Montreal COMICCON 2013 - Who said black cats were signs of bad luck? ;)
#BlackCat #Catwoman #Cosplay #Cosplays #Cosplayers #Mtl #Montreal #COMICCON #Comics #SuperHeroines #superheroes #superhero #Marvel #DC #Manga #Anime #Assassins
The library I work at is having a Superhero themed story time and my supervisor suggested that we make it a costumed event.
I might have gotten a little excited with my costume.
Boots are made out of duct tape built on an old pair of flats and a pair of knee highs, arm bands and crown are from recycled cardboard, and the leotard is courtesy of a lovely etsy shop.
Rule 63 Captain America
What if Captain America was a girl? Damn she is smokin’
The end of 2012 has had somewhat of a Cosplay theme here on the Alt Girl botherer blog. That’s in no small part thanks to a man called Derek Fuego, a blogger and comicbook fan who has taken his love of all things spandex clad and put it online for everyone to enjoy. Via Derek’s Women of Comicbook Cosplay site, I have been able to work with a number of very talented and creative models and artists. Women who have a passion for Cosplay and go to insanely impressive lengths to showcase that talent and prowess. Derek himself is a witty and urbane gent; with a sense of humour I think shines through in this interview. I’ve been trying to have him on for a while now, and with 2013 looming and a Women of Comicbook Cosplay calendar on the horizon, what a perfect time…
Hello Derek. I’m very pleased to be able to welcome you to the Alt Girl botherer blog. How are you doing?
Thanks for having me! As for how I am, in the words of London’s greatest modern day thinkers Chas and Dave, “Mustn’t Grumble”. Work is busy, my Family are safe and well and there are to my knowledge no death threats against me at this time. Life’s pretty peachy!
Women of Comicbook Cosplay is your brain child. Can you tell us when and how you got the idea to showcase ladies dressed up as western comicbook characters?
It came about by accident; I never intended to start it. At work I found that I was eating my lunch at my desk and just getting on with my job instead of taking a few minutes to relax. I had nothing better to do than work. To remedy that I set up a personal blog which was used to vent various frustrations and rant (positively and negatively) about comic art. In between blogging outbursts I would reblog a few cosplays that had caught my eye. It seemed that although my main content was getting moderate attention, the cosplay photos were really getting noticed. I was encouraged by this and looked into it further. The more I looked, the more I found. It was like falling down the Rabbit hole.
I had a look around Tumblr to see if anyone had a dedicated blog for females cosplaying comic book characters, and was surprised when my search came up a little dry. I thought to myself, “if there isn’t one out there that I can follow I’ll make my own”. I figured I’d just post the occasional cosplay when one crossed my path online. That was March 21st 2011.
I’m not sure if I ever told anyone this before but the idea for the blog was at one point switched to just be “Comicbook Cosplay” and was to cater for both Female and Male cosplayers. It was when I was entering the blog title on Tumblr that I thought to myself, “you know what, I’d rather just deal with what I can appreciate more” and added the “Women of” part of the title back on.
I said western comicbook characters, and you make a point of stating that on your sites etc. Is there any particular reason why you focus on the westernised characters, or is it just personal preference?
It is mostly personal preference. There are Video game/Manga/Anime cosplay blogs galore out there, there would be very little point doing another one. It just so happened that I found a niche and it happened to be something that I knew quite a bit about. It’s just what I know. All of my life, since I was really very small, I have enjoyed comics.
I missed the boat with Anime, I think I’m the wrong generation for it. I caught the early stuff like Akira when it first hit the VHS market but never really stuck with it. I don’t know enough about it to be able to blog it. I’ll leave it the folks that know what they’re talking about.
The WoCC blog is a wonderful space, and offshoots like the facebook incarnation are thriving. Did you have any idea the subject matter you cover would be so popular when you started out?
No, I was pretty oblivious to the scene. I knew of maybe two or three names that would crop up fairly often; Ruby Rocket and Belle Chere were pretty much it as far as I knew.
I had no idea just how big a thing it was or would become; as big as it’s becoming I don’t think it’s completely there yet though. There is still an awful lot of misunderstanding and assumptions made about cosplay. Then again, I guess that pretty much goes for any fringe scene. Time will tell I guess.
Cosplay has grown in popularity massively of late, with the themes being utilised more and more in magazine shoots etc. What do you put the Cosplay boom down to? Are people just more passionate about showing their fandom? Or is there just better material out there right now for people to immerse themselves in?
I think it’s down to a greater acceptance of the source material brought about by the recent slew of box office successes that comicbook movies have garnered. The movies push comicbook characters, stories and themes into the public consciousness, opening up that world to people who otherwise may have poo pooed the idea of anything to do with comics. Let’s face it, comics as a medium has for a long time had a certain stigma. Opening it up like that allows the general public to accept the fandoms. In turn, this acceptance allows things like cosplay to flourish without being overly scorned or mocked.
You couldn’t really be a Cosplay commentator/showcase-er without an interest in the source material yourself. Can I ask what you grew up reading/watching, and what you currently enjoy about the comicbook realm?
I started reading comics as a young Boy; if I remember correctly my first US comic was a tatty old copy of Incredible Hulk that I bought for 5p at my Primary School’s festive jumble sale. I don’t really remember much about that particular issue other than Hulk looked awesome and whenever I read it, I always wondered who “Stan Lee” was and why he was presenting the comic. Little did I know then that he was the co-creator of my all-time favourite superhero, Spider-Man. I’ve enjoyed ol’ webhead for years and years. If I was sick or travelling as a youngun, Mama Fuego would often provide me with some Marvel UK reprints. They’d be compilation issues, they’d have a Spidey story, some Avengers and a bunch of UK stuff. I recall one such story that had Death’s Head and the Seventh Doctor and another that featured Lew Stringer’s “Combat Colin”. Everything a growing geek needs, right?
As I grew older and money was a little more sparse, I relied on Marvel’s Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons and Batman the animated series; the latter of which would spark my undying love affair with Harley Quinn. Although I’m primarily a Marvelite at heart, Batman TAS really opened me up to the idea of DC. The Burton Batman movies as well, oh boy! I was too young to see the first one when it came out at the cinema. What was it, 1989, yeah I was nine years old and it was released as a 12 I think. I wanted to see that movie so badly. Not a popular opinion, but in my opinion, Jack Nicholson’s Joker bests all others bar none. As far as comic movies are concerned, growing up I watched Batman, Tank Girl, The Crow and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles far more times than was probably healthy.
Your blog’s focus is on females dressed as their favourite comicbook characters, but do you yourself indulge in Cosplay? If so, what have been some of your previous costume inspired identities?
I’m usually a behind the scenes type of guy, I’ve been a crew member for a few cosplay charity events but very rarely have I donned a costume. One of my absolute favourite in costume cosplay outings was being a Sandtrooper. The uniform was a loaner, the boots were a size or two too small, the helmet fan failed and my arse has never been so damn cold but it was the best time. For me, it was a dream come true. Even though Lucas has seen fit over the past ten or so years to try and “improve” (ruin) Star Wars, the force is still strong in my heart.
If I had the time and money to do so I would love to do more. I get told that I should cosplay Dr. Strange all the time… that or Dante from Clerks. That’d be so much fun. Also, I have a box of old computer parts sitting in a box that are screaming to become Borg. One day.
You’ve seen and exhibited so many examples of Cosplay on your blog; which in my book makes you somewhat of an authority. In your opinion, what is the most important element of Cosplay? Is it the accuracy of the costume, or the attitude of the person wearing it?
Personally, the most important thing is, “la Passion”. You can make it, you can wear it, but unless you love it, it’s just not complete.
You’ve welcomed many very talented models to your pages Derek. Have you got particular favourites you have featured, or heroines within the Cosplay community?
I try not to play favourites, I think it’s important to stay relatively impartial. That way everybody gets a fair crack of the whip. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all heroines to me. As corny as that sounds, it’s true. These amazingly talented Women spend so much time, money and effort on doing something they love. They pour so much into their craft, then they get out there and fly their freak flag with pride. That’s a pretty damn amazing thing to do.
Recently on our Facebook page there have been photos cropping up of people holding Women of Comicbook Cosplay “Legitimate Geek” diplomas (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.509150995784010.122955.228398960525883&type=3). These were issued to people that had supported WoCC over the past few years and that were for sure full on geeks. It happened as a direct response to the rant that was anally discharged from Comic artist, Tony Harris. Rather than play favourites, it’s nice just to say thanks to people.
There is one person that I feel deserves some kind of medal for her support of not only comics, fandoms, and the fans, but also cosplay. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the fantabulous Gail Simone. Such a witty, kind, talented soul that has helped the blog and its models on numerous occasions. I say to heck with a medal, a statue is in order!
Speaking of the multitude of models you’ve worked with, I can’t go any further without mentioning the 2013 Women of Comicbook Cosplay calendar. It makes perfect sense that you would bring out a calendar, but could you tell us about the evolution of the idea?
Ever since I worked on a college magazine many, many years ago I’d wanted to produce something. Something tangible that I could hold up and say, “I did this”. I’ve usually found whenever I’ve been working on a project that it should never be forced, I always end up with a better outcome if I let it happen in its own time. That’s what happened with the calendar.
The first one, last year, just popped into my head. I was in the middle of doing something mundane, I forget what, when there was a sudden, “these photos would look great in a calendar” moment. That was its conception, a single errant thought. It was received well and the most received question for months after its release was, “are you making a 2013 calendar?”. I’ve always been a firm believer in providing what you have the capacity to provide, so it was my pleasure to let everyone know that a 2013 calendar would happen.
I guess the hard part must have been choosing just twelve models to be involved. What was the selection process like?
It was hard, it always is when you have to decide who makes the cut and who doesn’t. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone being upset or disheartened because they weren’t chosen. One of the many things I learnt from producing our first calendar last year is that the calendar should reflect the blogs belief in follower involvement. After all, it’s something produced for them.
We start the process by holding open submissions; during that period (which is usually a couple of months) cosplayers and photographers are asked to send photos they’d like considered. Then the tricky bit starts, whittling it down to just twelve. Honestly, the quality is so high, this year I asked a few people to give me their opinions.
There was an extra twist this year. Whereas with the first calendar I designed a cover for it, with the 2013 calendar I wanted to have one of the twelve as the cover star and incorporate the WoCC logo in there. We put the photo for each of the twelve months in a gallery on our Facebook page and invited our followers to cast their vote for the cover star by liking the appropriate image. Fairly straight forward, right? As our Miss November, the amazing Freddie Nova’s liquid latex Venom cosplay was a little more showy than some people would have liked, the image was forcibly removed by Facebook and a firm virtual slap applied to my wrist. It did the blog a favour in many ways as word got out that the photo had once again caused shenanigans on Facebook. That kind of word of mouth is amazing. As it turned out, Freddie won the cover star vote and I started designing the cover around her photo. I had already roughed a few designs in preparation. I must say that the photographer, Adam Jay (Superhero Photography by Adam Jay) was a tremendous help, he’s a top fella. He was kind enough to not only allow me to use the photo but also advise on the cover design. Usually a photographer will just issue a release for the use of the image but Adam really stepped up and got stuck in.
You’re very in tune with your audience if I may say, and get them to not only contribute pictures and other content, but also give them a chance to influence the site as a whole. Is it important to you that there’s a community feel to the WoCC project?
Let’s put it this way, you wouldn’t throw a party and play music that you knew everyone hated, right? It’s the same sort of thing really. The followers are good enough to stick by the blog, in return I try to give them what they want. Obviously you simply can’t please everybody but every effort is made to shape the blog according to the wishes of its followers.
I post irregular “Follower surveys”, asking the followers to comment on specific topics or areas of the blog. Sometimes I just like to remind the followers that not only do I encourage messages, questions, comments and criticism, I actually rather enjoy receiving it. It’s not all good but then I’d be worried if it were. No matter what gets messaged over, if I think it can improve the blog I’ll do my best to action it.
The contributions from our followers and non-followers alike are essential for the survival of the blog. It fills me with a great sense of pride that people have chosen to share the fruits of their labour with us.
Merchandise like calendars etc, are a vital part of a venture progressing in today’s world. Can you talk us through other products fans may be able to get their hands on, or possible future merchandise additions?
We have an online store (http://www.cafepress.co.uk/comicbookcosplay) that has stickers, badges, t-shirts and the like. It’s funny, loads of people tell me that I should somehow monetize the blog. I didn’t want to have ads and banners all over the blog, it would detract from the glorious photos and ugly the place up. I made the store and it’s merchandise available so that if people want to support the blog financially, they can and in doing so they get something out of it as well. Everyone wins. One of these days I’ll get around to buying myself a WoCC t-shirt.
When it comes to material on your blog, have you got a particular penchant for certain characters? I for instance love seeing Poison Ivy depicted in Cosplay, what about you?
I have set my personal tastes aside, otherwise I’d get twice as many complaints about the volume of Harley Quinn cosplay being published than I already do. At the other end of the spectrum, I love seeing Spider-Girl (May “Mayday” Parker) being cosplayed and that very rarely happens.
Aside from Harley and Mayday, I really enjoy any cosplay that’s given a fresh spin. Even if it’s a character that’s cosplayed more than most. Whether it be rule 63 (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/rule-63), steampunk or something of a mashup, it’s always interesting to see just how creative cosplayers can be. It’s like being on the con floor and your brain is going, “Powergirl, Catwoman, Ms. Marvel, another Catwoman, WOW! Look what they did with that character!”.
What trends have you witnessed during your association with the Cosplay world? Have the recent superhero blockbusters influenced who people dress as, or is there always a broad spectrum of characters? What is popular right now in terms of costumes?
Let’s just say, I don’t think the explosion of Loki, Thor, or Black Widow cosplay is a coincidence. I do hear a lot of groaning about it but I welcome it. If you love a character enough to cosplay them and you have the brass to go out there and do it, then fair play to you! With some people I’ve spoken to about it, they’ve seen it as a way into the scene and they haven’t looked back since.
Am I right in thinking it’s a family affair for you Derek? Does your wife enjoy the Cosplay scene, is it nice to be able to share such a passion?
My Wife’s been into comics and sci-fi for years so she totally gets the whole cosplay thing and is very supportive of my work with WoCC. It’s not every Woman that would give their husband the time to work on a project that predominantly involves attractive Women in revealing and/or skin tight costumes. What’s really nice is being able to bounce ideas off of her or explain an angle I want to work. She’s always been very honest and frank about her opinions and I love her for it. It’s great to get an honest, unbiased point of view.
What’s also nice is that she’s a great anchor, she very much keeps my feet on the ground. It’s so easy to get above oneself when you’re thanked and praised on a regular basis. I’ve seen many a blogger and cosplayer fall to an inflated ego, reality checks are always welcome. My Wife: Keeping me honest since 2006.
With present day Cosplay booming so, what do you see for the future of the scene? Do you think it’ll increase in popularity?
My hope is that the scene will continue to grow but not get beyond itself and fizzle out. It would be sad if the current status of cosplay was just a passing trend.
I started this interview with a song title and so I shall end with one; in the words of Yazz and the Plastic Population, “The Only Way is Up! (Baby)”.
Lastly Derek, would you be so kind as to answer Bernard Pivot’s classic questionnaire?
What is your favourite word? Balls
What is your least favourite word? Doohickey
What turns you on? Mystery
What turns you off? Insecurity
What sound or noise do you love? A Cat purring
What sound or noise do you hate? People filing their nails
What is your favourite curse word? Bollocks
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Always fancied photography
What profession would you not like to do? Butcher
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? The kettle’s on, fancy a cuppa?
It was real fun having Derek come on my blog and talk about Women of Comicbook Cosplay. It’s a labour of love for him, that much is clear, and I really enjoy talking with folks that have a similar passion to myself, and revel in showcasing other passionate people. I wish him all the luck in his future plans, and hopefully we’ll work together again. Be that on another interview, or maybe just with suggestions for one another’s sites. Hit up the links below for everything you need to know:
First batch of Superhero characters and also Wiccan’s adventures with superheroes :)