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Time-machine travel: The First World Science Fiction Convention

How and when "Costuming" becomes "Cosplay"
Image from The First Science Fiction Convention

Introducing Cosplay

While the simple act of dressing up as a character may be over a century old, many of the aspects fundamental to modern cosplay were inherited from a similar craft known as costuming, under whose wing cosplay would grow into what it has become today.

It was in 1939 at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) held in New York[1], that the first instance of anyone attending in fancy dress was recorded. Despite two attendees, pioneering sci-fi fans, Myrtle R. Douglas and Forrest J. Ackerman turning up wearing “futuristic costumes”; this is not the beginning of cosplay. The intent of Ackerman was to promote newspaper coverage of the event and despite that, the goal was unsuccessful. However, a year later, at the next Worldcon in Chicago, several attendees brought their own costumes. It was a “DIY” celebration on the rise: what Douglas and Ackerman could not anticipate at that time was that the costuming scene they’d helped create would later pave the way for something bigger.


  • Have you heard of Cosplay?
  • Are you a Cosplayer?
  • How is it different from fancy dress?

Share your answers with your peers in the comments below.

1. Pierre Pettinger, in “Cosplay World” (2014)

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