Non-Fiction Reviews

Heroes & Villains
A photographic odyssey into the fantastic world of cosplay

(2017) , Smith Street Books, £13.99, hrdbk, 264pp, ISBN 978-1-925-41845-3


OK, Iíll admit it. I used to have a Star Trek uniform (original series, a science officerís one like Mr Spock). And I have considered starting a Kickstarter page to get myself a proper Batsuit like the one that Christian Bale wears in Dark Knight. It would only cost a hundred thousand.  So Ė I kind of get the whole cosplay thing. There is text, drawn from interviews with cosplayers, but really that doesnít amount to much.  The strength of the book is the pictures.

Boyleís Heroes & Villains is a very simple trot through the sort of costumes people wear at conventions. There are a lot of comic book characters, a lot of characters from films and anime Ė itís basically 264 pages of photographs of people dressing up as their heroes.

What it shows is that some people like to pay homage to their favourite characters by creating really accurate versions of their costumes.  Other people are maybe a bit more creative and so we get things like the Boba Fet/ Rocky Horror Show mash up, or the Rockabilly Batman. It is a really good look at how copying can be a way of expressing your enjoyment of someone elseís work. It is not done through a lack of imagination, itís wanting some connection to a world you love.

There is another important point here which I ought to mention Ė letís be honest, SF (and comics in particular) have a pretty bad record when it comes to female clothing. Or more accurately - the lack of it. So this book could have had all the subtlety of a Boris Vallejo cover. But the gender split is pretty good, and I only counted a handful of women in their scanties. There are more pictures of women portraying male characters like Hellboy, and probably more of men in the nearly-all-together.

Overall Ė this is one of those books to have out on your table to flick through while someone else is taking their turn at an AD&D game. It is not a heavy read, but itís certainly a page turner. A welcome addition to any SF fans collection.

Sebastian Phillips

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