Dash Shaw (Writer and Artist)
September 6th, 2016
Cosplayers Perfect Collection follows the meandering lives of Annie and Verti, two cosplayers who both consciously and unconsciously blend reality with fandom. The book is broken down into smaller storylines following the characters as they relate to various aspects of the cosplay community. Reading a comic called Cosplayers, I almost expected it to follow a more convention related storyline a la Drama Con, but this book dives more deeply into the characters’ lives and motivations.
The paths they take while addressing both real life issues and the complications of the cosplay community are tied together by their passion for the art of cosplay. The book begins with a tale of how Annie and Verti got into not just the conventional aspects of cosplaying, but their habit of bringing cosplay dangerously close to their daily lives. They begin to closet cosplay in real life—as anywhere from UPS drivers delivering packages to getting into real bar fights dressed as superheroes. After all, trying on the guise of someone commonplace can yield different, but just as interesting results as putting on the iconic Batsuit.
This particular theme of real life cosplaying flows throughout the narrative, crashing the characters into themes like media infiltration of fandom and small convention shenanigans all the while throwing in delicious references. Tangential characters arrive to pit all levels of fandom against one another, addressing how one person’s sacred piece of fandom may simply be torn down and reused as the building blocks for another’s creativity. Neither is pitched as better than the other, just different. While the overall messages at the end of each vignette are heavy-handed, it’s in an incredibly satisfying way, leaving you with a feeling of “Oh, I got it. I see what you’re saying here and I can relate to that.”
The art oscillates between suggestive outlines and assiduous background details. The interspersed portraits of cosplayers in recognizable costumes but with their own twists are fun to look at and absolutely accurate if you’ve ever seen a cosplayer. It suggests the unspoken narrative that cosplay can be done by anyone who looks any which way as long as they’re having a good time. The color palette is fun and varied and Shaw uses a mixed media aspect that makes the world feel more real.
Cosplayers is an interesting window into the world of fandom and cosplay that offers up more of a story than the title may suggest. The blending of fandom lives with the real world is a wholly relatable experience and the book shows the reader what it means to take it to the next level.