Getting into Gear at Halloween

Halloween’s approaching, it’s time for the Associated Press to gin up some articles about dressing in costumes. But their coverage of science fiction costuming has an unpredictable twist.

The surprise is not in the article’s choice to discuss a narrow range of examples, or that the first one it picks is the 501st Legion, who parade as Imperial Storm Troopers. What’s unexpected is that the rest of the article is devoted to competition at World Science Fiction Convention masquerades.

The beginning is generic:

Here is how most people make a Darth Vader costume: Go to Wal-Mart, purchase flimsy mask and cape, spend Halloween night breathing funny.

For Mark Fordham, the process is a little more in-depth. Over the course of more than 20 years, this 44-year-old from Provo, Utah, has been slowly piecing together and improving his Vader ensemble, beginning with a simple jumpsuit/vampire cape combo. Today, the outfit weighs more than 40 pounds, and features a real electronic panel with blinking lights and voice mike, a vacuum-molded helmet, and a cape Fordham made himself from $30-a-yard wool crepe.

But later on the reporter interviews Marty Gear, a veteran fan who has presided over several Worldcon masquerades. Gear provides historical perspective and comic relief all at once:

“Costuming is the second oldest tradition in sci-fi fandom,” Gear says. “The first is drinking beer.”

[Via Isaac Alexander and Michael J. Walsh]

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