Batman meets Freddy Kruger meets Ghostbusters! Confused? Read on!

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By Owen Quinn

In our latest Brotherhood of the Bat interview, we meet John Roberts, a true fan whose love for Batman began when he watched the old Adam West Tv series. John has not only created a superb Batman and Catwoman costume but also has expanded into prop building via Ghostbusters and the deadly razor glove of Freddy Kruger to complete his new costumes.

What’s your first memory of Batman?   

My first memory was watching reruns of the 60′s Adam West Batman. However, it was the 1989 Batman that allowed the character to really start to take a hold of me. 

What is it about the Batman that makes you a fan to this day?
He is written as a person who has something very tragic happen to him, and the story is the exploration of what he will do with the experience. So Batman represents a very real human choice to me. Each time he puts on the suit he chooses to try to be better, to try to overcome.  The psychology of Bruce and Batman spotlights the duality of all of us.  Some of us are more aware of it than others, but we all have two sides. One of which is perhaps animalistic, craving what is self-serving, and the other very altruistic. Sure we are not going to put on a suit and go fight crime, but will we choose to try to improve ourselves and therefor improve society, or dwell only in what helps us?  I love having the suit on display as a reminder of this on going battle we all face.  The story of Batman is the story of one of humanities biggest fights on the individual level. 
Were you a collector of the comic books?
Yes.
What story would you like to see put on the big screen?
Well, I mainly collected during the Knightfall story-line, and we obviously just got a version of that from Mr. Nolan. Maybe that will be told again one day, but the great thing about Batman is there is still so much of him that can be explored on the big screen because of the reasons I mentioned above for being a fan of the character.
What made you decide to costume as the Batman?
A: Well, outside of my philosophical intrigue with the character, I also love art ( I have a degree in Fine Arts). Specifically the art of movie props. As I have explored what is necessary to create costumes, it was only logical I would start the exploration with how the industry brought my favorite comic book hero to life.  On top of that I always used to tells my parents I would have a bat-suit one day when I was older. So I guess, like it is for many others, I’m fulfilling a childhood dream.
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Which version did you choose and why?
I chose The Dark Knight version. I love this suit because it broke the mold on its predecessor superhero costumes as far as design goes.  They went away from the idea that the suit needed to mimic human biology, and embraced the concept of trying to armor vital areas, while still allowing movement necessary for combat.  Beyond these reasons, that were of course used in the story telling, the suit is just also visually stunning to me. The sculptured lines within the armor plates and the overall placement design is beautiful art in my opinion.  It turns the human form into a traveling installation.      
How did you go about putting it together? Is it bought complete or hand made?
This is something that I bought. While I have done prop building, I am still trying to learn the art of making molds.
Are there reference sites costumers can go to to make Batman character costumes?
Oh absolutely! Depending on what you are trying to do the RPF is a great place to go, and of course if your focus in Batman there is no place better than the BOTB.
What about the accessories? Is that a mix of hand made and bought?
Every part of my suit came from another artist. I have been lucky enough to have found some friends who are absolutely outstanding at making every aspect of this suit.  In total the suit is comprised of 5 different artist’s work.   
You appear in costume for charity events; what was the public reaction like when you first trooped?
I would say total amazement, lol.  It doesn’t matter if children or adults meet me in costume, they all wear smiles it seems. With the Nolan films being so recent, this particular suit embodies the current cultural concept of Batman, and that in turn allows people to get lost in the idea they are meeting the hero who did all those things in the movie.
What’s the buzz you get from costuming?
I would say it’s active on two levels.  One, the buzz of looking in the mirror after fighting my way into the suit, and seeing I look like Batman. The first time I did it, it was very surreal.  Seeing Batman staring back at me, and trying to remember I was the one under the suit was just dizzying.  Second, the buzz of helping other people feel the similar magic of meeting this character that they know is not real, yet is standing right in front of them.  The child like wonder that brings to the surface of people is something the world is missing far to often. It’s nice to help people of all ages experience that. 
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You’ve also a Ghostbuster and Freddy Kruger costumes. Were they bought complete? 
No, not at all. Both of those costumes are things I bought aspects of and have worked on at home to put them together. The Ghostbuster suit specifically is something I am still working on putting together more fully.
You built Freddy’s lethal glove. What materials did you use and what sort of timescale does something like that take to create?
The glove was the first movie quality prop I ever built, and I actually found it was fairly simple to do.  I used small sheets of brass, copper, and nickle for all the metal of the glove. Over the course of about a week and a half I bent the metal into shape and soldered it together. Once those pieces were created I simply cut up and dyed a leather work glove with coffee and attached the metal properly with rivets.
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You’re currently building a Ghostbuster proton pack. How vital is attention to every detail to a costumer?
Well, that may depend on who you talk to. To me the detail is very important. I am trying to make a Ghostbuster 1 hero pack, so I have looked at reference photos for hours upon hours and talked to a lot of people over on GBFans.com. After I finish my pack I plan on making a GB 2 pack for my girlfriend.
Tell us about your girlfriend’s Catwoman costume. 
Her suit was made from a friend on BOTB, and replicates the one from The Dark Knight Rises.  We are still working on some things that need to be made more accurate, like the boots, but overall the suit is very nice.
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Any plans for more costumes?
Oh yes, lol, I would always like to be working on getting and building more. I can easily see a Darth Vader down the road and maybe even a Robocop.
If you could build one prop and be one character what would they be? 
Well, I think I have already taken care of the who I would be with my bat-suit, lol, and when I finish the proton pack that will take care of my one prop, lol.      I will always continue to build and collect, as I have said, but I did these particular things early because they were where my initial passion started to grow.
Is the prop building something you’d like to take further as a potential career?
That would be really fun to have a job like that, but I have always kind of reserved my art side for myself. I like to be able to create without a deadline.
How did you become involved with Brotherhood of the Bat?
By a gentleman named Paul Roberts. He was the first person I met that really talked to me about costuming and he pointed me toward the board for help and inspiration. So a very big thanks goes to him. 
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Are they a good source of help for ideas for costuming?
Yes, for Batman, there is absolutely no place better!
There have been three generations of movies now from Burton to Nolan. How would you rate them in order?
The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin.
What is the lasting appeal of Batman do you think?
Well, I would say he does what all well written superheroes do. They give us the hope that we have something more inside of us, and one day we will all choose to be a better people.

 

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