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A Guide to Film and TV Cosplay (Hardback)

Colour Books Hobbies & Lifestyle > Film, Media & Television P&S History > Social History Photographic Books

By Holly Swinyard
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 128
Illustrations: 132 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526775634
Published: 30th August 2021



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Have you ever wanted to escape into a comic book and become your favourite superhero? Or run away into the world of Disney princesses? Well, who says you can’t? Maybe it’s time you get your cosplay on!

Cosplay is a hobby that is sweeping the globe, you can see it at comic cons, book launches, movie screenings and even on popular TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Community. A mix of exciting craft skills, heady escapism and passion for pop culture, it’s easy to see why cosplay has become so popular with people no matter who they are, because now they can be anyone they want, and so can you.

But how, why and where could you have a go at starting out in the wonderful world of cosplay?

With a little bit of help from this handy, dandy guide to cosplay, you can get stuck in. Learn about the history of the hobby (it’s been around longer than you’d think!), get your head around picking your first costume, find out how about all the amazing skills people are using to make these costumes, and perhaps even try a few yourself. Who knows, you might be rocking out as Captain Marvel or Flynn Rider at the next big comic con! (And don’t worry, there’s a guide to comic con in here too.)

At last something for the kids! I do joke just looking through this book it’s aimed at adults obviously or should we say those who are young at heart. If anything from reading this book and looking through the pictures there is a huge amount of time, effort and money put into these characters. In a way, you have to admit they are very impressive and the commitment from many of those that take part in these events is enormous and certainly very skilled. In fact, when you look at some of the outfits movie companies and fashion design companies are missing a trick if they don’t employ some of these people. The book was a really good read, and although not primarily aimed at me I found it to be a really good read and the book design will appeal to most younger people.

Read the full review here

The History Fella

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I've been interested in Cosplay since I saw some of the amazing costumes, handmade by enthusiastic fans. I have since made my own Jedi costume complete with robe.
This book has given me so many ideas and pointers on how to improve my costume making.
The imagery is brilliant and the text is most helpful.

NetGalley, John Dixon

As reviewed by Buckethead Studios. Watch the full video here.

Buckethead Studios

This book starts with what cosplay is, the history of cosplay and then how to do it yourself.

It explains the tools you will need, how different fabrics work and even how to choose what to cosplay.

I found this book informative and fun, I learnt a lot about different aspects of creating costumes as well as areas of cosplay I wasn't aware of.

If you are interested in conventions, cosplay or even just costumes. I would definitely recommend this book!

Read the full review via Facebook

For the Love of Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A solid reference for anyone looking to know more about the art of cosplay. I'm a complete novice, with my cosplay experience amounting to nothing more than admiring outfits from afar. However, having read this book, I now know a little more about the history of the art form, the way it's changed over time, how to become more involved in the community at large, and even how to navigate various cosplay spaces (such as conventions). this is a really great book, easily accessible for beginners, as well as informative and educational for practiced hands.

NetGalley, Christopher Sean Waters

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I've been a huge admire and fan of cos-play but have never tried and I feel this is a great introduction into dipping my toe into it.

I have referred it to a few times since first read, I think the best feature is the photos and that it does include a wide rage of people exactly like the cosplay community. The advice is enjoyable and great to get started with, been recommending it to all my fellow geeks.

NetGalley, Helen Gray

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is not just a manual full of specific information to produce well imagined and constructed cosplays; it's also one of the best histories of cosplay I've ever read. It's not a huge book, but it does a comprehensive job of relaying the background and motivations of more than a century of cosplayers. I loved the sense of community and continuity the author achieves in the introduction and background. The intro and history take up about 30% of the content and are well worth a read. I learnt quite a lot and enjoyed seeing the new and old pictures and props. I love the inclusive nature of the history. The author talks about drag, steampunk, LARPing, and more. The pictures of different characters are truly impressive and inclusive. The models are diverse. Representation is important! I remember being a nerdy girl in a *very* male dominated gaming, comics, and SF fandom and being told that I didn't belong. I gave up a million times, discouraged. Honestly it was the stories which always dragged me back (and finding a solid group of friends who stopped noticing I was female). I -wanted- Starfleet and the Federation to be true... I -needed- them to be true. Fandom is where we get to make the dreams true for just a little while. That's important and this author clearly "gets it".

The following chapters take cosplayers through choosing a cosplay (or more than one) to put together and gives some concrete advice beyond "pick your favourite character". There's quite a lot to think about and the author does a good job of being encouraging and thorough. I really liked that they took the time to specifically say that cosplayers don't need to feel locked into a particular character because they might have similar physical characteristics to that character - it's ok to love the costume, to relate to the character for other emotional reasons, to get outside one's own skin (hint: that's why we *do* this).

The third section gets into the details of crafting and customising: tools & supplies, fabrics, sewing, thermoplastics, foams, finding/commissioning/and modifying, and a lot of other details and tips for getting from idea to con-ready gear. As the cherry on top of the sundae, there are practical and important discussions here about self-care, avoiding last minute stress and performance anxiety (con-crunch) and some encouraging and affirming mental health self-check tips.

Note that this book is about cosplay. It covers the process more or less from beginning to end but it does *not* include templates or tutorials for specific builds. It does include good chapter notes and references for further reading. This would make a superlative selection for library acquisition, maker's groups, theatre/recreation/SCA use and similar.

Five stars.

NetGalley, Annie Buchanan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A great introduction to cosplay, but also for the experienced cosplayer too. This comprehensive guide covers everything you could possibly need to know, from the beginner to those making their own masterpieces (and anyone who knows cosplay knows they truly are) Even if you just like to attend conventions and not partake, this is a recommended read to me, will teach you lots of interesting things about how your favourite looks are made and the techniques that go into them. Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Tara Keating

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I thought this was such an awesome non fiction book about cosplay. I love how Holly went right into the history of cosplay and how it got all started. I learned a lot about the first people to cosplay to today where anyone can cosplay and just be their favorite character for the day. Then the second half of the book she talks about how to create your own or where you can buy from other people who make cosplay costumes for a living. She goes into detail about all the material you will need and just the basics. This book is perfect for those to are just starting out into the cosplay seen. And even though cosplay veterans.

NetGalley, Mary Bronson

"Handy, dandy" guide to cosplay, with everything you need to get started as a player, including tips and tricks on the crafting techniques of oil types of build.

The Bookseller

A comprehensive guide to everything you've ever wanted to know about cosplay - whether you're a noob or an experienced tailor who's been making costumes for years, this book will be helpful to anyone who loves cosplay.

NetGalley, Ashley Wilsey

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fan conventions can be daunting, even for people like me who have been to more than a few. It's helpful to have a con-savvy friend who lets you in on all the good survival tips before you go. And that's especially important if you're planning attend as a cosplayer.

Holly Swinyard is that friend. This chatty, conversation-style book will help novice cosplayers learn costume building basics, as well as techniques to achieve the cosplay costume of your dreams.

And once that costume's done, Holly doesn't leave you hanging. You're going to be wearing that costume in public and that comes with its own set of challenges. How do you ride the bus in costume? What about snacks during a long day? What do you do with your belongings while you're striking fabulous poses in the lobby? And most importantly, what can you expect—and what should you not tolerate—from those admiring your work... and possibly your body, too?

If you're a con-goer but not a cosplayer, you too should read this book. It will help you better understand what goes into the creation of those costumes you're admiring. And you'll gain insight into how you should treat cosplayers with the respect, support and acceptance they deserve.

On a personal level, learning that foam clay exists and what it can do just totally made my day.

NetGalley, Lori Holuta

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As far as a guide to cosplay and how to get started etc goes, yes it's great. I enjoyed the text. Well written, comprehensive and very nice
Can I just point that- unlike EVERY OTHER cosplay book I have ever read -this one has a huge diversity of pictures!
And by that I mean, it has pictures of Cosplayers in wheelchairs, gender-swapped cosplayers, plus size cosplayers and nowhere is anyone mocked or even given a tongue in cheek (no matter your size) caption.
This is what cosplaying is all about. Inclusion and confidence.
There are no pics of half-naked girls in seductive poses. This book ignores the 'sex sells' and male gaze trope and simply lets you see the amazing range of REAL cosplayers. (you know, the ones who don't necessarily have 0% body fat and chiselled jawline.)
For that Alone this book gets 5 stars and highly recommended.

NetGalley, Lydia Timpson

A well-illustrated guide to a unique and intriguing avenue of fandom, and a helpful resource for delving into this world.

NetGalley, Book Love! (Educator/Blogger)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was such a wonderful read!! This book shows the beginnings of cosplay and where it all came from. The book also didn't just give the regular how to of costumes that everyone talks about, but also characters that people would live to dress as.

NetGalley, Christine Rankins

Absolutely fantastic book to delve into, whether it's your first foray into cosplay or your an old hat at it. Loved the images & descriptions used. Would make a fab gift for the geek in your life.

NetGalley, Stacey Hammond

About Holly Swinyard

A cosplayer and lover of all things “geek” since they were 15, Holly Rose Swinyard is now a pop culture journalist and editor, running the cosplay magazine, The Cosplay Journal. They have also written on cosplay, pop culture and the need for “escapist play for adults” for national publications and on BBC Radio 4. It would be a shock to find them any where but their sewing machine, or scrawling notes for the next exciting project.

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