IN PHOTOS: The Heroes and Villains of Okanagan Comic-Con | infonews

Cosplayer Sarah Trenholm dressed up as comic book character Starka from “The Supers.”

Image credit: Ethan Ribeiro

19 March 2022 – 08:00

When she was a child, Sarah Trenholm’s parents wouldn’t let her dress up on Halloween. Now, as an adult, Trenholm sometimes dresses up just to go to the park or the mall.

The Vernon resident is one of a growing number of adults who participate in cosplay — people who dress up as characters from movies, books, TV shows and video games.

Whether escaping reality or paying homage to a hero, cosplayers celebrate their love of pop culture icons and costumes at conventions known as comic cons.

And the Okanagan has several to come, with the first in Vernon on May 7, with similar events scheduled for Kelowna in August and Penticton in October.

And behind the masks, latex and spandex is a dedicated community of people who spend hours in front of their seeders crafting their costumes to perfection.

Trenholm has been in cosplay for over a decade.

“I made a mother of dragons Khaleesi (costume), I wore it to work at the airport and someone said ‘you should be a cosplayer’ and I said ‘what the hell? a cosplayer? ‘” Trenholm said.

Although she had already been doing it for a few years, she then discovered that there was a whole community of people who spent their time creating and dressing up as their favorite characters.

For the most part, cosplayers simply dress to go comic, which they often refer to as “cons,” but Trenholm doesn’t limit itself to conventions. She will dress just for fun.

“People take a moment out of their day and say ‘what the heck’ and then it’s followed by a smile,” she said. “It’s the best feeling ever.”

Chad Generous in his

Chad Genereux in his “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” costume.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Chad Genereux

So why does she do it?

“There’s nothing quite like seeing (a child) get so excited that they just saw their hero or their villain or their role model…in costume in the flesh in front of them,” she said. declared. “It just makes them light up and I say that at any age because we all have this little five year old inside of us…whether we want to admit it or not.”

Trenholm estimates that he has made about 10 full costumes and numerous smaller pieces over the past decade. A simple costume can take three full days, with more complex costumes taking much longer.

Along with the creative process of costume making, Trenholm loves accomplishment and a sense of accomplishment.

And there is another more nuanced aspect of cosplay when the wearer of the costume transforms into the character of the costume.

Trenholm often dresses up as Ruby from the animated series RWBY.

“She’s very bubbly and happy and excited but she’s got a lot of sadness in her, she’s been through a lot of shit, you can see the sadness in her and the things that she keeps going through,” she said. . “She and I have a lot in common but…my friends pushed me to do this and I was able to get a lot of other people dressed like this character to do things they never would have done before. ”

Cosplayer Latisa McCoy in one of her many joker costumes.

Cosplayer Latisa McCoy in one of her many joker costumes.

Image Credit: SENT: Latisa McCoy

Trenholm is talkative and optimistic and speaks passionately about the costumes she designs and the characters she plays. There’s also a thoughtful and philosophical aspect to the way she describes who she chooses to dress.

“The toughest character I can be is Raven (from Teen Titans comics) because she can be so sad and I did that at a time in my life when I was sad, so it was easy then, but now it’s hard,” he said. she declared.

Kelowna resident Latisa McCoy has been cosplaying for 11 years.

As an autistic person, McCoy says she leans on cosplay characters that gave her hope and inspired her to be a stronger, better person.

“It’s allowed me to let my creativity run wild, as well as accept my autism in a way that allows me to show what’s in my brain and show it to people and not be judged to be a bit weird or wacky,” McCoy said. .

She also loves escape.

“I can be anything I want to be,” she said. “If I want to be a villain, I can dress up and be the villain, and dance…and if I want to be a hero, I can take pictures with people and be the hero I wanted to be that day- the.”

McCoy has made more than 20 costumes over the years, which can take anywhere from one to six months and cost around $50 for a “cheap” one and upwards of $250 for others.

While $250 might seem like a lot of money for a costume that you have to make yourself, others spend much larger sums of money on their outfits.

Kelowna resident Chad Genereux recently dropped $1,200 on a full ninja turtle outfit and thinks it was a bargain.

As a 49-year-old professional martial arts instructor, Genereux doesn’t seem to fit the stereotype of what people may think a cosplayer is.

“It doesn’t matter, your race, your nationality, your height, if you like a character, dress like him,” he said. “It’s not gender specific, it’s not body specific, it’s just how much you like it.”

And Genereux was into cosplay long before the term cosplay existed.

“We didn’t have a name for it…you were just a geek I guess,” he said. “I was always into movies and TV and comics and stuff like that, (and) always tinkering around trying to make certain props and things. It was just something to do, we didn’t. we didn’t have the internet.”

From making Spiderman web shooters to using the blades of an old hacksaw to make Wolverine claws, Genereux has been tinkering with comic book accessories for decades.

He said things changed about 10 years ago.

“It’s become more acceptable…in the last few years it’s really exploded,” he said. “People coming out of the woodwork, people you might not expect, or people in positions of influence who admit to doing this stuff.”

A question for cosplayers is what they prefer, the making or the wearing?

“To me, designing a costume, going from a sketch to something you can understand is amazing,” he said.

Sarah Trenholm as Raven's

Sarah Trenholm as Raven in “Teen Titans”.

Image credit: Hayman Lee

While these Okanagan cosplayers just do it for fun, some people make money out of it. And almost all of these people are women.

A big hit several years ago, Kelowna-based Andy Rae Cosplay has hundreds of thousands of social media followers — and nearly all of her photos feature cleavage.

“Skirt outfits are a huge part of a lot of girls who make tons and tons of money,” Trenholm said.

But while Trenholm says the over-sexualized nature of cosplay is part of it, it’s only a small part of it.

“Say you dress up as a Ghostbuster, you got a sexy Ghostbuster…but Ghostbusters aren’t sexy…I think that’s a slap in the face to the original character,” a- she declared.

Genereux said he saw tall people dressed up as characters who have never been portrayed that way.

“The first time I went (to a comic con) I was blown away,” he said.

While the presumption to be Batman would be a tall, well-built man, Genereux says he’s seen 5’7″ women pull off Batman with flying colors.

“It’s more about the process of the costume than being 100% accurate,” he said.

Latisa McCoy.

Latisa McCoy.

Image Credit: SENT: Latisa McCoy

Although cosplay means different things to different people, it’s clear that the community is tight-knit, welcoming, and supportive of one another.

There’s no doubt that it’s about escapism, but it’s more than that.

For McCoy, it clearly helps him get through the day.

“There are days when it gets tough and you just have a really tough day and things have gone wrong…and you look at your cosplay and you put it on and you feel like you can go on,” she mentioned. “No matter how much negativity is in your head, once you put on this cosplay it can disappear in an instant and then you go out in public not even caring what people think but being the character all dressed up just right .”

She adds, “you can just feel happy.”

Trenholm joined a “group of random costume acts” and they all headed to a local hospital.

“It brought smiles to all those people,” she said.

Sarah Trenholm as Ruby's

Sarah Trenholm as Ruby from “RWBY”.

Image credit: Hayman Lee

Vernon Vernon Comic Con takes place on May 7th. For more information, click here.

Kelowna Comicon 2022 will take place August 20-21. For more information, click here.

Penticton’s Penti-con will take place October 22-23. For more information, click here.

Chad Generous.

Chad Generous.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Chad Genereux

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Daniel K. Denny