cover image Cosplay: A History

Cosplay: A History

Andrew Liptak. Saga, $24.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5582-5

Cosplay is “more than just dressing up as a favorite character.... Above all, it’s a community,” writes journalist Liptak in this illuminating history. Despite its recent rise in popularity—thanks to Comic-Con conventions and shows such as Game of Thrones—Liptak insists that cosplay originated over a century ago, with its first inklings in street theater, reconstructions at historical sites, and even an 1891 London costume party inspired by Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s sci-fi novel Vril. Cosplay got a boost in the 1970s from cultural obsessions with Star Trek and Star Wars, and was later supercharged by the internet, which made it easier for cosplayers to connect with one another. Enriched by amusing tales of his own fandom (and fascination with Star Wars’ “white-armored” stormtroopers), Liptak’s narrative also explores the dynamics between owners of intellectual property and the makers of costumes based upon it, a relationship that’s sometimes mutually beneficial—as when members from his group, the Star Wars fan organization 501st Legion, were cast as extras in The Mandalorian. Though he doesn’t gloss over troubling aspects of cosplay, including its culture of sexism, Liptak’s study is an inspiring one, underscored by the community’s efforts to spread “magical moment[s]” with organizations such as the Make-a-Wish foundation. Cosplayers and curious minds alike will enjoy this intriguing dive into an eccentric world. (June)