Walking around a crowded convention floor can get a little claustrophobic, especially when wearing an 8-foot tall Optimus Prime costume.
“It took me about 30 minutes to get from one side of the room to the other,” Philadelphia native Eric “The Smoke” Moran, the wearer of such a costume, said of the time he debuted his “Transformers” costume at a retro-style convention. “It was like every five minutes, someone was asking me for a picture.”
Moran and many other costume players, or cosplayers, are set to attend this weekend’s Wizard World Ohio Comic Convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
“I’ve always loved the idea of people celebrating their favorite fandoms and characters,” said Ivy Doomkitty, a cosplayer from Los Angeles.
Doomkitty, who started cosplaying three years ago, said she always wanted to cosplay when she started attending conventions nine years ago, but was hesitant.
“I kept telling myself, ‘I want to do it,’” she said. “But my mind kept telling me, ‘Oh you can’t do it. You’re going to look stupid.’”
After modeling a few comic book characters, Doomkitty said the turning point in her decision to pursue cosplay came when she attended the San Diego Comic Con as a red shirt from “Star Trek.”
“I had no sewing experience,” Doomkitty said. “The initial feedback I got was awesome. It was awesome to talk with other people.”
Moran said he has been cosplaying before it was called cosplay.
“I’ve always been a fan of pop culture,” Moran said. “I always looked up to what super heroes stand for and do.”
Moran said he joined the Marine Corps to feel like the super heroes he idolized. When he returned to the U.S., he began pro wrestling and cosplaying.
“With cosplay, I can interact with and do good in the community,” Moran said.
Mike Wilson, from Cleveland, said he began cosplaying at charity events and birthday parties before being noticed by other cosplayers.
“I started cosplaying at the beginning of last year,” Wilson said. “I’m still new to the community.”
These pop culture representatives have made cosplay their craft.
Doomkitty, Wilson and Moran each said the length of time and effort spent on a costume depends on the design of the costume itself and what materials it’s made of.
“It took three hours to make my red shirt,” Doomkitty said. “Other costumes, like my Doctor Doom costume, took 72 hours to make — (those) are a little more involved (and) take longer.”
Wilson said it takes him from six days up to a month to make his costumes, while Moran said it takes two weeks to three months to make his costumes.
The cost of cosplaying varies depending on the materials used and if other people are commissioned to make parts and pieces for the costume, Doomkitty explained.
Doomkitty said her red shirt cost around $30, but due to the different pieces she commissioned to other artists for her Doctor Doom costume, the cost ranged from $500 to $700.
Wilson said making his costumes by himself makes him proud.
“I haven’t spent more than $300 on a costume,” Wilson said. “I make everything myself. You save yourself 90 percent of the cost that way.”
Moran said he has spent a range from five cents to $200 on a costume.
“The better the costume, the more money you’re going to put into it,” Moran said of commissioning people for costumes.
Moran said he has seen some cosplays that have not had money put into them because they recycled items they already owned, but are still impressive.
“It all depends on how creative you are,” Moran said.
Doomkitty said she is cosplaying as Psylocke and Doctor Doom from the Marvel comic universe this weekend, but might bring other costumes with her.
“I’m playing it by ear,” Doomkitty said with a laugh.
Wilson said he is cosplaying as Spawn from Image Comics, Cloak and Moon Knight from the Marvel comic universe and Cyborg from the DC comic universe this weekend.
Moran said he is going to debut a specific Marvel cosplay at Ohio Con, as well as cosplaying in a group of cosplayers dressed as characters from Dredd.
“We’re actually using the props and wearing the costumes from the movie,” Moran said.
Doomkitty, Wilson and Moran are scheduled to appear at booths 301 and 302 at Ohio Con. The cosplayers are set to lead a panel about cosplaying Friday at 7 p.m. Moran is also slated to host two costume contests — one for adults Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and one for children Sunday at 2:30 p.m., as well as a screening of cosplay and fan films along with Wilson.
From past to present, cosplayers have their favorite costumes.
Boomkitty said that as of right now, her favorite costume is Doctor Doom because it is looks cool, but she has sentimental value for her red shirt costume.
“You never forget your first,” Doomkitty said.
From his 80-plus costumes, Moran said his favorite costumes are his Optimus Prime costume and his Iron Man suits.
“I got the most reaction from my Iron Man suits,” Moran said. “Everyone wanted a picture with me.”
Wilson said his favorite costume is a tie between Batman, which he said he likes because of the reaction he gets with children, and Spawn.
“(The Spawn costume) is kick a–,” Wilson said. “When I wear it, I feel like I’m like that character.”