Comicpalooza: Meet the Cosplayers

Having spent a good portion of my life on stage I enjoy my role as a journalist on the sidelines a great deal. You see a lot of interesting things when you fade into the background. At Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center this weekend you'll get the exact opposite of that.

Cosplay is a huge deal, with people spending hundreds of dollars and hours trying to either recreate their most beloved characters or offer a fun new twist on them. It's a particularly wonderful kind of fandom that brings out the most creative and exuberant atmosphere.

One of Houston's best known cosplayers is Nicoletta Maranos, who will be attending as Connor from the video game Assassin's Creed 3. She specializes in video game characters, and I always run into her and her detailed creations whenever Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds rolls through town. Her work can take up to 80 hours to complete, but the end product speaks for itself.

Flashback 100 Creatives 2012: Nicoletta Maranos

"I feel more confident in cosplay then in regular clothes," said Maranos. "I feel empowered as a person and also pretty. I always thought myself as small and average looking as a woman but when I have my weapons and outfit I feel like I can do anything. The best way to describe it the feeling is when you first put on your Halloween costume and running around acting out as the hero."

Sometimes it's not about portraying a character so much as creating one. Dave McBride for instance represents the team at MechCorps, which offers the chance to pilot virtual battle mechs against other players in giant control pods (It's actually three times cooler than I'm making it sound."

McBride and his cohorts adopt a strict military costume and manner, even going by code names rather than their real ones. His call sign is Diablo, a name that he answers to more readily to than his own. His army surplus-crafted look brings out a whole new aspect to his personality that not only allows him a chance to be more extroverted, but really ups the scope of the MechCorps experience.

"When I am dressed up, I am another person," said McBride. "Does it mean that every bit of Dave goes away? Not at all. But I have a bit more confidence, I'll talk to people a bit easier... different parts of my personality show up."

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner