Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Everything is Better with Cosplay!

An Interview with Three Talented Cosplayers

Its been said that everything is better with Pirates, everything is better with Zombies, but when it comes to events I believe - and take it from a guy who had his wedding on Halloween -everything is better with costumes!

And when I say everything, I mean everything, weddings, parties, meetings, and even non-genre conventions. I took my wife, then girlfriend, to an incredibly mundane hospitality convention (she married me anyway) and we still talk about that event because we got to meet the Procter and Gamble mascot, Mr. Clean. Since then I have been to many a dull event that has been brighten and made memorable by some amazing, creative, wacky human taking the time and energy to dress for the occasion. Now in 2015 we have a diverse culture of cosplayers that dress up at genre conventions, bringing to life characters that could only come from the human imagination. Their tenacity, courage, ingenuity, and yes skill in bringing our favorite pop culture icons to life is what I enjoy most about conventions.

But besides the few seconds required to snap a picture, I’ve never had the opportunity to ask the many questions I have regarding why they do what they do, what’s involved, and how does one even get started in cosplay? As the San Diego Comic Con approaches, I thought it would be a great time to try and get some answers. Three talented cosplayers took the time to answers my queries on the subject. Here is a bit about them first, and at the bottom of this post you'll find links to follow them on their ongoing cosplay adventures.  

Jessica Edmonds has been involved with cosplay all her life and is best known for her Punk Harley Quinn and Scarred up Helena from Orphan Black. Her favorite convention is the San Diego Comic Con which she will be at this year along with other appearances at Comikaze and Star Trek Vegas. 

Jessica Edmonds - Punk Harley Quinn
Lord Vishus Cosplay (Chris Meador) is relatively new to cosplay having been involved for two years now. He's best known for his Agent 47/Hitman and Sith Lord Vishus to name just a few. His favorite con is Comicpalooza, and you can see him at STCE Laredo and Del Rio Comic Con.

Lord Vishus Cosplay - Magneto
Christina Tellifson / Booba Fett has been dressing up in costume for events like movie premiers since she was a kid. She is known for her Apocalypse Alice in Wonderland, Luke Skywalker, Darth Fenris, and many others. Her favorite con is Star Wars Celebration. She will be at the San Diego Comic Con this year rocking Elena from Uncharted 4, Star Lord, and Cid Highwind from Final Fantasy VII. Then later this year at Dragon Con as Ms. Marvel. 

Christina Tellifson - Apocalypse Alice in Wonderland


KEVIN: There sometimes is a moment or an event that motivates people to try something new. What inspired you to try cosplay?

JESSICA: I was pretty much born into it. My mother is a costumer so childhood was full of playing dress up. Costumes weren't just for Halloween, if we wanted a replica costume she made it for us. My family also ran a game booth at Ren Faires up and down California. I was two weeks old at my first Ren Faire, so costuming is in my blood. 

LORD VISHUS: I was attended Amazing Arizona Comic Con in 2013 and saw all the amazing costumes and the people having fun and wanted to be a part of it. 

CHRISTINA: I have always loved costuming and pouring my creative soul into characters I love and have an affinity for. When I realized there was a whole community of people who love to do the same, I was sold. I was super nervous to wear a costume to my first SDCC in 2009, but was so thrilled when people complimented me and got excited by what I was wearing (Celes from Final Fantasy VI).
Christina - Rebel Pilot

 KEVIN: What impact has cosplay had on your life?

JESSICA: As a super shy kid costumes gave me the chance to be someone else. Someone, well, not shy. By taking on attributes of strong, brave, and confident characters you slowly find that those attributes are now your own. Cosplay let me explore different people, and in that, different parts of myself. And I know that greatly influenced my interest in acting.

LORD VISHUS:  I now have some of the best friends that I have ever had in my life. 

CHRISTINA: Cosplay and the con circuit has hugely impacted my life. Not only is it a creative outlet for me and a stress reliever, but I've made long lasting relationships with friends that I otherwise wouldn't have. I've learned so many skills sewing and prop building wise, so it keeps me sharp. It is also an extremely wonderful confidence booster. 

KEVIN: What is your most elaborate and or expense cosplay project? Success?

JESSICA: Several come to mind. One would be my Punk Harley Quinn. While it wasn't super costly it has a lot of pieces and I worked on it with several people. Working off a sketch I made the mallet with my buddies at Foam Junkies and my buddy Maurio took on the bulk of the armor. My mom took on the bulk of
the sewing. And my roommate shaves the diamonds on my head the day before any con. And also all of my Tank Girl costumes. My mom put in tons of time and effort into making me several exact replicas of Tank Girls costumes as well as costumes for Jet Girl, Booga and Richard for a photo shoot.

LORD VISHUS: My Sith Lord Vishus costume has cost me over $1500, due to having almost the entire costume remade and upgraded. 

CHRISTINA: I would say Harley Quinn was my most expensive costume project. I was a complete noob and purchased the body suit online. I also had to buy two sets of boots and gloves so I could have alternating colors. Currently, Captain Phasma from Episode VII will be my most expensive and time consuming project. All the chrome!!!!

KEVIN: What is your best cosplay convention celebrity meeting story? Ever meet your idol?

Jessica and Lori Petty
JESSICA: My all time favorite character is Tank Girl. Lori Petty as Tank Girl to be exact. It's the character that helped me break out of my shell, not care what people thought, and embrace my weirdness. The first time I met Lori my knees buckled and I nearly fell over shaking. I mean it's her! It's freakin Tank Girl! She was absolutely amazing and every bit as cool as I thought she would be. The thing is, now I see her around all the time. Probably about twice a year I work a con with her. Sometimes only a few tables down. She is just a really cool and chill person to talk with I sometimes stop and think "Omg, I hanging with Tank Girl!" I'm still not sure she gets how much that character means to me and how much she influenced the person I grew to be. Maybe she does, but at least she never makes me feel weird about it
Chris and Philip J. Fry

LORD VISHUS: If I had to pick one then I'd have to say that meeting voice actor Billy West who voiced Phillip J. Fry on Futurama is definitely my favorite moment. 

CHRISTINA: My favorite con story is meeting George R.R. Martin at SDCC. I was having a miserable time and my friend tapped me on the shoulder and told me to turn around. He was standing there waving me over and I couldn't believe
Christina and George R.R. Martin
it. He asked me to walk with him to his panel so we could chat. I remember asking him some questions regarding some theories I had and asked if I could hug him.  He said, "I would never say no to a beautiful woman being a weapon." Gave him a huge hug and as he turned to enter the panel room he says, "You know, you're just how I pictured Val."

KEVIN: If you could drop one piece of sage-like wisdom on someone interested in getting into cosplay, what would it be?

JESSICA: Have fun! Don't let people make you feel like it's some elite club. Do what makes you happy and have fun with it! 

Chris - Hitman
LORD VISHUS: For a first timer here in Texas, I'd say start off in a small convention like Texas Comic   
Con in San Antonio or Heart of Texas Con in Waco. It will give you a really good entry level taste of the fun of conventions and cosplay.

CHRISTINA: My advice to new cosplayers is JUST DO IT! *insert Shia LeBeof's inspirational video* Pick a character you love and pour your heart into it. You CAN do it, and you'll be so proud of what you can accomplish.  And remember, have fun and don't worry about anyone else. Reach out to the community for advice and help - there are so many forums and threads for all skill levels!

KEVIN: It seems there is a real genuine cosplay community, a network of craftspeople and artist, supportive, social, talented, and very outgoing. What do you love about the cosplay community?

JESSICA: I love that it creates instant camaraderie. I almost enjoy cosplaying a subtle/lesser known/minor character more than a big attention grabbing one. That way you know the few people that get who you are, are also big fans. You instantly have something in common to geek out about and I've made some amazing friends that way. I also love that it puts makers in the spotlight. Often costumers, fabricators and prop makers are unsung heroes. But in cosplay they are rock stars.

Christina - THOR
LORD VISHUS: I love the openness of the cosplay community.  I love how people are so willing to share tips and techniques for working on various aspects of props and costumes.  

CHRISTINA: Trying to pick just one thing I love most about the cosplay community is rough. It's so multi faceted for me. I suppose if I had to pick one thing, it would be the passion we all share and the over all support and love we all have for each other and the craft. Geeks unite! 

KEVIN: All communities change over time. What changes, good or bad, have you noticed in your time as a cosplayer?

JESSICA: I love that it helps people step out of their comfort zone and have fun. And the bigger it gets the
more people are included in that, which is nice. But along with that comes the bullies. Elitists who seem to go out of their way to belittle the work of others. They are divas who think they have reached some higher level of cosplay. And it takes something fun and turns it into a environment of judgment and alienation.

Jessica Edmonds
LORD VISHUS: The good thing is the fact that cosplay hasn't been a "fad."  It's definitely not going away.  The bad thing would be so many people wanting to be a cosplay "Pro."  Some people are forgetting why they got into cosplay in the first place, which is to have fun.  They get hung up on the need to have a booth and sell prints and be a huge cosplayer  in the community.  

CHRISTINA: The cosplay community is ever changing. I love seeing new costumers emerge and seeing the con floors littered with people sporting their newest costume. The community is growing, that's for sure. The only negative things I can really say are people who say they want to be famous or "cosplay famous." Stop it. Do it because you love it. The notoriety will follow on its own. 

KEVIN: In the past few years several conventions like PAX, and some Tech cons, have put the kybosh on “booth babes,” and some think this may have some overlap into the cosplay community, possibly placing new restrictions on costumes. Do you see the eliminating of the babes in the booth as having repercussions on the cosplay community?

JESSICA: The "Booth Babe" issue is kind of tricky. I have no problem with booth babes, in fact I've worked as a booth babe a few times. I think the real problem is when both booth babes and cosplayers think they can walk around nearly naked (sometimes actually naked) but it's ok because "It's just a costume". There needs to be a standard of decency. If you are walking around showing more skin or being more sexual than would be allowed on basic cable we have a problem. Especially when kids are present, which is the case at most conventions. Removing booth babes isn't the answer, implementing common sense decency guidelines is. 

LORD VISHUS: Not all.  PAX is "PAX."  It's not a fair example of the average convention.  More and more artist are picking cosplayers to help lure people to their booths, and I don't see that ending any time soon.  

CHRISTINA: As someone who works and attends expos such as E3 and PAX, I believe there is a place and time for models or "booth babes" to work. It certainly has caused controversy and unrest with some. I think, as long as the models know their product and are professional, they are a valid con/expo existence. These companies hiring them need to realize there are real sexy, geeky models who can do just that. But I've seen people treat these models badly and humiliate them, and that's not okay, ever.
Christina -  Darth Fenris

KEVIN: Many events like WonderCon are promoting the Cosplay is NOT consent slogan in an attempt to protect cosplayers from unwanted attention at events. But still there seems to be a problem. Recently Cosplayer Luna Lanie had a disturbing experience at MomoCon and has been speaking out about the incident? Have you run into this problem, and what techniques can you share to help keep new cosplayers safe.

JESSICA: And this is where I show some of my contempt for PC bandwagons. Let me be clear.
Inappropriate touching, comments, and actions are NEVER acceptable. That being said, if you willingly engage in certain behavior or a ridiculous state of undress you are making yourself vulnerable. If I walked into a poor neighborhood waving around cash I'm increasing my chances or being robbed. If I walk around with my boobs pushed up to my chin I'm increasing my chances of oogling stares and comments. Am I saying that behavior is ok? No. But if you actively put yourself in a vulnerable position you share the responsibility of the outcome, good or bad. This isn't victim blaming. It's a matter of being smart and responsible for your own actions. When I dressed as Slave Leia in the notorious gold bikini I was very aware of the attention I would receive when walking into a convention with thousands of geeks who most certainly had serious crushes on that character. That was the cosplay where I received the most inappropriate looks, comments and physical contact. And while none of that behavior was ok, I knew it was a strong probability. So to help ensure my safety I did a couple's cosplay with my over 6 foot tall boyfriend at the time who was dressed as Lando. Before we even got in the front door he physically pulled someone off me. He ran interference for me all day. You can never predict exactly how a stranger will behave. If you don't want that kind of attention steer clear of provocative costumes. And make sure you are always with someone who is able to protect you if need be.

Chris Meador
LORD VISHUS: In my opinion just highlighting the problem isn't going to make it go away. The guys that are acting in this manner do not care if people make an issue out of it.  They see a pretty girl and they flirt and act inappropriate towards them.  You may be able to catch the odd individual and maybe "name and shame" them, but it's never going to fully go away.  I by means support or justify their behavior.  I just know that the problem will continue to rear its ugly head at every convention regardless of how much awareness is placed on it.  Some guys simply do not care.  

CHRISTINA: The Cosplay is not Consent movement was actually started by Ellie Schweizer from my old site, 16-bit Sirens.  The idea was that harassment is never acceptable and cons should help provide a safe environment for all attendees. I've experienced lewd comments and people trying to grope me, yes. I make it clear verbally and physically that I am not okay with the situation.  If this ever happens, tell someone right away. It's also always good to have friends around. Not only can they help you get around with better ease while you're in costume, but safety in numbers will hopefully detour any creeps from bothering you.  Don't be afraid to speak up if you're uncomfortable or nervous. There's always someone there to have your back.

KEVIN: Anything else, final thoughts?
JESSICA: For the newcomers to cosplay I really just want to stress that the whole experience is suppose to be fun. Designing, researching, construction, convention. All of it. Don't ever feel like your cosplays are somehow not good enough. Always be excited about improving, always enjoy what you do. Remember the details. You can have a huge elaborate costume, but it will be the tiny reference to a single joke or episode that will make it memorable. Make sure it's something you can function in for long periods of time. Think of the silly things too, can you go to the bathroom in it? Can you carry your phone/wallet in it? Can you get through a crowd in it? Are you going to need people to assist you throughout the con, or help dress and undress you?

 And one final note. If you have a huge cumbersome cosplay that limits your vision or movement, don't even think about walking through a crowd or walking down vendor isles. If I see you running into people and merchandise I will yell at you, tell you to leave, and make you realize how scary a chick with a mohawk and a 6 foot mallet can be.

Christina - The Crow
LORD VISHUS: The only thing I would like to add is what I say to most people when I do panels on costuming and cosplay at conventions.  Have fun!! Pick characters you are passionate about and make the costume to the best of your ability.  It doesn't matter if your body isn't cartoon/movie/game accurate.  All that matters is that you are doing something you love, and I promise you that the majority of people out there will love the fact that you are doing something you love.  

CHRISTINA: I just want to say, whoever you are reading this, if you want to express yourself creatively through the form of cosplay, please do! I, for one, wholly welcome you. Jump on in, the water is fine. 


Jessica Edmonds is an actress living it Los Angles, Ca. If you put Tank Girl and Carol Burnett into a martini mixer, then added an actual martini, and shook it up she would be the result. You can find her on the random film set, comic con or autograph convention, or at her apartment running her youtube channel while watching netflix. Though acting is her primary focus, she has an extensive background in technical theater. Having worked for years in set construction, props, stage crew and even general construction for a time. When she is not nerding out over her favorite shows and making prop and costume replicas for her and her niece, she is sleeping. Which she enjoys very much.
YouTube channel 
Twitter and Instagram @little_ewok

Lord Vishus regularly appears as a guest at Cons across Texas, and has started his own comic book/costuming convention called Hero Con in Austin.
Twitter:  @LordVishus 
Hero Con on Facebook:

Christina Tellifson is an actress, gamer, cosplayer from central California, and believes Han shot first! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: BoobaFett83, and her cosplay page on Facebook