Cosplay Skits: Pros Judge! You Vote! and You Can Still Enter!

Posted August 29, 2011

By Ellen Klowden and Andie Letourneau, Cosplay Coordinator

(1) Hi, Andie! As Cosplay Coordinator, what do you see as the highlights of this year's contest? What do you personally most look forward to with each year's contest?

This year, I'm really looking forward to having our Guests of Honor, Todd Haberkorn, Chris Cason, and David Vincent, judging the skits. Since all three of them are voice actors, they bring with them a tremendous amount of experience and acting knowledge, which they will use in assessing the skits entered this year.

Another highlight is that this year is the first year that we will have an "Audience Choice" winner for Cosplay. The Cosplay Ticket that we traditionally use to control the number of people entering the Main Events hall will double as a ballot. At the end of the skit presentations, we'll allow a few minutes for the audience to write down the name of their favorite skit, and then have the ushers collect those ballots. The data will be tallied, and the winner will be announced at Closing Ceremonies.

The best part of cosplay every year is, of course, the participants who get better every year we see them. We have many groups who return year after year to compete, and their costuming and performance improve every time. It's also exciting to see first-time competitors take the stage and really shine.

(2) How did you get Todd Haberkorn, Chris Cason, and David Vincent involved? Is this the first year that anime industry professionals are involved in judging cosplay at Kumoricon? Is this unique to Kumoricon?

We have ways of making people do things… 😉

Actually, I just asked our Guest Liaison and our Programming Director to ask them if they were willing to judge the cosplay competition, and they all said, "Yes!" This is the first year that we have anime industry professionals involved in judging cosplay at Kumoricon. In previous years, because of tight schedules for the guests, it wasn't possible for them to make the time commitment to helping out with cosplay, but since I asked well before we even knew who our guests would be, we were able to ensure that if they were willing to do it, that they would have the time available to do so.

Kumoricon may be the only convention that has its cosplay competition (or masquerade) judged by its guests of honor. Most other conventions fear overloading their guests and don't even think about asking. I figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that they ALL accepted.

(3) What steps should an individual or group take to apply to perform a skit in this year's contest? What deadlines apply? Where can one find a complete set of rules, processes, content restrictions, etc.?

To apply, read the contest rules and fill out the form. The deadline for email entries was the 25th of August, but we will be accepting more entries at Kumoricon itself (until it's full or the Saturday night pre-meeting has occurred, whichever comes first). I post to the forums the number of slots still available. We would love to have more skits.

Cosplay contest rules are posted here and the entry form is available in both PDF and Word formats. Fill out and print either form, then bring it along to Kumoricon.

(4) For attendees who love cosplay, but would rather volunteer behind the scenes than perform on stage or showcase their sewing, are there volunteer positions available? What are some of the areas in which volunteers could plug in, before, during, or after the contest? Of those, in which do you have the greatest need for volunteers? How many hours would it best help you to receive from each?

There are always volunteer positions available. You can volunteer by signing up with the Volunteer Manager, David Reynolds, and telling him that you are interested in helping out with cosplay. The positions that we usually need to fill include:

"Stage Ninjas" – People who assist cosplayers walking onto and off of the stage, move equipment onto and off of the stage, and catch cosplayers or stuff that falls off the stage (usually someone drops something; we haven't lost a cosplayer yet).

"Ushers" – People who help with seating to ensure that seating is quick and efficient. They will also assist in collecting and counting the ballots for Audience Choice.

Volunteers are needed from about an hour prior to the start of the Cosplay competition until it ends.

(5) There are several other events and panels that comprise KC's Cosplay programming. You personally are involved in Cuddly Cosplay, aka The Plushie Kerade, and in Pattern-Making Software and Cosplay. What are some other highlights of your department?

Cuddly Cosplay, which is scheduled for Monday of the convention, is intended for those who would like to show off costumes that they've made for their dolls or stuffed animals. We usually see a few entrants who have made the costumes at Kumoricon in the "Dolly-Making Workshop", as well as some amazingly beautiful ball-jointed dolls and various cute stuffed animals dressed up as well-known anime characters.

There are various other cosplay-related panels that are scheduled, including one on making props and accessories and another on the basics of creating and performing a skit.

(6) How did you personally begin to cosplay? What were your earliest cosplays?

I always enjoyed dressing up. When I was a child, my mother would create costumes for me to wear for Halloween and for ballet. When I entered college, I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and decided to make my own costumes because I couldn't afford to purchase ready-made costumes. I also attended my first science fiction convention—Not Just Another Con 2—that same year, and so I "needed" to create a costume or two for that event, as well. It then just grew on me, and every year I create a few new costumes for various conventions, as well as sewing my own clothing.

(7) How did you first hear of Kumoricon? When did you first join staff? What lead you to make the leap? Had you attended or staffed other types of cons before? How did cosplay differ at them?

Back when Kumoricon first started, we heard about it because some of our friends from the NOVA (Northern Oregon and Vancouver Anime) Club planned to attend. They didn't tell us about it until it was very close to the weekend it was happening, so we missed that one. We attended the second Kumoricon and every one after that. Our first year (Kumoricon 2), I volunteered to help out judging Cosplay, and then the next year I joined staff.

I've attended many conventions every year since my first one back in 1986. I've always volunteered, been a panelist, and/or been staff at every convention, because it's more fun than being just a regular attendee: I have opportunities to meet the other staff, interact with the guests, and get to know a larger portion of what's really going on. Costuming at other conventions varies depending upon the convention type—science fiction, anime, steampunk—and the style of the convention. At some conventions, only a fraction of the attendees wear costumes; but at others, nearly everyone wears some sort of costume.

(8) If anyone is considering volunteering in Cosplay this year, or staffing in Cosplay next year, what would you say to encourage them? What have been the most rewarding aspects of your work therein, over these years?

Try it. You might find that it's more fun than just being a regular attendee.

I think the most rewarding part of being involved with Cosplay is the opportunity to be able to interact with many others who are enthusiastic about costuming.