In defence of Cosplay

So I was planning to get back to the tribute to Karen Berger, who is retiring from her position at Vertigo after twenty years of amazing work, but once again an issue has crept up that I feel the need to chime in on. Last week it was the blatant censorship of the work of Alan Moore and this week it is the controversy regarding “Geek Women”.

There have been two controversies recently surrounding women of geekdom, first was the re-posting of a meme by Dirk Manning that slammed girls who referred to themselves as nerds when they were dressed sexy. The exact wording was to call them whores. The second was an insane diatribe by Tony Harris regarding the evils of cosplayers who are not “real” geeks(I was unable to post the actual page for the rant, it appear that it has been deleted).

I will start by saying that I have read some defenses of the Dirk Manning incident and he in his own defense claims he was trying to make a comment about people who think it is funny to put on a pair of think glasses and make fun of nerds.  Just as you would chastise someone who wore black-face and thought it was funny. The problem is that he ignored the fact that the meme he chose to re-post has misogynistic tones to it and he got defensive about the fact that women of the geek community would be offended by it.  My main reaction to the Dirk Manning incident is pity, Mr Manning is trying to fight a battle that doesn’t exist, in this day and age geeks have a huge selection of positive role models to look up to and while teasing and bullying do exist, he appears to be trying to put out a stove fire with a flamethrower.

The Tony Harris rant is a completely different story. Tony Harris is nuts, or more accurately Fucking Nuts. the barely intelligible rant he posted on Facebook veers from the ridiculous to the unintelligible. However I disagree with the comments that have been made that Tony Harris is a misogynist. If you read his post carefully and his follow ups it is clear that Tony Harris is an Egotist.

This first becomes obvious when he decides that he is the voice that is tasked with speaking for a “LEGION”.   “After many years of watching this shit go down every 3 seconds around or in front of my booth or table at ANY given Con in the country, I put this together. Well not just me. We are LEGION. And here it is, THE REASON WHY ALL THAT, sickens us:” and then he explains why this is a bad thing “Yer not Comics. Your just the thing that all the Comic Book, AND mainstream press flock to at Cons. And the real reason for the Con, and the damned costumes yer parading around in? That would be Comic Book Artists, and Comic Book Writers who make all that shit up.

Tony Harris is not upset about women being sexy and wanting attention, he is upset that they are taking attention away from him. He is mad the news media whether it is industry or the general media would pay attention to a cosplayer instead of him. As a writer and creator this is the type of rampant egotist that really annoys me. Yes, Mr. Harris has a talent that he has worked at and honed over the years, and he produces beautifully draw comics that unlike a lot of the standard stuff out in the last twenty something years portrays accurately the movement and shape of the human body. That being said it is not his work that bothers me Tony Harris deserves all of the success that he has had in his career, but that does not appear to be enough for him. He feels that he should be worshiped. The fact that people want to talk to or interact with someone who has a talent for costume design offends him. Ignoring the fact that people were dressing up in character costumes long before Mr. Harris was a professional comics artist. Cosplay is the obvious extension of the nature geek urge to become the characters that we wish to emulate.

And if you needed any further proof of the fact that this is all about Tony Harris’ ego then his follow-up post just cements the case. “Because I frown upon Posers who are sad, needy fakers who use up all my air at Cons?” I didn’t realize that all of the air inside a con belonged to Tony Harris. I will remember not to breath the next time I go to one. I always thought that Cons were places for Fans, Geeks and Nerds to get together and sometimes meet the creators that made some of their favorite work possible.

Finally in what has to be the most revealing statement of his followup. “Sorry, while you Cos”Play” Im actually at work. Thats my office.” Well unless you think your job is to sit around and get pats on the back from fans, no it isn’t. Someone who does the work because that is all they can picture ever doing with their life generally does it someplace alone. I understand that if you are being paid an appearance fee to be at a Con you might confuse that for actual work, but it is really more of compensation for taking you away from your real work and making money off of your name. All over this country there are writers, artist and creators off all sorts who would feel that they were the most blessed person on the planet if they could make a living out of their work, even if they were never given a single accolade.

The only thing I can say is that Tony Harris really needs to reevaluate what he is doing for a living. If making a living creating and drawing amazing work of art and fantasy are not enough in and of itself maybe you should find something else to do, there are plenty of people out in the world who would appreciate the chance to show what they have.

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