Organizing a cosplay event: the interview with Epicos

Organizing a cosplay event: the interview with Epicos

Organizing a cosplay event

The spring edition of the Comics Festival has just ended, a now very famous pop culture themed event that takes place at the Parco Esposizioni in Novegro, in the province of Milan in two annual editions, generally in February and May. The event attracts thousands of visitors including fans of the world of comics, video games, board games and cosplayers, but from the outside one cannot in the least imagine the enormous difficulties and problems to be faced in order to organize an event of this magnitude.

Comics Festival Intrigued by what lies behind the organization of these events, we took the opportunity to interview Luca Panzieri, the creator of Epicos (which you can find on Instagram at this profile or on the dedicated website), the organization that manages cosplay-themed events for the Comics Festival, but also for other very important events such as Lucca Comics & Games, Romics and many other events in the universe of cosplayers.

Organizing an event: the Epicos interview

Logo Epicos

Let's talk about Epicos

Epicos is a reality that deals with theme entertainment at 360 degrees and was born from what has always been my passion for over 20 years in the field of cosplay combined with the experience made in the Valtur villages and my film training at the level of direction, art direction, shows and things like that. I assembled all of these pieces of life and created this reality that would allow me to work while remaining within the scope of my passion. And Epicos deals with the organization of cosplay events, organization of cosplay competitions, management of Italian and international cosplayers, creation of entertainment formats for shopping malls, cinemas, amusement parks, artistic direction of shows, everything related to entertainment with costumed characters, characters inspired by the world of fantasy.

How long have you been in the management of cosplay events?

For many years now, almost 20. In the sense that I have entered the cosplay environment since 1998, when one of the first fairs in Rome was ExpoCartoon, I found myself immersed in this world starting first as a cosplayer, as competitor, we competed with the group of friends, I was a minor at the time. And then I found myself in Fumettopoli in Milan in 2004 first to manage the audio tracks part of the cosplay competition and then, since I had different experience on the stages of the villages as an entertainer, I was asked to present the first competition and from there then first the conduct of the races started and then the organization of the contests followed. Let's say that the first contest I organized was in 2005/2006 and then slowly let's say it became my main job. - th_culturapop_d_mh3_1 slot id: th_culturapop_d_mh3 "); } Organizing an event What did your attitude in organizing cosplay-related events come from? What was the triggering event that made you think "I want to organize something"?

I have always had the aptitude for organizing things since I was a kid with friends, we participated in cosplay competitions and I organized the groups, I made some costumes for everyone, I went to assemble the scene of the performance that was done on stage. And then, here, what comes from, in the sense that I have always liked to have some management of situations, especially in the fields that I particularly like. And so, let's say that I started from a passion that then developed and I found myself managing the audio tracks because we did a cosplay competition where the audio track didn't start, there were some technical problems, so the next time I proposed myself with "Do you mind if I take care of the technical part of the race?" and from there then later it developed with the management, the stage has always been my home and moving forward then it was "ok present, you also take care of the organization, then you put on a staff", create the registrations, create the formats which over time have obviously developed and evolved, so there was no real trigger, it was a bit of an evolution of what has always been my way of being.

From the outside, it obviously looks like all roses, but it is certainly not that easy to organize this type of event. How much work is behind it?

Clearly, as in any work environment, they look like roses and flowers but they are not. There are so many difficulties and so many obstacles to overcome. To organize an event or a cosplay race depends on the type of race: if the race is already established, so it has already been there for many years, the fair is already known so the public comes automatically, organizing the race is much easier in the pre event, then during it is much more complicated because maybe there are many people to manage, everyone has their needs, everyone has their requests, there are people who get angry when they lose and this is now a constant in all races, and then there are the various problems. While, on the other hand, for new competitions, therefore the first editions, it is more complicated because you have to get the public used to a new event, to new dynamics and to make them recognize the beauty of the new event that is being born.

As for funny and embarrassing anecdotes, many have happened, you can imagine for over 20 years in this environment and 250 events organized and presented, whatever has happened. The first that come to mind are when at an edition of the Comicon in Naples a boy dressed as a Joker, stirred up as never before, decided to jump off the stage and get caught up in the audience, like a rock star. Fortunately, the public took it and didn't shy away, otherwise it would have been a tragedy. Another embarrassing situation occurred about ten years ago in an event in Viterbo in which the organizers had the brilliant idea due to bad weather, to move the location of the event on the day of the event itself and moved it from the central square to a building of the sport, putting only a sign indicating the move of the location and we showed up in the new location, we had set up everything, stage, stand and everything. We were there at opening hours saying and repeating "ok, now the people are coming" and nothing, the fact is that no one arrived at lunchtime! But no cosplayers, no visitors at all! And the situation was really very embarrassing and in the end it ended in tarallucci and wine and we all went to lunch together and it died there. This is always because communication in an event is everything!

How long does it take to organize a cosplay event?

To organize a cosplay event, the ideal is at least a couple of months to be able to communicate it properly. Then it also happened to organize it in two weeks, clearly the response of the public and the cosplayers is different because, as I said before, if the event is already known it is not a problem, if the event must be made known, at least a couple it takes months.

Organizing an event What is Epicos for you?

Epicos is my job for me, it's my creation, it's a bit of everything. It is a bit the problem of those who work on their own with their passion, who don't work even a second and instead never stop working, in the sense that the head is always there and you need to be very capable of disconnecting at the right time to maybe devote yourself to family, to private life and not make sure that work absorbs you at 360 degrees, which unfortunately happens very often. It is my main job, I live with it so everything about my commitment is concentrated on that: investments, efforts, tears but a lot of satisfaction.

How do you manage the haters and those people who criticize the organization of a cosplay event?

There are different types of haters: the haters, who are not haters but those who move constructive criticisms, which are always pleasant, because we always try to meet the demands and needs of the participants, always trying to create a balance with the needs of the organization. And often, those who criticize do not know what is behind it and why a decision is made based on what are the needs. Then instead the "useless" haters who are those who criticize without knowing and without informing themselves, who spit out sentences and at that point you can't do anything about it. There are people who have said many things that are absolutely false and many people who instead appreciate, also because you can never be nice to everyone and maybe you do many things, you try to satisfy everyone, then after that point or comma is missing and, like in every environment, only the thing that is not right is looked at. So the haters are very relative: if they have a reason, we talk about it willingly and clarify it, solutions are found, if instead random sentences are thrown away without evidence and arguments, criticism is completely useless.

Organizing an event What was the event that gave you the most problems during the organization but which ultimately gave you the most satisfaction? Is there an event you prefer in particular?

Surely Lucca Comics & Games is an event that has many difficulties such as, for example, the location, the logistics, the spaces, the needs of the stage, because in any case that competition is embedded within many a very large program made up of concerts and sponsorship activities. So there are several things to fit together. But clearly in the end, when you get the applause, especially before the pandemic when there were more than 20,000 people under the stage, it was a unique satisfaction.

If you were to give advice to someone who is approaching the organization of a cosplay event for the first time, what would you recommend for the success of this event?

First of all, evaluate the date very well: this is the first thing to evaluate because you have to make sure that it does not coincide with other races and other major events, especially if it is a first edition. Evaluate the city in which you want to organize the event very well, the place in which to organize it, whether it is easily accessible or not. Consider the schedules, what you can provide for cosplay and what you can invent to attract more cosplayers. Unfortunately the race to date is an important element but it is no longer so indispensable within the events because the interests of the new generation cosplayers are more focused on social media and visibility, so the race is there, it's beautiful and all that it follows, but it no longer has the kind of grip it had before. So before organizing a competition I always recommend that you evaluate all the difficulties well, because many make mistakes when they think "ok I organize a competition and cosplayers arrive in spades", unfortunately it is no longer so, so you have to understand well if it's worth it, what and why you want to do it, where and when you want to do it and evaluate all the difficulties that may exist.


Organizing an event In conclusion, if you believed that creating a foam cosplay, material that you can buy on Amazon on this page, was not easy, even creating a pop culture themed event that also includes entertainment activities and competitions dedicated to cosplayers is not, but the first thing to consider is passion: if you are driven by passion and dedication to your work, the success of an event is much less complicated than you think. Working with your passion is not easy of course, but it can really lead to a lot of satisfaction. And in this case, it's a nice payback to those people who claim you can't work with cosplay.

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