Ejen Chuang Brings Cosplay in America to Anime Expo
Check out Ejen Chuang's photography in "Cosplay in America: Ejen Chuang's Portraits from Anime and Comic Book Conventions."
Shannon Cottrell Ejen Chuang at the book release party for Cosplay in America, May, 2010
In 2010, Ejen Chuang self-published Cosplay in America, a photography book filled with images of cosplayers from six conventions across the United States. Almost immediately following the book release party at Royal/T last May, he headed up to San Jose's Memorial Day Weekend event Fanime, where he set up shop in the convention's artist alley. He sold out of copies of the book in one day.
"I didn't expect how high of a demand there is," says Chuang, noting the difficulties of using Facebook to gauge the actual interest in his work.
"Five people leave comments but, maybe a thousand could have seen the image, the video or the book or whatever," he continues. "I kind of was underprepared, but I had never done anything like this before so I was kind of learning through the same process how to navigate this."
Since then, Chuang has traveled from convention to convention next selling his book, including Florida Supercon, Anime Weekend Atlanta and Anime Los Angeles. He keeps in contact with fans by updating his social media sites with photos from the booth, maps of the exhibit hall floors and, afterward, video taken during the cons. Sometimes, he's set up in the artist alley. Other times, he shares a space with vendor Epic Cosplay, where he runs a photo booth in addition to selling the book. Frequently, he attends anime conventions, a given considering that his book focuses on cosplay within the anime fandom. Other times, he travels to comic book and multi-genre cons.
This week, Chuang be at Anime Expo sharing space with Crunchyroll, the video site that broadcasts subtitled anime series shortly after they air in Japan. It will be the nineteenth convention he's attended since last May. He is confirmed to attend six more by the end of the year, including San Diego Comic-Con later this month.
"Some vendors do this for a living," says Chuang.
"I don't know how they would do it," he adds, "because I would be exhausted."