Can you tell us about yourself?
Not much to tell. 31 years old, single, live with my two nephews and a small dog. When I’m not working I’m generally watching sci-fi TV/movies, playing videogames, reading comics or books (often rereading Discworld novels).
What shows and movies influenced you growing up?
Mostly sci-fi stuff as a kid; Star Trek, Star Wars, X Files, Quantum Leap and the like. My teen years were spent watching more horror but I would always be drawn to movies with sci-fi elements despite their typical awfulness (Critters may be the most under-rated movie series of all time and I will fight anyone who disagrees). In recent years I’ve all but abandoned the horror genre (it has gotten very stale, in my opinion) and found great pleasure in the increased public interest in the realms of sci-fi and comic books.
Why did you go for the Penguin? What was it about him you liked?
The costume was originally put together for last Halloween. A group of friends had decided to go to Derry for the weekend, the idea of a group themed costume was floated and Batman Villains seemed to suit everyone.
Unfortunately there are not many good characters out there of my build (short and round kinda limits your scope) and fewer still in comics. Of those few out there the Penguin is a great one. How many characters can remain a foe of the world’s greatest detective for decades while having little real physical combat ability? Brains, ambition and impeccable taste, how could you not like him?
How did you go about putting it together? Were there websites etc you could reference?
There wasn’t a lot of “putting together” involved, as such. Most of the time leading up to Halloween was spent looking through different portrayals of the character through the years and trying to decide on whether to imitate or try a different approach. I toyed with the Arkham games’ vision of Penguin for while as well as a cyber-punk version of my own design based on the world of Batman Beyond, but I eventually settled for pulling up as many “classic” images as possible on Google and searching for clothing/accessories that came close to those images. The hardest to decide on was the nose. I had three different online stores bookmarked with a nose picked (boom boom) on each that I spent longer than is probably healthy deciding between.
How long did it take to put together?
Once the style was chosen, a few weeks.
What was the reaction to it when you first revealed it?
Very positive. I was actually quite surprised at how well it turned out myself and the fact that many others not only liked it but got what it was even while separated from the others in my group was great.
Were you surprised by the reaction to it at the recent MCM comic con?
After Halloween I was kind of expecting a positive reaction to the costume, but the number of compliments and photo requests we received was a bit of a shock, especially with so many other great costumes present.
Were you aware the cosplayer community was so big here?
Definitely not. Cosplay is something I have always enjoyed looking at online, the dedication, creativity and skill of many cosplayers is mind blowing, but it isn’t a community I have been a part of. To find out there have been so many of those creatively skilled people doing their thing locally came as a bit of a surprise.
What about accessories for the Penguin? Where did you get the monicle etc?
The monocle came from www.themonocleshop.com, the nose from www.teampixie.co.uk. The tailcoat and tophat I found listed on an ex-rental store on www.ebay.co.uk, but I am unable to remember the name or find the store again.
Why do you think people love the Batman characters so much?
I think the sheer range of characters and the many differing portrayals of them over the years means that there’s something in there for everyone.
Is it a costly hobby?
I can’t speak for those who would identify as real cosplayers, but from my experience of putting together costumes for Halloween, I would imagine it could be, but then very few hobbies do not have a high level of expense if they are taken seriously.
Given the rise of popularity of this genre in recent times, do you think cosplayers have gained a new found respect in the public eye?
I think they have found more awareness. Many people who have seen photos of MCM Belfast through my Facebook page were completely unaware that people do this kind of thing. With that awareness there comes a certain amount of respect, but there are also those who will always view it as a silly thing. That said, most of those I have had feedback from were pretty good natured about it and, while there were quite a few jokes made, few, if any, were actually mean spirited and there seems to be a certain curiosity about cosplay from those outside comic/sci-fi/fantasy fandom. I think most people respect the work and creativity that goes into the hobby once it is pointed out to them and even the most jaded seem to admit that it seems like “a bit of craic, y’know ,if you’re into that sorta thing.”
Is costuming an avenue for people’s more creative sides?
I would have to say yes. The level of ingenuity shown by some in turning everyday objects and materials into costumes portraying the fantastic proves this alone.
Do you think costuming give a person a new found confidence they may not otherwise have?
I believe so. The supportiveness of the community and the respect shown, not only to those with a great costume but to all those who put in the effort, is a very positive thing to experience. Facing a crowd as a character also tends to lend a little confidence boost of its own, but once you’re out there and interacting there’s a buzz of a sort that creeps up on you and makes putting yourself out there a little more appealing whether costumed or not.
Any plans for new costumes?
A few, but nothing concrete enough to admit to at this point.
What advice would you give to any budding costumer out there thinking of starting?
Give it a go. Even if it’s just the once, even if it’s just putting more effort into a Halloween get-up than a rubber mask or a bit of fake blood. There’s something unique about spending time and effort making yourself someone (or something) else. If nothing else, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be fun and, if you play your cards right, Batman will ask if he can get a picture with you. You don’t often get that dressed in a t-shirt and jeans.