As the SkyTrain at Waterfront emptied, I saw characters from Doctor Who, Homestuck, Teen Titans, and Pokémon venture out into the streets of Vancouver. No, I was not stuck in a nerdy daydream. I was heading to Fan Expo Vancouver. A haven for those who love comic books, anime, fantasy, sci-fi, and video games, this massive annual event gathered huge crowds into the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Unique vendors, incredible artists, great food, and some big names in the industry all crowded under one roof along with thousands of fans.
It was truly a sight to be seen, as people in stunning cosplays bought vintage comics, stars of television and film signed autographs, and comic book artists drew original sketches in Artist’s Alley. As a major nerd myself, I could not help but gasp in awe as Captain Jack Sparrow stumbled through the food court, Harley Quinn took pictures beside a life-size TARDIS, and a matching Aurora and Maleficent wandered along the corridors. It is this amazing culture of cosplay that is taken to a whole new level at conventions like Fan Expo.
Some people have taken the art of costuming and character creation to the big leagues, such as actress, model, and cosplayer LeeAnna Vamp, and the cosplay collective Desu Dolls.
LeeAnna Vamp started cosplaying eight years ago. When she saw others at conventions in costume, she said “it seemed like it would be way more fun.”
“I just decided to go for it,” she continued. “I made a Chewbacca and a Mario outfit and was instantly hooked.” Vamp’s favourite thing about cosplay is “getting to meet the fans and travel. When someone comes up and says that I’ve inspired them or encouraged them, it really means a lot to me.” The magic of conventions, she said, is “when you walk into the doors, it’s like Disneyland — a safe place where everyone has common interests and can kind of just be themselves.”
Picking her favourite costume, said Vamp, “is like trying to pick your favourite cat, or favourite kid. So much blood, sweat, and tears goes into a lot of these costumes, but one I have enjoyed this past year has been my female Stormtrooper.”
The Desu Dolls are a Vancouver-based female cosplay group, comprised of Remi Lee, Kasi Altair, and Mimi Reeves. “We originally formed the Desu Dolls early last year,” said Reeves. “We were all friends before, and we decided ‘hey, lets get this group together!’”
All three women had originally started cosplaying individually, but as Altair noted, “It’s fun collaborating with friends.”
Conventions like Fan Expo, said Lee, are “a world where everyone has the same interests.” These kinds of conventions have inspired the collective, stated Altair. “When I attended my first convention I didn’t go in a costume, but I noticed all these people around me that were wearing all these unique costumes and that they put a lot of time and effort and passion into their creations.” This, said Altair, made her realize that she found somewhere she fit in — “because Halloween was just not enough!”