October 24, 2010
Halloween Costumes For The Rest Of Us: A Few Comics-Related Ideas Semi-Easy To Throw Together
Halloween is coming up next Sunday, which makes this Friday and Saturday prime Halloween party season. If you're like me, you'll be begrudgingly invited to at least one sizable party at the last minute, or you'll be invited early on and blow off doing a costume until two hours beforehand.
Here are ten suggestions for comics-related costumes that are either very easy to pull together last-minute or could be done with a few days planning to awesome effect, or both. There are dozens of other possibilities, of course. Comics is full of costumes. Go figure. -- Tom Spurgeon
I'm putting this one first because it's one that I never got to do. So easy, so comfortable, so classy. If you can convince your significant other to go as Little Lulu, all the better. In general with Halloween costumes for those of us who aren't characters on a TV sitcom or that don't go to conventions all dressed up, I suggest scouring your memory for little kid characters -- those tend to be easy costumes and more frequently relate to real-world clothing. Execution-wise, it's more important you nail one or two key visual details than get the whole thing right. Never worry if not everyone knows who you are -- you know who you are, the pictures will outlast the party and lighting up one person out of a hundred can be worth the whole evening.
This was a go-to in my twenties because it was so easy to do, especially if have a blue blazer and white oxford somewhere in your closet. About a half-dozen friends and acquaintances have pulled it off in the years since, one of them even convincing his girlfriend to wig it up and short skirt it as Gloria, the party known as "The Night We All Stared At Lisa." The key, strangely enough, seems to be to get the hair color right -- you should be able to find some ridiculously bright yellow hair dye somewhere right now. Two easy and fun props to make are a "diamond" glitter dollar symbol attached to your lapel and green Xeroxed million dollar bills with your face on it.
If you've done this one before, go again but make your friend or girlfriend go as Jackie Jokers.
Bob's Big Boy
I pulled this one together one year very, very late on a Saturday afternoon for a 9 PM party. I used a set of orange coveralls from Home Depot that I painted with white paint. I did the shirt with a magic marker, and I slicked my hair. Not pictured is the most important prop -- a giant hamburger, which you can make with an appropriately circular loaf of sourdough bread purchased from any full-service grocery store and about two pounds of belief. You won't be asked to carry it around the whole evening, but you will need it for the photos.
Wilson Fisk, Kingpin Of Crime
This is a surprisingly easy costume, and any time you shave your head for Halloween you get tons of points with your fellow party-goers. I did this once about... wow, a dozen years ago now. I was surprised how many people knew the character. I spray-painted a thrift-store jacket white, which looked great under the lights. You'll need a diamond cane, which you can make with any sort of stick/cane and the top of a thrift-shop decanter. One great thing about being the Kingpin is you get to smoke cigars all evening. Another is that no one knows what he sounds like so you don't have to do a funny voice. If God smiles on you, your accountant's kid will show up dressed as Spider-Man and you can spend the evening intermittently scaring the great responsibility out of him.
Mr. Tawky Tawny
This is the holy grail of comics-related Halloween costumes. I think you could get away with face paint instead of a mask, but only if you nail the tail and paws. The fun part would be the clothes. My father had a closet full of this stuff. I would also love to do Mr. Mind at some future party, as wearing a radio around your neck just sounds funny. Plus I bet you could find a way to get your voice to come out of the radio. Unfortunately, it would probably also require going without arms for an entire party, which is the kind of thing that sounds more fun than it actually is, and it doesn't sound that fun.
Well, I'm certainly not the one to pull this off, and there's so little going on there you pretty much have to nail the hair, shorts and
the boots. Still, one of the Twenty Primary Rules Of Suburban Existence says that as naked as you can get on Halloween, the more fun you'll have. If you can convince your date to go as Flower, you'll be a very popular couple and no one will care about who you're dressed up as. Plus, if you see me in my Tawky Tawny outfit, we can have a fight.
I always thought Prez would make a really good costume for a skinny person. You can scream in someone's ear "I'm Prez -- first teen president" and most people will understand what you're going for or laugh because it's so stupid. It's good to have the hair, and I think you need some
hair, but if you nail the sweater everything else falls into place. If you have leftover dollar bills from your Richie Rich costume, they can be employed in your Prez outfit.
The Beagle Boys
I've done this one twice, and found it to a fairly straightforward, fine group outfit. Way more people than you'd expect will recognize you and your crew. We did the shirts both times by dying long underwear uppers orange. I thought the key was going to be the mask and nose, for which I'd advise grease paint. Instead, it was the hat. We used painter's hats dyed blue. Giant bags of dough are an awesome accessory, and can be had with crumbled paper, canvas and paint/magic marker.
Little Lotta and Little Dot
I don't think a whole lot about Halloween in terms of female-first costumes because why make that effort when the underwear usually suffices, but it occurs to me that these two outfits would be adorable and weird. I think you'd need the pair of them to make it work, because if you just did Little Lotta you'd really have to nail the hair and if you did them both I bet you could do a broad approximate and still have the same impact. Little Dot can hand out playing cards covered in dots (price stickers); Little Lotta can walk around with a deli-grocery turkey leg.
I've spent about a dozen days of my life drunk wearing nothing but a red union suit and big boots, and although that's never involved Halloween I recommend the experience wholeheartedly. Forbush Man holds power for really old comics fans who got into reading Marvel comics when the fan culture was aimed at bearded dudes 15 years older than they were, and was thus wonderfully confusing. It's also one of those costumes that's so stupid-looking that it doesn't need explaining.
That's ten off the top of my head. According to your willingness to work on them and the ability of your friends to parse what it is you're doing -- if that's an issue -- a whole world of comics-related costumes is open to you. Most manga series have achievable costumes if you have a day or two to ramp up, and I've always wanted to go as Volstagg with pals or siblings playing two other members of the Warriors Three. I hear about people going out as Scott Pilgrim
characters, and I've seen with my own two eyes two very different but equally admirable Spider Jerusalems. I always liked this Modok costume
and this Prison Pit costume
. Dressing up as Stan Lee can be fun, too, in the right circumstance. Be creative, nail the broad strokes, have fun. Trick and treat: why limit yourself?
posted 9:15 am PST
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