James Prescott cosplaying his own invented character of Richard Arnold, a journalist with The Manchester Guardian in the 1880s © J. Ashley Nixon

All Dressed Up: Portraits of Cosplayers

This article is an excerpt from my new publication All Dressed Up: Portraits of Cosplayers. With 97 photographs, the book explores the character within characters; stories from people performing their own versions of other people they have a passion for.

“Steampunk simply embodies a time and a place. The time… the late 19th century, the place… a steam-powered world, where air travel by fantastical airships and submarines is as common as travelling by car, train, or boat.“

Calgary Steam Punk Assemblage

There are many visual references found in books, comics and films that inspire the creation of Steampunk costumes and characters. Some of the classic ones come from the novels of Jules Verne, for example, Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days, published in 1873. Captain Nemo, who led the adventures of an underwater ship, the Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (published in 1870) is another.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s invented characters are popular too. Professor George Edward Challenger first appeared in his book The Lost World (published in 1912), which narrates an expedition to a mountain plateau in South America where dinosaurs have survived. Professor James Moriarty, a criminal mastermind appears in two of the Sherlock Holmes books, as well as in the various film versions. Interestingly, these famous characters were rather like cosplayers, invented but based on real people that the author knew.

James Prescott (see photo above), who trained as a journalist, invented the character of Richard Arnold, a journalist with The Manchester Guardian in the 1880s for a role-playing game in England. He finds that playing the role of a Steampunk journalist gets him into some interesting situations. He acquired his elegant fur-lined overcoat after doing some work in Russia.

Rachel Myers-Jordan cosplaying a Steampunk. © J. Ashley Nixon


“I started cosplaying a Steampunk in 2012. It’s a Victorian sci-fi costume. You can punk it up, add some sci-fi stuff to it. It’s kind of an era that never happened and we’re still using steam power for all our modern technologies.”

Rachel Myers-Jordan


Ken DeLyzer cosplaying a Steampunk Ghostbuster. © J. Ashley Nixon

“I’m a Steampunk Ghost Buster. I joined the Calgary Steampunk Assemblage and I really wanted to stand out while still being true to both genres. I had an old Hoover vacuum sitting around and I thought to myself, I should make a proton pack. Get in with the Ghost Busters.”

Ken DeLyzer

View or purchase All Dressed Up: Portraits of Cosplayers

You can view (virtual flip page) and/or purchase a print copy or Instant PDF version (viewable on any device) of All Dressed Up: Portraits of Cosplayers via this link.

Copies are also available for purchase at The Camera Store, Calgary.

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