Every October, when the New York Comic Con rolls into town, the streets fill up with tons of fans wearing elaborate costumes of Batman, Catwoman and other characters.
These aren’t paid actors; rather, they’re cosplayers — referring to “costume players” — and a select few are the focus of the new Syfy series “Heroes of Cosplay,” which follows these individuals as they show off their design skills and try to win various comic conventions’ cosplay contests.
Having created more than 250 costumes that she’s worn, shown off and competed in, cosplayer Yaya Han, a legend in the field, is one of the stars. On the show, which debuts tomorrow, she is more of a judge, though she does wear her share of elaborate homemade costumes.
“I really hope people will get that cosplay is more than something that weirdos do,” Han says, laughing. “I really think that once they watch the show, they’ll realize, ‘Oh, this is an art form.’ I’m hoping that people will see ‘Heroes of Cosplay’ as a gateway for them to start cosplaying.”
amNewYork picked Han’s brain on how to get yourself ready to cosplay at New York Comic Con when it arrives this fall. And as you’ll learn, it’s never too early to start.
How do you choose the character?
Han says not to worry about whether you’re the right size or shape to play the character, just whether you can represent the character well. “For me, it’s a combination between feeling a connection with the character and wanting to take on the craftsmanship challenge of making the costume,” she says. But make sure you’ll be comfortable walking around as that character, and logistically, that the costume fits and is easy to transport.
How do you put the costume together?
“I do a ton of research on the character and try to look at the costume from every angle,” Han says. She spends a considerable amount of time thinking about what kinds of fabrics and materials the character would wear, and then brainstorms a plan. She likes to assemble all of the items first and then begin construction. “Once I have all the materials in my house, that’s when construction can begin.”
How long does it take?
“It really varies,” Han says. “Some people are slower at sewing; some are more focused on armor, which can take a lot longer. It’s always good [to] plan ahead of time.” Now, Han says, would be a great time to start on your costume for New York Comic Con. One of the benefits of starting early is that it gives you a chance to do a test run.
What are some good tips for first-time cosplayers?
“For someone who’s never cosplayed before, my suggestion would be to pick a character that they know and that they like and then pick a character with a costume with at least several pieces that could just be bought,” Han says. Though, she adds, if there is something special about the character, don’t be afraid to just go and make that piece of the costume yourself.
How can people keep their costumes PG?
Generally, the conventions with cosplayers are family events, with small children running around. Make sure your costume doesn’t get too revealing, Han says. “Definitely for guys, if you’re wearing a bodysuit for a superhero costume, get a dancer’s belt so that you’re completely covered ... and you don’t scandalize any children at the convention,” Han says. “Same with girls: Revealing costumes can sometimes take a little more effort to put together because you want to be covered and you want to be protected; you want everything to fit and fit right.”
“Heroes of Cosplay” debuts Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. on SyFy.