South African Cosplay is on the rise and growing each year
We feature one of the most prominent Cosplayers “KomboKitten”
Gaming Entertainment Solutions in partnership with local Cosplay enthusiasts is proud to present the first of many articles in relation to the little and less well known role of Cosplay in Southern Africa.
We begin by saying that since the first appearance of a “brave” soul at the initial launch of the locally renowned Rage Expo slowly planted the seed for the ever growing industry locally in Southern Africa. The industry luckily enough has grown from strength to strength with the depiction of the individual’s specific character becoming more functional and creative as the years passed gathering inspiration from our Asian and American counterparts.
We feature a local talent and substantial contributor to the development and the progression of Cosplay locally “KomboKitten” who took some time to chat to us and answer burning questions into the local Cosplay scene.
Location: Cape Town
TheNasd: Background: when you first started cosplay? Inspiration? First Cosplay appearance at an event?
KK: My inspiration for cosplay firstly is the fact that the materials to create so many costumes are all around us and that the human potential allows us to create costume fan art. Secondly I am inspired by all the other good cosplayers/costumers out there because it is always great to see so many different angles on it. Basically since cosplay is essentially fan art, my fandom for the characters and concepts in cosplay are my biggest inspiration.
I have always liked ‘dress up’ so I have cosplayed in the past without even knowing it, but the first time I consciously cosplayed was with my friend Charne when we chose to portray our own takes on the Japanese harajuku style. Charne portrayed a cuter style than my chosen gothic influence.
TheNasd: Favourite crafting materials to create your designs? Is there a particular aspect of cosplay – sewing, prop work, wig styling, make-up – that you struggle with? What is the part you love most?
KK: As a crafter progresses with their work they are sure to collect different tools along the way. I have a great appreciation for every single crafting tool that I own. The part that I love the most is my sewing machine and levelling up my sewing skills as I work with that. I think my glue gun deserves a mention too, that thing has made a lot possible too! I do not perceive my hurdles along the way to be struggles but rather challenges. Once a challenge is overcome you gain the knowledge on how to deal with it if you ever need to again in the future. The learning and growing process related to cosplay/costuming is certainly also loved by me.
I think what I would personally struggle to do myself though is to work with hardware tools that I don’t have much experience with, but that won’t stop me because when the time comes I can and will learn how to overcome those challenges too!
TheNasd: Most memorable moment at an event whilst playing the role?
KK: LOL! There are a few but here is a crazy one I found quite funny and flattering at the time. It was the first time I wore my Ling Xiaoyu school uniform which was at a Tekken tournament in Canal Walk. A little girl came up to me and asked for a photo and then said (she spoke Afrikaans but I will translate to English) “I am going to tell all my friends I met Jessie J!” LOL! I happen to be a fan of Jessie J myself so I just loved sharing that fandom with this little girl! I thought she was going to say “I met Ling Xiaoyu” hahah.
TheNasd: Which Cosplay do you enjoy more “Anime” or “Games” based on past experiences?
KK: BOTH, and more!
TheNasd: Do you prefer to cosplay solo or in groups?
KK: My favourite type of Cosplay is group Cosplay! Then you get to act out in character with friends who share the fandom for a similar show/game/source. Solo Cosplay is better for total control over execution as a whole.
TheNasd: As a local artist and active Cosplay member what advantages did you have over the remaining Cosplay community? Did you have any formal education in Colleges, university etc?
KK: I do have 2 years of formal education but it is in the administrative/secretarial field – so my planning and organizing abilities sharpened in that experience have aided my Cosplaying a lot.
TheNasd: at conventions, events and locations are you usually approachable? Do you like it when people want to talk and discuss your art form?
KK: Yeah I would consider myself quite approachable, unless the person who approaches me does any kind of damage to my costume or says things that are in bad taste. I like to share my experiences related to cosplay and am always happy if I can help someone out with some information.
TheNasd: When creating a costume and deciding on the final product what aspects do you take into account or what is the most prominent feature? I.e. Realism, materials and overall comfort.
KK: Many costumes lack a certain amount of comfort, if not a lot! The most important aspect I take into account is the amount of enjoyment I will get out of cosplaying the character/concept. I then try to get as close to the real thing as possible in my portrayal. Coping with comfort levels and figuring out the necessary materials comes after considering the level of potential enjoyment.
TheNasd: What advice would you give to future cosplay enthusiasts aka “us noobs” to take their role play and costumes to the next level?
KK: Get to know the characters or concepts you Cosplay. When you choose something you are familiar with it gives you a nice edge when it comes to the role play/acting/performing part of Cosplaying, should you wish to implement that. To take costumes to the next level I would suggest starting to learn different techniques for crafting them or (if you have some monies to spend) you can get to know our local crafters and commission costume items from them if you cannot order/obtain it for a good price from elsewhere like online.
I would also suggest not jumping to every Cosplay request sent your way. It’s important to choose a character you love because that makes for maximum enjoyment.
TheNasd: The crucial part of many of your Cosplays is make-up. When trying to mimic the affects and portrayal of your favourite character often the illustration is not highly detailed. Can you take us through the creative process as well as any tips when it comes down to the application of make up?
KK: When it comes to the creative process it will differ from Cosplay to Cosplay. There are tons of tutorials online if one wishes to view some examples though. I have posted tips related to Cosplay make up on my blog here:http://kombokitten.blogspot.com/2012/07/costuming-resources-for-south-africans_11.html
Big tips would be doing your best to make sure no blemishes show on your face, to make accurate use of make-up such as eye liner and to consider fake eye lashes and/or contact lenses if the character requires it.
TheNasd: How do you see the progression of Cosplay locally in Southern Africa?
KK: I see it as amazing and rapidly growing in terms of our Cosplay community. I think businesses ought to catch on a little more too because hiring Cosplayers for events is a huge niche locally since it hardly happens enough! I guess that will pick up as more quality Cosplay is put out locally. Big ups to those businesses who do hire Cosplayers because we love getting something back for all the hard work, time and money we put into costuming (those who do make some or most of our own costume pieces) and getting into character.
I reckon Cosplay is in its infancy nationally but see a LOT of potential and room for it to grow into something more and well recognized and enjoyed by all!
KK: I have never really put myself in the shoes of a cosplay judge so my comments on this are not from judging experience. I think judging a cosplay competition is a very tough cookie globally.
Since SA cosplay is still young we seriously lack in the cosplay competition department. Here are thoughts on why I say that.
How can store bought, commissioned and self made costumes be in the same category in a cosplay competition? Well, if they are in the same category it can end up being a bit unfair towards some cosplayers – because those who make most of their own costumes put in a LOT more time and effort.
Then there is also the issue of event turnout and the audience of a competition. Do you make them a part of your competition judging or not? If you do then the support base of certain cosplayers will affect their chances to win no doubt and the audience obviously won’t be as clued up w.r.t what to judge the cosplayers on. If you don’t involve the audience then they may feel a bit like their opinions don’t matter unless they are entertained by a good competition or whatever else happens at the event. Either way, we can never satisfy everybody. There is usually bound to be a person or a few people who have something to complain about. In my experience I have found that the non-cosplayers need something to attract them to our cosplay related events. Seeing people in costumes is not always enough for many, but the social aspect is really great!
TheNasd: Tell us a bit more about your newly developed website and what additions and hopes can we look forward to in the near future?
KK: I am happy you ask about this because we have been waiting a few months to finally get a decent site up. I have been building it myself but it would not be anything without the input of all the local cosplayers who are featured and involved on the website too. I want to get a nice welcome and relevant information section on the home page soon and to define the ‘galleries’ page a little better with relevant galleries up.
I will add new events onto our events page that are related to Cosplay so if anybody reading this learns about Cosplay related events that are not displayed on our website, let me know so that we may consider featuring it! I will also usually be looking to feature more decent local Cosplayers (those with photos that display well to be featured on the website) as well as Cosplay related crafters – so expect that feature to grow as time goes on.
TheNasd: And lastly per the comments and well debated conversations on the Cosplay Southern Africa Facebook Page. What is your overall outlook and attitude towards the “Haters” and Sceptical onlookers out there?
KK: There are always going to be people in this world who perceive things for themselves to hate. This is the precise reason why I don’t give them the time of day. Our life spans as humans are not as long as we always assume they are, so we should really enjoy as much of it as we possibly can – and Cosplay is very much about enjoyment! Allowing a hater to cramp your style as a Cosplayer would be beyond unfortunate. A Cosplayer must also learn/know the difference between senseless hate and actual valuable critique because the latter can up your game a lot at times. Being able to perceive constructive criticism is a valuable trait and can save you a lot of unnecessary anguish. Sometimes a hater will perceive their comments as constructive criticism so you really need to cultivate a keen eye when it comes to knowing the difference. In the end, in our global Cosplaying community, it is never right to discriminate on any cosplayer based on their gender, skin colour or weight – since Cosplay is essentially fan art (unless the Cosplayer is hired for specific appearances).