I cosplayed for the first time, and I'd do it again

Armed with a blond wig and a red dress, I became Sabrina Spellman from Netflix's The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
3 min read

That's me, cosplaying for the first time.

Tania Gonzalez/CNET

The woman with the camera apologizes to me. "I'm sorry you're eating, but can I take your picture?"

I might be halfway through a warm, salty Auntie Anne's pretzel (a much belated lunch), but this person with the camera is now officially the 10th one to ask for a photo of me in my first attempt at cosplaying.

Friday has been a day far different than any single day I've spent at a conference or convention. I'm at San Diego Comic-Con, the center of geekdom on Earth. It's an event that attracts upward of 130,000 attendees to revel in fandom every year. It brings together collectors, artists, nerds of all varieties and cosplayers to spend a few days swimming around in the concentration of comics , movies and TV.

Over the years, cosplaying has gained popularity at the event and beyond at place like Disney's D23 and Dragon Con, which takes place in Atlanta this weekend, so you can't walk around the convention center without seeing folks dressed up as everyone from Princess Leia, to Batman, to a thousand different anime characters and anything in between. This year, there's a preponderance of Stranger Things Scoops Ahoy uniforms and more than a few chubby Thors from Avengers: Endgame.

See the best cosplay from Disney's D23 Expo

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For my part, I decided that in the middle of running around from event to event and panel to panel, I'd cosplay as Sabrina Spellman, from Netflix's The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. If you want to read about how I made the costume, having never cosplayed before, I wrote about it here.

From the moment I set foot at SDCC, the experience of being dressed up as a character is nowhere as odd as I thought it would be. If anything, I don't think I've ever blended in to a crowd better. Working in this field, your Nerd Card is bound to get questioned. But in my Sabrina getup, I don't have to deal with that.

Initially, I wasn't sure what to do with myself once on site -- are you just supposed to walk around? Soon enough, after walking through a set of doors, a guy asks for a picture.

A fluke, I think to myself. But over the course of the day, people stop me and ask me for more photos. Every time it happens, it's like a little serotonin hit and I'm just proud that anyone thinks this first costume is worth documenting. I cap out at 14.

Having random people approach me also appeals to my reporter brain. While talking to strangers might weird some folks out, I like it. I always have.

One woman who asks for a picture tells me about how a prequel novel to The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has just been published. She pulls the audiobook up on her phone so I can see the title -- "as a fellow Sabrina fan."

In the women's room, I commiserate with a woman dressed as She-Ra after I lean on the counter and get water on my dress. She tells me that earlier she managed to smear a bit of chocolate protein bar on her tights.

When people call out, "Hey, Sabrina!" I answer.

Toward the end of the afternoon, though, I'm slowing down. The bobby-pins keeping my hair under my wig are poking me. My lipstick is fading. I'm fantasizing about putting on the black cotton T-shirt and jeans I've got stashed in my bag -- my own signature conference look.

After a day of cosplaying, I'm ready to pop off the wig… maybe after one more lap around the expo floor.

The very best cosplay we saw at Comic-Con 2019

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Originally published July 19.
Update, Aug. 29: Adds reference to Dragon Con, taking place this weekend.