South Australian cosplayer The Dingo Ate My Cosplay, aka Zoe Mackay, is a champion cosplayer. She's been working on costumes and her craft from a young age, and was Oz Comic-Con's 2018 Australian Championships of Cosplay winner. In 2019 she represented Australia in the the Quest for the Crown at C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay in Chicago and placed third overall.
If you've ever been interested in cosplay or maybe you're a spectator fascinated by the work that goes into recreating characters in costume, then you'll want to read our chat with The Dingo Ate My Cosplay on where her interest in cosplay came from, the best part of being in the cosplay community, and how long it takes to create her incredible outfits.
Zoe, what sparked your interest in cosplay?
I come from a very creative family and have always been creative myself. I got drawn to cosplay as it allowed me to express both my creative side and also the geeky side at the same time. And the more I do it the more I find there is to love about it all.
Who was the first character you cosplayed and what was the experience like?
The first costumes I ever wore were made by my mum for some Harry Potter launch day book parties at the local library when I was a kid, where I dressed up in all the popular costumes: Crookshanks the ‘cat’ and Kreacher the grouchy, old house elf in a ‘bald cap’ and a dirty pillow case.
But the first cosplay I ever made for myself was a version of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen, which was made specifically for the Adelaide heats of the Oz Comic-Con Championships of Cosplay in 2016.
The experience at Oz Comic-Con and the reaction I received from the cosplay community got me absolutely hooked on not only cosplaying but in competing as well. There’s such a great friendliness and comradery that you find with the other cosplayers when you enter comps, and some of my closest cosplay friends have been met through competitions.
How do you choose who to cosplay and how long does it take to put together the look?
Picking cosplays very much depends on what the circumstances are. For competitions I like to pick things that not only cater to my strengths as a crafts person, require enough techniques that I can use to show off to the judges, but most importantly be a character/design I really like and isn’t going to eventually drive me utterly insane if I work on it for over a year.
Competition cosplays take a while to make and if you’re not passionate about the build then it can be quite easy to lose motivation. My winning cosplay (Eriodna, from the now cancelled game Kings of the Realm) was started in July 2017 and was regularly worked on until the finals in Chicago at the end of March 2019. However, I know a lot of cosplayers don’t take as long as I tend to for big builds.
What's been the most difficult cosplay you've done?
Difficulty in terms of skill level and techniques it’s definitely Eriodna. There was an incredible amount of problem solving and I experimented with so much – like making faux leather armour from molded wool – and struggled through learning a bunch of new techniques to show off. There are so many elements and (as always with cosplay) there’s so much that goes into it that you never actually see. And thankfully it all ended up working in the end (even after eventually remaking most of the components).
Describe the best thing about cosplay in 10 words or less...
The incredibly open and friendly community.
You went to Chicago for the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo's Quest for the Crown. What was that competition like and what did you take away from the experience?
It was insane. It’s so much bigger and more intense than anything that Australia has to offer – my heats in Adelaide had three entrants. In Chicago, backstage you’re in a room with maybe 50-ish other contestants and (and the army of helpers), some who don’t even speak English, with numbers of them climbing into massive creations and suits of armour that are three times my height and look like they could have stepped directly out of what they’re from. Everyone’s gushing over each other’s cosplays excitedly, while simultaneously freaking out, all while you’re completely sleep deprived and jetlagged.
It’s also very surreal being up on stage with people you’ve idolised since you started cosplaying, and people who do this for a living. Who, thankfully, turned out to be the most genuine and kindest people.
I took a lot away from the experience, but the biggest thing is probably to just keep doing what I’ve been doing and loving, continuing to learn and grow and share. Because if I can reach this level then I must be doing something right.
What do you think is special or unique about the cosplay community?
What surprised me was the positivity with it all. Yes, there are a few bad apples, but the cosplay community is an overwhelmingly supportive place. It’s often quite a tight community and most people have heard of or are friends with everyone else, taking inspiration and support from each other and encouraging you to succeed.
What amazes and delights me is that at a convention or online you can say hi to cosplayers and more often than not you can chat to them and they’ll tell you about their techniques, tips and tricks. There’s so much sharing of ideas and love and that all helps to get you through the not so fab and glamorous parts of cosplay.
When you’re having a breakdown at 3am because nothing’s worked out and you’re running low on time there'll always be members of the community you can call on to help you through it all and send you enough love and cat photos to help you get yourself back on track.
Applications are open for The Oz Comic-Con Australian Championships of Cosplay, which you can see live at Oz Comic-Con in Melbourne on June 8 & 9.
Oz Comic-Con will also head to Brisbane on September 21 & 22, and Sydney on September 28 & 29.
Hear us on SBS PopAsia Digital Radio
Listen in 24/7 on Digital Radio, by downloading our free mobile app or by streaming live here on our website.
Download the app here: