A big part of the comic and entertainment convention scene is the presence of people cosplaying as their favorite characters. It adds an exotic and textural dimension to the shows. You can see a massive variety of costumes from store bought to incredibly intricate custom made versions.
We got a chance to chat recently with one of the most iconic cosplayers at the con circuit, especially at east coast shows. Harry Crosland is a imposing figure and his long dreadlocks are as unmistakable as his infectious smile. A Maryland native, he has been cosplaying at shows for over a decade along with his wife Gina. He also is professional photographer specializing crafting fantastic and inclusive artistic representations of people cosplaying.
This interview was fun and covers topics that are important to deal with regarding respect and acceptance at our favorite nerdy gatherings. Harry (or HC or Aitch Cee) is a fantastic ambassador for geekdom and if you ever run into him, you will be glad you did.
You can listen to the audio of the interview below. We also included some of the key interactions in the conversation transcribed below.
Pop Culture Squad: I wanted start off with you telling your origin story in cosplay. What, when and how did you start getting into cosplay?
Harry Crosland: Okay, so I’m going go way, way, way back to half past 2007-ish, I would say 2007, 2008. Gina [Harry’s wife and partner], I were just starting to date and Halloween was around the corner and she’s asking me, “Well, what are you gonna dress up in?” I was like, “What do you mean what I’m gonna dress up as? You know, grown people don’t do costumes like that.” Then, I thought about it for a little bit. I wanted to do something cool. Let me just kind of test the water. So, I decided to do a Matrix costume where she took Neo’s long coat from The Matrix, and she did a hell of a job on that coat, and believe it or not, I still have it. That was my first costume.
It wasn’t until about 2008 or so when I discovered Baltimore Comic-Con. I had just started getting back into comic books at that point. I had a friend of mine who literally was calling me every week kept saying, “Man, you need to understand what’s going on in Secret Invasion.” You know what, I thought, “Let me go see what this is all about. Where can I go to talk to other people about this?”
So, in August 2008, I’m at my very first comic con in Baltimore. Of course I’m not in costume. And that’s when I started meeting other folks, Fred Holt, being among them. And at that point, that’s when I started seeing, okay, there’s a place for cosplay for grown adults. And I said to myself, after going through Baltimore, seeing all these, you know, grown folks from all different walks of life, shapes, sizes, colors, whatever, have you? I said, you know what, I’m gonna Coplay next year.
Yeah. 13 years later. So much time has gone by. And then, I got Gina into it. I got my best friend when into it.
PCS: What was it that, that drew you into saying, “I need to make this cosplay a big part of my life”? You travel for it. You put a lot of thought, a lot of effort, I’m sure, a lot of money in it.
HC: I probably got really excited in cosplay because I saw not only what it can do for myself as far as like being able to enjoy going to some of the venues, but I like inspiring other people as well. Like seeing younger folk than I, who are nerdy, who are of different backgrounds, be it black, white, Asian, Latino, heavyset, skinny. I kind of used to be tall, awkward, and gawky, and it’s like, I want to be able to do this too. How can I do the things while it’s possible? You just put your mind to it. And, and that’s one of the biggest enjoyments I get out of this.
And I believe that if you go in it really just to have fun and to take a weekend and kind of blow some steam while also, you know, dressing up as your favorite characters, you can really, really get into it, enjoy it. And if you’re someone who does happen to find an avenue to be able to profit off of it, or, or establish yourself, or make a name of yourself by all means, do it. Just remember, you gotta put work into it. This isn’t something that you’re just going to say today. “I’m just gonna throw on the costume and the entire world was gonna recognize me and my works and that’s the end.” No, no. You got to, you got to put blood, sweat and tears into this.
PCS: Can you talk about the cosplay community. As a regular attendee, but still an outsider to the community, it seems welcoming and supportive on the whole. Continue reading “Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Cosplayer and Photographer Harry Crosland”