Some Characters Are So Loved That They Need No Descriptions
If you ever doubted the passion of nerdy love that is cosplay, then let me remind you of something mind-blowing: people will cosplay characters they’ve never seen.
People will cosplay barely described book and podcast characters—they’ll cosplay Dungeons & Dragons actual play characters. If an audience latches onto a character by it because of their voice actor, general vibe, or vague esthetic, even a little, they’ll be fan art. And if there’s fan art, people will cosplay it. And if people cosplay a character a certain way—it’s bound to inspire fan art.
Consider, for a moment, The Magnus Archives. Ponder for a second, Welcome to Night Vale. They’re two popular audio-based fiction series. And they both have main characters never given well-defined physical features. Barely any descriptions are ever given. Cecil from Night Vale knows so little about how he looks, it’s a plot point. Jonathan Sims from The Magnus Archives is basically never described beyond being tired and disheveled.
But people cosplay as them. They cosplay as them a lot. People think hard about how these characters dress and act and move, generate their own descriptions, and bring it to the real world for other fans to enjoy.
Now, all art is cooperative. The written word needs a reader. And a song needs a listener. But this is on a whole other level. Cosplay allows someone to take the formless experience of a character and mold their own personality on it. Why does Cecil have a third eye even though it’s never described that way? Because it’s cool. Cosplays become part of their favorite fandoms through clothes, makeup, and practiced affections. They contribute to the mental image people use when discussing the series. It’s incredible. Just incredible. As we go into 2023 and the world opens more and more up again, I hope to see more love for the unseen characters and to see all the wonderfully creative ways they get to leap out of their source materials.