In my last HGWT blog post I discussed my being a “closet cosplayer“. I’ve loved wearing costumes, making costumes, and meeting costumed characters since I was a kid. Even though I’m almost 50 now, I still feel like I kid when I do.


Nothing like seeing costumed characters- especially old favorites I’ve know for years, to make me feel like I’m a 6yr old again. Superman, Popeye, Batman, Spiderman, Hulk- doesn’t matter. If it’s a cool character I’m diggin’ it.


I especially get excited when I see costumed sports mascots at games- okay, maybe I get a bit too excited for a “grown man” my age. I don’t care if I know the “real person” inside the costume, or care how many times I’ve had my picture made with that character, if I get a chance for a photo-op with them I’m taking it…or having someone else take the pic for me!

If I’m at a con and can have my picture with a cosplayer, and the creator of that character I totally geek out. It’s even more awesome when we accidentally wear matching outfits! (That’s me at the SDCC with a Harley Quinn cosplayer and Harley Quinn co-creator Bruce Timm!)


Have I mentioned I’m a big fan of Harley Quinn..? My wife even named one of our cats after her. (GPW‘s Tara Strand above is my favorite Harley cosplayer- she’s awesome!)


Cosplayers come in all different sizes, shapes, races, ages, genres, experience levels, and sexes. Some have store bought costumes, some have made their own, some have hired a costumer, some shop at Goodwill, and others are given their costumes.


Some are just passionate fans like me. Some are hired to dress up and promote a movie, product, artist, or event.

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Some are funny, some sexy, some unique, some are one of your favorite childhood characters or from one of your favorite movies.

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Some cosplayers are very young, and some cosplay fans are, too. (Artist George Perez is a HUGE cosplay fan- and very young at heart!)
Sometimes you may not know who or what is inside a costume. It doesn’t really matter. It’s seeing that character in person that’s exciting, and cons are wall to wall with them!

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You’d love to take their picture at an event, or have your picture made with them. What are some of the dos and don’ts of photographing cosplayers? It’s this that I want to focus on in this week’s blog, and the word that first comes to mind is…

cour·te·sy (ˈkərdəsē/)
  1. the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others.
    synonyms: politeness, courteousness, good manners, civility, respect,respectfulness; More
    • a polite speech or action, especially one required by convention.
      plural noun: courtesies
      “the superficial courtesies of diplomatic exchanges”

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I’ve heard some horror stories over the years from con goers, and have witnessed some really bad behavior at cons. Also ran across this article online- 7 Creepiest Things Said To The Cosplayers During Cosplaying! One of the remarks was, “Can I put my hand on your ass?” Uh, no..!

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Let me start off by saying, “Smiling is not consent.” Just because they are dressed as a character doesn’t mean you can treat them as that character or act out of place because “they aren’t real“.


Just because they look over 21 doesn’t mean they aren’t 14 or 15 years old. I don’t care how sexy that cosplayer is dressed (or barely dressed) or how old they appear to look, it doesn’t give you the right to hit on or sexually harass them- which includes, but not limited to putting your hand in unwanted areas, groping, spanking, goosing, taking up-skirt shots, or expressing rude verbal comments.
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And I’m not just talking about “booth babes“, slave Leias, or other scantily clad female cosplayers at comic book conventions or parties.


This goes for costumed performers at amusement parks, sporting events, parades, etc. Be courteous. Use common sense. Say “please” and “thank you“. Act like you’ve had some kind of basic home training.


Or as Star Trek/Big Bang Theory‘s Wil Wheaton has stated in Wheaton’s Law, “Don’t be a dick.


I’ve seen people pull on the tails of costumes mascots and/or encourage their kids or drinking buddies to do it. Many times security or a handler will put a stop to bad behavior, but sometimes it’s more of a “hit on and run” type of situation- folks using a character’s lack of peripheral vision for an attack opportunity, and the large crowd around them to facilitate their clean get away. Basically they were being or teaching their kids how to be a dick.

Not being a dick and being courteous goes for celebs, too. As outgoing and friendly actor John Barrowman can be at cons and photo ops, even “Captain Jack” has a few conduct rules- although from what I’ve seen the man has no shame! S0, if Captain Jack has to be rude to you or call security on you…you’ve gone waaaaaaaay over the line!


And sexual harassment and other bad behavior isn’t just a problem for the girls- although they have to deal with the majority of it. I’ve heard of guys getting groped, tuggin’ on Superman’s cape, and rude comments. Women, don’t be dicks, either.

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If you see someone you’d like a picture of or with, compliment them on their costume and ask nicely to take a photo. “Hi, Catwoman- great costume! Do you mind if I take a photo of/with you?”

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If they say yes, then act nice, keep your hands and boobs/ass compliments to yourself, and thank them- Thank yuh very much!” If they say no, they are more than likely not being rude, just trying to get somewhere in the con. I’ve had folks tell me that they’re running late for a panel or trying to a big group photo shoot on time. Try to catch them later. If they ignore you they may not have heard you over the con noise. If you see a cosplayer stop for a group of people taking pics be quick and snap one yourself- just don’t get in anyone’s way or be rude. If people are wearing a costume they’re more than likely expecting to have their photo taken. Just be polite, be quick, and make sure your camera is on and the lens cap is off..! 😉


One of the problems with wearing a costume is getting stopped frequently at cons to have your photo taking. It can be hard to shop, get across a con floor, make it to the restrooms, eat, talk to friends, etc. If you are going to cosplay at a con, I really recommend setting aside a couple hours of not being in costume. Some costumes can be hot or uncomfortable, and staying in them for too long can make your con experience unpleasant. If a con has an area for cosplayers to take a break (from photos, to re-hydrate, sit down, take off a helmet/character head, etc.) take advantage of it. You might meet other cosplayers and trade costuming tips or find out about other cons while taking a break. If you’re a con that doesn’t have one, look at adding one to your show.


The Artists Alley/Writers Way in Metropolis during the Superman Celebration has become a popular spot for cosplayers to “chill” for a moment. It has the best A/C in town. Even if you’re not in costume, a cool place to rest, mingle, and shop can be a much needed oasis in southern Illinois during the middle of June. Also think about what type of weather conditions and the amount of walking you’ll be doing. Smart cosplaying and pacing yourself can make or break a con experience.
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I also recommend tandem cosplaying. Go with a friend, spouse, group of friends or others in costume. There’s safety in numbers! Also, having a non-costume friend there with you as a handler (for costumes  that are hard to get in/out of or see well in), assistant to hold your stuff or take pics for you or a fan, or act as a bodyguard. People are less likely to get grabby or mouthy if they know you have back-up and are not alone.
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I sometimes volunteer at a local charity haunted house. Many times I’m in my stilt-clown costume, and will walk around outside the haunt scaring some of the folks in line, doing photo ops, or waving in the parking lot at passing cars. Usually there are a couple different costumed scare crew members working the queue line crowds. We help watch each other’s backs, and there’s always at least one or two security members keeping an eye on the crowds. Many nights a local cop or two will stop by just to people watch. It can be hilarious to watch people exit the haunt. Unfortunately they can’t see everything or be everywhere. I was glad to have my wife keeping an eye on me and the crowds on more than a few occasions. Once, she overheard a group of young teens talking about kicking my legs out from under me. I couldn’t hear them because I was wearing an over the head mask, it was loud outside, and they were standing behind me. Nicki strongly discouraged the young punks against attempting to trip me, and they went on their way. She’s small but feisty! Another time I was running across the parking lot on my dry-wall stilts and felt one of my toe straps come loose. She heard me say, “Oh, shit!” and saw me limp to a stop. After helping me secure it back down I was up and running again…which she really hates to see me do.


Speaking of the haunt, I’ve had several occasions where people just lose any self-control- either from alcohol, fear, adrenalin, or just trying to be a bad-ass in front of their friends. I’ve been hit one time, tripped up, had people run into a scene swinging their arms around threatening to hit anything that’s gonna jump out at them! We have security cameras, security people, and don’t like to have people act alone in scenes to try and keep our scare crew safe. Our general rule is no touching– by guests or crew. I’ve had scared victims- uh, visitors yell at me, “You can’t touch me! YOU CAN’T TOUCH ME!” My response it always, “I don’t have to touch you to kill you..!


We’re all volunteer actors trying to raise money for a charity. Paying $10 or more doesn’t give anyone the right to assault us. We can and will press charges. The first haunt I volunteered for was when I was around 8 years old. It was in the basement of a Mormon church in Utah. One of the first times I popped out from behind a fake tombstone as Dracula for my scare, I got punched in the face by a kid almost twice my size and age. Luckily one of the two older volunteers in the same hallway saw it and escorted him and his buddy out of the haunt.


I’ve heard people excuse bad or “creepy” behavior on social awkwardness from being a geek/nerd. Saw someone on line blame Asperger syndrome for inappropriate behavior at cons. No- there’s a difference between having Asperger’s and being an asshat.

That same person stated this in that Facebook post:

This is the cherry-picking of cultural appropriation. You wanna get into “Nerd Chic”, you gotta also roll with “Nerd Creep”. It’s a package deal.  Put up with the drooling, the leering, the comments, and the frito-smelling feet just like we had to in our day, sweeties.

There’s a BIG difference between “keeping at arm’s length” and “gets online and calls them names, does whiteboard meme’s to ridicule them, and goes on campaigns to get them kicked out of their own dang conventions.”

Nerds were managing their own just fine. This campaign of conformity and censorship is nothing but bullying, and a side effect of the cultural appropriation of Geeks.

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No, no, no…it’s called calling people out for not being able to behave in public. I wouldn’t put up with it at a sporting event, concert, haunted house- why would I have to roll with it at a con..?


I’ve geeked-out over a pretty girl or cool celebrity- it happens. Have I ever thought, “Why did I say THAT..?!” or “Why didn’t I say ___?!” Sure, it happens. But I always try to make an attempt to behave like a civilized adult, or as we say in the south- someone who had a mother that raise ’em right!

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Let’s teach the newbies coming into the cons- and some of the old farts who have either tolerated bad behavior or were guilty of it themselves, that this is not how it should be.

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Conventions should be a fun and safe place to attend and interact. Not a breeding ground for jerks, bullies, or sexual predators. I’m seeing more and more younger fans attending- some with their parents, some with friends, and some who just seemed to be dropped off at the con.

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If you ever feel unsafe, please contact a con staff member or security. If your ‘Spidey-sense” is tingling, listen to it and get yourself out of that uncomfortable situation. Many artists and other pros and vendors at cons can be a safe haven for cosplayers in such situations. Many are fellow cosplayers and have been there themselves- like my friend Tess Fowler. Ask around if you’re unsure where to go.


If you’re at a con Nicki and I are set up at feel free to stop by our booth. Will be more than happy to offer help if needed.


Hope to see you this convention season- and don’t be afraid to let your geek-flag fly!