“It’s wingardium leviOsa, not leviosAH.”

“It’s wingardium leviOsa, not leviosAH.”

“It’s wingardium leviOsa, not leviosAH.”

Brandon Peck

The Harry Potter franchise was one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, pop culture event since its release in 1997. It has influenced the young to the retired, even to this day. My sister in law first introduced me to “The Sorcerer’s Stone” while we were on vacation at Bear Lake. I was hooked. Every year I would read or reread the books at our summer condo. The world of magic was unlike anything that I came across in my youth. My work sold the books, so I was always first in line for the book releases. My manager wore his Gryffindor robes to hand out the books to the waiting customers. The striped tie with black round glasses, even had a wand and a temporary lightning bolt tattoo. My manager isn’t the only person that enjoyed dressing up for Harry Potter. I had the chance to talk with a few Harry Potter cosplayers that brought the world of magic to life.

Azkaban Bellatrix was one scary witch. When the films came out, her laugh was haunting. Tracy Schroeder portrays the fear I experienced as a kid reading about the horrors the Longbottoms endured. Tracy shares a trait with myself, as we enjoy making cosplays that are not used very often. The joy of having fans come up to you and tell you how original your costume is, that they have never seen anyone else cosplay that way, lifts the burden of having to make the designs from head to toe. The fabric for the prison garb was found at Ikea. The chains were made out of Polymorph Plastic, with using Worbla for the cuffs. To give that worn look, as if she had been in prison for years, Tracy used sandpaper. Overall costs were around $100.

Tracy wold love to meet Sirius Black. He went through so much in his life. He turned his back on the family beliefs, then losing his best friend, and then losing his freedom. Sirius escapes only to find he is still in a prison of sorts because he is a wanted criminal, and then losing his life to his crazy cousin (which Tracy has been cosplaying.) Through all that, he still had spirit and never gave up. Something Tracy thinks more of us need in our lives. Salt Lake Comic Con has invited Tracy to cosplay at their release of the new book.

“I love the Harry Potter series because it takes you into a world of magic. Who wouldn’t love that. To cosplay someone from that world brings me that much closer to being a part of it.” -Tracy Schroeder

When “Chamber of Secrets” came out in theaters, friends of Eric Hall wanted to see the film on opening night, dressed up. Throwing together a Harry Potter outfit was a lot of fun. As the final books were being released, Eric made a Professor Snape cosplay that had won a couple of in-store contests. More recently, he became a part of HEROIC and The Rocky Mountain Muggles, which are charity cosplay groups that make visits to sick kids, help support community, and library events. The really fun part is that they are all in character when dressed up, helping create the atmosphere. After awhile fans were telling Eric that he looked like Remus Lupin, so he made a cosplay of that. Lupin now visits Harry Potter events more than Snape. So expect to see him at the book release. Hopefully it won’t be a full moon. Eric is also working on a Newt Scamander cosplay for when the new film is released.

Eric finds parts of his cosplays from all over, using them as is or altering to suit the needs. With about $40, he found his parts from Savers, Goodwill, and Halloween stores. The brown suit is also used for a couple other cosplays, the Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who), and Data from the episode “Time’s Arrow”, where he goes back in time to 1880’s San Francisco (Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Having several reasons to be a fan of the Harry Potter series, Eric talked about a quote that is falsely attributed to Stephen King but it still rings true. “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity, Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.” Especially with the films, Eric enjoys watching the characters grow up, mature, and become heroes over the course of the series. If he could meet one person from the series, Eric said Hermione. “I’d love to hear her thoughts about what it’s like having Muggle parents, but being such a talented witch… how she felt when she removed herself from her parents’ memories… the weight of her journey back to Hogwarts during the time of The Deathly Hallows…”

“I like the concept and (no pun intended) magical realism of a world very few Muggles know about, full of magic, Wizards, strange creatures that most only know from storybooks, existing side by side but hidden from our own, mundane world.” -Eric Hall

Neville Longbottom really charmed Stephanie Boohar. His development was very encouraging and interesting to experience over the course of the books and movies. Any parent knows that their children have a heavy influence on fandoms. Stephanie’s daughter absolutely adores anything Harry Potter. When Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) was announced as a gues for FanX, the eight year old insisted that with a flick of a wand, they would be in Hogwart’s costumes when meeting him. They planned on a Gryffindor student, and Stephanie as Professor McGonagall. In order to get the robes and under gown to fit just right, the family’s house elf took to the sewing machine during the night. Now a house elf can’t make everything. Stephanie purchases the assortment of accessories needed with all Gryffindors: brooch, wand, hat, etc. The total costs for McGonagall is approximately $300. If you are late to the Harry Potter book release, Professor McGonagall just might turn one of you into a pocket watch.

“I like the messages it conveys, such as doing what’s morally right, even when it’s difficult and unpopular. It also shows that you can be awkward and unsure of yourself, like Neville, and still become a hero. It’s such a richly detailed narrative you can really immerse yourself in the Potterverse. I’ve read the books and seen the movies multiple times and enjoy them as much as I did the first time I experienced them.” -Stephanie Boohar

Travelling throughout Hogsmeade, make sure you say hi, and get your picture taken, with these fellow cosplayers. Buy them a Butterbeer for all their hard work they put into their cosplays. Ask them about their future projects. Join them in the Potterverse. doesn’t matter if you make a full blown outfit or just wearing the t-shirt of your favorite house.  “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” will be released at a book store near you on July 31, 2016. Salt Lake Comic Con is hosting a book release party at Weller Book Works on Saturday July 30 at 9 PM. You can find their event page by clicking here.

Cosplay Preparation

Cosplay Preparation

Cosplay Preparation

Brandon Peck

You’ve decided to make your cosplay. That is a giant leap into the world of fandom. But where do you start? What are these costumes made of? How in the world do you shape that? Its all about preparing so that you don’t pull your hair out by the time you have finished. Figuring out the steps before hand will lessen the stress and help you make the costume you are proud of. If you don’t want to prepare, the costume making process is going to take much longer, cost you more money, and you just might give up because you don’t know what you are doing. So here are some tips for planning a cosplay.

1. Research your cosplay.

Just start by getting as many pictures of the character as possible. There could be different versions that you will choose from. You will constantly be looking at these pictures while planning and creating. These pictures can help you figure out how large or small certain aspects are. There aren’t a lot of websites that will describe the proportions of the character, not to mention you won’t be the same size. (Anyone can cosplay whoever they choose.) It’s not cheating by looking at other people’s cosplays. I look at their strengths and opportunities and what skill level that is required to implement into my own designs.

2. Get a notebook.

I use my sketchbook to draw my plans as well notes. This is a great way to keep to a plan. Yes there will be several drafts, but that is what brainstorming is all about. I give the cosplay a title, and divide into different sections of the body, materials, and cost. Draw the overall costume in what is pictured in your mind. I find putting that on paper helps get the fuzzies out of the way. What materials are you planning on using. Good place for the first part of note taking. Figuring out if you are using foam, cardboard, or worbla sends you in a direction. So many different types of fabrics with different looks. Go to a fabric store and take pictures of the fabrics to compare styles. (Do take a picture of the style number and upc, it helps the salesperson to locate it.)


As you go through different parts of the body, note which sections will take more time and skill level. This will help you to get the easy stuff done first, we don’t want to stress out in the beginning. Keep rereading your notes. More ideas will come to you. Redesigns will happen, so don’t start making the costume till you have a for sure plan. With the materials you plan on using, also research the price. If you can save some bucks, do so. It can get pretty pricey. Fabric and hobby stores have email newsletters with coupons, make sure you sign up for them. They have big sales throughout the year and if you have planned out the fabrics you need, the price you pay will be far less than buying on impulse. Do check out your local thrift store. They get random items in all the time that you can assimilate into a prop.

3. Marking tools.

Could be pencils, markers, or pens. Get a plethora of them in different sizes and colors. I use different colors to mark different depths on my templates when drawing them out. Also you need to draw them out. I use my compass for my circles and round curves. Sometimes pencils don’t show up when marking on foam so use a pen or marker. When marking fabric use something light that can come off easily like pencil or fabric chalk. Last thing we need is to show off our markings in the final costume form. Using different size rulers is perfect if you need to mark a small area and not have room for a three foot ruler. I have seen fellow cosplayers make a ruler out of foam to help adjust for the thickness of foam around curves of the body. (Yes it is different lengths when you add thickness.)

4. You will need more than a pair of scissors.

Cutting foam and worbla can dull cutting blades quickly. My fabric scissors only touch fabric. Anything else will dull them prematurely and they are pricey. Using an x-acto blade is better for detailing while a utility blade that breaks off the ends is perfect for thicker foam. Sharper blades avoid giving you rough cuts that you have to smooth out or hide later in the project. Speaking of smoothing, sandpaper. Get a variety of grits. Making your parts smooth give that winning finish. Sandpaper is needed if you use spackle to hide seams. Judges will call out seeing the seams between foam. To save time, rotary tools such as a dremel quicken the sanding with their attachments. They also have cutting and engraving attachments which are perfect for the small details. Please use a mask and eye protection when using a rotary tool. We don’t want to permanently cosplay Carl from “The Walking Dead.” The tool everyone should have. No questions asked. Is the heat gun. A hair dryer will not cut it when drying paint to to form foam and worbla.

Last and foremost. You need a cospace to work. (Yes we put cos in front of everything associated with cosplay, i.e. cospace, cosplay, cos cards, etc.) This can take up some room that others might be using at the same time. Having a dedicated spot can save you a headache caused by someone moving your stuff. Please use the outside when using chemicals or the rotary tool or spray painting. The space will get dirty making the family dinning table out of question. The cospace will also contain your storage for materials and tools. Make sure an outlet is nearby if using electrical equipment.

Preparation is a key to success. Having the tools you need with the right materials, will help you to design and make what you see in your mind, into the real world. Planning with show problems before hand, leading to less mistakes. Mistakes will always happen. Being able to be proud of what you created keeps you in the fandom. It’s what you love. We don’t need negativity trying to force out the positivity in our lives. Also your hair will thank you for not being pulled out.

Choosing To Cosplay

Choosing To Cosplay

Choosing To Cosplay

Brandon Peck

WoodPecker Cosplay

You belong to a particular fandom. There could be a large grouping, or only a few participate in this fandom. Many people wear the merchandise of their heroes or villains. Many people decide to kick it up a notch and dress up. That is what cosplay is all about, showing the pride in fandom. Time and money is part of everyone’s lives. Do you have the time to cosplay? Do you have the money to pay for the materials? Whether you decide to make your own costume or purchase, time and money is a factor.

During Halloween, stores open for business to let you dress up in the reality of your choice. Superman, Batman, Captain America can be seen throughout the streets. While inside more adult costumes make the scene. Purchasing a premade costume is the easiest way to cosplay if you don’t have the skills to make one. Someone else made your fandom and shipped it out to you. Most store bought costumes are very generic to the fandom. Meaning not a lot of details are being shown. It is like printed clothing. Buying the more deluxe costumes add more detail with the higher prices you pay. General rule for businesses on how to charge you is (2x Materials + Labor + Bonus). You save the time by having others do the work.

Now making the cosplay doesn’t mean you have made the entire costume from scratch. My first was Woody from Toy Story. I had similar clothing in my closet and threw it together. This is traditionally known as closet cosplay. This is a very common way to celebrate the fandom. It doesn’t cost you much as you had already purchased the clothing. You could also check out the thrift stores for what you are looking for.

Making your cosplay will give you a better look (depending on your skill set) on the details compared to the price of buying. The greater the wow factor, the greater the skills were put into the effort. If you are competing in the cosplay competitions, at least 50% of the costume has to be made from scratch. It could change depending on the competition. Making the costume will take the most time and could be the most expensive. Numerous materials, techniques, and skills are used.


Can you invest more time and more money? Or do you need to come up with a quick option. It is your choice on how the cosplay is made. Cosplay gives a feeling that cannot compare to most hobbies. Choosing how to show your pride is entirely up to you. Walking around the conventions, you will be stopped by hundreds of people congratulating your showcase. So no matter on how you display your pride, you will have a welcoming community.


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