Suiting up: area cosplayers prepare for convention in Poconos
Sam Pawlik’s cosplay journey started with a pirate flag.
“My brother, being younger than I and having a bunch of friends over all the time, they built a tree fort in our backyard,” the Roaring Brook Twp. resident said. “He was like, oh, we need a pirate flag. Can you make us one?”
She used a sewing machine for the first time to make it, and once she saw her flag flying over the fort, she wanted to do more.
“If I can make a pirate flag that survives outside and crazy winds, I think I can sew costumes,” she said.
Cosplay combines costume and role-playing - cosplayers create and wear costumes based on favorite characters from all forms of media - things like comics, anime, television, books - and try to embody their characters whenever they’re in cosplay.
Pawlik goes by Windrunner Cosplay now, and will be among hundreds of cosplayers from the region and beyond at ColossalCon East this weekend at Kalahari Resort in the Poconos.
Albert Fereck of Pittston will be roaming the convention floor as well. For him, it all started with going all-out on a Halloween costume of Pyramid Head from the Silent Hill video games.
“Someone asked me hey, do you cosplay?” he said. “I said I had no idea what that even is. They said it’s where you dress up and go to a convention…that sounds awesome.”
He gestured to his workshop as he said this, surrounded by helmets, armor and props he has constructed for various characters.
“And then here we are,” he said.
Caitlin Beards, director of cosplay events for ColossalCon East, says this year’s events and competitions filled up before the con weekend started. It’s the first time that’s happened since the convention started in 2017.
“Cosplay in general has just grown astronomically since I first started back in the early 2000s,” she said.
Pawlik and Fereck both consider ColossalCon East their “home con,” but Beards says it’s typical to meet people from all over the United States and Canada at the convention.
“It really just shows how widespread the cosplay hobby has grown and how willing people are to travel to all these different events to… just be at ColossalCon East as a whole,” she said.
Fereck, who’s been doing this since 2010, says more accessible supplies have helped the community to grow. He started out cutting up floor mats for pieces of armor, and now:
“There’s like companies that are making foam solely for cosplay,” he said.
3-D printing has also changed the cosplay game. Pawlik and her husband have three 3-D printers and have started using them for prop weapons. It’s helped her craft a staff for the white mage cosplay she plans to debut at ColossalCon East.
Supplies can get expensive though. Pawlik says the cosplay community is what has kept her coming back and investing in new skills.
“To see people who are doing either cosplays from the same games or shows I’m doing, or to see people who do the same character,” she said. “People are always looking for ways to meet up and nerd out and talk about the character or how they built the costume.”
Fereck can spend quite a bit of time just on sanding a 3-D printed helmet. For him, cosplay is all about holding the finished product and knowing how much work went into it.
“The feeling of creating something awesome,” he said. “It’s just the best feeling in the world.”