Pin-up Rogue // X-Men
Completed: July 2013
If you guys haven’t heard of Marvel Swimsuit Specials, you should check it out. I was flipping through Marvel Illustrated: The Swimsuit Edition the other day and thought, “Hmm, I kinda want to do something that references this.” I didn’t want to do anything that came across as overly sexual or silly…and I dunno, I kinda think this picture IS silly. But hopefully it’s silly in a ‘Hey, this is kinda fun’ way and not ‘This is freaking stupid.’
I’ve seen a lot of criticism about this costume online, comments ranging from ‘That’s not cosplay’ to ‘Why do girls always need to slut up characters for attention?’
Hey, I get it. We all become very attached to our favorite characters and it can be unsettling and downright irritating to see them represented in ways that clash with our own perception of them. What I want to say is that this costume IS based off of existing Marvel images and I DID put thought into the best way to depict Rogue in a bikini. My true motivation for doing this shoot was because I thought it would be fun, and I was also inspired by the Marvel Illustrated Swimsuit issues that were released in the early-to-mid-1990s. So yes, Marvel itself HAS depicted Rogue in bikinis before!
Rogue is a character that I have treasured since my childhood – she’s strong, bold, and clever. You often see Rogue illustrated with a smile or smirk on her face but, to me, she isn’t a happy character. I always found her mutation to be one of the most profoundly sad ones within the X-Men universe, and Rogue’s physical and psychological distance from her loved ones struck a chord with me even as a child. Growing up and even now, I often struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness, so I suppose it’s not surprise that I would relate to this aspect of Rogue’s character. While the Marvel Illustrated: The Swimsuit Issue inspired this photoshoot, I have my own feeling about how Rogue would feel to be in a bikini. Quite frankly, I think that Rogue would hate drawing attention to her exposed skin because it merely emphasizes the fact that she cannot be touched or held. This is also precisely why Rogue’s costume designs usually cover a huge amount of her body. When you’re trying to create a ‘pin-up’ look, the default is to take pictures of the girl smiling and having fun, but I really don’t feel like this is how Rogue would react to a bikini or lingerie. I wanted to bring that out in these pictures.
When people look at these images, it might be easy to just see ‘a pretty girl.’ But the reason why I feel like these photos are a success is because I feel like there’s something deeper going on inside “Rogue’s” head. Maybe I just got lucky that I was feeling apprehensive during this photoshoot and that Jake was able to capture these emotions behind my eyes; but I feel like the end result was that we were able to portray Rogue in a much more vulnerable state than you usually see – a state where she is more psychologically and physically exposed than she is comfortable with.
One of the things I enjoy about cosplay is that it ISN’T just trying to replicate characters in the most accurate way possible, but it’s also about injecting your own personality or artistic concepts into the costume/photos. And, like old pin-up illustrations, I hope you can view these photos with a fun, tongue-in-cheek attitude.
Pieces from my existing Rogue costume were added to a green bikin. ‘Nuff said!
Photos by Jake Davis Arts – Los Angeles, CA