In today’s troubled world, it can be a real pleasure, if only for a few hours, to portray and “play” the role of your favorite fantasy hero or heroine; to wear their clothes, forget the hum-drum reality of your workaday existence; and to enjoy experiencing a little, albeit temporary, “fantasy escape time.” Fortunately, for an increasing segment of GIjOE fans, the growing popularity of costumed roleplay, or “cosplay,” is helping them to do just that—and they’re having a BLAST!
A truly unique offshoot of GIjOE fandom, the relatively new cosplay phenomenon is not all about glamor and glitz. There’s a lot of hard work involved as well. Cosplay is highly interactive fan activity that first involves sewing or otherwise creating custom-fitting costumes, applying realistic make-up and/or wigs, and purchasing (or making) all of your character’s required accessories, boots, weapons or other related props. Only THEN, can you “don the mantle” of your favorite Joe character to an upcoming Joe or Comic Con.
For less outgoing fans, the hardest part of cosplay isn’t creating a costume, it’s actually stepping out of a taxicab or elevator for the first time and walking out onto a convention room floor. If you spend your life isolated in a cubicle, stepping out into the glare of the “public eye” can be somewhat of a shock. It may take some guts, but the rewards are DEFINITELY worth it.
Suddenly, little children will want to shake your hand. Or, if you’re a “bad guy,” they may want to hide behind their mother’s skirt. Grown men will want to have their picture taken with you. Strangers, whom you never would have spoken to or met otherwise, suddenly want to know all about you, your costume, and your character.
It can all come as quite a “rush” for the uninitiated, “first-time” cosplayer. In no time, you’re the focus of EVERYONE’S attention in that convention hall. Heads turn, jaws drop, and flashbulbs pop. THAT’S what cosplay is all about. A little “guts” and a LOT of glory!
You might think that parading around in colorful costumes is an activity appealing only to children on Halloween. But you’d be wrong. There’s now a growing number of children, teens, and older generation GIjOE fans who are becoming involved in this newest, most demonstrative of fan events. We asked 50-something Arkansas GIjOE fan and collector, Doug Kidd, about his superb cosplay depiction of the original 1964 Army Joe (see photo at right) and he replied:
“Thanks for your kind words. I do have several more sets of the green fatigues if you’d like to play dress up yourself. Let me know your size and I will see if I can fix you up!”
The greatest compliment other Joe fans can offer a costumed cosplayer is simply to ask them a question. ANY question. Or to request to take their photograph. That’s WHY they’re there at a public event all dressed up in costume! Ask them (politely) to strike a pose, or to explain or demonstrate some of their props, etc. They WANT to share this information with you.
To learn more about GIjOE cosplay, we sought out perhaps the two most famous (and beautiful) “Joe Girls,” Ros Kodelico, aka “The Baroness,” and Samantha Patrone, aka “Scarlett.” Fans will remember them both well for their joint appearance on the cover of a VERY popular 2011 issue of the GIJCC newsletter. Miss Patrone was happy to tell us all about her interest in GIjOE and cosplay, saying:
“I am in fact a fan of G.I. Joe. The cartoon aired on TV a bit before my time, but I did watch re-runs as a child, and became a fan of many of the various reboots over the years.
I went to JoeCon 2011 after hearing about it from a friend. I was NOT paid to appear, and I was actually completely unaware I was on the cover of the Collector Club magazine until one of my friends who has a subscription told me about it (and they graciously sent me several copies)! I was completely surprised and also thrilled to be welcomed into the fandom this way.
The Baroness cosplayer (Ros) and I didn’t know each other before the Con, we just happened to stand together and take pictures! I don’t know about her costume, but I did make my own from scratch. I’ve been cosplaying for about 8 years now, and Scarlett’s been on my list to do for a long time.”
Of course, knowing she has her own worldwide fan base, we couldn’t let Miss Patrone off the hook without finding out more about her real life and her plans (if any) for future appearances at GIjOE-related events. She kindly replied:
“I’m just your normal everyday girl. I’m an insurance underwriting rep during the week, but I also have my own business and perform as a character for events and charities. I started costuming before I started acting, but they’d kind of become one with each other over the years. I definitely consider it a hobby, not my job. I have portrayed a lot of characters, most of them can be seen HERE, but this isn’t all of them. Sadly, I can’t make it to JoeCon 2013 this year because I’m limited to Florida cons right now.”
Besides “rent a character” type businesses, or an occasional cash prize won during a costume contest, there is little financial gain to be made from cosplay. Yes, there are a few cosplay websites that charge members fees to view photos, but professional cosplayers are few and far between.
Our sincerest thanks to Miss Patrone, Mr. Kidd and all the other contributors appearing in this article for their insights into the growing world of GIjOE fan cosplay. In closing, here are a few more of the better costumes we’ve seen…
Bottom Line: If you want your own “15 minutes of fame,” or at least to FEEL like you’ve been famous for 15 minutes, there’s no safer and enjoyable way than cosplay. At your next Joe show or Joe Con, try dressing up as a GijOE character—just once. Your hard work will NOT go unnoticed!