Captain America has been a huge success in the box office, and there have been some great cosplays inspired by him. What’s especially cool about Emily Unknown is her gender bend cosplay of the character.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Emily, and I’ve been cosplaying for about a year and a half now.
What or who inspired you to cosplay?
I’ve always loved Halloween and transforming myself, I was especially into make-up for a while. And I did enjoy creating costumes and different “looks”, even though I’m initially quite a shy person until I get into my comfort zone. Then a couple of years ago my friends and I went to the local MCM Comic Con and we were just awestruck by the incredible cosplayers there! We decided the next time we went we would cosplay.
Are there any specific types of character that you particularly gravitate towards and why?
My first three cosplays have all been gender bend cosplays of characters that I loved, who happened to be male. I think I liked the creativity in making a more traditionally female look out of the original male character’s costume. Plus, with my Captain America cosplay, it is time period which I have always loved so I went all out for a 1940s pin-up version of him, in the style of Gil Elvgren (only with slightly more clothes on!).
What for you have been the most challenging characters that you’ve cosplayed as, and which have been the most enjoyable?
My Joker was my most challenging, as I was probably just a wee bit too shy and lacking in confidence to pull the character off. Don’t get me wrong, I like it but I just don’t enjoy wearing it as much as I’d thought I would. Sometimes it’s all in your head!
My pin-up Captain America is my favourite, once I get over my initial shyness I adore wearing it. I love saluting the other Caps, being as cheesecake pin-up as possible and hanging with my fellow Avengers – blondes evidently DO have more fun!
Could you take us through a little on how you made your outfits?
They’re always a mix of buying stuff, customising stuff and actually making some parts. On my Thor cosplay, the leggings ,boots, base top and Mjolnir are bought. But I crafted and painted all the foam “armour” (having absolutely no idea what I was doing!), sewed the cape, styled the wig. I have to say, I have a great many lovely cosplayers as friends who are always there to ask for advice which helps so much as I’m incapable of watching tutorials!
Which conventions have been the most enjoyable for you to attend and why?
Different cons have a different energy and I enjoy them all. MCM cons can be very busy and frenetic – you’re always on the go! But then smaller cons are more relaxed so you can spend more time chilling with your friends. Ultimately it’s the people I see at cons that make them enjoyable for me, I have such a blast with my cosplay friends.
Have there been any memorable reactions to your costumes, and if so, what were they?
Definitely the kids, I had a lad tell me that “I love Captain America, and I love you!” at Manchester, and a little girl dressed as Cap herself ran up to me and hugged my knees. It warms your heart so much, you feel like saying “I’m not worthy!”
However, the most overwhelming reaction I had was at Wales Comic Con when the wrestler Mick Foley told me I was “the finest Captain America” He’d ever seen. He then proceeded to serenade me with the Captain America theme tune from the cartoon!
A question about photographers. Obviously cosplayers are a dream come true for photographers, great outfits and poses, does it ever get a bit tiring having to pose endlessly for them, and how do you prefer to be approached by a photographer?
It’s certainly never a chore to be photographed, it’s incredibly flattering to be asked. As I’ve already mentioned, I can be quite shy and it takes me a while to “warm up” at a con, so it’s a bonus if the photographers understand that I am in no way a model and can perhaps even give me a little direction. If anyone asks me for a photo I will pretty much always oblige, although I did have to duck out of a selfie with a man trying to take a picture of just my cleavage! Cosplay is not consent, guys! But on the whole, I have had some wonderful photos taken by some amazing photographers and I count myself very lucky that they took the time to do so.
What impact has cosplaying had on your life?
I have to say its increased my confidence tenfold, I have put myself out of my comfort zone in many different ways due to this hobby and I have enjoyed it. I am a lot braver than I used to be. I have also made so many amazing new friends, I never expected the social side of con going to be this rich and I count myself incredibly lucky. Cosplay has also provided me with an outlet for my creativity and it has taught me many new things. I’m possibly a little crazier than I was before too, but that’s par for the course!
Do you have any advice for anybody thinking of cosplaying?
If it’s something that appeals to you – GO FOR IT! Buy/make yourself a costume, get to a convention and enjoy! If you’re anything like me it will increase your confidence and it’s an amazing ice breaker so you end up making new friends with so much in common. It’s mostly a very accepting and non-judgemental community, you will be welcomed and I promise you will have a blast!
Photography Credits (in order)
Neil Keogh, David Hubball, Keith Williams, Samantha Bowen, David Hubball, Ian Porter, both edits by Keith Williams with the Joker photo by Ollie Millington, Chris Jones, David Hubball, Ian Porter