By Adam Wolfe
If you're a fan of cosplay, you've at the very least heard of Yaya Han. She was the star of Syfy's Heroes of Cosplay show, has over a million followers on Facebook, and has been a top name in the cosplay scene since she started in 1999. Truly, she is a cosplayer that needs no introduction, but I decided to give her one anyway! I managed to get some one on one time with her, and asked her some questions about NYCC.
So as you can imagine, someone with as much fame and prestige as Yaya appears at just about every big name con. So I wondered, what did she think was special about NYCC. She states, "New York Comic on is the last convention of the year, it's the last giant convention that every prepares for and gets excited about. Its set in a very unique setting, walking distance from Times Square. The city itself is incredibly exciting, and there is no other place like New York. I get excited from just coming to NYC, and a lot of people do to. New York has a really strong history and foundation for comic books. Marvel is here, legendary artist and writers are from the North East area." She went on to compliment Reed Pop, saying "they really do a great job." She added that she is a veteran of NYCC, and was in attendance back when it was "New York Comic Con and New York Anime Fest when they were separated." She further complimented Reed Pop by saying the convention as a whole was "really smooth, and pretty different from other big conventions [she's] been to."
What she loves most about NYCC is "the people." She goes on to say "New York in itself is kind of crazy, you go down to Times Square and crazy stuff is happening but here at NYCC I feel very safe, and very a part of. I may not to fit in the outside world and craziness of Times Square but at NYCC I belong. These are all the people that make the effort to come here because we're a little different in real life. Everyone is very nice and passionate about what they like. They're very knowledge about what they like. They like a comic book, they know a lot about it. If they follow a cosplayer, they've really followed them for a long time and know things about them. Like how they make costumes. I feel like I can really connect people on that level here."
A big name cosplay like Yaya Han has hundreds of outfits to choose from. Have you ever wondered how she does it? "For New York specifically, it's all logistics. It depends on how far I'm staying from the convention center. If its within walking distance, [she] can bring certain costumes [she] can just change into, but they can't be super ridiculously elaborate because of the huge crowds. Nothing with wings, or big props. [She] sorta has to choose mobile costumes that still look cool to me, and [she'd] want to showcase, like this one!" (At the time she was wearing her Gunner Class cosplay from Aion a Korean video game.)
Yaya Han has noticed the explosive growth of cosplay, particularly at NYCC. I gave her the upmost credit, in being one of the figures which have helped cosplay grow into the forefront of geek culture. She claims she "never would have imagined cosplay would blow up the way it did. When I discovered it back in the summer of 99' it was just not something that seemed like it would catch up. I'm absolutely amazed of how conventions are supportive of it now and people are into it." She feels cosplay "adds to the convention experience, because it changes your weekend completely. Even if you do it for a couple of hours. It's just added excitement. You become a part of this world, rather than being a guest walking through. You are expressing yourself by creating something, rather than just consuming something."
As some of you may know, Yaya Han now stars in her own comic book. She feels having a comic book come out has made her go "full circle" as a cosplayer, "you cosplay comic character, then you get to be one." Apparently, Lion Forge Comics approached her and "were really interested in creating a story about who [she] is, rather than [her] lending [her] face and name to promote a book." "The character is Yaya Han, and what would happen if [she] had just gotten into cosplay as a noobie and got super powers." Lion Forge has been putting out digital issues on Comixology and the Lion Forge site, but a print release is in the works.
Not only does Yaya have a comic book coming out, but she is also working on a deal with Cosplayfabrics.com and Joannas craft and fabric stores. She will be releasing the "first cosplay line of fabrics." These fabrics will be made with "[cosplayers] needs in mind, durability, quality the very unique finishing and prints we [cosplayers] need." The inspiration came from Yaya's own challenges in making cosplays, as it seems she wants to create a world where cosplayers don't have to be frustrated in hunting for fabrics. She hopes it will "open a new market to Joannas" and hopes that Joannas will realize they have had a loyal fan base in cosplayers but lacked a true connection to them. "They don't know what fabrics we need, now I'm the one telling them." Personally I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have in charge of a project like that.
As my very last question I had to put her on the spot. I asked which she preferred, New York Comic Con or San Diego. Despite thinking "she may get in trouble for this" she confessed that New York is her preferred convention even though she knows its "quite the statement."
Well there you have it, a little insight about NYCC from the eyes of one of the Queens of Cosplay. Yaya Han was an absolute pleasure to interview and honestly one of the nicest people I've met at a con. If you aren't a fan of her, what are you doing with your life?
Below is a link to her facebook page (photos are from there as well).