Film Convention: London Film & Comic Con 2014: Cosplay


Prep for LFCC 2014 on 12th July 2014 | Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London

Ok so I’ve decided to attend LFCC 2014 in cosplay for the very first time! Cosplay – literally meaning ‘costume play’ – is when you dress up as a character. Simple! After seeing the swarms of cosplayers at previous conventions, I thought “Well that looks fun, why not give it a go myself?” So I’m doing just that. But who to go as?

I’ve decided to make my costume from scratch as opposed to buying a pre-made fancy dress one. The fun thing about cosplay is that you can be as imaginative and creative as you want. I’ve seen cosplayers who obviously have wads of cash lying around their houses (or parents’ houses!) as they wear expensive pre-bought costumes or elaborate home-made ones complete with working lights and moving parts. Then there are the cosplayers who come from the Blue Peter school of costume design – a bit of sticky back plastic here, a bit of painted cardboard there, and voila! Choosing a character to cosplay is quite challenging as it will probably be dictated by your budget! Mine will probably sit somewhere in-between as I don’t have the cash to fork out for a movie replica costume, but I don’t want to look like I’ve slapped something together on Friday night either! So it has to be relatively straight-forward to make. I want to be fairly original too!

After much deliberation I finally settle on a cool character – The Comedian from Alan Moore’s excellent graphic novel Watchmen. I’ve decided to base my costume on the 2009 film version of the character (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as it’s updated and decidedly more cool-looking! The Comedian is a cigar-chomping, gun-toting vigilante bad-ass! (And yes before you point out, I am aware that essentially I’ll be dressing up as a rapist as well, we’ll just quickly skip over that part!).

So here’s how I did it...

First I got plenty of reference photos. I’m on a budget, so I don’t expect to create a movie-ready replica by any means. As long as it looks vaguely similar I’ll be happy! I break the costume down and look at the essential pieces that make it all up. I’ll need a military vest of some sort, military straps/suspenders, some elbow, knee and shin pads, wrist straps, a mask, gloves, leg holsters, and of course those trademark shoulder pads. Hmmmm that could be tricky, will have to be creative. Oh yes, and The Comedian’s distinctive handguns. Nice and simple for my first cosplay then (!)...

I start with the things I can purchase with relative ease. Thank goodness for the internet! In theory I should be able to source the pieces from various places and then assemble them all into one impressive Comedian costume (fingers crossed!) I’ll worry about the harder stuff - like the shoulder pads - later!

First I manage to find an online supplier selling black paintball vests. That’ll do nicely! While I’m at it, I track down a Hong Kong site that sells replica SWAT equipment – that’s the belt, suspender straps, knee and elbow pads, and leg gun holsters done! I then use silver spray paint on the elbow and knee pads to get rid of the plastic look. Blimey this just might work!

Then I purchase a cheap pair of fingerless black leather gloves and two cheap leather wrist straps. Not much modifying needed here! Someone on ebay is selling a cheap pair of football shinpads. They’d be perfect, but the colour is slightly wrong. Nothing some masking tape and some black spray paint can’t fix! That silver paint comes in handy again too.

Right now the guns. Easy! I buy a couple of toy hand guns and spray them silver. Then I just print out some Watchmen smiley face logos and stick them on the handles. So simple yet so effective! As an added bonus I also purchase a cheap toy rifle and spray that black just for good measure!

Ok now for those shoulder pads. I tackle the left one first – but just how can I replicate that cool layered-shell effect? Then I get a brainwave as I’m emptying the recycling. I’m holding a large empty tub of protein shake powder. I reckon I could cut this tub into three pieces, paint them and stick them together to create a layered effect! And for the right shoulder pad, I simply buy a hard shell knee pad, knock up a ‘star’ stencil, and spray it blue and silver. Voila!

Both shoulder pads can be attached to my paintball vest with velcro. For the belt buckle I just paint a bit of rubber I find knocking around. Oh and don’t forget about that all-important Watchmen smiley logo badge – another cheap ebay job!

And now for the most important piece – the mask. I contact a supplier who specialises in leather masks for cosplay, and get him to cut a Comedian-shaped one for me. I’ll be sticking it on my face with double-sided tape. One last final touch – a toy plastic cigar I found in a pound shop and bingo! One Comedian costume ready to go! I know it's not an exact replica but it's close enough for me! Not bad for my first cosplay project. Roll on LFCC 2014!