How cosplay went mainstream

An excerpt from Andrew Liptak's 'Cosplay: A History - The Builders, Fans, and Makers Who Bring Your Favorite Stories to Life'

A sign.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

For decades, science-fiction and fantasy film, literature, and television were looked down upon by their more mainstream genre counterparts and creators, a lingering result of their low-brow origins: cheaply printed paper, cardboard sets, and escapist themes.

In the mid-1990s, that began to change. Television creators like J. Michael Straczynski, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller began to experiment with the storytelling format on their shows Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9, shifting away from standalone, episodic installments in favor of longer, serialized storylines. This set the groundwork for other ambitious projects that would follow, like Ronald D. Moore's reboot of the 1978 science-fiction series Battlestar Galactica on the Sci-Fi Channel. The series garnered widespread acclaim from critics, who pointed to its scientific realism and political relevance. This wasn't random escapism: It was a serious drama.

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Andrew Liptak

Andrew Liptak is a writer and historian from Vermont. He is the author of the forthcoming book Cosplay: A History (Saga Press, On sale June 28, 2022), and his work has appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, io9, Kirkus Reviews, Lightspeed Magazine, Seven Days,, VentureBeat, The Verge, and other publications. A member of the 501st Legion's New England Garrison and Green Mountain Squad, you might find him at a convention dressed as a Shoretrooper, Clone Trooper, Stormtrooper, or First Order Stormtrooper. You can visit his website, follow him on Twitter, or subscribe to his newsletter.