I have to admit this post is purely selfish… Kakashi is my one and only anime crush, so finding the best cosplays of him gives me nothing but joy. These fans give the perfect Kakashi- the understated hero with an element of Peter Pan’s boyish nature.
Groupies, the original fangirls – dedicated and devoted to rock stars. In the 60’s rock photography legend & chief photographer at Rolling Stone magazine, Baron Wolman photographed these obsessed young girls who were willing to dedicate their lives to getting the attention of rock stars. Wolman gave the followers a change of authority and take centre stage in their own right. Wolman believed that groupies deserved a place on the cover of Rolling Stone just as much as the rockers they loved.
Today groupies have almost levelled up to become the fangirl – to debate which is healthier or more dedicated would be a pointless exercise, the digital age now allows fans to build a fantasy relationship with their idols from the other side of the world, whereas before, groupies would have to follow the band from city to city in order to be a true fan, rather than just on twitter. The prior method meant devotion was built on “real” interaction but a place to call home and often morals were compromised. It would be interesting to consider how technology and digital culture has fed the culture of groupies and transformed them into something completely new.
Cosplay Gen is the bible of cosplay, from interviews to tutorials, the magazine showcases the best of cosplay and gives you an insight into the minds of dedicated cosplayers – and best of all it is made by fans for fans.
Below are promo cards for issue 3, taking some of the best cosplays from the issue and mixing them up with illustrations by Cristian Dîrstar – it’s interesting to see cosplayers who dress as real life versions of drawn characters being drawn themselves, seems like a weird paradox but we love it.
My birthday is fast approaching, and to make the most of it all I am asking for is books, over the last 6 months I’ve been working as an assistant for photographer Robbie Cooper but with no income – so my reading list on amazon is now miles long, my lack of funds is the main reason I haven’t written too many book related posts recently. These books are on the reading list for the MA at Kings College London I’m applying for next year and a few more that I’ve found – I can’t wait until mid may to sink my teeth into them all!
This post is just to give you guys a sneak peak of what’s to come in the book department over the next six months.
John Olson worked with LIFE magazine to smash all the preconceptions and “coolness” of rockstars – photographing them with their parents at home – we see independent, iconic and untouchable idols brought down to a human level, no longer rock gods. This project is very humbling and despite being made in the early 70’s is a theme that is still current and interesting.
Urbandictionary.com defines “fangirls” as “young fanatical females… (who) suffer an absurd affinity for a randomly chosen object of obsession and base their life/daily schedule around it.” But we think of them as the girls who line up for hours and even days before meet and greets, book or CD signings, ticket sales openings, or some such event where their dearly beloveds are involved. Armed with homemade signs, T-Shirts and brain-splitting screams, fangirls can turn critically un-acclaimed albums double platinum and make shakily written fiction into a worldwide phenomenon. I can’t help but feel that if these girls gathered at the edge of the Red Sea, it would part.
What distinguishes a fangirl from the average fan are unrivaled displays of devotion and a willingness to spend countless hours and dollars paying homage to those they love. Fangirls are typically ages 12 -18, or as The New York Times put it, “old enough to be culturally aware but not old enough to second-guess themselves.” (“Cue the Shrieking Girls for the Band of Their Moment”, by Jon Caramanica, 10 August 2008) Mostly from suburban middle-class homes, they have the time and the disposable income to devote to their chosen stars. It may start as a crush or admiration, but what these girls end up being are the best publicists any celebrity could hope for. They will spread accolades all over the media free of charge. And to top it all off, they (or rather, their parents) will fund an artist’s big fat paycheck just by purchasing everything they put out on the market.
We don’t typically credit fangirls with being an astonishing breed of Super Fan – they’re not quite in the same category as people who dress up like hobbits or attend Star Trek conventions. Usually, we just roll our eyes at them, get annoyed when they occupy a row in the movie theater in front of us and “oh-em-gee” at trailers, and yes, we get upset when musical artists we like endorse things they like (cough) New Moon soundtrack (cough, cough). But take a quick look at fangirl history and you will realize that fangirls’ devotion has “made” some of the most significant players in pop culture history.
Consider the very first modern pop superstar: Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was the one millions of hearts beat for. Today, Michael Bublé’s crooning voice is a pop rarity, but in the ‘40s, the big band style wasn’t a genre that you had to look very hard for. Because popular music had until then been targeted primarily at adults, Sinatra and his teen fans offered up a previously untapped market. This is arguably what earned Sinatra his contract as a solo artist with Capital Records. Today, we remember him for Fly Me to the Moon, or My Way, but it was the intangible quality fangirls eat up like chocolate, that made Frank Sinatra become Frank Sinatra. Just take it from The New Yorker:
“Most of his fans are plain, lonely girls from lower-middle class homes. They are dazzled by the life Sinatra leads and wish they could share in it. They insist that they love him, but they do not use the verb in its ordinary sense. As they apply it to him, it is synonymous with ‘worship’ or ‘idealize.’” —E.J. Kahn Jr. (“Here’s to Sinatra and the Ladies who Lust”, 1946)
Even the Beatles quit touring after their third album because the fangirl frenzy around them made their live performances so difficult. Pat O’Day introduced the Beatles at what was then the Seattle Center Coliseum in August of 1964. He recalls catching a glance from George Harrison, “George looked at me and he reached down and pulled the electrical plug out of the bottom of his guitar for a minute. And then he put it back in and kept playing, and he shrugged like ‘What difference does it make? No one can hear us anyway.’”
The Beatles had the type of following that today garners more eye rolls from those with “refined” taste in music. But we can’t just dismiss the validity of something merely because the initial fan base is female and has a mean age of 14. After all, that would mean throwing out your copy ofThe White Album.
Even Johnny Depp, the eccentricity King himself, started out as a teen heartthrob on 21 Jump Street. Now he’s an Oscar nominated, highly respected actor and Hollywood icon of all that is badass. We just choose to forgive him of his previous dealings with tweens. But why is that even something that needs forgiving?
The same goes for Elvis. According to Rolling Stone, “it was Elvis who made rock ‘n’ roll the international language of pop.” (This quote is so commonly used on a range of online bios of Elvis, its proper citation is uncertain.) Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what all those girls were “tweeting” about back in the day. I’m going to go out on a limb here. At the time, the Elvis phenomenon wasn’t just about his music. The great icons of pop may be remembered for their music now, but it was largely a fangirl thing at the time. Today we don’t take things with a fangirl following seriously as high art.
So, what I’m proposing here is that we separate the phenomenon from its following before forming an opinion about its validity. I’m not saying that everything fangirls like is fit to be legendary, but historically speaking, fangirls have been largely, if not wholly responsible for cementing the status of many, many, cultural icons. Which begs the question: without them, where would all those icons be?
And what makes a fangirl tick? If there is a formula, it is deep in the minds of teenage girls. Oh, we females can be a fickle bunch. We can talk about why we like what we do, but can that then be applied to production and marketing? Eh, maybe not so much. Amy, the owner of the largest fan site dedicated to Robert Pattinson, was asked simply, “Why Robert?” And she responds, “Because he’s gorgeous.” Yep. That’s all.
Looking for more answers, I set to figure out the Fangirl equation. This past summer I went to a Jonas Brothers concert, and about halfway through it I became distracted from worrying about if I’d ever be able to hear again when I noticed something, or rather someone. Who was that dude on the bass? Out came the Blackberry. Google “Jonas Brothers bass player” and BAM. Greg Garbowsky. Hails from New Jersey, is allergic to peanuts, and is two days younger than I am.
Not that I expected to be the first to have noticed the guy, but I was a little surprised to find he has over 60,000 followers on Twitter (that’s more than Al Roker, people). Having learned from Garbowsky’s fanpage that he was going to be in Bass Player magazine, I proceeded to the bookstore to buy it.
If a wee crush had driven me to seek out needless information and to buy a magazine I would have never even glanced at before, this estrogen flowing through my body had more power over me than I was willing to admit. This was as close to being a fangirl as I had ever been. “You play bass?” the check out guy at Books-A-Million asked me, “Um… no. My little brother does.” Well, hedoes.
Imagine it as unbridled devotion floating around the atmosphere just waiting for a subject to fix itself upon. Therein lies the real power of fangirls. No subject is too small to be deemed worthy of obsession. That’s one really fascinating part about the Jonas craze. The brothers each have their own base of manic fans down to their little brother Frankie (the “bonus Jonas”).
In an essay entitled “1,000 True Fans” Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired magazine, defines a true fan as “someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce.” (The Technium.com) Kelly’s theory is that all any artist needs to survive in the “long tail” environment of the web is a core of one thousand true fans who will spend one hundred dollars on the artist’s products each year. That’s about one concert ticket and a couple of CDs, which by my calculations would put a fangirl at least one notch above a “true fan” in the hierarchy of fanhood. And that is precisely why the earth shakes when girls decide that something is likable. Greater than just buying power, true fanhood is about participation, and the web presents a multitude of fangirl opportunities both to consume and produce idol information. Of course all this includes a willingness to follow a band, artist, or celebrity until they are no longer working in the industry – well, maybe even a little after that too.
Hoping to find out more, I asked girls who ran fanpages how long they saw themselves being active fans. And acting a little taken aback, they had to pause to think, but then they all said something to the effect of, “until the artist makes it known that they don’t want to be in the spotlight anymore.” In fact, my favorite quote was, “I guess until (he) gets married and has babies or something.”
Fangirls are one of the primary drivers in popular media and today they are more empowered than ever before. History suggests that appealing to this special type of super fan and their unparalleled loyalty is one of the best ways to achieve superstardom (even if the mania doesn’t last, your retirement is funded). Yes, fangirls can be loud, perhaps obnoxious, and not all their picks end up at exalted heights in the artistic pantheon, but it is unfair to dismiss fangirls merely as a gaggle of girls suffering from puppy love.
They raised the likes of James Dean, Heath Ledger, Michael J. Fox (who interestingly enough, changed his middle initial from “A” to “J”, because he didn’t want teen magazines referring to him as “Michael, A Fox!”), Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, and kept them in the spotlight long enough for the rest of us to fall in love with them too. Thank you, fangirls.
Probably the most cosplayed character ever! This dynamic virtual pop star comes in so many interchangeable looks she’s the perfect cosplayer, buy a decent Hatsune wig and then change the rest according to if you want to be Christmas Miku, bunny Miku, racing Miku and everything in-between. Here are the best Hatsune Miku Cosplays out there.
Butcher Billy’s project ‘Reversed Music Icons Fandom‘ is a graphic designers version of time travel, what if the influncer becomes the influenced? This is an idea Butcher Billy explores through the used of band tee’s, an apparel which is common amongst music fans. It’s a great idea and a lovely graphic based project. Check out the images and Butcher Billy’s statement:
This is a series that reverses the natural course of pop culture hierarchy – the influencer will sport the shirt of the influenced – completely messing with space time continuum and raising the question: What if the most influential rock icons in pop culture history met, when alive or in an early stage of their careers, the new acts that came decades after inspired by their own legacy?
I LOVE location cosplay, I briefly looked at how much impact the right landscape can have on an image and take cosplay photography to the next level in my post on ‘The Wild Places‘; Bryan Pedrazzoli has done the same with his Star Trek series, taking his subjects into an open rocky desert in America to mimic the ‘unknown planet’ style of the TV series, which often used landscapes like this.
One day I will capitalise on the rich landscapes in England and produce location shoots in order to push myself and the world of cosplay photography out of it’s convention centre boundaries, but for now work like Bryan Pedrazzoli’s will continue to inspire me.
With the iconic fetishised colours and atmosphere of Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure – Giorno cosplayers and photographers have no excuse when it comes to stylising. Saturated colours, romanticism and flowers create the perfect look for this unique character. Below are 4 cosplayers that have done a pretty good job at bringing the characters and the style off the pages and into reality.
deviantArt legend Tohad has been creating ‘Badass’ fan art, taking pop culture icons and turning them on their heads, it’s an idea that has been done but never in this way. Tohad keeps the cartoon nature and bright colours, creating a collection of badass characters presented in similar ways. Props to Tohad, I love this series.
In the summer of 1988 Tatsuki Masaru spent time with Japanese truckers who take part in the unique culture of decorating their trucks – DECOTORA. Masaru explores how they used decorating to turn a job that was perhaps an ends to a means into a hobby and passion they loved. Like all subcultures the dedication and devotion these truckers have is mind blowing and fascinating.
To celebrate the release of Lightning Returns today (in the UK) I present to you the best cosplays of Lightning, another pink haired kick-ass heroine.
“I’m no one’s slave!” – Lightning
One of my new favourite things to do on instagram at the moment is to find cosplayers – they’re great to follow as you get to see some behind the makeup shots and characters in everyday situations, it’s awesome to see people showing the non-convention side of cosplaying.
Stahli Cosplay first came to my attention on a search for Attack On Titan cosplay – the Levi costume made me stop scrolling a take notice. Who can ignore those epic Levi brows & Titan PJ’s?!
Akihabara is Japans if not the world anime and manga Capital. A district obsessed with technology and the future, the inhabitants of Akihabara work hard and the majority of them are mega fans of anime and manga. I have been talking about creating a figurine of my character to compliment my final piece images. So whilst in figurine heaven thought I would conduct some research, in particular to the characters with different looks and interchangeable outfits and body parts.
I also made a purchase of my own. In a second hand figurine shop I purchased a chibi Blue Rose from Tiger and Bunny. I wanted to buy a full figurine just like the one I want to make as reference but they were too big to fit in my case as I had all my final piece outfits to fit in too. So tonight I will be online hunting for a cheap second hand figurine I can buy.
One thing the experience has made me think about it wether I want packaging or not. Is the figurine something that people look at and can’t touch? The packaging is always an important part of figurines, some never leave their boxes. I thought about this for a while but soon realised I need interaction within this piece to make it relevant to the issue and themes of participation and consumption.