The world of Nerdy things continues to grow as comics, cartoons, and films become popular. This growth has led to more fans putting on suits and casual cosplay to show their love for the fandoms. This cosplayer continues to make an impact in cosplay and wellness. Meet Terrance, also known as Sano the Lantern.
Please introduce yourself to the readers.
My name is Terrance. I’m 30 years old, from Milwaukee, WI
How would you define cosplay? What is your favorite part of it? What are your principles of cosplay?
Cosplay is a pretty hard thing to define. Sure, we see it as “dressing up as fictional characters”. But because of the various reasons that go into why we do it it can mean something different to different people. To me, the meaning of cosplay is two-pronged. First, it’s a way for me to celebrate and take part in the “nerd” culture that’s helped me get through some very tough times in my life. Second, cosplay is very deeply tied to my own personal health and fitness, so it serves as a way to compliment that part of me.
How do you go about choosing characters and getting into character?
This differs depending on which cosplay(s) we’re talking about. I’ll say most of the time, I chose to cosplay a character because, of course, I like the character. When I decided to first cosplay Green Lantern, which was my 3rd actual cosplay, that one had a lot of meaning behind it. First off, that was my first Zentai suit. I had worked extremely hard 6 months prior to first donning that one to drop 50 pounds! It was a major milestone. Also, I chose to cosplay a green lantern because of John Stewart. He was the first black superhero I saw in mainstream media that had a major role back in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. So I wanted to pay homage to him.
I also like to find things that are different enough to make me stand out. I’ve definitely grown to like Mash-up cosplays for that reason. The green lantern cosplay I talked about earlier also references the Gods of Destruction from Dragon Ball Super. Wanting to stand out is definitely what led me to cosplay Green Lantern Spider-Man. By this point, after really diving into the GL mythos, I’ve accepted the Lantern Corps as my hallmark). What better way of standing out from the myriad of Spider-Men, right?
If my cosplay friends are planning a group thing, I’ll hop in on that. That’s how I cosplayed Black Panther and Bishop. One other thing I like to do is find characters that fit my body profile, you know? I’m a decently tall guy, with some muscle here and there. I personally wouldn’t cosplay a character that’s short or skinny because, for me, it feels weird.
How far do you go into researching a character you would like to cosplay? Is an image and basic background enough, or do you prefer that you’ve researched about the character in context of the story?
I try to learn as much as possible. I want to learn the character’s personality, how they pose or fight, and how they carry themselves. I want to know the characters they interact with, major events in their life or stories they’ve taken part of. Stuff like that. Most of this is for picture taking purposes and photo ops, but I also like talking to lookers-on, too. You feel a lot of passion from other con goers, especially when they really like your interpretation of the characters they like. But I keep an open mind too. Not opposed to learning something new on the spot.
Do you have any accomplishments or cosplay projects you’re particularly proud of?
My first picture of Green Lantern Spider-Man broke 1500 likes overnight on Instagram. That was a crazy day for me. My cosplay group *still* hassles me over that to this day, haha.
As a POC cosplayer have you experienced any challenges? How did you overcome these challenges?
The one thing I’ve run into a lot is people telling me who or what I should be. Being a bald black man, I’ve heard that I “should” cosplay Nick Fury (Marvel) and Frozone (The Incredibles) a lot. Like, A LOT. Now, like I said before I do cosplay characters that fit my build, but I’m not gonna cosplay a character just because I “fit the bill” so to speak. It turns Cosplay for me being an active participant to me putting on a show, which isn’t fun for me at all. In these instances I tend to just laugh them off or tell them I wouldn’t because I don’t like the character.
My Green Lantern cosplay, the design, at least, is completely original. But when I wear it, I’m almost always assumed to be John Stewart. Sometimes people notice the God of Destruction pattern that’s in the design, and those are pure wins. But, most of the time I just have to accept and appreciate that I got noticed and move on. Lest I spend too much energy correcting people.
How would you encourage fellow POC to cosplay characters they love?
Do it. Cosplay is a great and beautiful thing that showcases people’s love for the medium. [It shows] the dedication and creativity and we love to see it. Even if there are people who will tell you that you can’t cosplay “X” character because of whatever crappy reason, continue to do what makes you happy.
What changes do you hope to see within the community in the future?
There’s definitely a lot of unnecessary judgement in the cosplay community, and from what I’ve noticed, with that comes some double standards. I’ve definitely noticed that women and People of Color are very harshly criticized if they aren’t picture perfect. Especially if they’re cosplaying a character that isn’t the same race which is really funny considering most characters in anime are Japanese, but there’s no issue if a white person cosplays them.
This culture that we’ve adopted, I feel, should be a much more welcoming space. Especially when you consider that this kind of thing was something that a lot of us got bullied or shunned for liking. We have the opportunity to come together and be our own family, but I tend to see the same clique-like and judgmental behaviors that exist outside of the fandom. Cosplayers that act as if they’re above others. Convention goers that think they own cosplayers. Things like that. I think we can and should do away with all of that.
All photos taken by Bruce Lo