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Sugar House Journal

The many faces and characters of the queen of cosplay

Mar 09, 2018 12h30 ● By Natalie Mollinet

Nicole Stephenson is most well known for her Harley Quinn cosplay. (Photo courtesy Nicole Stephenson)

Cosplaying is dressing up as your favorite comic book or movie character and acting like them while at a Comic-Con event or other convention. One local Sugar House cosplayer combines two of her loves—sewing and comic books—to create fantastic costumes for these events. 

Nicole Stephenson is a graduate from Highland High and is currently at the University of Utah studying for a degree in information technology. When she’s not studying, playing games or video games, she’s at her sewing machine perfecting the newest look for the next convention. 

“I was really interested in sewing as a kid,” Stephenson said, “and I taught myself how to sew. I really love reading comic books and around the age of 10 I had an epiphany that I could use sewing skill to make comic book-themed costumes for myself for Halloween.” 

Stephenson started off by making a Harley Quinn costume and after every year she would revamp the costume taking it to a different level from assorted styles from Batman. She didn’t know anything about cosplay until she was about 12 when she heard about the San Diego Comic-Con while at a comic book store where she was a regular. Through that store she attended that Comic-Con and worked for them at their booth while she was there. 

“San Diego Comic-Con has some really dedicated comic book cosplayers,” she said. “That’s really one of the only Comic-Cons where you’ll see the comic book characters who aren’t well known.” Stephenson once cosplayed the part of a supporting character from the Thor comics, Lady Sif, it was only at the San Diego Comic-Con that people knew who she was. At the Comic-Con here in Salt Lake City, she never plays as a character that is not well known.

Stephenson now has over 50 costumes and has a storage unit for them. She usually starts her cosplays the day after attending a convention and can take anywhere from a month to six months to finish. She tries her best not to buy anything premade because it’s cheaper to make everything herself. She has seen some cosplays cost as much as $600 online. 

With all of her cosplays does she have a favorite? Stephenson said, “My favorite comic book cosplay is the Lady Sif costume I did from that specific issue (of comic book). My favorite video game cosplay is Samus Aran in her Varia suit from Metriod Prime 3.” 

“Staying in character all day and committing to wearing the costume all day is the hardest part,” she said. “I’ve definitely worn some comfortable cosplays that aren’t an issue, but sometimes you have large armor or props that you have to haul around all day and go to panels and events in.” 

Some of her cosplays have weighed up to 40 pounds. 

Believe it or not, people do make cosplaying into a career choice, traveling the world to show off their works of art and acting like the character in different places. Stephenson said she would love to make that her career choice. “I’d love to be a professional cosplayer, but I’d also be more than happy to make cosplay armor and props for other people. It’s a hobby that takes a lot of time and dedication.” 

“Start off with something easy and work your way up,” Stephenson recommended if you’re interested in cosplay. “Don’t make it a huge project at first, just make something easy to start and enjoy it.”