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Auburn theatre grad is cosplay power player

Woman of Wonders: With nearly 60 costumes and 50 conventions under her power belt, 2010 Auburn graduate Katie George is a cosplay playa.

Wonder Woman is an Auburn fan. So is Joan from Mad Men. And Dr. Girlfriend from the Venture Brothers… which is all old news to any orange and blue clad photo-oppers who’ve happened to attend the Chick-Fil-A Kick Off Classic in the last few years. Each Labor Day weekend, the game shares downtown Atlanta with Dragon*Con, the world’s largest sci-fi / fantasy convention, and one of the biggest events on cosplay extraordinaire Katie George‘s calendar.

“I have had some great War Eagle moments in costume,” George says. “Dragon*Con is always the same weekend as the Chik-fil-A bowl so the hotels will be flooded with college football fans. Auburn fans have been there before, and anytime someone in an Auburn jersey or an Auburn t-shirt asked me for a photo in costume, I’d always say ‘Sure! And War Eagle!’ and get a wonderfully enthusiastic ‘War Eagle!’ in return.”

The most football-ish fun actually came when Bama met Clemson to start the 2008 season.

Katie George as Joan Holloway from AMC’s “Mad Men” in 2010.

“The Bama fans would ask me for a photo, and I’d graciously accept,” George says. “But then after they had taken it I’d say ‘and by the way…. War Damn Eagle!’ and then they’d usually go ‘Noooo!’ I’m not even kidding! That really happened! Multiple times!”

George graduated from Auburn in 2010 with a BFA in Theatre Design/Technology, with an emphasis in Costume and Make-up Design.

“I shorten it to ‘degree in costume design’ for the sake of simplicity, although sometimes I sarcastically call it my ‘cosplay degree.'”

Cosplay, short for “costume play,” is a blossoming subculture that promises perpetual Halloween to all its decked out denizens. If there’s a cartoon character you’re into, then dress up like the cartoon character. A movie character? A comic book character? Make or buy a costume—George makes all of hers herself—and then get together with other cosplayers and take a road trip to Dragon*Con or Comic-Con or Conny-Con Con or wherever there are people in costumes to take pictures of and to take pictures of you.

George estimates there to be at least 280,000 cosplayers in the world, if not millions, and despite her tendency to downplay her own costumery accomplishments, she has slowly made a name for herself—her occasional nom de con (and the name of her cosplay website) is Pink Ninja—in the growing cosplay scene in the seven years since she’s been attending conventions. She’s won lookalike awards. She’s sat on numerous convention panels.

Here she is discussing the tricks of the trade in an Adult Swim featurette about Venture Brothers cosplay—and giving a shout out of sorts to her alma mater:

“I went to Auburn originally to save money before going to a film school, where I was going to study film production,” George says. “I started my first semester as an art major, then decided to switch to theatre my second semester, as theatre seemed like a good place for a girl with film aspirations. However, the minute I stepped into the costume shop, I knew that’s where my passion was going to take me”

Despite dreams of breaking into Atlanta’s burgeoning film industry as a costume or make-up designer after graduating from Auburn, George opted for a “real” job and currently works as a production coordinator at an Atlanta marketing firm. You might say her cosplay activities are a away to keep hope alive.

“My favorite character to dress up as is, hands down, Wonder Woman,” she says. “No costume gets quite the response that she gets, what with being such an incredibly mainstream and recognizable character. Adults love it, kids love it, men love it, women love it.”

“It’s also great that it’s one of the few costumes where my height (George is 5″10) really helps with the visual. People want to see an Amazonian princess who towers over them! The corset is a little constricting, but the appreciation for my effort always makes it worth it.”

George is the product of a mixed marriage—”my mom is an Auburn alum, and my dad spent a semester at Alabama… which, as you know, is more than most Bama fans”—but you can’t tell from this photo … (apparently because those dudes are her uncles).

So has the cosplaying Auburn fan ever thought of crossing the streams?

“There’s actually a character from Sailor Moon whose colors are orange and navy—Sailor Venus. Maybe one day, I’ll make that,” George says. “She’s not my favorite Sailor Moon character, but I think trying to pull off a ‘sexy Aubie’ would be sacrilege.”

h/t Teckla, photos via PinkNinja.org.

For more Auburn-Con-ishness, check out FitForDragonCon.com, maintained by an Auburn man (the same Auburn man ) who dotcommed his dreams to get in shape for Dragon*Con 2012.

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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