How to Date a Cosplayer

 

A couple local cosplayers and myself recently did a really fun two part web series about what it’s like to date a cosplayer. This video offered humorous stories, tips as well as our thoughts on the subject. It was a blast to film!

Check out the links below!

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Marvel Comics: The Social Justice League

 

After completely devouring Netflix’s Luke Cage in two days, something about the show continued to weigh on my mind. It wasn’t how badass the hero was, it wasn’t how brilliant the casting was, and it even wasn’t the fact that I was completely crushing on my boo Luke Cage. Although all of those things are certainly true, what made the most impact on me was the bold statement Marvel was making with such a show. The way they didn’t shy away from important issues and the way they took a comic book series from the 1970’s and made it real and relevant for today. Today, in a world where racism is still running rampant in our country, where people are being gunned down for nothing more than the color of their skin, a show was made where it centers around a powerful black man in a bulletproof hoodie. I seriously got chills just typing that out. Cheo Hodari Coker, executive producer and show-runner stated in an article that “it was important to me that we have a hero that was black-and he didn’t just happen to be black. His identity is a part of him.” That fact was incredibly apparent all throughout the show, and it was clear to me that Marvel was in no way trying to hide it. I have seen people bitch and complain about it, calling it prejudice or racist. Complaining about the lack of white people or how “black” the show was made. I have also heard from people that honestly didn’t even notice that, because the show was that damn good. I think that says a thing or two about the types of fans they are.

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Last week, Executive Producer of Jessica Jones, Melissa Rosenberg announced that all of the episodes in next season would have female directors! This is fucking HUGE, and something that got me so excited for season 2. If you know me at all, or if you have followed my BAM episodes, you know how big of a fan I am of Jessica Jones. The show, the comics, the character herself. The show brought up so many sensitive topics, topics that many women deal with throughout their lives, such as assault and abuse and it was handled in such an amazing way. The last season had approximately 1/3 of its directors that were female. This is actually still a very high number for a show, but Marvel pushed that number even further with season 2 and once again, I applaud them.

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These things really bolstered my hopes for the direction comics are going in modern times. The average comic book reader is changing, albeit slowly. For a time, comics’ main target audience was white males. Over decades, things have progressed, and it seems that Marvel has been in the forefront when it comes to pushing the boundaries of that evolution.

The first openly gay character in American comic books was created by Marvel. In 1992, Northstar openly admitted in Alpha Flight #106 that he was, in fact, gay. 1992 was a time period where being open about your sexuality was not as widely accepted as it is today, and even today it can be quite controversial. A move like this was huge for comic fans. A superhero was gay. Think about that for a second. Picture yourself at 18, 19 as a young gay man.A man living in a world where he feels like he has to hide who he is. A man who escapes from reality through the incredible, fictional world of comics. And imagine, if you will, picking up that Alpha Flight #106 and seeing, on paper, Northstar open up about his sexuality and state “I am gay.” Imagine the comfort that would have given you, knowing that you were not alone, that there was nothing wrong with you, and that you are perfectly fine, just the way you are. AGAIN goosebumps!

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Marvel comics has been getting a LOT of hate as of late. It does beg the question of motive though. Are the majority of people hating on Marvel comics because the story telling legitimately sucks, or is it more of a “I don’t read comic books to draw attention to the social injustices in the world; these are for entertainment,” type attitude. If it is the first, more power to you and if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. If you are the second person, I really encourage you to reevaluate that opinion. Think about the fact that comic books have been written about relevant social issues for decades. For example, Captain America was huge during WWII. Marvel comics are being written to bring to light to many important issues and there is, in my opinion, a book for EVERY person. I assure you, there are still plenty of comics being made for your average Caucasian male. Right now, though, think about why you are not celebrating comics being made for EVERYONE. I didn’t grow up on comics. I’m sure I could have dug around a bit more, but I really didn’t find very many of them relatable to me growing up and quite frankly they weren’t written to be. Times are changing. I have a good friend whose daughter is 10 and already an avid comic book reader. Her favorite comic book is Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil  Dinosaur which follows a super genius teenage girl and her interaction with a teleported dinosaur from the prehistoric times. She is also holding her breath with anticipation of the new Iron Man, RiRi Williams. I think those people who are getting really upset with Marvel’s more inclusive comic books really need to think about why they are so upset. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that now there is essentially a comic book for everyone in any walk of life. Comic books should be progressing with the ever changing times and I, for one, applaud the fact that Marvel has really stepped up their game. Sure, people may be upset enough to affect the sales of comic books now, but I strongly believe that eventually, this inclusive attitude is going to win. I think Marvel believes that now. Their attitude has seemed to be one of “get on board or get out of the way” and I believe in them!

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Review-Jessica Jones-Alias

 

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So, as everyone (and by everyone I mean the 3 people following my blog) knows, I am a cosplayer. I cosplay mainly comic book characters as my interests lie more there than animated features or anime. That being said, I would definitely label myself more of a movie goer/tv watcher when it comes to comic related characters. Much of my knowledge is more based on movies and TV series than it is reading comic books. I have kept up with the Buffy comics, as that’s my all time favorite show, but up until recently I never really got super into Marvel/DC Comics. Earlier this spring I was super excited to begin the Netflix Show, Jessica Jones. It completely blew my mind. She was smart and funny and edgy and had this sarcastic wit that I totally related with. If you have watched ANY of my BAM web episodes, you know I can not stop gushing about the show. After I finished watching the first season, I wanted more. So I decided to pick up the comics. I do not even know how to put into words how fucking great the comics were.

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You open to the first page of the book, and the very first word, in the very first issue, is “Fuck.” I snorted a little as I read it, just because after the show, that’s the Jessica you expect. The comics I feel like added so much more depth to her character for me. You explored her past, really focused on why she had that chip on her shoulder. From the show, I already loved the character, but the comics humanized her even more for me. I think a lot of times you look at these superheroes in the movies or comics and they are so brilliant, so cool, they are more like idols. Jessica Jones, even with her powers, is still so relatable. You see that inner conflict she has. She wants to help people, but she sees herself as some kind of a failure, someone that isn’t strong enough for some of the tasks she is presented with. That’s the thing though, that in itself MAKES her strong. You see the relationship she has with Luke Cage, her struggle expressing her feelings and being vulnerable and it makes sense. Maybe it is just a personal thing for me, but I get how she felt. With each issue I read, the more she made sense to me, and the more I developed a connection with her.

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The Purple Man shows up toward the end of the series and man is he dark. I think seeing David Tennant playing him in the show made it really hard for me to hate his character and I found my self sympathizing with him a bit. Again, not sure if it was just my love for the actor or the portrayal of the character in the show, but it was COMPLETELY different for me in the comics. He was a villain. He was sadistic and twisted and completely void of any type of feeling or emotion. He was manipulative and downright scary in the comics. I absolutely loved the Netflix series but I think I have to say I might have enjoyed the comic books just a little bit more. If you want a complex, emotional story with a lot of humor and a kickass female lead, I can’t recommend Alias enough! Buy it, read it, share it with others.

I would love to hear more thoughts from you guys. Did you like the show? Have you read the comics? This series has got me reading more comic book series, what series got you hooked on comic books?

 

RR

BAM Episode 2-Daredevil

 

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Hey everybody!

Did another episode of BAM with a quick review of the Netflix Show Daredevil!

To check it out click here! Leave me some comments and let me know what you think of the show and the review. Do you agree, disagree?

bam

 

 

 

Convention Newbies

So I have had a couple people suggest that I do a post in regards to first time or newer convention goers. If you watch any videos from the Bigger Cons, like a SDCC or NYCC or even Dragon Con, it looks crazy overwhelming. And it definitely can be! That said, if you’re planning on going to a smaller local convention, don’t expect the level of hype that you might see in those videos.

My very first convention was Motor City Comic Con in the metro Detroit area, which is where I am from. I went one day, on a Sunday afternoon and it actually wasn’t overwhelming at all. It had a steady crowd, but it was not shoulder to shoulder and the aisles were easy to maneuver. If serious crowds overwhelm you, I would definitely suggest going on a Friday or Sunday, as Saturdays at MOST cons, even local ones the crowds can be really insane. That said, it is STILL so much fun. The thing you have to remember, is that you’re in the company of friends. You have stuff in common with almost every con goer. People are going there to look at art, nerd out with their favorite celebrities or dress up like their heroes. It’s an amazing experience! I wanted to type up a good list of handy do’s and don’t’s for the convention scene.

Don’ts

 

  • Be a dick. I know this should not have to be said, but honestly I have seen it happen at every con. If you don’t like someone’s costume, that’s ok, but don’t go up the the cosplayer and tell them what is wrong with it. It’s supposed to be fun, let’s keep it fun for everyone. Don’t be a dick also encompasses touching, grabbing, taking photos without permission or making inappropriate remarks to other convention goers. Just honestly if you don’t have anything positive or kind to say, don’t say anything. I will say I have been really lucky as feedback has been mostly positive. I will say I have heard comments from a mom or two about the appropriateness of my outfits. I always make sure I know what the costume rules for each con are and abide by them. Costumed characters in comics are usually sexy, so if you’re worried about your kids being around that, I would suggest that you not bring kids along and shame cosplayers.
  • Be afraid to approach new people or make new friends. Remember, this is a large group of people that you’re going to have stuff in common with a lot of them. You see someone dressed up as a character from your favorite game or movie? Go chat with them. See someone wearing a t shirt of a fandom you’re obsessed with? Tell them you love it! Comic Cons are a great way to make new friends with similar interests!

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  • Worry about the haters. It makes me so fucking sad to hear about the amount of people that won’t cosplay their favorite characters because they are worried about hate or judgement. I KNOW it can be really intimidating to walk into crowds of people dressed up like a superhero, but I am telling you, it will be the best experience ever and I don’t believe for a second you will ever regret spending your time and putting in effort into a costume of a character you absolutely love. Cosplay is for everyone, YOU INCLUDED. Cosplay who you want, regardless or race, gender, height, weight, etc. Anyone with a problem with it? Screw them, says a lot more about them and their insecurities than it does about you.harley joker
  • Forget about the kids. There are going to be lots of kids in the convention area and if you’re dressed up as one of their favorite characters. It goes a really long way to get photos with them and chat with them a bit about their interest in your character. I promise you, you’ll make their day and it’ll make you feel awesome.

Do’s

  • Eat a full meal first. 1) Con food is really expensive and 2) A lot of times you will forget to eat throughout the day because you’re so busy having fun and you could definitely start feeling queasy
  • Stay hydrated-Make sure you have plenty of water before and during your time there, especially if you’re in a costume that makes you sweat. Conventions can get REALLY hot so make sure you remember that!

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  • Know the convention down time. If you’re looking to shop for art, clothing or even meet your favorite celebrity, I would say try and go on a Friday or Sunday. In my experience, the lines and crowds are the smallest on Sundays so that’s a really good time to make any purchases. I love to use Saturday as a day to wander around and get ideas for stuff I would like to purchase, and then Sunday go back and purchase them. Also, think about purchasing toward the end of the con, as it can be a pain to lug around your products all day if you don’t feel like making that usually long trek back to your car!
  • Take breaks, especially as a cosplayer. After a few hours walking around in uncomfortable shoes, being stopped every few minutes for photos, I’m ready to takea  break. As long as you have your wristband, leaving and getting back into a convention is a simple process. I like to grab lunch and a drink at a restaurant within walking distance. Gives me a chance to relax, unwind, get away from the crowd for a bit and get ready for the afternoon! A good tip is if a convention hall is connected to a hotel, the hotel restaurant/bar area is normally open. Every year at the Motor City Comic Con, I will take a break and have a drink/lunch at the Hyatt bar. It’s fantastic!

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  • On that note, find out if your convention has cosplayer rest areas! Rest areas for cosplayers are becoming really popular at conventions and it will absolutely come in handy if you need a break. If you message someone on the “contact us” section on the con website, they should be able to let you know if your con has one as well as where it is located.
  • Think about a VIP pass. They are not for everyone, and definitely research what the VIP experience gets you in your particular con, but I have never regretted buying them. I am a really impatient person and long lines give me anxiety. If there are a few celebs I am really excited to meet, I always buy the VIP badges that allow me to skip the line. If you’re not looking to spend extra money, totally fine, just know a lot of times those lines can be really really long! I like to see as much as I can at every convention, so waiting in a line is something I hate doing.

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  • Look at the con schedule before the weekend of the con! Many times celebs are only there on certain days and only taking photo ops or signing autographs at certain times. Make sure to look at that. Also, there is usually a full list of con events such as after parties, cosplay contest, gaming rooms up on the websites. It’s super helpful to review those before going so you can plan your days out!
  • Be polite to both guests and other con goers. It can be hard to resist the urge to run up to a media guest that you love and start snapping photos. Be respectful, the con can be overwhelming for them too.  Most guests require tickets or a wait in line to get a photo with them, so make sure that is how you are doing it. As far as cosplayers go, we LOVE when people come up and ask to take photos with us! For the most part, we usually will say yes. Just make sure you always remember to ask for permission.
  • HAVE FUN! Seriously, whether you are just going to check out the scene, are a new cosplayer or a seasoned con vet, don’t forget to have fun!

 

So this is just a simple list I came up with when it relates to going to conventions, but I am curious if anyone has anything else to add? I would love to keep it a running list and update as need!

 

Rowan

Artist Spotlight: Amaleigh Photography

So I recently had the privilege of working with Amaleigh Photography to take photos of 4 of my cosplays. Not only is she an absolute blast to work with, her photography and editing skills are absolutely amazing. I was so impressed with her level of dedication and detail and blown away by the photos. I thought it would be really great to interview her to get her perspective on cosplay photography. Hope this helps cosplayers considering booking photoshoots as well as those interested in getting into the cosplay photography business!

  1. So you are a cosplayer AND a cosplay photographer, which came first?

I started as a cosplayer before I even dreamed of picking up a camera. It only took a few costumes before I realized I wanted photos of me and my friends to remember our favourite cosplay moments!

  1. How long have you been a cosplay photographer?

Roughly 5 years now!

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  1. What made you want to get into cosplay photography?

It started with just wanting to have fun with friends and have some cool photos to post on Facebook. A few years into cosplaying, I started to discover other well-known cosplayers and the amazing photos they always had of their costumes. I began to strive for better quality photos and widened from just shooting with my friends to shooting with other cosplayers that I didn’t even know.

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  1. How would you say it differs from other kind of photography, such as fashion?

I think cosplay photography and fashion photography in particular can have a lot in common but the main thing that sets them apart is the character the cosplayer is portraying. Cosplay photography is all about creating a visual for this character, a still piece that not only shows off the outfit but the personality of the character. It certainly allows for a lot of creativity!

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  1. What is the biggest challenge you face during photoshoots?

Posing cosplayers. The average cosplayer has had no formal training when it comes to being in front of a camera. This forces the photographer to always have a plethora of poses at the back of their mind to use in a pinch. I’ve worked with a wide range of people from those who hate every photo of themselves (which is a great challenge in and of itself!) and those who model professionally outside of cosplay.

  1. What do you wish more cosplayers knew about setting up a photoshoot?

Probably how much work it takes. Every photographer does things differently, but in my case, a lot of shoots have to be done in rapid succession. This includes having location ideas in mind beforehand, knowing if an assistant will be needed for mobility issues, having the right equipment for the costume and the location, making sure costumes and wigs are sitting right, posing the model, etc. And this is all in a half hour session from start to finish. It’s a lot of work that the cosplayer doesn’t always see unless they’ve been on the other side or been around a lot of photographers.

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  1. I know you do a lot of on location shoots. Any good stories about random bystanders gawking?

I have had some interesting encounters out in the wild public of the norms. I’ve had people come up and ask to take photos, people pointing in the distance, some less than pleasant phrases yelled at us. The best has to be when I was doing a Disney shoot and these little kids came up and the cosplayer immediately switched into character and gave those kids the true princess experience! Or the time I was shooting with my sister in her Dark Supergirl outfit in a snowy alleyway in the middle of the day and people started to gather. Now that I think about it, most of the gawking has been alleyway shoots!

  1. You’ve been really branching out with your photo manipulations lately! How is that for you?

Amazing! It started as just a fun little side project to up my photography game for personal photos but it slowly became very addicting! It’s one thing to take a great photo, it’s another to add an almost magical effect to them. With every photo I do, I learn more difficult techniques to implement and improve on. I can definitely see a lot more photo manipulations in my future!

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  1. Why should a cosplayer book a cosplay photoshoot?

There can be a few different reasons to book with a photographer. The one I see most often is to have professional pictures of their work for a portfolio or to show to an active social media audience. It can also allow you to show off your costumes in a very professional manner for publications and major websites. Cosplay photographers are generally good at finding your best angles and getting you very good shots that showcase you and your talent. It’s also worth the experience! I’ve gotten better at posing from cosplay shoots which helps even in day to day photos!

  1. What would be your biggest piece of advice for someone looking to get into cosplay photography?

The age old practice, practice, practice. It’s not about how good your camera is or how much equipment you have, it’s about knowing how to use your surroundings and work with a cosplayer. Minus a few extra things, I could get the same base photo from a $200 point and shoot camera as my $2000 DSLR. Go out, have fun, takes lots of photos!

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Amaleigh Photography is located in London, Ontario.

To learn more about her and her work visit the links below!

Photography Facebook

Cosplay Facebook

Twitter

Cosplay Tumblr

Photography Tumblr

Instagram

 

DIY Comic Book Coasters

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A lot of you probably don’t know this, but besides cosplay I also make comic book shoes, jewelry and accessories which are sold here. As far as the shoes go, it’s a fairly tedious, time consuming process, but the coasters are actually fairly simple and inexpensive to make. Here are the instructions to making some kick ass comic book coasters!

  1. Gather supplies
    • Comic book of your choice
    • Tiles for coasters. For the example, I used a ceramic tile that I bought at Michael’s in a 4 pack for less than $5. You can also use 4″x4″ ceramic bath tiles that can be found at your local hardware store for well under $1 a piece.
    • Scissors
    • Mod Podge or other Decoupage glue
    • Polyurethane gloss varnish
    • Craft brush
  2. Take a page out of your comic book and begin by cutting it into small rectangles as shown below.IMG_0311
  3. Using your craft brush, brush some Mod Podge on the tile and the back of the comic book rectangles and align them around the edge of your tile. This will make sure the edges look clean and straight.                                                                         IMG_0314
  4. Once all sides of the tile are lined, brush one coat of Mod Podge over the comic book page rectangles and let dry for at least 15 minutes.                                               IMG_0315
  5. While that dries, tear images from comic book that you would like to be the background of your coaster. Use images that you would like to see, but save your favorite images/quotes for a later step. I would suggest tearing as opposed to cutting these just because I personally like the look better, and when you tear them and put them over top of the rectangles, it gives the coaster a more uniformed look.  IMG_0316
  6. Once you have torn enough paper to cover the tile, use the Mod Podge to adhere them to all blank parts of the tile.
  7. Once you have covered all of the blank tile face, once again brush an even coat of Mod Podge over the entire top of the tile and let dry for at least 15 minutes.    IMG_0319
  8. While that is drying, review the comic book and cut out a few of your favorite images and quotes from the books. These should be the images you would like most prevalent on the coaster. These I do suggest cutting as opposed to tearing.  IMG_0317
  9. Using your brush and Mod Podge, once again brushing the adhesive on both the tile and the image, adhere the images onto the tile in a way that appeals to you. You may want to lay everything out prior to gluing just to make sure you like the layout.
  10. Brush the entire face of the tile with one more coat of Mod Podge and let dry for at least an hour.                                                                                                                              IMG_0321
  11. Using a new craft brush, brush an even coat of the polyurethane gloss over the face of the tile and let dry for 2 hours.                                                                                                              IMG_0328
  12. Repeat steps 9 and 10 for additional sealing. (optional)
  13. You may also choose to cut some cork board or felt and adhere it to the bottom of the coaster.                                                                                                                                                       back
  14. You are finished! Now, crack open a beer and put your new comic book coasters to good use!

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That is it! Please leave me a comment if you have any questions and I would love to hear back from anyone that tries making it!

*Note, because of the adhesive and varnish, these are better suited for cold beverages. They may not hold up well if something very hot is placed on them.

 

 

BAM! Magazine

 

I am extremely excited and honored to announce that I will be collaborating with Breath Again Magazine (BAM!) and working on doing photoshoots, web series episodes and podcasts!

Founded by Terrell Culbert, illustrator, photographer and director (Breathe Again Magazine) is a small press publication.This is  a pop-culture magazine created for comic book fans and all who are awesome! They interview cosplayers, artist, writers, actors and models! The big focus of this book is the independent guys out there putting together those hidden gems.

I have just wrapped up filming two web series episodes and they were an absolute blast! I am thrilled to be a part of the BAM! team!

Check out my most recent episode here, discussing the role of Harley Quinn in the new Suicide Squad movie!

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