Bam!! Wham!! Pow!! Cosplay!!
When I was growing up, being a geek was never easy. The fact that I would rather draw pictures than play sports or read a comic book rather than watch football on TV did not earn me any love from the kids at school. Its a sad but simple fact of life that being different is not usually accepted. To better help people understand how long I’ve been a geek I tell them that I was a Batman fan before being a Batman fan was cool. Which is funny because today geek is chic. All of a sudden its cool to be a geek. Celebrities are calling themselves geeks claiming their great love of geek culture, particularly superheroes.
Personally I think they are trying to get attention from the producers and directors for the next blockbuster superhero movie. Whatever the reason though geek is in and everybody wants to be one. With so much attention on geeks and the geek culture who is and is not a true geek is getting lost. It use to be if you saw someone wearing a Spiderman or Superman T-shirt you knew they read comics and were geeks. Today the shirts are sold in mass to fans of the movies, fans of art, fans of comics, and fans of fitting in. A Superman symbol on a guy’s shirt could be a love of the character or just as easily his opinion of himself. With all mixing of geekdom with normal society old geeks like me are starting to feel a little lost.
Which is exactly what started me working on Project Geek. This editorial photo series is meant to explore what and who is geek. How is a geek defined in this day of “geek is cool” and how are geeks surviving in a time when their identity is being used a marketing ploys and self promotion by people who have no more interest in the culture beyond the current fad. I wanted to explore how geeks feel about the influx of “new fashionable geeks.” Do they enjoy the attention or would they rather to slip to back the unnoticed sidelines that historically has been their safety zone? Questions like can the quarterback be a geek or is being a geek require tapped black rim glasses? The more important question is why? Why are you a geek? Why do you read comics, role play Dungeons and Dragons, quote Star Wars, and hang out in comic/game store on a bright and beautiful Saturday afternoon?
When I first conceived the idea of Project Geek I thought I would create a single book on geek culture covering collecting, gaming, and cosplay. As I began looking into the culture more I realized that being a geek was bigger than I realized and I’ve been a geek my whole life. Geek culture was more than just comics, games, and conventions but being geek covered a wide expanse of hobbies and activities. Some people seem to embrace all or as much as they can (or as much as they can afford) while others focus on one aspect of the geek life. Wanting to do justice to what it means to be a geek I decided the best way was to break the culture into groups and explore the aspects of if as best I could. It will take longer but I think it will give a fairer and more accurate picture of life as a geek.
To start off the project I decided to tackle the group that for years has been a subculture within a subculture Cosplayers. Recently cosplay has gotten attention from mainstream media with reality shows like Heroes of Cosplay and references in major sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory. In years past cosplay was only seen at conventions today it is growing into an art form as people are showing off their creative talents designing and building elaborate costumes. To get started I started reaching out to cosplayers in my local community. Asking if I could take a portrait of them in a costume they had made. The requirement for this is they have to be actively involved in cosplay, not just wear a Halloween costume and they made or assembled their own costume, not purchased it in a store. Over the next several months I will be taking this outside my local community into surrounding areas. Hopefully to interview and photograph the “Cosplay Celebrities” as well as others who are active participants in the culture.
If you are someone you know is actively involved in cosplay please drop me a note along with a few picture of costumes you’ve made. As the project continues I will start sharing the stories behind the costumes and I hope you come on the journey with me.