In an effort do more adventurous things with my life, I started going to cons again this year. To say that it's been an interesting experience is a severe understatement. I've learned a lot of things along the way and have met some rather interesting people. One thing that stuck out to me, of course, is how insane the cosplay scenes have gotten.
There are a lot of staple cosplays that crop up in almost every convention. For one, there always a few Deadpools and a few Harley Quinns.
Another character that makes a regular appearance is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in all of his forms. In fact, the entire Spider-Verse often shows up to a con and can easily dominate a space before you even know what's happened. To them, cosplaying any webslinger isn't just for fun, it's a bloodsport. Okay, not really, but it does get pretty intense sometimes.
I've been lucky enough to have done some photo shoots with a few Spideys and the more time I spent around them, the more fascinating this subset of cosplayers became.
Here's what I've learned about them from taking their pictures.
1. They Are Legion
There are a lot of versions of #SpiderMan. More than I thought there were. There are also tons Spider-Woman, Silk, Mary Jane Parker, Spider Gwen, etc. Basically, what I'm saying is that there's no shortage of Spider-Verse characters to cosplay as. In fact, it's very likely that you'll see at least 10 to 20 cosplayers at any given time at a convention or cosplay gathering together.
If that seems like a logistic nightmare, sometimes it can be and yet, they do it anyway. @Snowyspidey of Instagram shared his thoughts to me on why he thinks they're such a huge force at nearly every con.
"I feel like the reason there is such a huge gathering of Spider-Verse characters is because they are so relatable. Spider-Man is a character of great morality and has two sides to him that everyone has in one way or another. The majority of people will agree that Spider-Man is a vastly influential character and his story is so diverse that literally anyone can enjoy it."
Of course, bringing a whole society of spiders to a con isn't all high fives and webshooters. While I have not seen it personally, it's been mentioned that some folk don't appreciate their appearance en masse.
"I just feel like they think we are stealing the show... we are the show."
2. There Are More to The Suits Than You Think
While not quite as steadfast as the 501st Legion, the Spider-Verse cosplayers do appreciate the hell out of a good suit. Another Spidey cosplayer who simply goes by "Grey" told me that while it all depends on the person, suit detail is pretty important.
"Suit detail all depends on the person and if they are going for 100% accuracy. Most people cosplay to look as close as possible to the character they are trying to portray. I say [detail] is pretty important."
Those details don't come cheap, however. How much do you think a Spider-Man suit would run? For something that looks simple enough maybe you think you wouldn't break a hundred on it, right? Well, you'd be wrong.
These suits aren't your department store costumes. There are various parts that come together like the face-shell which retains the iconic shape of the mask, lenses, inner shoes or soles, zippers of your choosing. You can even go as far as to choose other options like puff painting and airbrushing. All in all, these little touches come together to a pretty surprising price tag.
Here's what snowyspidey had to say about that:
"Prices of the suits depend on where you get them from. Mine generally range around $350 to $400 when I've finished putting one all together and there are some that are much more expensive!"
There's actually a mini-industry that revolves around these suits. There are pattern makers like Brandon Gilbert and suit makers like The RPC Studio who churn out amazing work to help Spideys from all walks of life look their absolute best.
3. A Solid Stance Makes All The Difference
I've always found Spider-Man poses to be unique in their ability to look dynamic even when standing still and everyone has their opinion on what makes for a good stance and how you place yourself. As it turns out, how you pose can make a lot of difference. I asked Grey and snowyspidey what makes for a good pose. Here's what they had to say.
"A good pose has a lot to do with the photographer as well but Spider-Man is a very low-to-the-ground ominously smooth flowing character and when you are posing in a way where you can be standing still but still have that 'movement' effect, that's a good pose."
At the end of the day, though, it all comes down to the person.
"The same pose by two of the same people with the same camera and angle can look similar but have completely different feelings projected. For example, one might look like Spidey is just climbing a wall and someone else can do the same pose and make it pop like he is chasing after you on the same wall."
For Grey it's all about doing something that no one has really done before. His tip for striking a good pose is to "pretty much have fun with it and don't be afraid to go beyond what your body can do without hurting yourself."
"I guess what I do to set myself apart is I try to do a pose that no one has done before. People are like whoa! Cray! How did you do that!?"
They're a Fascinating Community
There are some people, for various reasons, who never take off their mask no matter what. That kind of dedication can either be to stay in character or to keep their con life and real life separate.
Grey's reasons are a lot simpler. He just wants to enjoy cons like a regular person sometimes and having people not know what you actually look like helps with that. Despite having thousands of followers on Instagram, he's kept his anonymity intact and that's come in handy from time to time.
Overall, Spider-Verse cosplayers are a very diverse and fascinating group of people. They're also immensely fun to shoot with. Snowyspidey even climbed up a sketchy ceiling for me without prompting just to get a good shot. That's some solid modeling work right there.
And there you have it. Special shout out to Grey and snowyspidey for taking the time out to talk to me. Also, props for making it look like I know what I'm doing with my camera.