Thursday, March 17, 2011

Worlds' First Cosplayer

Mister Monster, Dr. Acula, the poormans'
Vincent Price. Whatever you called him, he
was Uncle Forry to me.
                                               Worlds' First Cosplayer


                                                                  Jay Agan

      The vast majority of anime fans have probably never heard of Forrest J Ackerman. Yet he had more of an indirect influence on anime fandom than most realize.

      Writer, literary agent, actor, collector, punster, promoter of the fantastic in film & in print. Superfan. As editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland he was a great influence in my formative years. Every month I would get an education in the cinematic worlds of horror, sci-fi, fantasy & mystery.Though the magazine was somewhat juvenile in nature (So was Mr. Ackerman!), it nonetheless took one behind the camera & intro-d you to the people & methods of the "magic" that made these movies great. Many big names in Hollywood & around the world were inspired by this man & his magazine to enter the industry. It is safe to say the world of western cinema would not be the same today if not for this man.

      Forrest Ackerman may also have been the initiator of the field of cosplay.

      At the first World Science Fiction Convention (1939) in New York City, he showed up in costume (See photo below.). This caused quite a stir, so much so, that the 1940 con had several more people so attired. Cosplay went from there to what we see today at anime & sci-fi cons the world over.

Forry cosplaying at the 1st World Science
Fiction Con in New York City, 1939.

      There is more to this story however. Though it's mentioned from time to time its' implications aren't considered & should be.

      Mr. Ackerman was not the only one in costume at the con in '39. Accompanying him was Myrtle R. Douglas, the designer of the costumes they wore (She was attired as a character from Things To Come.). That's right! Forrest J Ackerman was the first sci-fi geek/"otaku" to show up at a convention with a ..... GIRLFRIEND! (Until "recently", how many otakus, anime or otherwise, have even HAD girlfriends?) THAT, my friends, is what is called HISTORY!

      Hats off to ya Forry! You were one of the people who made my life a little more fun & interesting than it otherwise would have been. Though you were a staunch atheist while among us, it is my sincere hope that you have been (And still are.) pleasantly surprised. God bless you sir!

                                Article copyright © 3-17-2011 Jay Agan

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