The character I wear most frequently these days, and the one I’m discussing here, is Bobby Singer, a monster hunter from the TV show Supernatural – he is one of the major secondary characters in the show and a serious fan favourite.
I spent some time considering which character from Supernatural I wanted to showcase; one of my friends has a cosplay for the character of the demon Crowley from the show that she wanted to try out, and we tend to go to cons in oufits from the same fandom. Once I’d decided on Bobby, it took six or seven weeks to get all the pieces together.
The basic outfit itself seemed relatively simple on the surface – jeans, a t-shirt (preferably olive green or some other dull colour), a plaid shirt, boots and a trucker cap – but some of these proved surprisingly difficult to get hold of. Part of the difficulty was due to the fact that I am a rather overweight woman, and finding clothes in the sizes I need is never easy at the best of times.
I ended up searching on plus-size menswear websites for some of the pieces I needed, and managed to get hold of everything. The jeans I eventually found needed to be taken in quite a lot on the waist, but luckily I’m decent with a sewing machine and was able to fix that without too much trouble. The cap was simple enough to find, and I managed to locate an olive green tank top that worked well under the plaid shirt.
The next step was to age all these items up – they looked brand new, and Bobby is known for wearing old, battered clothes he’s clearly had for years. I decided the simplest way to do that would be to soak everything (except the boots and cap) in a bath of strong tea for three or four days to dull the colours, let them dry, and then use coarse sandpaper on everything to achieve a worn effect. This worked extremely well, and by the time I was done everything looked as though it was several years old. I have also made a point of washing everything in a dark-colours only laundry load so as to help dull the colours further.
I also had to locate a suitable substitute for facial hair, as Bobby has a beard and moustache throughout the series and I am not capable of growing them myself. I debated trying to achieve the effect through makeup, but ultimately decided that as my artistic makeup skills are impressively poor, an actual glued-on substitute would be better. In the end I managed to find what I needed on a website that sells false moustaches, beards and hairpieces for actors – a separately sold false beard and moustache which are nicely realistic.
Finally, I obtained one of what are known in the show as anti-possession charms – simple leather necklaces with a little metal charm that prevents the wearer from getting possessed by a demon – and wore that underneath the tank top.
I didn’t want to just stop at the clothes, however, and decided to put together a hunter’s kit, made up of the kind of equipment someone like Bobby might carry around for emergencies – or what he considers emergencies, anyway. This began as a quite simple list, but grew as I worked on it. It includes evil-repelling items such as containers of salt, holy water, and a rosary; practical items including string, duct tape, matches, a basic sewing kit, first aid supplies, and a multitool; and specialised items Bobby would carry for when he needs to handle a monster case, including fake IDs if he needs to present as an official in order to ask questions around a crime scene, and a hunter’s journal to record what he learned about the monster he’s faced.
Many of these items were very easy to find at a hardware store, but the rosary, fake IDs and journal were all found through Etsy as there are people out there who will happily make replicas of these things. I have added extra blank pages to the journal and it serves double time as an autograph collection book.
Finally, I decided that Bobby wouldn’t go around unarmed. While I wasn’t comfortable at first with the idea of replica firearms, even convention-safe ones, I decided that a particular knife that was featured prominently in the show as being able to kill demons would be a good prop weapon. I managed to find a con-safe resin replica, but was then stuck with the problem of not having anywhere to carry it. Luckily I found a leatherworker on Etsy who was happy to make a custom sheath for the knife that I could attach to my belt. This has become one of my favourite pieces of the entire outfit as the detail put into it is beautiful.
I am currently looking into getting replicas of Bobby’s favourite firearms – namely a sawn-off shotgun and a revolver – but this may take some time as the people I commissioned to make them are currently quite busy with their main jobs. As it stands, however, I am very pleased with the overall look of the cosplay.
The Supernatural fandom is something I came to very late; season 10 was airing when I first began to watch season 1, and I am still not fully caught up now season 13 is well underway. I only began to watch because a couple of my friends talked about it a lot, and one of them gave me the first two seasons on DVD.
The show is something I’d never have looked into on my own, but as I’ve got further and further into it I’ve become deeply emotionally attached to the characters and their struggles. (Not that it’s hard; I always get strongly attached to something I find myself enjoying.) The characters are given plenty of development (at least, the male ones – I have issues with the way the female characters are sometimes treated, but that’s not the point of this question), and they way they interact feels real and full of affection.
The fandom only amplifies that. Supernatural fans are completely overwhelming with their love for the show and the actors in it, and the fact that the actors take that love and use it to pour positivity back into the world is something that never fails to make me smile. The actors are known for throwing loud and vocal support behind various charitable efforts, and initiating new charities and movements of their own which make their fans feel able to get involved.
While Supernatural has its issues, the core of the show and the message the fans seem to have really taken to heart is actually based on one of Bobby’s lines from towards the end of season 3 – “Family don’t end with blood, boy.” The idea that no matter how hard things get, you can always find a family with people who care, is something that resonates very strongly with me, and it’s one of the major reasons I love the show so much. It’s also led me to amazing friends who are frankly a major part of the reason I cosplay at all.
My selection of Bobby Singer as the character to cosplay was the result of a few different matters.
Firstly, it was to do with my own physical appearance. As stated above, I am a rather overweight woman and I didn’t feel I could cosplay most of the major protagonists in a way I felt comfortable with, as they are mainly tall men in very good physical shape. Bobby, on the other hand, is an older man who’s not in the best shape; he has a beer belly and is somewhat pudgy, and slightly shorter, so I felt he was a character I could portray without feeling ridiculous. And I do love his look; it’s simple and scruffy, but ultimately very iconic.
Secondly, he’s a character with some wonderful development over the course of the show. Bobby started off as one of the “older generation” of monster hunters who knew the main protagonists’ father when they were younger. He’s basically a go-to guy when anyone needs some specialised research doing and has shown himself to be capable of both extremely crazy-prepared forward planning and improvising solutons on the fly. Over the course of the show, he developed into a new father figure who provided the heroes with much-needed support and backup as well as a safe place for them to retreat to when they were in trouble.
He was shown to have an extremely kind heart underneath his cranky exterior and always tried to help out people in trouble. This resonated very strongly with me, as I’ve developed a similar reputation amongst my friend group for being the one who’s always reliable when there’s trouble, and sometimes the one you can ask any question of and get a reasonably helpful answer. I identify quite strongly with those aspects of Bobby’s character. I also just enjoy the way he’s set up; to casual appearances he’s your average drunken redneck mechanic, but underneath that he’s got a mind like a razor and a heart of gold.
Thirdly, the friend I mentioned above who cosplays as the demon Crowley played a large role in my selection; she and I tend to choose characters who are rather antagonistic towards each other but ultimately end up working together at times. It’s a dynamic that we find hugely entertaining. As Crowley and Bobby are two of the most dry-witted and sarcastic characters in the show, we love being able to just snipe at each other and have it all be perfectly in-character.
The usual advice I’ve seen from cosplayers with years of experience is “just go for it!”.
That said, that approach isn’t always very helpful, especially to people who worry a lot about what others may think of them. (Myself included!)
It can be a difficult experience, but the major thing that I find helps is company. Cosplaying in public on your own is scary; you’re basically putting on a performance, and a solo is always more nerve-wracking. Sound out friends and see who else might be interested – or look online for information about cons in your local area, and ask if anyone else is cosplaying! Most cons these days have some sort of cosplay competition, too, which is always a good excuse to dress up.
And if you don’t know if you want to go to all that effort just for the sake of it, you can always look out for fundraising groups. There are a good handful of officially organised charity groups who dress up and raise funds for all sorts of good causes – which is actually how I got my start in cosplaying! A couple of friends told me about a group in my local area, I got in touch through Facebook about two years ago, and since then I’ve been to at least a dozen conventions to raise money with them. You can feel like you’re doing something good at the same time as having fun.
Do also think about costumes that you’d feel comfortable in – it’s not about seeing who can wear the most skin-tight or skimpiest outfit, it’s about what you want to look like. My size has caused me no end of issues with what costumes I’d feel ok wearing, but my first ever cosplay was a Harry Potter school uniform, and in my opinion you can’t get a more helpful starter cosplay than that. Schoolkids come in all shapes and sizes, and the robe over the top can hide a multitude of perceived faults. Once you’ve got a good costume you like, you can always branch out and try others, but you’ll have that “safety net” of a costume you can always go back to.
If you’re worried about the amount of work it can take, think about characters with a simple costume, and look online for ideas. There’s a lot of websites out there that will give advice on how to put together costumes for a whole range of characters. You don’t have to get together some massive sculpted costume with wings or stilts in order to be considered a “real” cosplayer, and some of the best cosplays I’ve seen were gorgeous precisely because of their simplicity.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to say that cosplaying, while scary at first, can often be the source of a massive confidence boost. Friends of mine who have serious struggles with depression or anxiety have said that cosplaying gives them a way and a reason to get out and mix with people, with that security buffer of being able to hide under the character they’re wearing. If you go to the same events often enough, it’s also a lovely way to make friends – even if it may take you a while to find out what they look like underneath!
Do you cosplay and have a story to tell? If so, get in touch via or social channels or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.