I'm really excited to share with you something a little different. I'm talking about cosplay feature pages. Today, I get to feature one of my favorite feature pages on instagram, Cosplay and Comics. Nate's worked so hard to feature a wide range of characters, styles and diverse people, and he's a shared founder of the #CosplayAlliance. Read below to find out how much work goes into a cosplay feature page.
How and when did you decide you wanted to launch a cosplay feature page?
It’s kind of a long story. A couple of years ago I decided to start learning what this whole social media thing was all about. I simply started with a Twitter page. I mostly followed DC and Marvel Comics and a few celebrities. Then I met (virtually, of course) Sara Moni (IG: @saramonicosplay). She is a cosplayer out of Phoenix, Arizona. I thought this was the most amazing talent ever. To be able to bring comic book characters to life!!
When I made the transition to Instagram, she was one of the first people I started following. Instagram was the same thing for me. I was following some comic book pages, some celebrities, and now some cosplayers. My page was just pics of my kids and some comic book art. After about six months or so, I decided to do a full day feature for Sara. I figured if I liked her cosplays then other people might as well…but I didn’t realize how much they would. I gained more followers in that one day and those posts got more likes than anything I had posted up to that point so I decided to start incorporating more cosplay into my page.
Over the next couple months I found that I was posting more cosplay pics than pics of my kids and even the comic art was few and far between. It kind of made sense to make it an official cosplay feature page. I went through and moved the pics of my kids to a personal page. I deleted most of the cosplay pics because I didn’t feel like I was always giving credit to the cosplayer and the photographer when I should have been. Basically, I just cleaned up the page a lot.
That’s when I renamed the page to Cosplay and Comics. Elena (IG: @elenablueskies) and I had become friends through the transition from personal page to feature page so I asked her to be my profile model. She’ll be a part of my page as long as there is a page to be part of. Her cosplays amaze me more and more every time I see them. She’s so extremely talented. That was basically the start of my cosplay page…short version.
Have you ever tried cosplaying yourself?
No, I am much more comfortable behind the scenes. My mom always told me I had the face for radio. Cosplayers tell me all the time that I should try it once just to see what its like. I’m not ruling it out. Maybe at some point but I don’t have any immediate plans to try it.
How did the idea of a "page model" come about?
My very first page model was Rachel (IG: @the_hessler). Her and I were chatting one day and she asked if I had ever thought about adding page models. I had no idea what they would do. She kind of described it for me. That they would promote my page and I would share their pics on my page to promote them. So I asked her to be the first. Rachel is my heart. She has been there every step of the way, her and Elena. I couldn’t imagine my life without her.
My original page models, my Classic Crew, were six cosplayers. Most of them are still with me. They helped me get from 2,000 followers to like 50,000. Around there I started to add more. Probably too many. I went from six to 18, then to 30…at one point I had over 40. Most cosplay pages have around 12. I just recently went back down to my Classic Crew plus 17 page models. Much more manageable of a number.
How do you choose the cosplayers that become your page models?
That’s a really difficult question to answer. You want page models that are going to promote you as much as you’re going to promote them. But you never really know that they are going to do that until after you have taken them onto the team.
So really, you want cosplayers that have a lot of different cosplays this way you can share them often and not the same character over and over again. You want someone who is liked in the cosplay community. Someone who doesn’t bully or talk junk. If so, this reflects badly on your page as much as it does on them. A cosplayer with a healthy amount of followers. If they only have like 1,000 followers, who are they promoting your page to?
But again, someone can fill all these qualifications and still not make a good page model. This doesn’t make them a bad cosplayer or a bad person. Some people just don’t have the time to focus on their cosplay career and your cosplay feature page. And that’s perfectly ok.
What kind of rules does a page model need to follow?
“Rules” sound so contractually binding. I have things that I ask they do for me and I have things that I promise to do for them. I ask that they shout out the page once or twice a month. I ask that they have “page mode for Cosplay and Comics” in their IG profile. I ask that they follow and support each other. I ask that if they do a photoshoot, maybe they can throw me an exclusive pic. Something that brings their followers to my page so as to see that exclusive pic.
In return, I promise to post them on my page a minimum of twice a month. I promise that if they are opening their print shop, on a panel at a con, a guest cosplayer at a con, or doing a giveaway, that I would promote the heck out of it on my page. As far as being a page model for only one page, yes. The page model should represent your page. People should associate them with you and vice versa. I do have one or two that also represent for a Star Wars page but that’s not another cosplay feature page.
A lot of cosplay feature pages just post every picture they're sent. How do you choose which photos to share?
I’d love to say that I’m not too picky when it comes to choosing pics but I really am. I don’t post selfies. I don’t post pics that have your messy bedroom or a bathroom shot with a toilet in the background. I want to see the time and dedication in the cosplay. I don’t want to see something you picked up at the Halloween store and threw on real quick. I don’t want to see a superhero t-shirt or a bathing suit. Let me clarify one thing, I have posted a couple bathing suit cosplays but that was because it was in character. Not just a bathing suit with R2-D2 on it.
What I would like to see is originality or different characters. I get a lot of Harley Quinn, Spider Gwen, Spiderman, Batman cosplays. Nothing against those…if its something a little different. What I mean by that is put a little twist on it. Do a burlesque Harley Quinn or a Punk Spider Gwen or a Medieval Batman. Stand out in the crowd. Differentiate yourself. But when I find something you just don’t see every day, I just can’t wait to post it. I remember posting a Black Manta cosplay and getting a ton of comments about how you never see a Black Manta cosplay.
How much time do you put into your feature page per day?
Honestly, it depends on the day. It can be anywhere from zero minutes to eight hours. If I’m busy at work or have something going on in my life, I might not even get a chance to look at my page. But I usually scroll through my DMs and pics I’m tagged in a couple times a day. On a regular basis, I will post three or four times a day. Each time I post I usually post six pics. That will take about 15 to 20 minutes.
This is because I never really have a plan on what I want to post. I have about 1,000 pics on my phone. So when I decide to post I’ll scroll through a couple times looking for whatever catches my eye at the time. Sometimes it could be something new by one of my page models, or a piece of comic art, or something cool by a male cosplayer, or something from a couple years ago that I just never posted before. I am truly not a man with a plan. I just do what I feel.
What do you do when you're not working on the feature page?
First and foremost, I am a dad. I have a 13 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I always try to make as much time for them as possible. They do enjoy the comic book, superhero and comic con stuff as much as I do. My son has gone to a couple cons with me and started taking pics of cosplayers that he enjoyed. My daughter has more Wonder Woman action figures than Barbie dolls. She was Batgirl for Halloween last year and is already planning out her costumes (yes, costumes…plural) for next year. She will most likely be a cosplayer before I know it.
As far as work is concerned, I am a sales manager for Macy’s. I have held several different positions over my career, from Sales Manager to Operations Manager to Human Resource Manager to Store Manager. Most of my career has been in retail. I hold a Master’s degree in Business Management with a minor in Human Resource Management. I have completed all of my core class work and am working on my dissertation for a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.
Obviously, from a hobby standpoint, I am very into comics. I have read Batman comic books for around 30 years (I will be 40 years old in a couple weeks). I also have a huge collection of super hero t-shirts and movies both live action and animated. I also collect all things related to Darth Vader. I have everything from Pez dispensers to a boombox to Christmas ornaments to a Darth Vader wearing Easter bunny ears. My collection takes up a whole wall in my office and its still growing.
You and three other cosplay pages formed the Cosplay Alliance. Can you tell us a bit about this?
The Cosplay Alliance really started with Brandon (@comictoons) and I. We have been friends for a while. We always shouted out each other’s pages and promoted each other’s page models. We had both always had issues with negative comments on our posts. By negative comments, I mean two things. First, followers either body shaming or sexual comments toward the cosplayer. Second, cosplayers putting down other cosplayers. We never really understood how people could be so disrespectful toward these talented individuals.
So we decided to ban together and really bring these issues to light. We promote the idea of cospositivity. Basically, that cosplay is for everyone. No matter what gender, age, body shape, religion, sexual orientation, color, etc, anyone can cosplay as whomever they feel like cosplaying. And if you have nothing better to do than make fun of or put down someone for cosplaying their favorite characters…well then, you’re blocked. I probably block anywhere from six to twelve people a day.
And just to touch base quickly on the second point, we as the Alliance will not post or feature any cosplayer who has been found to be bullying another cosplayer. We have had multiple cosplayers come to us, both individually or as the Alliance, and tell us stories of being bullied by other cosplayers. We do not accept this at face value. We require screenshots or messages that prove it to be true. I will say that there are a couple cosplayers right now that will never be featured on any of our pages for this very issue.
It was probably a short time after forming the Alliance that we added Antonio (IG: @badasscosplay) and a little while after that when we added Lee (IG: @cosplay_only). Both are great guys. We have a little chat group where we regularly discuss different issues or share pics or ask for shoutouts for different cosplayers. I’m sure eventually we’ll add new pages. We’re always looking at other cosplay feature pages.
What other values do you apply to try to encourage your audience?
The two most important values, I would say, are tolerance and encouragement. You don’t have to love a cosplay. You don’t have to agree with the cosplayer’s interpretation or the materials they use. You may hate the way their pic came out. But that does not give you the right to criticize their work. If you can’t say something nice, just more on and don’t say anything at all.
However, if you can take two seconds and say something nice, something encouraging…well that’s what that cosplayer needs to hear. Even if its “good job” or “great shot”…that all it needs to be. That two second comment goes a long way in that cosplayer’s world. It could be the difference between them giving up cosplay or starting a new one. And just remember, negative comments equal getting your ass blocked on my page. I don’t give second chances to hurt someone’s feelings.
Who is your cosplay idol/inspiration?
My page models are my inspiration. They are the reason I keep going and keep posting. There are a couple who I talk to everyday like Elena and Jess (IG: @jaymcee__) and there are some that I talk to on a weekly basis. They are my family. They are what keep me going on a regular basis. There has been more than one occasion where I have thought about giving it up. Deleting my page and not looking back. It’s my page models that keep me centered and keep me moving forward.
What is your favorite convention to attend?
This is impossible for me to answer because I’ve only attended four cons and never the same one twice. My first con (ConnectiCon) was only a year ago. My third was New York Comic Con. Each one had some incredible moments. It was so awesome meeting cosplayers that I have only spoken to through DMs or posted on my page. Not even just cosplayers but photographers as well. At ConnectiCon last year, I met Jason Laboy (IG: @jasonlaboyphotography) who is one of my favorite cosplay photographers. Him and I have become good friends over the last year and speak regularly.
What is your dream convention to attend?
Dream cons? Maybe San Diego but I would love to attend as many cons as possible. I would love to find a way of making this cosplay feature thing a full time job and getting out to cons all over the country. I have been doing cosplayer interviews for a while now. I have had to take a break with rebuilding my page but I’m trying to get back into the swing of it. I am planning on a Cosplay and Comics website and would love to post the interviews there. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to do live interviews at the cons and post them on the site.
Do you have feature page pet peeves?
My biggest pet peeve when it comes to other feature pages is not giving credit to both the cosplayer and the photographer. I go to so many pages while searching Instagram and a lot of times I’ll see the same thing. Either the pic is posted and no one is credited. Or they mention the cosplayer but disregard the photographer. Both worked really hard at getting that pic produced…both deserve credit.
If I see this, I start going through pic by pic and start tagging the cosplayer and/or the photographer. Or at least as many pics as I can before the page blocks me. I’m ok with being blocked by these pages. At least I tried to do what’s right. I go out of my way to try to find the photographer. And if I can’t and I post the pic and someone tells me who the photographer is later, I’ll update my post. It’s only fair.
Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for cosplayers in the community?
Do what makes you happy!! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t cosplay or can’t be whatever character that you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re the wrong size, gender, color, etc to be who you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re cosplay isn’t good enough or professional enough or whatever. Just do what makes you happy.
Do you have any advice for cosplayers looking to be featured by your page?
Reach out to me!! I’m always looking for new cosplayers to feature. Tag me in your pics. Send me a DM. Just an advanced warning though, I like to chat. So if you send me a pic, it may turn into a three day conversation…if not longer. I love learning about the cosplayers. I ask a ton of questions. But definitely reach out to me. Even male cosplayers. I definitely don’t think the guys get enough love. I try to feature them as much as possible but I can definitely post more guys. And cosplayers of color…or diverse cosplayers. Again another area that could use more love. Just send me pics…all pics…lots of pics!!
Where can we find you on all things social?
As you can see, Nate is a very passionate and wonderful guy. Go give his page and his models a follow, and then send him your own photo to be featured in front of thousands of followers!
Check out my earlier interview with Page Model Elena Blueskies!