As geeks around town gear up for the annual Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention, Gwen Pew and Roop Gill chat with some of the most dedicated cosplayers on the scene.
29 Jul 2013: Founded in 2007, the Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention (STGCC) is now a hugely popular annual event that draws crowds of around 35,000 over a single weekend. It is also one of the largest of such conventions for gamers, anime and comic book fans in the South-East Asia region, with 147 exhibitors from 12 countries coming together to strut their stuff and tout their latest wares.
‘We see huge potential for this industry in South-East Asia where the audience is very receptive to pop culture, and there is a strong creative culture brewing in the region,’ says Yeow Hui Leng, Senior Project Director of Reed Exhibitions, which took over the organisation of STGCC in 2010. ‘There is a growing audience of young fans who are in tune with the internet and digital media, who are better travelled and more knowledgeable. This group will provide the momentum for the growth of pop culture in South-East Asia.’
Clive Lee, a full time university lecturer and long-time cosplay enthusiast (he’s become something of an expert on the local scene), estimates that there are around one or two thousand people in the cosplay community here. ‘I guess the boom began around 2003,’ he says. ‘[Cosplayers] usually meet each other in events and cosplay photo shoots. There used to be some clubs back then, but I haven’t heard of any now. They used to hold events when they were in operation; the events now are mostly run by businesses [such as STGCC]. I used to organise events a decade back, but now I only attend them.’
However, Lee admits that despite its growing popularity, there are still many misconceptions about the idea of cosplay. ‘One of the biggest fallacies could be that people think that it is an activity for youth. However, there is quite a number of adults over 30 who are into cosplay too,’ he says. ‘Another misconception could be that people think cosplayers are fanatics who are denying reality. But in reality, cosplay is a healthy hobby that lets one pick up a variety of skills like sewing, crafting, performing, etc. It is also a channel of self-expression – just like the arts.’
Another problem that some people may have is that the costumes in question can often be quite revealing, and therefore are rather inappropriate. However, Linda Le [pictured below] – a popular California-based cosplayer also known as the sexy Vampy Bit Me, who will be coming to STGCC for the first time this year – disagrees. ‘I honestly think most of my costumes are not revealing, but the ones that show up on the pages across the internet usually highlight the “sexier” ones like Morrigan and Litchi,’ she says. ‘But I generally have most of my costumes covering my whole body, and I usually wear those when I go to conventions.’
Fun and games aside, however, Le also adds that costume-making actually takes a lot of hard work and dedication. ‘I work almost 15-hour days and sleep a maximum of four hours. I’m always working on costumes, props, and now a clothing line called Fiend or Fauxx, which I own. But I love being creative; it makes me happy.’
Fans will get to meet both local and international cosplayers like Le – as well as other celebrities in the comic world – at STGCC’s Walk of Fame.