If you are not familiar with cosplay, it is a word mash-up of "costume" and "play". It is when a person dresses as a character from a source of fiction, and it is often found at conventions, particularly the video game, comic book, or anime kinds. I recently had an opportunity to attend a convention known as Momocon 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, and I met a member of the SC Upstate Heroes that showed me that cosplay isn't for those who just want to imagine themselves as a superhero, but a source of true heroism.
Let me begin by saying that I have never cosplayed before, and I can say that I don't really understand it. In fact, if anyone who is reading this thinks that cosplay is "geeky" or "nerdy" should pay attention, as the SC Upstate Heroes and many other cosplay groups are doing a world of good, for real.
The man that you see in the illustration is dressed as Agent Venom. If you have never heard of that character, don't feel too bad. Unless you read Marvel comics regularly, you wouldn't know that Agent Venom is Spider-man's old friend Flash Thompson, as the new host of Venom. Most people who don't cosplay, like myself, wouldn't know that at first glance.
Agent Venom isn't the only suit that this man wears, as he often dresses as classic Spider-man and Daredevil that he likes to use for events, not to mention outfits for Wolverine and Iron Fist. It is not uncommon for cosplayers to have more than one outfit and to alternate outfits during events like conventions.
As part of the SC Upstate Heroes, this man is involved with Greenville, South Carolina March of Dimes events, as well as Greenville Children's Hospital visits. They also work with Make-A-Wish. I won't divulge the group's secret identities, but the one who plays Captain America/Green Arrow/Batman is a funeral director, their Superman is a plastic surgeon, Batman is a mechanical engineer, Wonder Woman is a bartender, and Spider-man is a cashier. As for the Agent Venom that I mentioned before, he is an IT at a medical supply/software company.
The group's future plans include a visit to a summer camp called Camp Courage. They intend to visit them and give out free comics supplied by Diamond Distribution, as well as taking pictures with the kids and doing various activities.
I'm sure that the SC Upstate Heroes aren't the only one who are using their ability to make costumes to brighten kids' days. If anyone still considers cosplay as "geeky" or "nerdy" or "immature", I will remind you that several kids are blessed by seeing people dressed as superheroes. To a child who is in need, the inspiration is welcomed.
Part of every superhero's story is the time when they find the courage to put on the outfit and then go out and do good in the world. Even though superheroes like the ones in DC or Marvel comics aren't real, it is refreshing to know that there are people out there who find the courage to put on a costume and do good as well.
This was one of the things that I learned at MomoCon was how much courage it takes to put on a costume, even if it is just for fun at a convention. Oddly enough, these people find that they are free to be themselves when they dress as someone else. If any of you still think that this is not normal behavior, then I'll remind you that athletes, soldiers, policemen, and firemen do the exact same thing.