Though it’s commonplace these days to see enthusiastic fans dressed up as their favorite characters at conventions, someone had to take that first step and create that first cosplay costume. That someone was Myrtle Jones.
The year was 1939, in a time when women weren’t exactly hailed as heroes for openly being nerds. That kind of stuff was often kept fairly quiet and female sci-fi fans often felt alone and alienated in their fandoms. However, Myrtle R. Jones (better known in sci-fi circles by her nickname Morojo) didn’t let societal expectations dictate what kind of a fan she should be. She was a very active member of the sci-fi community, even publishing her own fanzine, and in the summer of 1939, Myrtle gave the world its first fan costumes.
Myrtle Jones designed and made a futuristic costume, based on the costumes seen in the film Things to Come, for her boyfriend Forrest Ackerman to wear to the First World Science Fiction Convention (now known as Worldcon). Jones also created a futuristic romper for herself to wear to the convention with Ackerman. It must have been fairly unnerving, being the first ever fans to dress in costume, wondering how they would be received. However, one can only imagine the stares of envy they must have received, from fellow fans who wished they’d thought of the idea first. Though it would be a long time before it was fondly referred to as “cosplay,” those first two costumes that Jones created, made the quite the splash in the sci-fi community.
It wasn’t long before Worldcon began hosting annual costume contests, and other conventions would eventually follow suit, turning cosplay into the full-fledged hobby that it is today. By the time the term “cosplay” was coined, it’s origins, and the first cosplayers, had long since been forgotten, lost in the passing of time. Their legacy lives on, however, with thousands of cosplayers worldwide creating news costumes every year to show appreciation for their favorite characters. What began as a sci-fi hobby has since spread to comics, anime, fantasy, books, video games, and even original characters, and we all have Myrtle Jones to thank for it. Not bad for a girl in the 30’s.
Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf