The idea of dressing up is as old as clothes themselves. No one can be credited with inventing costumes or dress up. I’m going to argue that cosplay is a category within that larger family. Cosplay is the art of dressing up as characters inspired by the geeky communities that host conventions. This might mean anime, comics, games or sci-fi.
Last year, the International Costumers Guild recognised Myrtle R Douglas as the Mother of Convention Costuming. I call that cosplay. She made the first two costumes for the first Worldcon and wore one.
In 1984 when Nobuyuki Takahashi visited Worldcon LA he coined the phrase ‘cosplay’ to describe the costumes tio his audience back home. Japanese students had been dressing up as anime and manga characters since the 70s.
Myrtle R Douglas wore hers first in 1936.
Douglas, better known as Morojo (her Esperanto name), was a dedicated sci-fi fanzine editor. She feels very much like an early blogger, before blogs, to me. Together with her partner at the time she financed the publication of Ray Bradbury’s first sci-fi zine.
If you’re wondering what Morojo called her costumes, if she didn’t use the phrase cosplay, then you’ll be pleased to know we know that. She called them futuristicostumes.
Extra insight from Jennifer Culp at Racked.