Cosplay Community Alive and Thriving at the 2023 Seattle Emerald City Comic Con

Last week marked a special occasion for anime, comic books, gaming and entertainment enthusiasts as the Emerald City Comic Con gathered downtown. Celebrating its 20th anniversary from March 2-5, Emerald City Marketing Director Fallon Prinzivalli estimated around 75,000 attendees visited the Seattle Convention Center. Along with meeting celebrities and attending events, fans dressed as fictional characters to express their love for their favorite works and the art of cosplaying.  

Founded in 2003, Emerald City Comic Con has brought many Northwestern fans together to celebrate and appreciate their favorite forms of media, with ranking the con number five on their Biggest Comic Cons in the U.S. list. However, the con has yet to recover its pre-pandemic attendee count, which reported a total of 98,000 fans in 2019. Despite this, the convention center was filled with excitement and positive vibes from young and old fans.  

This year, attendees had the opportunity to meet several actors and content creators, including Mark Ruffalo, David Tennant and Jennifer Hale. Various book signings, cosplay informational sessions and fan meetups were scheduled throughout the event, attracting large crowds. Artist Alley was crowded with attendees looking to support small businesses and artists, probably spending an extraordinary amount of money in the process. The convention center also set up an LGBTQ+ lounge and other safe spaces for attendees to decompress from the boisterous convention life.  

Besides meeting celebrities and participating in events, Emerald City Comic Con was a hub for cosplayers from various backgrounds. The floor was abuzz with fans taking pictures with their favorite characters and fawning over their original works. For longtime cosplayers like Josh, these conventions give him the opportunity to show his craftsmanship and love for particular creative works. Josh attended the event dressed as Elias Ainsworth, a humanoid magus from the obscure anime “The Ancient Magus’ Bride.” While his suit and other accessories were store-bought, he spent nearly two months 3-D printing the character’s skull.  

“‘The Ancient Magus’ Bride’ is kind of a niche anime, but when people see it, you get really awesome reactions from people who really know the character,” Josh said. “Being able to become [this] character [and] seeing someone be so happy is just heartwarming.” 

Along with individual cosplays, many group costumes were seen walking the con floor. Mother and daughter duo Crystal and Skyla cosplayed Destiny and Delirium from Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” comic book and television series respectively. Megan and her partner dressed as Eda Clawthorne and Raine Whispers, a couple from the hit Disney show “The Owl House.” Both groups thrifted and tailored their costumes, with Skyla adding ‘floating’ butterflies to her Delirium costume. Similarly to Josh, Megan enjoys taking pictures with “Owl House” fans because she is proud to dress as a character she wished she had during her childhood.   

“A lot of people have come over and asked for pictures,” Megan said. “[They were] mostly younger [children], which is really exciting to see kids that get to grow up seeing really fun representation that we didn’t get when we were growing up.” 

Although cosplaying may seem intimidating at first, these individuals believe anyone can partake in the hobby. There are websites and professional cosplay designers that provide or commission costumes and props. For those who want to create their cosplay from scratch, there are various ways to go about it. Cosplayers can alter clothing and objects like Megan, Crystal and Skyla, or buy materials from art stores like Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft and BLICK Art Materials. No matter how they do it, Crystal believes anyone with ingenuity can create a cosplay. 

“Get really good with a hot glue gun and pins; anyone can do anything with hot glue, pins and scissors,” Crystal said. 

For complicated objects like props and masks, Josh reassures new cosplayers that there are places to receive tips and tricks. Whether that be on websites such as Pinterest and YouTube or published cosplay magazines, veteran cosplayers regularly share their work and building processes for those to take inspiration.  

“The cosplay community is not secretive; so many people will happily share their secrets, open everything up [and] give you any advice that you need,” Josh said. 

Emerald City Comic Con continues to be a place of self-expression and solace for cosplayers and fans alike. As Seattle recovers from the pandemic, more will gather to celebrate their favorite works and characters.