Over recent years, the art of cosplay has risen dramatically in the UK.  At the first MCM Expo Animetion attended, there were few cosplayers and most of the based on sci-fi based rather then anime.  Nowadays at Expo you can't move for cosplayers and social networking sites focusing on cosplay are much more popular now.  Lots of new fans now cosplay at their first events also, making the hobby a huge part of attending anime events. 

With cosplay now firmly part of the UK anime scene, it was only a matter of time before a book was produced on UK cosplay.  That book is Cosplay Fever, a photography project by Rob Dunlop and Pete Lumby, which was released on 20th October 2009.  Containing over 250 full-colour pages of UK cosplayers, the book is a collection of photographs taken at a number of anime events. 

With a second Cosplay Fever book due out in May 2010, we took the opportunity to speak to co-creator Rob Dunlop about the project:

Animetion:  How did the idea for Cosplay Fever come about?

Rob: "
We've been selling our Tozzer comic books at various conventions and festivals since around 2002, and many of the shows that we go to are popular with cosplayers.  We've even had someone cosplay one of our own characters, which was both flattering and very impressive.  So we have been aware of the cosplay scene for a while and in recent years have witnessed its amazing growth, while the costumes have become ever more ingenious and elaborate.

Sitting behind a table all weekend, selling comic books, may sound like an incredibly fun and rewarding activity, but the novelty soon wears off!  So we figured we could entertain ourselves by taking a few snaps of the most interesting cosplayers, and maybe put a little book together at some stage.  Cosplay Fever was originally supposed to be something we did on the side, while we mainly focused on producing comic books, but it seems we've caught the Fever!  Now we’re spending maybe 2/3 of our time on Cosplay Fever and 1/3 on the comics. Not enough hours in the day, sadly."


Animetion: Did you have to overcome any challenges in order to get the book published?

Rob: "
Well, we published it ourselves, so the main challenge was funding the project.  Aside from travel costs, hotel bills and equipment, there was of course the humongous printing bill. This was the biggest book we've ever published, with 256 full-colour pages, and the quality had to be perfect, so we knew that a significant investment was required."

Animetion: What is your opinion of the cosplay scene in the UK?

Rob: "
I think it's pretty amazing, especially considering that cosplay is still something of a niche pastime  in this country.  There is a real intimate feel to the community here and, on the whole, a great spirit of camaraderie, so the atmosphere at events is always positive.  Everyone seems to know each other or, if they don't, they’re happy to make new friends. 

The community may be relatively small, but there is a wealth of talent over here and the scene is growing.  Even during the year or so we've been working on Cosplay Fever, it seems like there are more cosplayers at every event, showing off more interesting and beautiful creations.  That's a blessing for us, of course, as great cosplayers make our photos look good."

Animetion: Are you a cosplayer yourself?

Rob: "
No, not yet, but I’ve got some ideas.  Maybe me and Pete will surprise everyone some day!"

What was the most unusual experience you encountered in making the book?

Rob: "
The photo shoots we arranged in London were a pretty unique experience.  When we take pictures at conventions, cosplayers are a common sight, but when we’re walking around town with a small army of costumed characters, you can see the WTF expressions of everyone passing by.  On one shoot, we took over a children’s playground in a park and got kicked out by the park security, but not before we got some cracking shots of cosplayers on slides and carousels.  That was a fun day!"

From Cosplay Fever - Imogen as Chii (Chobits)

What feedback have you received on Cosplay Fever?

We’ve had great feedback from the community and the book seems to have gone down well with the people featured in it.  Since the birth of the project our belief was that cosplayers are crying out for a showcase of their creations and I think that belief has been vindicated.  Cosplay is an art-form and we feel that documenting the progression of the scene is important.  The feedback we have had so far suggests that many other people feel the same way.

We're really pleased by how the book turned out and I hope we’ve done the UK cosplay scene justice.  A lot of people have never heard of cosplay, of course, but the response from the uninitiated has been equally enthusiastic – after all, anyone can see the talent, dedication and ingenuity of the cosplayers on display.  Still, it’s early days for Cosplay Fever and we are looking forward to April 2010, when the book is released to book and comic shops here and in the US.  Then we should get plenty more feedback from a much wider audience.

Cosplay Fever was volume 1 of an ongoing series.  What plans do you have for future volumes?

: "
We plan to release a new book covering the UK scene at least once per year.  We may be able to release one every six months, but that depends on how much time we have, how many cons we can get to and how the pictures turn out.  We'll also be travelling to other countries this year, so our schedule is a little insane right now.  One thing is for sure though and that is the cosplay scene is growing with spectacular costumes constantly being created.  We're happy to keep producing the books, so long as enough people want us to!"

Animetion: Which events will you be attending in 2010?

Rob: "
Um, all of them, pretty much! Check out http://cosplayfever.deviantart.com for upcoming events."

Animetion: Can cosplayers contact you if they are interested in being photographed?

Rob:  "
The best way to get photographed is to turn up to one of the events and track us down there.  We're usually easy to spot – we’re the guys with big cameras and clipboards."

Do you have any other anime-related projects in mind?

Rob:  "
No, but we’re working on a new comic book which should appeal to fans of anime and manga.  More details to be revealed soon!"

Cosplay Fever website
Cosplay Fever Facebook group
Animetion review of Cosplay Fever