x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

An inside look into the life of a UAE Cosplayer ahead of Comic Con

We Cosplayers are a dedicated bunch, spending days constructing costumes of our favourite characters. But why do we do it? See picture gallery for an inside glimpse.

Ujala Ali Khan, as Queen Amidala, takes a trip on Dubai Metro.
Ujala Ali Khan, as Queen Amidala, takes a trip on Dubai Metro.

In the apartment my husband and I share, a huge acrylic painting of Catwoman embracing Superman dominates the living room. Next to it are three display cabinets filled with Hot Toys (1/6th scale collectable figures of comic book icons). Another shelf is dedicated to Star Wars.

This is what happens when geeks collide: my husband is part of the team that puts together the Middle East Film & Comic Con and I' m a Cosplayer.

I wasn't always, though. Growing up, I was interested in hair, make-up and clothes and went on to train in all three, owning my own beauty salon and working on wardrobe for stars such as Katy Perry.

It took me a couple of years to realise that I can take my lifelong love for hair, make-up and costume, mix it with my new-found love for the comic-book culture (thanks to my husband) and be a part of a wonderful world that has seen me - in the past year alone - prance around the inaugural edition of Middle East Film & Comic Con as Harley Quinn from the Batman series, and ride the Dubai Metro as Queen Amidala from Star Wars on International Star Wars Day, May 4.

This is Cosplay, an uber-geeky subculture that sees comic-book fans channelling their favourite characters with eerie accuracy. As with all cliques, there are rules: you can't just put on a costume you bought and call yourself a Cosplayer. Us Cosplayers make our own costumes. Apart from certain items that can't be manufactured at home, we pour our blood, sweat and tears into creating the realistic looks … literally. It took me more than 40 hours to create my Queen Amidala costume. I cut and stitched the whole dress from scratch, spending two whole hours on the intricate gold pattern on the front. After many failed attempts to construct the complicated headpiece, I was in tears and hours away from the competition. I powered through and won second place. First place was won by a guy who had worked on a total of eight costumes for himself and his friends.

We're a dedicated bunch. Why do we do it? We all have our own reasons, but there is one that we all share: putting on our costumes lets us become our favourite characters. There is something incredibly addictive and empowering about strapping on some claws and becoming Wolverine.

artslife@thenational.ae

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