Dragon Con Logo

Dragon*Con 2015 Logo

[Note: This is Part One of a five-part series that will be published this week.]

70,000 people.  Across five host hotels.  For five days. Along with over $100,000 dollars raised so far for the Lymphoma Research Foundation and an untold amount of blood donations (the final numbers haven’t been released yet) for the LifeSouth @ Dragon*Con Blood Drive. When you think about what DragonCon actually –is-, its simply mind boggling.

However, one constant that stretches across the entire convention is cosplay.

As I attended DragonCon 2015 on behalf of oprainfall, I interviewed five people who were cosplaying different anime and video game characters.  I asked each of them about who they are cosplaying, why they cosplay, and who they want to cosplay in the future.

I discovered that despite talking to both men and women, people who cosplaying alone or as part of a group, and people who bought or had made their own cosplay, one thing was clear:

Cosplay means something special to everyone who does it.

This will be a multi-part series of interviews. My first interview was with Chad as he was sitting in line to renew his Hilton hotel room for next year’s DragonCon. As he and I spoke early that morning, his clear Louisiana accent illustrated both his enthusiasm and love for cosplaying for anyone nearby.

I’ve edited this interview lightly for clarity and I’ve edited down some of my questions for concision. I began by asking his name:

DragonCon l Final Fantasy VII cosplay
Chad cosplaying as Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children at DragonCon 2015.

What is your name?


How long have you been attending DragonCon for?

This will actually be my second year. My first year was ten years ago.

Oh wow, what brought you back?

Well, I’ve been trying to come back every year since then but something has -always- screwed me out of being able to come. And I finally had a wide open opportunity to come back to my homecoming convention.

So I see that you’re cosplaying.  Who are you cosplaying as?

Cloud Strife from [Final Fantasy VII] Advent Children.

Alright, now tell me a bit more about your costume. Did you make it yourself?

No, I take zero credit for anything I wear, everything was custom made through internet.

Is this your first time cosplaying?

Oh no, I’ve been cosplaying for years. I used to attempt to build my own, realized my talent would only go so far, and I’d get stuck with failed cosplay. So instead of wasting my money, I’d pay other people to do it for me.

Now, how did you get your hair like that? Or is that a wig?

Yeah, its a wig. My hair is far too stupid naturally *laughs* to do anything remotely this complicated.

“…constantly getting stopped and man, that attention – man, it’s nice to be noticed for having a really good cosplay.  And that just fueled me to “what else can I do? What else can I get?”

Now, your Buster Blade: Does it actually unfold/unfurl?

Yeah, but you gotta start taking off all sort of screws and whatnot. I do have a real metal one that comes apart a lot easier, but not con-friendly. Plus it weighs like twenty pounds, so I don’t really feel like carrying it around for four days.

DragonCon l Street Fighter cosplay
Street Fighter group cosplay at DragonCon 2015.

About how long does it take for you to suit up?

Maybe five minutes? All the strappy parts are the most complicated – because they get all twisted up and trying to figure out which ones go where. Especially if I don’t have a mirror and change out in the parking lot. *laughs* Yeah, if I don’t have a mirror to look at, but it isn’t too bad.

What is your favorite part – Why do you cosplay?

At first, it started off as being one of the cosplayers and having something cool to wear. Actually, earlier this year at North-West Media Expo in Detroit, was the first one where I had a really good cosplay, Ezio from Assassin’s Creed. And constantly getting stopped and man, that attention – man, it’s nice to be noticed for having a really good cosplay. And that just fueled me to “what else can I do? What else can I get?”.

And I know Cloud is really popular character, especially with the remake coming up in the next couple of years – I figured “perfect time to cosplay Cloud, ’cause I’ve been wanting to cosplay him for almost ten years as it is” and FINALLY getting around to do it it. My hometown convention in New Orleans, MegaCon, was the first convention I wore this and [the] reception was awesome for it. Cloud’s one of my favorite characters ever in video games so I love it.

What do you plan on cosplaying in the future?

Well, if it was dinner time, I would have been here in my Commander Shepard suit, since Mark Meer [ed: the voice actor of Male Shepard in the Mass Effect trilogy] is gonna be here, I was gonna try to get him to sign it.

I have plans – I’m actually having an Iron Man suit built right now. Its going to be the newest one from the end of the second Avengers [movie], its going to have moving parts on it and everything. And I have plans later on probably [for] next year to have two my Destiny characters turned into suits.

That’s awesome.

For the foreseeable future, that’s it. I do have a Master Chief suit that still needs a little bit of work to wear comfortably. I will be – tomorrow I will be my Ezio again for the photoshoot and I have a couple other really jokey cosplays. I have a Lightning – Final Fantasy – and Ryuko from Kill la Kill – which is for the fun of it.

Nothing wrong with that at all. That’s awesome.

If there are any cosplayers out there that are insecure or whatever: these are the greatest people I have ever met. I’m pretty shy, but I’ll open up to another group of cosplayers just like *snaps* that.

Both of those started out as a joke. Because last year at MegaCon New Orleans, a friend of mine cosplayed as Ryuko and she was like “You should wear it”. After awhile, I was like “Alright, I’ll do it.” You know, the skirt thing fit well, but I was too broad for the top. And not one to back away from a challenge, I said I was gonna do it, so I will. So I bought my own. I’ll be debuting that one next month in Lafayette at a new Comic-Con over there.

That’ll be interesting. *laughs*

*laughs* No kidding. Now is there anything else about cosplaying that you want to say?

Ah man, its just, its super fun. I know – because I know that a lot of people that I work with – they are the hunter type people. For them, this is weird or dumb. But its not weird or dumb, its fun, its a hobby just like anything else. Its cheaper than goin’ huntin’ and all this because you gotta buy four-wheelers and boats and that’s really expensive.

I spend maybe $500 dollars [USD] for an entire convention for a lifetime of memories, making new friends.  If there are any cosplayers out there that are insecure or whatever: these are the greatest people I have ever met. I’m pretty shy, but I’ll open up to another group of cosplayers just like *snaps* that.

DragonCon l Sailor Moon cosplay
Sailor Moon 50’s throwback cosplay at DragonCon 2015.

So cosplaying lets you be more of an open person?

Oh yeah, definitely. It’s like minded people. Most of the people where I come from, you know, I don’t have any conventions or comic book stores or anything where the ‘nerdy’ group of people can hang out other than GameStop. I gotta go an hour any direction to New Orleans or Lafayette to a convention. So most of the time I would just sit around and do nothing all day. Whenever a convention comes *claps hands* I’m gung-ho, let me meet some new people, make new friends, and just – have an absolute blast.

Fun stuff. Love it.

Well, thank you.

This is Part One of a five-part series about cosplay at DragonCon 2015.  Part Two will post tomorrow (September 15th, 2015) at 2 P.M. Pacific Time.

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.