A few weeks ago, at the MCMExpo ComicCon in London, I decided to try my hand at cosplay. Although I’ve never cosplayed at a Con before, this seemed like a pretty natural decision to make. As a kid growing up in the States, I began planning my Halloween costume at the beginning of every year and would almost always make most of it by hand.
Being marooned in this country, where nobody ‘gives a toss’ about Halloween, I’ve found myself without the opportunity to exercise this long-held habit of creating and incarnating characters. So when Sof and I decided we would cosplay at MCMExpo, I felt that old wave of intrigue sweep over me: who would I become and almost more importantly, how would I become her (or him… I once went trick-or-treating as the Phantom of the Opera and I must say, I do a mean face-paint).
My primary challenges are a relative lack of funds and a definite lack of time. I’m a PhD student, and one who has to work part-time in order to make ends meet. I’m aware that there are some stellar cosplay sites where one can find everything from Thor’s hammer to Spock’s pointy ears, however after eight hours in front of my computer trying to write about fourteenth-century women’s agency, I often feel disinclined to spend my at-home-hours surfing websites and I feel more like spending my pounds on an after-work pint rather than a prop. Lucky for me, there is My So-Called Secret Identity!
You’ll probably remember that I totally GEEKED out about MSCSI just prior to its launch, and rightfully so. Every week, Team Cat has wheeled out one exciting episode after another and I’ve grown increasingly fond of, and empathetic to, Cat Abi Daniels. We have a lot in common: being red-heads (even if one of us is not naturally so), being PhD students, being incredibly smart ;p I joke. I think Cat is a lot more intelligent than I am, and I sense that she has some pretty serious tragedy in her past that thankfully, I don’t share *knock on wood, rub rabbit foot, do all manner of superstitious good-luck things* Nevertheless, this is a character that I not only really enjoy and admire, but one with which I share a few traits. Seemed like a no-brainer to this first-time cosplayer!
I took one trip to New Look for some black, skinny jeans and a white crop-top and I was all set. With the help of a permanent marker and a pair of scissors, I was instantly transformed. Because I do like to ‘craft’ things every now and again, I also already had the materials necessary to make a Cat necklace (Fimo + silver paint + black thread):
My Cat cosplay isn’t flawless: my undershirt was black instead of crimson, my boots are studded rather than fur-lined and folded over, and my hair isn’t as long (damn it), but I think I got pretty close. And this took me about one morning to compile. This is perfect PhD-student cosplay!
Much to my delight, Cat’s hero costume has, for the most part, now been revealed on MSCSI and because GEEKED will be headed for London Film and Comic Con in July, I’ve got another golden opportunity on my hands for character creation which won’t tax my time or my wallet.
The point of Cat’s costume in the comics is–according to creator Dr. Will Brooker–‘that you could buy it in shops’. Cat relies on her own fierce shopping skills, the help of her friends, and the resources she already has at hand to make a costume that is both hero-worthy and functional. In the same spirit, I had a rummage through my closet to find bits and pieces that might help me to represent Cat reasonably.
In this image, which has not yet made it into the story line, we see bits and pieces of Cat’s costume strewn about. Brooker has clarified that this image was in fact created before Cat’s costume had been finalised and so some pieces (like the cowl) are no longer relevant. However, there are still a few things of which to take note: black cargoes, slate vest-top, belt with utility pouch, black backpack.
In the latest issue of MSCSI, we also see black lace-up boots, a helmet, and a long-sleeved black pull-over that gets a paint job which will almost certainly display Cat’s logo. With these pages in mind, I found the following items in my own wardrobe:
A slate vest-top
Cargoes (mine are dark-green but this is something that can be fixed with a little fabric dye) and a black belt (the utility pouch will most likely be made from an empty box painted black and fastened to the belt):
Black boots: again, mine are slightly different but a hot-glue gun and a pair of black shoe laces are going to put me back in business:
A black helmet: This bike helmet currently lives in my hall closet because 1) the chin-latch is broken and 2) a certain someone with whom I live foolishly refuses to cycle with a helmet (good-natured harassment for this decision can be directed here). I figure a piece of black lycra stretched over the top will make it look like a solid surface and will provide material onto which I can attach a visor.
Because I have yet to see Cat’s black pull-over in all its glory, I have not scouted a similar piece from my wardrobe but I can see that a little yellow fabric paint will be in order. I am also going to need a black backpack but rather fortuitously, I’ve been in desperate need of such an apparatus for months anyway; laptop+art catalogs do not happy shoulders make.
Maybe I won’t be the perfect Cat. I’m sure my ‘hero Cat’ will have some small derivations just as my ‘club Cat’ did, but as Dr. Brooker states in his interview with GEEKED in Issue Three (available at Foyles bookshops), ‘there is no one, definitive representation of Cat’.
My manifestation of Cat will be my own interpretation, it will be an homage, and in all honesty, it will be determined almost entirely by the resources I have at my disposal. I think in some ways my cosplay will be even more authentic because of the limitations I face; like Cat, I am a busy student who has a whole life to tend to when I’m not in costume… but that won’t stop me/her from kicking ass.