel’s super fabulous fur coat, but I’m eyeing that black suit, shoulder pads and all. This is another one where there aren’t any good reference pictures, partly because Blade Runner is such a visually dark film.

Why I haven’t done it: Same as Lust. It’s on the list for 2013.

And there you have it, fellow cosplayers. My cosplay bucket list, as of January 2012. Now, hands up! What are some of your dream costumes? Share with the class!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Cosplay Linkspam, 16 January 2012

Greetings, fellow cosplayers! How about we start this Monday afternoon with another blast from the past?

Retronaught has a gallery of geek-tastic pics from a 1980 Los Angeles con, showing us the only things that have really changed are picture quality and hotel carpeting.

Next, Almost Nerdy’s cosplayer of the week is our favorite cosplaying couple, John and Kate.

Finally, here’s two low-tech costumes that prove you don’t have to be fancy to be awesome: Carboard Iron Man and the Crochet Cyclops.

That’s all for this week, fellow cosplayers. I’m about to enter a serious costuming frenzy for the next few months. I’m doing costumes for two stage shows opening this Spring, working on a commission piece, and trying to get my own little ducks in a row for the summer con season. I’ll do my best to document all these processes and pass the benefit of my experiences along to you.

Now excuse while I go cut a vest for this Assassin’s Creed costume....


Monday, January 9, 2012

Cosplay Linkspam, 9 January 2012

Been a while since we’ve had one of these, hasn’t it? In any case, I’ve got some real gems for you, today!

Let’s just start at the beginning, shall we? And by ‘beginning’, I mean a website about the first ever Science Fiction convention in 1937. Even if a convention without cosplay can hardly be called a convention, and it may not have actually been the first, the site has interesting tidbits and many pics of nerdy white dudes standing around looking smart. So I guess cons haven’t changed all that much.

Also marking a first - but in a more ‘wtf’ vein - is the Victoria’s Secret Superhero Fashion Show. It is exactly as fierce and bizarre as you think it is.

By contrast, this kid’s Transformers cosplay shows us how simple ingenuity can create pure delight.

Much like this Daria cosplay, which seems to have been done just for the hell of it.

In the category of cosplay gone wrong, however, is this wayward Darth Vader, who apparently just wanted to take a nap in the middle of the road. (And please, somebody tell me that they read the headline “Man wearing Darth Vader mask attacks trooper” and thought “Well that storm trooper was just tempting fate”.)

Finally, I think we should all read The Fan/Pro Bill of Rights and take it to heart so that everyone can have a more pleasant con experience.

Today, I bought a costume piece for a costume I’m not sure I’m doing. Ain’t that life?


Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Today is a day when many of us, fighting off that champagne hangover, make promises to ourselves for the coming year. Whether we decide to start good habits or stop bad ones, I think we can all agree that this is the perfect time to resolve to be, not just better human beings, but better cosplayers.

So, in the year 2012, I, shadowen, resolve to:

...knock at least one item off my cosplay bucket list.

...not leave major costuming projects to the last minute so that I'm not stitching things together the night before the con (again).

...keep my con and cosplay budget within a reasonable limit. daring and creative with my cosplay, both in what I wear and how I wear it.

...make at least one new friend at a con and keep in touch with people, rather than just seeing them once a year.

...update Frenemy Cosplay more than once a millennium.

We'll see how these are holding up come February.

Happy New Year, fellow cosplayers, and may 2012 bring you all the fabulous geekery you can handle. How will you resolve to be a better cosplayer?