Cosplay 101

Cincinnati’s Sebastian Hexx breaks down the basics for cosplay beginners

click to enlarge Sebastian Hexx
Sebastian Hexx

Sebastian Hexx is a one-man Justice League. He’s Freddy Krueger, a superhero, a villain, an anime character, an Ohio Ghostbuster, a professional wrestler, a costumer/prop builder at local haunted attractions and more — because he’s a cosplayer, or a “costume player,” someone who dresses up like their favorite character from the fictional world.“Mostly what (cosplay) is is bringing the fandom to life of your favorite character, favorite series, or if you have original ideas for a character, bringing that to life,” Hexx says, adding with a laugh, “without burning or sewing yourself to (your costume).”
What started off as just dressing up at Halloween has snowballed into a lifestyle. Today, Hexx makes appearances at charity events and fundraisers, children’s birthdays and comic conventions and expos — like this weekend’s Cincinnati Comic Expo, where over the course of the weekend he’ll be Hell Boy, Iron Patriot, a Punk Rock Deadpool and his own version of Hawk Eye.He and his friends build their own outfits out of modified store-bought costumes, thrift-store finds, foam and needle and thread. A member of his Cincinnati Cosplay Combo even constructed his own Iron Man suit. “I get a lot of emails saying, ‘You need to go for this, give this a try, give this a try,’ ” he says. “I like doing the classic ones.”Classics like a yellow-and-brown Wolverine instead of Hugh Jackman’s flannel shirt and dog tags, or Jack Nicholson’s Joker instead of Heath Ledger’s. But some of Hexx’s younger fans are happier when he does a modern Thor, following him around conventions, pulling on his cape, asking for autographs and pictures. “I always tell everybody, get into character if you can, especially for kids — suspend their belief,” he says.Hexx also partners the suspension of disbelief with anti-bullying messages and other good deeds, like donating any money he receives for non-booked appearances to Children’s Hospital. “I have to thank my mom for all of that,” he says. “Before she passed away, she told me, ‘Don’t stop. Do what you want, whenever you want.’ And a lot of the stuff I do is help people and do stuff. I didn’t stop.”

Here are Hexx’s tips for any beginning cosplayers looking to get into costume this weekend:

1. Be respectful of people: “Ask for pictures. Be respectful to other cosplayers. Be respectful in the name of cosplaying. I know a few people who do it for not-so-right reasons — for money, to get women, to be in the limelight. So for them it’s just ‘me, me, me’ and they charge astronomical prices.” 2. It doesn’t matter what size you are: “I’ve said this until I’m blue in the face. I’ve said it in panels, too. It doesn’t matter what size or race or color or whatever you are. I’m not a small guy — big or small, doesn’t matter.” 3. Don’t feel bad if your costume isn’t as good as you expected it to be: “Learning to do this takes a lot of time and patience and trips to the emergency room. You’ll see better versions of (your costume), but those people have also been in it longer. Don’t be afraid to ask them for pointers. And for all the people out there cosplaying, please give them the pointers. Don’t keep it to yourself. Share the wealth. You’re going to see 5,000 Captain Jack Sparrows at a convention. You’re going to see 600 Supermans, 500 Batmans — especially at this upcoming expo (because of Adam West’s appearance). Different people have different outlooks on everything. And if you want to do an original character or genre, go for it. It’s your creation and you’re wearing it. There’s comic book artists at conventions; you could inspire them and be one of their new characters.”

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