One of the biggest things to ever happen for comic culture in Nigeria is Comic Con, the first convention of its size and style to hit the Nigerian landscape. The first Comic Con held in September 2014 in Ikeja, Lagos, and the turnout was very encouraging. The comic book and video game community in Nigeria is by no means small. So this comes as no surprise, considering this is the only avenue in Nigeria where gamers and anime fans can get together and mingle. The popular convention held again last year, to similar success, and plans to hold each year.
Amongst the gaming and comic community in other societies there is one thing that is quite common among convention goers, and that’s cosplaying. From Japan to Germany, America to South Africa, cosplaying is a prevalent part of the culture. There is just something exhilarating about dressing up as a fictional character from your favorite game or comic and going to a place where people understand what you’re doing, and even applaud it. The experience is very rewarding and inclusive.
For some reason, however, the cosplay trend has not caught on in Nigeria. Even with the advent of Comic Con in Lagos, hardly anyone turned up in costume for it.
What is Cosplay?
For people who might not be aware, cosplay is an amalgamation of two words: costume and role-play. It involves becoming a popular fictional character by creating a facsimile of the character’s costume, adding props such as swords, bows and wigs if necessary. It first started as a pop culture phenomenon in Japan in the 1990s. As the appreciation for geek culture increased the influence of cosplay slowly spread to the west, and other areas of the world. There is a myriad of characters that cosplayers can choose to dress up as – most popular are anime and manga characters. But people also dress up as video game characters, movie character and even television personalities.
One of the many things that makes cosplaying so much fun is the amount of creativity that goes into it. In developed countries such as the US some cosplayers go as far as to use 3D printers to create extra props or pieces of their costume, to give the look that extra feel of authenticity. If you don’t have a 3D printer though, not to worry; most cosplayers get by using everyday household items and a bucketload of creativity.
Halloween for Adults or Peagantry?
The idea behind cosplaying is not very complicated; it’s almost like Halloween for adults. People get to embody their favorite characters, essentially bringing them to life, while also enjoying others who have created their own versions of popular characters. Sometimes there are even competitions organized with prizes for the best dressed cosplayer.
All the pageantry and colorful costumes, of course, might just be what is deterring Nigerians from this fad. As conservative as Nigerians can be, your average Jolomi probably wouldn’t be interested in donning a (most likely uncomfortable) bulky, amateur costume and parading around a room full of people. For us anime/comic/video game lovers though, the thrill of it can be a rush, as well as fostering acceptance and togetherness within our community. Who knows how many new friends you might make who watch the same anime and like the same characters that you do?