It all started in 1992 with a letter, a money order, and a whip.
Fox Lidstone, has been doing cosplay in Halifax on and off for the last 25 years; after finding his first collectors item, he couldn’t stop searching for more to complete his Indiana Jones costume. His repertoire now includes anything Harrison Ford.
“One day, I was reading a magazine,” says Lidstone.
“And I was reading an article about the guy who made the bullwhips that Harrison Ford used in the movies lived in Australia … He had a little shop where he hand-made these leather whips. So back in the days where there was no internet, I wrote a letter to a guy in Australia saying ‘I’d like to buy one of these whips.’”
Lidstone began putting together a costume – not knowing that he was about to enter the cosplay world. He did his research; he found the right whip, the perfect hat, pants and jacket, and he transformed himself into his childhood hero.
“I had people commenting, ‘Oh your mannerism, you’ve got mannerisms that are a little bit like Harrison Ford’s sometimes, when I hear you talking, I’m hearing a weird mix of Indiana Jones and Han Solo,’” says Lidstone.
“And I was always saying, ‘that’s cause I grew up on that, that’s my idea of this masculine, heroic, decent, stand-up guy.’”
It wasn’t until he joined Facebook – when people were posting pictures of their own Indiana Jones costumes and associating the word “cosplay” with them – that Lidstone realized that he could be part of all of this too.
Welcoming cosplay community
In 2010 he went to Hal-Con dressed as Indiana Jones, joining the community.
“I’ll say this about the cosplay community,” says Lidstone. “And it’s something I never expected to learn. The cosplay community – I think worldwide – but definitely, definitely, definitely in Halifax is such a welcoming community.”
He says the cosplay community is blind to whatever “persuasion” a person might be.
“Their height, their weight, their sex, their colour, their creed, their religion, their whatever – it’s just like ‘you are welcome to be here,’ it also applies to your level of creativity. If you are like well I can’t make things, but I want to wear this costume, it’s like ‘you are welcome to wear that costume.’”
Lidstone has joined many different groups over the years to do cosplay; including Hal-Con Super Friends, who make public appearances in parades, and do charitable work as well as the Maritime Heavy Armor group, who take pictures with people on the Halifax waterfront to raise money for charities.
A passionate affair
Cosplay has taken off over the years as fandoms get larger, creativity gets easier with technology and conventions like Hal-Con start to grow. Critics still exist, however.
According to Lidstone, people assume that when people dress up as fictional characters they believe they are Superman or Batman, but that’s not the case. He compares it to a football fan wearing the jersey of their favourite player.
“I’m just kind of saying I like this guy, and I’m in his corner.”
Cosplay isn’t just about the passion people have for the character they are dressing up as, but the passion other people have towards the same characters. Lidstone explains that there’s an honour system, where you’re “waving the flag” for a character.
“I don’t ever want to see anybody using foul language in a public setting. It’s like if you got to go outside to go for a smoke, find a corner to go around, don’t run the risk of a little kid seeing that and having it smudge their idea of who that character is. Or doing anything to conflict with what they expect of your character.”
Why does Lidstone and others participate in cosplay?
“It’s colourful, and exciting, and fun, and silly, but it’s still a hobby,” says Lidstone.
“People don’t usually make a point of cosplaying characters they don’t enjoy on some level. So, the other thing is, it’s sort of a celebration of fictional characters that they enjoy or that they feel a connection to.”
Hal-Con ends today, after their weekend long run.
To see more of Fox Lidstone’s cosplays check out Fox Lidstone Cosplay on Facebook.