Cosplay’s popularity has been growing at a exponential rate, and like a high tide raises all ships, the profile of cosplayers been pinging on the radars of just about everyone.
While this attention might seem odd to the average person, cosplayers and their fans know the attention to detail, the long hours, the investment, the dedication, and the passion it takes to not only cosplay but to create memorable ones. Thankfully, as more characters are created and more people are willing to embrace their geekiness, the number of people of color have increased not only in number but notoriety in cosplay circles.
We got the chance to speak to Filipino cosplayer Lunar Crow, who, despite her short time cosplaying, has racked up some serious accolades — including being a finalist in the recent TwitchCon Cosplay Contest.
TUD: So when did you start identifying as a geek?
Lunar Crow: I don’t think I ever woke up and thought to myself, “Gee, I identify myself as a geek starting today!” I’ve grown up on anime, video games, and comics so I’ve always been part of the geek community.
What is your background? Where is your family from?
Both my parents are Filipino, which makes me 100% Filipino!
I started playing video games at the age of 3. The games I played when I grew up were RPGs, and I’ve always loved the stories. I’ve always been able to relate to the main characters, which helped me find and build my own identity as I grew older.
How did you get started cosplaying?
I saw a cosplayer cosplay a character from World of Warcraft on Reddit. I didn’t know it was even called cosplay. All I knew is that I wanted to make something like that and I wanted to learn more! So after some searching on the Internet on how to make a costume and seeing when the next convention is at my hometown, I got started on my first costume and haven’t looked back ever since!
It’s a wonderful creative outlet that I’m truly passionate about. There’s not a day where I’ve gotten completely tired of it. I’ve stayed up and pulled all nighters just to finish a costume for an event, and even though those nights are painful, I’m still cosplaying to this day. I love going to conventions and have people comment that I’m the real version of the character I’m cosplaying. It makes me really happy and makes everything worth it.
First cosplay? Favorite? Worst? Or most difficult.
My first cosplay was Nidalee from League of Legends, which probably was my worst cosplay ever because I hot glued everything. I thew it out ages ago, and looking back at pictures, I’m surprised how it never fell apart at a convention! My favorite cosplay is my Symmetra costume from Overwatch. Blizzard shared it on their official Overwatch social media sites, and I got positive responses from fans, which made me really happy. I was also able to win an all-expense-paid trip to San Diego to compete at TwitchCon 2016. Although I didn’t win any awards at that convention, I had a really good experience that I’ll never forget. My Symmetra cosplay has taken me everywhere, so it will be my favorite for a really long time.
Which cosplay of yours gets the most response? Why do you think?
Symmetra from Overwatch. People have told me that I really look like the character. I worked really hard for a few months to make sure I capture every detail so it makes me happy when fans of the game get excited about my Symmetra cosplay at cons and take pictures with me.
What is a cosplay you want to do but haven’t yet?
So many, but I’ve been wanting to do Queen of Pain from Dota 2 ever since I started cosplaying.
How do you define cosplay to others?
For me, cosplay is a creative, artistic outlet where I can show my passion for geek fandoms.
You’re building a large social media following. When did things start taking off for you?
My Symmetra cosplay really took things off for me. I’ve been cosplaying for three years, and I’ve never gotten as much notoriety before. Although I’m really thankful of all the different opportunities that have come my way because of Symmetra and all the wonderful comments I’ve received from strangers, I don’t really care about how large my social media following is. I want to stress to cosplayers out there that it’s not really important, and it doesn’t make you a successful cosplayer. I think a lot of the times cosplayers get really focused on how many people follow them and how many “likes” they can get. It’s not something you can control. Just because you make costumes every month, post everyday, and feel like you work really hard, doesn’t mean you’re going to end up being the next Jessica Nigri. Social media following is luck at times, and at the end of the day we are all nerds at heart. It doesn’t really matter!
Are you surprised at the attention you are getting?
It was overwhelming at first, but at the end of the day I don’t really care as long as I can keep making costumes and making fans of whatever I’m cosplaying happy and excited about my cosplay.
What makes a successful cosplay?
When a cosplayer feels like they did the best on their costume and has fun wearing it — that’s what makes a successful cosplay!
Source: Jeff Teng Photography / Jeff Teng Photography
You build your own cosplays. How did you get into fabrication? Was it just trial and error or have you always had a talent?
Trial and error. I don’t have any formal experience with fabrication.
I have heard cosplayers plan, sketch, build, save, search, for months to create a cosplay they are passionate about and might wear it to three cons over a year. So lets say you wear it 4-5 times. That is a huge commitment. What makes you go through that? Did you ever have a cosplay that took that dedication?
Honestly, I never really think about how many times I’m going to wear a cosplay. Some cosplays I’ve only worn once. Some cosplays I’ve never wore to an event. Some cosplays I’ve worn so much that I’m tired of it even though people expect me to bring it to shoot. My main focus is just wanting to make the costume of this character. Wearing it to events is a bonus.
Do you think there is a difference between cosplayers that create their own costumes and cosplayers that buy them?
A cosplayer is a cosplayer. If you bought everything from the store or made things on your own, there is no difference. It’s really dumb and elitist to stick your nose to someone that bought or heavily modified their cosplay. Everyone starts from somewhere. When I first started, I was hot gluing fabrics together, and making cringe mistakes. I’ve been there at the bottom where I had no idea what to do so I have no place to judge.
What is your process for creating a cosplay? Like what triggers the “… OK, I want to cosplay that person,” and then where does it go from there?
I like cosplaying characters that look the most like me. Although you can cosplay whatever you want, there’s something special when a cosplayer actually looks like the character they are cosplaying. People get a lot more excited at conventions. Also, the fact that I’m darker skinned and video games/comics/anime start releasing characters that have the same skin tone really makes me motivated in cosplaying minority characters.
With things like #Gamergate, #29daysofblackcosplay, etc, it seems a bit harrowing to be not only a woman, but a woman of color in the geek world, which is supposed to be a come-as-you-are community. Why do you think it’s that way?
It’s almost human nature to never be content and peaceful with anything. People just like to cause issues where there isn’t any or hate being outside their box. Any difference makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It’s really unfortunate, but there are a lot of positive changes recently, especially like video game companies releasing a lot of varied characters that break stereotypes and norms. As much as the geek community is exclusive, it is really inclusive as well.
What do you think are the biggest issues in the geek world you have to face?
Not having a lot of characters that look like me that I can cosplay, but a lot of video game and comic companies are getting really good about that recently!
What do you think of the backlash many cosplayers of color face on social media and at events?
It’s only a certain few who battle insecurities that prompt them to make mean and inappropriate comments online. I’ve never had a bad experience at a convention, so I can’t really say anything much regarding this question. But the backlash and the lack of colored representation in geekdom is a product of real issues in society and not really the community itself. We have a long way to go as a society if we want to see changes in geekdom.
Some say cosplayers wear too little. Is that accurate?
But if it’s accurate to the design, then who cares? We can’t say that we are an inclusive community if we exclude the idea of being sexy at conventions. I’ve seen people make rude comments behind a female wearing a sexy cosplay’s back, but then praise the guy walking around topless, wearing a speedo, and yellow ears repping a “sexy Pikachu guy” cosplay. We can’t have this double standard if we say that the geek community is an inclusive place to everybody. This topic is so old that it’s frankly annoying to keep talking about. Many people don’t understand that a nerd convention is literally one of the most safest places to flaunt around a sexy costume so as long as it’s appropriate to the event’s dress code. I’m not sure why people make it such an issue.
With your profile steady on the rise, do you feel any pressure?
Not at all. I’m not just a cosplayer. I’m a student working towards a degree in Computer Science, and in the next year I’ll be doing my first work term. I have a life outside cosplay and I have a lot of different interests besides cosplay — like video game streaming. I feel no pressure at all and I’m overall really happy that I’ve been fortunate enough to do this while being in school.
Who are some of the people that inspired you?
I draw inspiration from cosplayers that have been doing it for a long time. [I’m] talking years. I hope that I will never lose passion for cosplay.
Who is your dream meet? The person you want to meet in geekdom.
I’ve already met a lot of my dream meets one way or another at different events, so there’s not one person that comes to mind. I would like to meet a lot of my supporters that have bought prints of my cosplay or donated on my video game streams. That would be really awesome!
What’s next for you? What is your goal in geekdom?
After the TwitchCon 2016 Cosplay Contest, I would like to compete more in the next year. Overall, I just want to push myself to make better costumes!