x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Cosplayers prove well suited for heroic work at gamer, comic and film convention

The IGN Convention, at Dubai's Meydan IMAX, featured stands from video game companies, comic book art and model war gaming.

Visitors to the IGN Convention dressed up as Creepers from the video game Minecraft.  Satish Kumar / The National
Visitors to the IGN Convention dressed up as Creepers from the video game Minecraft. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Hundreds of cosplay fans, people who like to dress up as their favourite game, film or comic book characters, donned pink wigs, angel wings and latex body suits yesterday to celebrate geek culture.

The IGN Convention, at Dubai's Meydan IMAX, featured stands from video game companies, comic book art and model war gaming, but it was the cosplayers who attracted the most attention.

One of the favourites was Jason Al Moalla, an Emirati dressed as comic book hero Spawn, in a full-body latex moulded suit it took him six months to make.

"I am breathing through my eyes," said Mr Al Moalla, his voice muffled behind a full-face mask.

Mr Al Moalla spent nearly Dh3,000 on materials sculpting the suit at a studio he uses in the United States.

He took to cosplay when he was just eight. "When I was a kid I used to dress up for Halloween, and I was really interested in the costumes," he said. "My dad took me to a comic convention when I was about eight. I noticed that people were wearing costumes. I thought that role playing was only for Halloween. That's when I discovered cosplay. From there, it became a hobby."

He owns about eight professional-grade, handmade suits, including comic book heroes Batman, Venom and Deadpool and Freddy Krueger.

"I'm currently making a Ninja Turtle costume," he said.

Diana Santos, founder of a cosplay group, Dubai Anime Club, said cosplay was wish-fulfilment.

"Everyone wants to be their favourite characters," she said. "If you're a Batman fan, you'd probably cosplay Batman.

"If you're a Darth Vader fan, maybe you'd have dreams of wearing the same outfit that he does.

"Some people put a lot of effort into making their costumes from hand, so some consider cosplay as an art form."

The group was running a cosplay competition last night to determine who had the best outfit.

One of the judges, Farhana Chowdhury, said they were looking for people who had put the most work into their costume.

"We're looking for creativity and innovation," she said. "Basically it's about how much effort they've put into making something, and how passionate they are about it."

Emirati Salem Graiban Al Muhairi made a huge robot costume of the character Alphonse from the manga and cartoon series Fullmetal Alchemist. "I was working from 7am to midnight every day for a month," he said. "But I had a lot of fun building the costume and going from one shop to another to find fabric and other materials."

But wearing such a large costume is not always easy. To gain the height, Mr Al Muhairi needed to wear stilts, which were not always the most stable.

"I need someone to stand behind me in case I fall over," he said. "Also, you can't stand still, you have to keep on moving. I didn't know that when I bought them."

Dianne Joy Benedicto, 21, from the Philippines, went the moderately easier route of taking fabrics to the tailor to make her costume.

"Most tailors are shocked," she said. "Instead of having to explain what it's for, I just tell them it's for school, because they don't understand."

Ms Santos said the open environment of the IGN Convention meant that most cosplayers often were happy to embrace their inner Bobba Fett without fear of judgement.

"It has a lot more open feel to it, and people feel more comfortable walking around in their costumes," she said.

Despite being stopped every five minutes for photos, Mr Al Moalla was in his element. "I love it," he said.

"Everyone wants to meet their comic book hero, and today that's me."

 

mcroucher@thenational.ae