What I Love About Magic: The Cosplay

Posted in Ways to Play on February 22, 2017

By Gaby Spartz

By night, Gaby streams Magic on Twitch. By day, she's co-founder and VP of Content at Dose, the Chicago-based media company behind Dose.com and OMGFacts.com.

Cosplaying, also known as the practice of dressing up as specific fictional characters, is one of the most creative ways to showcase your love of a game or series. Cosplaying provides an outlet to express yourself by dressing up as famous characters. Today we're taking a look at some of the most talented cosplayers in Magic, what drew them to it, and some of their favorite memories from walking the planes.

"I first started cosplaying because I love Sailor Moon and I wanted to be Sailor Venus back in 2004! But I got into Magic Cosplay by going to the 2011 Magic World Championship," says Christine Sprankle, one of the most prominent cosplayers in the game. She made her debut as Elspeth during Worlds, and has since then dressed up as some of the most iconic characters in Magic.

Christine Sprankle and Vanessa Martin
Christine Sprankle as Liliana of the Veil (Bonus: Vanessa Martin as Delver of Secrets)

"My favorite character to portray is Liliana because we really have a connection. My favorite Magic cosplay, however, is probably Avacyn because everyone enjoys it. Some of my favorite photos ever in cosplay are of me as Avacyn."

Christine Sprankle and Kohalu
Christine Sprankle as Avacyn, the Purifier, and Kohalu as Sorin Markov. Photo by Alive Alf Photography.

When speaking to Sprankle about what draws her to Magic, she expanded on how much the art appeals to her. "The artists are always so nice and helpful, and the art itself is so beautiful. It inspires and motivates me to keep doing what I'm doing. Being able to talk to the people who have made such beautiful pieces, it becomes a privilege and honor to bring their work to life!"

Some people, like Sprankle, are enamored with the artwork of Magic (for more on that, you should check out Maria Bartholdi's fantastic video on the love of Magic art collections). Others, however, have different facets they love about Magic and cosplaying.

MJ Scott
MJ Scott as Azusa, Lost but Seeking with the Amulet of Vigor. Photo Effects by James Arnold.

"Magic combines a dynamic game, fantasy theme, amazing art, and commitment to an inclusive community in this wonderfully dynamic package. It's just the perfect storm for me to geek out on," says MJ Scott. A lifetime cosplayer, she's been creating art and dressing up since she was a kid.

"I was the person who'd religiously try to win every Halloween costume contest; [I went] to the Lord of the Rings premier in full-on elf. After I saw Nina LaNoir and Christine Sprankle dressed up in Magic costumes, I thought, 'Wow, what a great way to marry two of my interests!'"

MJ Scott
MJ Scott as Narset Transcendent. Photo Effects by James Arnold.

When I asked about some of her favorite memories cosplaying, the first Planeswalker Summit immediately sprang to her mind. "It was held at Grand Prix Portland in August 2016. I organized the event starting with a small group of friends, and it grew into a huge gathering of cosplayers—the largest Magic cosplay meetup to date—because of community interest and support! It was unreal. The second Planeswalker Summit is set for Grand Prix Las Vegas this June. We are hoping to set a new record." If you're interested in meeting some fellow Magic cosplayers, you can check out their Vegas meetup page, Planeswalkers of the Summit 2017.

Grand Prix Portland 2016 Planeswalker Summit
Grand Prix Portland 2016 Planeswalker Summit

MJ Scott isn't the only Planeswalker who was inspired by the lovely Christine Sprankle. Our very own A. E. Marling's spark was ignited after Sprankle's debut as Elspeth. "I saw cosplay could be more than clothes. It allows you to express what excites you most about a character. Cosplay is wearing imagination on your sleeve."

A.E Marling, Ashlen Rose, and Christine Sprankle
A. E. Marling as Jace Beleren, Ashlen Rose as Nissa Revane, and Christine Sprankle as Chandra Nalaar

An avid Magic player, Marling is most famously known for his Stitcher Geralf costume. "You may have heard that Stitcher Geralf basically saved Innistrad by himself," he says. "True, he had the help of his skaabs, the walking and flying monuments to his genius. Oh, I suppose his sister was there, Ghoulcaller Gisa, with her horde of undead dolls. She's such an embarrassment."

Marling has also gotten into some misadventures as Stitcher Geralf. "I was stalking the hall as Stitcher Geralf with my fresh eye (you never know where it could be useful). A gentlemen asked to take a picture with me as if I had pulled out his eye. Only after making the pose did I realize he was in fact missing an eye. It was gone, empty, eyelid sagging. He didn't wear an eyepatch or anything. I asked him if my cosplay made him uncomfortable. He chuckled. We took the picture and went our separate ways." Things in Innistrad (or in this case, Grand Prix Vegas) can get pretty spooky sometimes.

A.E. Marling
A. E. Marling as Stitcher Geralf

For some, like Ashlen Rose, cosplaying was a natural progression that stemmed from a love of anime. "I got into cosplaying Magic shortly after I started playing. It was just kind of a given. I already cosplayed the anime I watched and wanted to extend it to gaming as well. There was also the draw/challenge of not having an arsenal of reference images to go off of; you really have to put your thinking and creativity cap on when you only get a waist-up picture of a character."

Christine Sprankle and Ashlen Rose
Christine Sprankle as Nissa Revane and Ashlen Rose as Sorin Markov

Cosplaying gives you a mutual interest and something to geek out over. When you're playing in a tournament, you might get to fawn over the latest brew—but when you're cosplaying, you can relish anything that brings your favorite characters to life. "I've always had anxiety when it comes to meeting new people, and playing Magic really helps alleviate that," says Rose. "It's the same reason I enjoy cosplaying so much; it's easy to connect and nerd out about."

Ashlen Rose
Ashlen Rose as Nahiri, the Harbinger

Meeting new people is one of the things that cosplayers love the most while they're in garb. "I remember walking down one of the aisles and suddenly hearing a little voice yell, 'NISSA!'" says Rose. "I turned just in time to see her jump out of her seat and run up to me for a hug. She explained that I was her favorite Planeswalker and that she was using me in her deck for the Grand Prix. I was so happy to have the chance to meet her, she was only four years old at the time and already playing at such a big event." Cosplay creates such memorable moments, not just for those who dress up, but also those who get to see their favorite characters come to life.

Nadine
Nadine as Ajani Goldmane

For others, the friends and community they're a part of becomes their main draw into cosplaying. "The community is amazing, I've met a lot of people I wouldn't want to go without any more since I got into Magic," says Nadine, better known as NissaCosplay. "The Grand Prix regulars feel a little like family already, and I start to miss them all whenever there's a longer break between GPs."

Nadine
Nadine as Nissa Revane

Isn't this Nissa utterly impressive? What's even more astonishing is that Nissa was Nadine's first foray into the world of cosplaying. "My brother got me into Magic shortly after he [started playing], and his first planeswalker was a Nissa, Worldwaker. Around that time, the first bigger convention in Switzerland got announced along with a cosplay contest and well-known cosplay guests; that got me motivated to get started! Didn't take me long to decide on Nissa, so I taught myself the basics of cosplay via YouTube tutorials and ordered all the materials I needed. The first convention as Nissa was a blast. I met a lot of other cosplayers, and I even won 'Best Props' with the staff I carved myself for Nissa! With so many positive memories and new friends, I decided on my next cosplay quite soon and ever since I've been crazy about Magic and cosplay!"

If you want to see more of our talented cosplayers work, here's where you can find them:

Talking to our talented cosplayers has inspired me to cosplay for Grand Prix Vegas where I'll be appearing as Nissa (a much more humble Nissa than our talented cosplayers would conjure up). Have you ever cosplayed before? What are some of your favorite cosplays? You can let me know on Twitter @gabyspartz, or on my stream at twitch.tv/gabyspartz.

—Gaby

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