Back once again with the 2nd half of today’s Interview with a Cosplayer double header and this one a powerhouse! Straight outta Youngstown Ohio is Knightmage, This 16 year Sheriff Deputy has highly decorated credentials in the Cosplay game.He has over 100 costumes made, worked in films like “Avengers” and “Dark Knight Rises”, making costumes for Various WWE superstars, even being a spokes model for “Shot in the Dark comics” and “Transgenesis Comics” where his likeness will appear in upcoming tales! He’s an embodiment of the potential of Cosplay, Let’s have a word with him shall we?
What is the Cosplay scene like in Youngstown, Ohio?
I live Youngstown, Ohio. The cosplay scene in this particular area is pretty small. We have one small local convention that draws people from both Cleveland and Pittsburgh so it’s fun to see the cosplayers from those areas. Even though cosplaying isn’t very popular in this area, the community knows that I do it and for the most part people are interested in it. I will say that it’s becoming more known since when I first started. Honestly, in 2012 when I started I didn’t even really know anything about the cosplay world. I knew people would dress up for different comic conventions but I had no idea how vast the cosplay world was. Once I got involved in cosplay the people I associated with would give me weird looks. Some would poke fun and others would just shake their head. Now after seeing and hearing about cosplay and the convention scene from television shows along with seeing my social media posts from conventions, they ask me daily about what I’m working on or where’s the next convention.
What got you into the art of Cosplay?
It really started in the fall of 2011. I’ve always been a fan of Halloween and dressing up. That year for Halloween I decided to make my costume rather than buy it from a local costume store. I settled on the Green Lantern – John Stewart. Once the costume was done I loved it! Not long after I was asked to participate in a charity event involving superheroes. It was a wonderful experience and thought to myself that I would love to do it again. Once I was asked to participate in another event where the theme was “America”, that was my ticket to make Captain America. It took off from there with me making more costumes and doing charity events, parades, and birthdays. A few well-known cosplayers started taking notice in me online. Once they asked what conventions I went to they were shocked to find out that I had never been to one. At that time I had never been to a convention. Like I said earlier, I knew of cosplaying but had no clue exactly how vast that world was. I made it a point to make my first convention that year. So in the fall of 2012 I attended the Cincinnati Comic Expo and I was blown away. I’ve been hooked ever since. Now I can say that the reason why I cosplay is 50% being able to give back through it via charity work and 50% the actual art of creating the costumes and becoming the character. It really is a passion for me.
Who are your favorite characters to Cosplay?
I now have over 100 costumes and each of them are special to me in their own way. Some I love simply because of the way I look such as Predator and Darkseid and others I truly embody the character such as Kratos and Snake Eyes. It also depends on what I’m doing. At charity events I love being characters like Batman and Super Grover. Seeing the kids eyes light up because they got a high-five from Batman is incredible. At conventions I like to wow people so I love wearing things like Spawn and Hellboy. Again, it’s too difficult to narrow it down but I will say that I tend to have more fun cosplaying villains.
Can you tell me what it took to make this particular design? (Time, cost, materials, etc)
Two things about me are that I work fast and on a budget. I work fast because between the day job, charity events,
conventions and trying to maintain a social life, I don’t have much time. So a costume takes me anywhere from 1 – 4 days to complete. I also work on a budget of $250. If I can’t make it, modify it or buy it for that amount or less then I’m not doing it. An average costume costs me around $100 to create. Black Adam was no exception. From fabric to the foam used I believe the end cost was around $40 and 2 day (about 12 hours total) to make. No matter the character, depending on the artist, director, production company etc, that character will be depicted differently based own that individual’s vision. I believe us cosplayers are creators in our own right so I like to make characters my own. I also go by what I personally think would look good on me, not what looks good on the character per se. I’ll swirl designs around in my head then get to work. I wanted Black Adam to have a regal yet not afraid to fight look. I’m pretty happy with how it all came together.
Who/What is your biggest inspiration?
It may sound cliché but it’s true. The entire cosplay community is an inspiration to me. I truly believe that everyone brings something to the inspiration table for others feed off of. Me personally, I just want to be able to make a difference while having fun at the same time.
What are the Biggest cons in Youngstown right now?
In my city we have All Americon which is a 2 day convention in July. It draws a crowd of around 3500 people for the weekend. There are smaller 1 day conventions like the NE Geek Expo and Neo Comic Con. The smaller cons are always fun and personable. Not far away is Cleveland that hosts cons such as Wizard World and Cleveland Comic Con. Then there’s Pittsburgh which has Steel City Con and Tekko. To be honest, conventions are popping up everywhere now.
Which one is your favorite?
I’ve had the privilege of travelling the world to various cons and it’s always cool to see how each are so different. Like picking a costume it’s hard to pick a favorite convention. Also there’s not many conventions I go to where I’m not a guest and working the con so that’s a totally different experience too. For the ones I attend for fun, some are more like vacations like Colossalcon in Sandusky, Ohio. It’s held at Kalahari Waterpark. I’m in costume maybe 3 hours total for the whole weekend. The rest of the time is spent hanging out at the water park. Then there are conventions like C2E2 in Chicago. That convention I usually bring 3 or 4 costumes and I’m running around all day and partying at night.
What is your favorite cosplay moment?
Another tough question. Every time I suit up is memorable and exciting, and usually it’s for different reasons. Going to conventions it’s because I get to see friends and hang out with them, plus have attendees look at and comment on my costumes. It really fills you with pride knowing someone, even strangers, really appreciates something that you put together. When I’m at a charity event, seeing the smiles from kids as they see their favorite superhero and then seeing the smiles from adults as they see their kids smile. All those moments are great and highlights.
What is your cosplay horror story?
Well, the first one that comes to mind involves the most important thing about cosplaying, especially if you’re a guy. Always wear a dance belt! If you don’t know what those are they make you look like a Ken doll when wearing spandex. When I first started cosplaying I didn’t know about this. It wasn’t until I saw a picture of myself wearing Spider-man that I knew something wasn’t right. It’s not a good look to have a picture taken with a kid and you’re just showing yourself to the world.
Where do you see the art of Cosplay in the next 5-10 years?
I really don’t know. When I started I didn’t see myself making over 100 costumes or being able to raise thousands of dollars for charities or receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award or being considered one of the top male cosplayers in the world or travelling the world or all the doors cosplaying has opened like working with World Wrestling Entertainment or being in various YouTube and TV productions. I don’t know where I see myself but I do know that I’m blessed and thankful for the opportunities and I’m looking forward to more doors to be opened. WR
For more info on Knightmage please click on the following links