Weekly Cosplay - EscoBlades Takes on Black Panther's Mantle

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

Weekly Cosplay is a new series of weekly profiles focusing on diverse groups that make up the fandom community. These profiles will highlight cosplayers of all skill and experience levels and introduce a place to discuss inspiration and challenges from costume creation to embodying the characters we all know and love. Weekly Cosplay is open to all fandom characters, whether its anime, manga, video games, or American comics.

Cosplayer Andrien Gbinigie, a.k.a EscoBlades, began cosplaying just last year by taking up the mantle of Black Panther. The Marvel superhero's inaugural film opened this year to critical and fan acclaim, not unlike Gbinigie's first foray as the character.

"The response was fantastic. The pictures actually went kinda viral; I got features in Kotaku, Nerdist and IGN, as well as a number of Black Panther related interviews during the movie's marketing campaign."

Gbinigie is still honing his craftsmanship skills. He admits to being a "newbie" when it comes to cosplay, and thus far has stuck with commissioned bodysuits. Bringing these characters to life, however, is its own kind of reward.

"When you feel a connection, for whatever reason, to a character, getting to embody that character through cosplay is an amazing experience. Getting told that you nailed a look, and really resemble that character is intensely validating, and acts as a reward for whatever hard work you put into getting to that point."

Gbinigie is drawn to superheroes as cosplay inspiration for their strength, empathy, and of course, some really cool costumes. That said, he has encountered some difficulty with his character choices, not because of technically difficult costumes, but because of fan reaction.

"The biggest challenge I've faced since I started cosplaying has been comic book fans who take offense to my portraying, what they believe to be, canonically white characters. I did a photo shoot as Superman, albeit the New 52, black suit version of him. Some of the comments I received were downright nasty. Despite the fact that in the DC Multiverse, there are two different canon versions of Superman that are Black. Not that it should matter anyway."

Gbinigie describes his new hobby as something that has brought him amazing opportunities. He's been invited to premieres, received attention from comic book creators, and gotten his first invitation to attend a convention as a cosplay guest.

For Gbinigie, cosplaying as a Black African man means "being unapologetically myself and comfortable in my skin tone regardless of the character I am portraying. It is knowing that I am not only visible and exist, but that I deserve to be in the space and a part of the community. It is acknowledging that even though some people might have an issue with that, I shouldn't let it dent my passion for, and enjoyment of cosplay. Not just for myself and those of us already doing so, but also for those looking on that may be thinking about taking up cosplay too."

He wants aspiring Black cosplayers like himself to know that their contributions are important.

You matter. You deserve to belong, to be photographed, interviewed and featured. Cosplay needs you. Thank you for being here.

Want to follow this week's cosplayer? You can find Escoblades on:

Photo Credit: Black Panther photos by Lucid V Photography (Facebook, Instagram), Green Lantern, Superman photos by Michaëlle Charette (Facebook, Instagram)

This article has a follow-up: Weekly Cosplay - Izzy Saeko's Kasumi from Dead or Alive Kicks Ass (2018-09-08 15:45)
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