I'm cosplaying Grell Sutcliff from Kuroshitsuiji - probably the most fantastic chainsaw wielding character... ever.

The first time I was slightly intrigued by Grell was at the first convention I cosplayed. I saw a rather large number of people running around with long red hair and knee-length coats and chasing around, occasionally harassing, some well dressed couples I later found out were Ciel and Sebastian. I was really amused by some of the cosplayers role play of the character so I had to check out the anime when I finally got home. I adored the personality of Grell that cosplayers would portray, but when I first saw Grell in the anime I was wondering if I had been watching a different series. Grell transforms from a demure butler bent on dying to a ravishing reaper wielding a chainsaw in just an episode. At the time I knew I couldn't put together a Grell cosplay for the next con I was attending, but I threw together a pretty decent(my opinion) Bard from the same anime. After a few more months of looking through and interacting with other Grell cosplayers (predominantly females) I finally came across Maxieyi on deviantArt and saw how splendidly he portrayed Grell and I decided to give it a go.

How was the costume created ? Short answer: A lot of time and money. At the time I wanted to cosplay Grell I didn't have too many cosplay skills to utilize aside from character research and plenty of hours to look for certain parts of the cosplay I wanted to use. Since the first time I cosplayed Grell almost every aspect of the costume has changed. My first run almost everything was bought and the only things that set it apart from ordering it from any random cosplay costume site was the winged-tip collar with french cuff shirt, personally strung beads for the eyeglass chain and waist chain and rather poorly styled (if I do say so myself) wig. Luckily, on the first run I met Eboni and Analise at AnimeNext and since then those two have been godsends in regards to the cosplay. They both really adored the shinigami of the series and helped out tremendously. Analise has an exceptional talent for styling wigs and Eboni pretty much can make anything prop related- She had made the glasses and we were in the process of making some teeth that were molded to my mouth, but never got further than the hydrocal. Since the first run I've altered a number of pieces of the the cosplay including altering the jacket, sewing my own brown vest, adding my own lenses for the glasses, and braving contacts. I also picked up Bordello 4-1/2" stiletto platform boots, Forzieri black Italian leather gloves, and a laser-cut MDF chainsaw. Grell is probably my most serious cosplay as I have five different versions - Cheshire, Season 2, Young Grell, Hot Summer, and No Makeup. Since I started cosplaying Grell I've gained enough sewing, styling, prop skill to remake the whole costume if I wanted to use it for a competition, but I really just wanted to cosplay Grell to be fabulous and have fun.

The responses at conventions have been pretty outstanding from pictures, glomps and comments from random people, it may only be seconded to the Scrubs cosplay my friend Justice and I do or the Boris from Alice in the Country of Hearts-which I made from scratch save the wig and shoes. At it's peak, people really seemed to love Grell and it was always worth throwing on the many different layers during summer cons and sauntering around in the obscenely tall heels on the uneven sidewalks to and from the con. It still gets quite a bit of attention and I always consider it one of my 'A' cosplays just because I think it looks really great when I abstain from drinking while putting on the makeup!

The most interesting interaction I had in the cosplay was at Youmacon the same year, I think, the photo was taken. I wandered over to the Funimation booth because a friend was working staff for it at the time. After we chatted she introduced me to Ian Sinclair (Bard voice and ADR director of dubbed Kuroshitsuji). Ian thought the cosplay was so well done he sent a picture of himself and I to the English voice actor of Grell. The experience was pretty surreal!

I first heard about cosplay a round my freshmen year of college (2003). I was really big into Everquest (MMOPRG) and when not playing a crazy amount of the computer game or doing homework I would occasionally get a glimpse at some of the people attending the annual conferences Everquest and Sony Online Entertainment would hold for their games. While not many people would dress up as their characters there were some paid models that had some pretty fantastic costumes. While I don't believe they used cosplay to describe the attire I now know that's what was going on.

My first cosplay experience was at New York Comic Con. I cosplayed Matt from Death Note. Since it was my first cosplay I really wanted to get a lot of the details right; I ended up hand painting a few different sets of plastic goggles with a bunch of different paints to see what would hold better. At the time I couldn't find a proper pair of silver with matching lenses and I really didn't care to wear black ones. I even searched around for probably 12 hours just to find boots that were pretty close to the characters. Still haven't worn those boots since. I was really surprised with the response at the convention. At the time Death Note cosplay was still big (And I swear it's on the rebound!) and I was flying solo so I met quite a few people. It's really a shock attending your first con having no idea what to expect and suddenly random people are coming up to you and saying "Hi!" or "Hey Matt!" and even a few "Sorry you died". The shear number of random encounters that you have at a convention, while still amazing 60 cons later, really catch you flatfooted at your first con. While surprising it felt really wonderful to have so many people come up to you and ask for a picture, say hey or just appreciate the time and effort you put into the costume. It's a feeling you really don't forget and I think subconsciously or consciously it pushes people to be more and more impressive at cons.

For while I thought I was going to a few too many cons and I really needed to tone the amount attended. Cosplaying was becoming more of a 'Doing new costumes because it's the thing to do' rather than doing them for fun. After notching down number of cons from 10 a year to 2 or 3 I realized how much fun they were again. Getting to reconnect with old friends, still meeting new ones and just wandering around to see how many more people are costuming and learning new tricks from new and veteran cosplayers on costume creation are some of the few things that keep me coming back and continuing to cosplay. I still cosplay because I continue to get the same feelings of fun and excitement I did the first con I attended. I always get the nervous rush of having everything for your costume before the con, the 'did I forget anything' moments as you walk out the hotel door and the amazing feeling when someone can recognize the costume you put together as the character you're cosplaying. Through cosplay I've learned I am a lot more crafty and functional that I once thought. Nothing like creating some believable props from some craft foam and pvc pipe to influence you to see things not as they are but what you can make from them. I think cosplay has really helped open me up to meeting people I would have never met and helped shape some of my world view just from the incredible amount of openness you encounter at a convention. The hobby really is something special as it gives you an incredible rush of emotions that's very hard to top. From the moment you get to the hotel and see friends you haven't seen in a while, to wandering around the halls watching and meeting new friends, then partying hard til all hours of the night and finally saying goodbye on the last day with tear-filled hugs and 'can't wait to see you again's cosplay is on another level. Cosplay to me is a really big expression of self. For an hour or a whole day a person can throw on a costume and take on a persona or characteristics they want to have, want to portray or want to exemplify. Cosplay allows you to be someone you're not and have fun with a very low amount of judgement. The ability to play around with gender in an open atmosphere is really hard to find out in the real world and cosplay, to me, challenges real world norms to some point and allows people to experience things that they wouldn't normally get a chance to do if not in costume.

I really believe that accuracy and judging costumes has gone pretty overboard in the past few years.  I've even been guilty of being almost obsessive over some of the minutia.  I suppose if you're entering a contest you should be as on point as you can; I've won a few and it's tough, but worth it to be so attentive.   But for every person who has a costume entered in a contest there are probably hundreds that are not competing.   I think a lot of people forget that when making comments either in person of over the interwebs that are pretty harmful/spiteful.  It would be wonderful if people could keep that in mind when they're starting to judge others on a hobby that was started for fun.

- Jimmy Hogan