Here’s a fun post I wanted to do on why I love cosplay which will be tough to limit to just ten points. Yeah, I’ll probably reveal much more, but I’m still calling it a “Top Ten” to go along with the other Top Ten posts in the group. Another challenge to this post will be ranking the reasons from 10 down to 1. I think from 10 to 3 can almost be in any order, but I know the last two ranks will reveal just how important cosplay is to me. So here we go…
If you have the desire, and are motivated to do a good high quality cosplay of a character you love, my advise is to go for it. You’ll be one of the many “Cool Cats” at a Con and be the life at any party that calls for it. You’ll also have some great conversation topics as you show off pics of your last adventure. You’re Facebook and Instagram profile will never be the same again.
#9 A Great Way To Stay In Shape
Damaris Degen from Mystiques World of Cosplay pumping iron
Nothing is more motivating to get in shape better than to be ready for cosplaying a particular character you’re about to portray at an upcoming convention or event. Forget beach season, Con season can be an all year anticipation. Dieting is a must, but toning the body through working out becomes paramount to give your character the look and confidence needed.
#8 As A Trained Makeup Artist And Prop Maker It’s Only Natural
Painting Viper Helmet for a Battlestar Galactica Cosplay
It was only a matter of time after I learned techniques in makeup and prop making that I would translate it all into tangible costuming for myself. It started as me just doing it for others as primarily a cosmaker for profit, but saw all the fun everyone else was having that it soon evolved into a hobby for myself.
#7 As An Introvert, I Can Break Out of My Lonely Shell
Lindy Rose (Ciri), Vincent Vix (Geralt) from the Witcher and Me (Viper Pilot) at MegaCon 2018
It’s a lot easier to approach someone at a Con when you’re in a good costume…at least that’s my confidence booster since anyone who knows me would tell you how quiet and reserved I usually am. It may have something to do with “hiding behind a mask” or that I’m already connecting to those with the same passion or interest in cosplay that breaks the ice. Either way, I’m busting out of my comfort zone and meeting some terrific people along the way.
#6 Good For Self Esteem
Viper Pilot photo shoot; photo by Brilan Imagery
This can go either way, and does in my case somewhat…I have to be comfortable with myself enough to reveal the side of me that isn’t afraid to put myself out there in costume and be takin’ seriously; or is it maybe I’m not happy with myself that I want to be somebody else and hide who I really am…? This is a riddle only I can solve, or if you get to know me you can help me figure it out…lol.
#5 Best way To Show Excitement For The Fandom Culture
Great Justice League photo from DragonCon 2017
I love it all! Comics, manga, anime, film, television and video games (of course, if you ask me which is my favorite game it will reveal my age…hehe). So by putting a lot of time, effort and funds behind a project will tell you just how much I truly love this stuff. Getting into character in a good cosplay takes it that much further than just having all of something in a collection. However, I do confess being a cosplayer does not monopolize me being a bigger fan at something than anybody else. Some people just aren’t cut out or willing to even think about cosplay even for Halloween, which is perfectly fine. If everyone was a cosplayer, it would take away the awe and mystique behind it.
#4 I Get to Feel or Get That Much Closer To The Industry
Leah Cairns and I after she signed my Cylon Bust from MegaCon 2008
It all started when I moved to Florida to attend makeup school and try to become the next Hollywood sensation in SPFX; not so easy as I dreamed it to be. It seamed everyone I met had the same idea and my plans shifted to set and prop making for the several theme parks in Orlando. I tap into that old dream each time I get all masqueraded up with the next character I want to portray at a Con and see several celebrities during autograph sessions for us fans. Depending on how good the cosplay is I get treated a lot kinder than I should by those same fans saying how close, good, or how I was mistaken for the real thing (okay, that last part only happened once…lol).
#3 So Many Choices, So Many Options
Just a few I’ve taken on so far, and in the works
It’s like being a kid in a candy store trying to choose what I want to be next. I do pretty much know what I’m going to do in the near future, it’s just choosing when and in what order I will do next. As I’m writing this now I’m thinking a lot about The Man of Steel, or maybe Batman, but Wolverine is trying to creep in first…lol. Either/or I need to diligently refer to #9 on the list which is getting in shape. I’m seriously going to need to bulk up to pull any of these off well, cause I can’t afford a muscle suit undercoat.
#2 Experiencing and Seeing the Response of Those Reacting to a Good Cosplay
Victoria Bradley from Vicarious Cosplay portraying Disney’s Ariel Princess for a Costumers With A Cause Fourth of July event for kids
It’s great to feel how all that hard work and money spent is justified with an “OH WOW”, or the question, “Can I get a picture with you?” from onlookers and other Con patrons responding to your costume. But nothing beats the look on a child’s face when they see their hero in the flesh. I can only imagine how the princesses at Disney feels every time a kid goes running up to give them a big hug. I can never get tired of it. I admit I do the same when I see a good cosplay, where I move in for the same hopeful picture together.
#1 The People I’ve Met and the Friends I’ve Made
Friends Made at DragonCon and The TCF (The Colonial Fleet)
This is definitely what it’s all about. The people you meet and the friends you make. I know the authenticity of the friends I’ve made because when I stepped out of it for awhile and came back it was like I never skipped a beat and they all welcomed me back as if I never left the scene. And the new people I’ve met are genuinely excited and interested in anything I have to say or do. I am the same at reciprocating the friendship. Somehow dressing up like someone else translates into pinpointing exactly who you are inside. It could even be just itching for fun and the next good time to be had, and doing it alone makes no sense.
Comment below with some of your reasons you love cosplay…I’d love to read them!
Thanks for the overwhelming response you all gave me with my first featured cosplayer I did on Mystique's World of Cosplay. I'm happy to introduce you to the next pick I made of a talented artist to be highlighted here on my website. Say hello to Pepe Bozzo who is Khal of Atlantis.
I had always intended on being able to interview almost anybody I chose, anywhere, but I was pleasantly surprised to find local talent here in central Florida and quite abundantly, too. This provided me with the unique opportunity to meet Pepe and insert myself into his life and get to know the real person. I'm not a stalker...I swear...no, really. HA! After the interesting write up I did on Damaris, by knowing her, I still want to provide my readers that kind of realism. The best part is I made a new friend that shares many of the same passions as I do, especially with cosplay. Do I see a future group cosplay in the making?
I got to tell you one thing which isn't very friendly on my part is that I'm jealous of him and of that face! The camera loves this guy and he looks like almost anybody he portrays, as you can see with just the few images shown so far. I do, of course, give him credit as a terrific artist and as an actor and costumer, which helps him enormously with his accurate depictions of characters he chooses.
So it wasn't hard to figure out why he chose the name Khal of Atlantis as his cosplay alias since Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones and Aquaman from Atlantis in The Justice League are his two most well known Cosplays.
I'd like to start by giving a shout out to all the Berserk manga fans out there who probably knew or hoped this was coming. Pepe and I, before we knew each other, did the same cosplay which both got a lot of attention from the Berserk community. That cosplay is of Skull Knight and was a difficult one indeed. I did it the most time consuming and most expensive way, where Mr. Atlantis here absolutely nailed it under a time crunch and with familiar cosmaker methods of EVA Foam, Latex, paint and everything in between with a much lower budget.
When I asked him to hook me up with some WIP (work-in-progress) pics for this writeup he regrettably told me "I don't have many, I need to start taking more pics of the process." But as I scaled through his Instagram profile I found several well represented photos of cosplay builds in development that worked perfectly here. I told him I had the same problem with lack of pre-shots of a costume fabrication and we both agreed to make an effort to take more.
EVA Foam is his main choice of media to work with as is many other cospayers, but Pepe seems to take it to a whole other level. There were several cosplays I had to ask him what he used, and when he said EVA Foam I was surprised because the end result looked too perfect and I thought I should be able to tell, like his Iron Man and Iron Patriot full armor. His (and now mine) favorite EVA foam supplier is TNT Cosplay Supply. This is where most of the materials comes from to perform his magic.
An important part of a true cosplayer is the makeup test and wig fitting test that need to be done before a full reveal. This is where I found several WIP pics I could use from Pepe's collection of photos. He understands the importance of knowing ahead of time exactly how to make a character happen by the multiple tests and fittings to get it right. Nothing is worse than a wardrobe malfunction while trying to be in character at a Con.
This Cosplayer's Inspiration is Everything
Judge Dredd comes to life straight out of the comics...
What inspires this Peruvian the most is...well...everything. A good sign of a true artist is to take anything and everything he/she encounters or pursues in stride and being able to translate it all into their work. I'm all about the visual aspect to my reference point, but as you'll see a little later here, Pepe is also a musician as well as a visual artist. I asked him where he get's his reference from while planning and working on a cosplay and he told me "all of it", from comics, to video games, manga, anime and movies. I also asked him if what he does for a living translates at all into his artwork and he emphatically replied, "No..." Work is the last thing he wants to think about while performing his mad skills in a cosplay project. As a computer technician, I would say that it does help him some, however. One needs to be smart and tech savvy, as he is, to know how to attempt to put a hinge, servo motors and other electronics for his Iron Man helmet's face plate to open and close and have lights.
So, let's get started with my chosen pics that I'd like to present to you here:
The Best of Khal of Atlantis Gallery of Photos
Khal Drogo of Game of Thrones
Aquaman from The Justice League
John Wick Cosplay
Geralt From The Witcher
Jafar From Disney's Aladdin
Cyborg Raiden From Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Video Game
Judge Dredd Cosplay
Iron Man and Iron Patriot Full Costume Armor
Out of Cosplay
Pepe and his Husky Kali
Dog lover, metal head, musician, video gamer, movie goer and fitness guru are just a few things that occupies Pepe's time when not planning or creating his next transformation. I know, however, he must always seem to be thinking about cosplay as good as he is with the craft.
But for now let's talk about these things listed above that are important parts of his life, and one of the most important is his dog.
Not just any dog, but a sweet girl husky named Kali that he had since a puppy. Huskies are his favorite breed of dog and when I asked him why, he confirmed that they're silly, fun, pack minded, and how great of pets they make. Huskies are always trying to be included in everything which makes them terrific play mates and pets. They're bred to be sled dogs and bark the loudest to be noticed and get picked to be part of the pack that gets to pull the sled. I love huskies, too, as they remind me of a friend's husky when I was a kid as it gave me my first impression of how a good dog can be as a loving pet.
If you follow Pepe it's no secret about Kali as he shares pics of her a lot on his social media platforms. Kali get's her own gallery of photos here too:)
His love for heavy metal music and him being a self taught musician combines two more out of cosplay attributes to his life. You gotta hear him rip on the bass and also even hammer on the drums! Multi-talented musician, indeed. Him and I discussed some of our favorite heavy metal bands, and I connected the most to the classic heavy metal bands from my day like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Ozzie, just to name a few. I couldn't pinpoint his favorite band as he chuckled when I asked for him to tell me and he said, "...too many to count..." I did find that Ne Obliviscaris, Amon Amarth, Napalm Death and Wintersun are bands important enough to see live and share on his Instagram account.
Being a gamer was no surprise as you can see through his cosplays, as he brought to life some of his favorite characters in Geralt from The Witcher and Raiden from the game Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Going online and playing games straight off his PC is a quick go to method to get his game on and he's currently into MechWarrior and of course The Witcher for the 20th time.
Staying in shape by dieting and working out regularly at his gym is part of his weekly routine. Exercising is nothing different or new as he used to be a personal trainer before he got into cosplay. I'll be picking his brain on how I can get into shape better, that's for sure. Personal trainers don't only give you a work-out plan, they also include what to take into your body for maximum health and performance. So our next meal outing together will need to be well thought out, especially if he's getting in complete form and strength for an upcoming Con.
Near and Dear to His Heart
Pepe's Sweetheart, photo from Mayhem Magazine
I could have mentioned her anytime during this article, but I feel she needed her own section because that is how important she is to Pepe. This is Victoria Bradley who happens to also be a wonderfully talented Cosplayer as well. Spoiler alert as to who my next Featured Cosplayer is going to be. Her alias is Vicarious Cosplay and her passion for the art is uncanny! These two make the perfect couple and have several couple's cosplays to date and many more already in the works. I asked her to tell me something about Pepe that I can relay to you all here, and this is what she said...
"Pepe has sparked hope in me when we first met. He treasures our time together and makes me feel like a queen. When he loves he loves full heartedly. I always tell him he's my weirdo, because we can laugh and do crazy things together. For example there is this moment when he was taking a picture (what I thought was a picture turned out to be a video) I had a dinosaur head on and went 'AHHH'...so ever since then we 'AHHH' to each other. It's these little moments that make me love him. On top of it I found a Cosplayer. His work is outstanding for being a procrastinator." [I guess that means he loves the Con crunch being a procrastinator...Hee Hee]
Khal of Atlantis Popularity Rises
Mayhem Magazine cover September 2017
It was only a matter of time that a Cosplayer this good would get picked up and featured in several publications and media outlets.
Costumers With A Cause volunteer, where bringing hope to children in special circumstances is the primary focus
So Much More To Khal of Atlantis
Aquaman (Pepe) and Viper Pilot (me) at MegaCon Orlando 2018
I know I said earlier that I'm jealous of his face, but as you've seen with his Predator and Iron Man cosplays he has no problem covering his head up with a mask or helmet for an epic costume. Anything to get into character, because the best part of cosplay sometimes is playing a role that a terrific wardrobe helps facilitate. As fun and important as Cons are to attend, as an excuse to play, taking the time and expense for professional photo shoots are vital to a Cosplayers experience. I learned that from going through Pepe's photos as many of them I chose were from planned pics with talented photographers. I'll be taking lessons from Khal of Atlantis on how to get my name out there as a serious Cosplayer. He's so good with every aspect of being a talented Cosplayer including the attitude of just having fun and relaxing with it. When you've done as many characters as he has, it should just come naturally like it does for him.
It's hard for me to pick a favorite cosplay of his, but if I absolutely had to I would pick his John Wick portrayal. Something about the subtleness yet perfectly accurate job he did made it so effective. A totally cool character to pick as well. His poses and stern looks he gave for the camera were Keanu Reeves all the way!
One question I wanted to ask the most is what his dream cosplay would be and the answer was a good one and I think would be perfect for him...That cosplay is the dragon armor from Dracula Untold. He has to do this and I'll be pestering him constantly 'till he at least starts building it...hehe.
Welcome to what is probably going to be the most popular page here on my website where I get to delve into the lives of some of the best Cosplayers I’ve come to know and respect for their craft.
I knew immediately who was going to be my first Cosplayer to be featured because she’s my favorite…and she also happens to be a friend…so yes, my choice is biased, but after you read my Bio here about her, and you see the artist’s work yourself, I think you’ll agree she is worthy of the praise!
I originally approached her with the idea as an interview, but then after seeing that she’s been interviewed before and I pretty much know the answers to all the basic questions, I decided to go for a more exciting angle to this article and introduce you to Damaris how I know and love her. I’ll of course be incorporating several of the questions one would typically like to know within the write up from time to time.
Fem-Wolverine Cosplay for DragonCon 2011, 2013 and 2017
Like, I know she’s been practicing her craft for ten years now, which happens to be as long as we’ve been friends. She’s not only an artist as you’ll see through her cosplays, but she also happens to be an artist professionally as a graphic designer and digital illustrator along with being an instructor in the design field.
Even though, I fully believe, she could easily make a living off of being a Cosplay sensation, it’s only a hobby for her. Her other interests include body building, sky diving, racquet ball, painting, and anything Sci-Fi.
What sets her apart as a great cosplayer is that she can do it all. She makes much of her own props and costumes and sculpts her body with body building to get into a particular character. True dedication!
If she has a deadline or a serious time crunch she has incorporated help before with getting her part ready like with sewing and electronics, but she is fully involved no-matter-what. I know this first hand because she approached me to help her with her Star Wars Commander Cody Clonetrooper armor she sported at Celebration V. I had a lot of fun with it and with her as we crunched away in my garage getting it ready for Orlando’s first hosting of Star Wars Celebration in 2010.
Yes, she can do it all, but there are some things that one has to have help with, and that’s with body painting. Here is a really cool shot of her getting body painted by the incredibly talented Nick Wolfe for her DC Killer Croc.
Quest of the Muscle Nerd Trailer, Killer Croc Cosplay body painting for DragonCon 2017 by Nick Wolfe
The Fun Loving, Lighter Side of Mystique the Comedian
Having fun is “A” #1 for her, which probably is what the secret of her success is as a premier Cosplayer. Truly, it is one of my favorite qualities that I love about her. I’ll let the gallery of pictures tell the story to how funny and witty she is:
This Great Cosplayer is a Great Cosmaker…Mystique Shares Her Knowledge
No secrets here. She enjoys sharing how she does her magic with anyone who wants to know. It’s a way of spreading the passion. Some of my favorite pictures when I’m browsing through any cosplayer’s gallery of pics are the WIP (work in progress) shots. Damaris has TONS of them. In fact, if you’ve read any of my blog posts, chances are you may have seen me use some of her WIP pics already. I need to convince her to maybe someday have a blog of her own…she has better and a lot more behind the scenes, WIP shots than I do.
True Dedication and Authenticity to the Character to be Cosplayed
Lady Bane Cosplay for DragonCon 2014
If you were to ask her which is her favorite Cosplay she’s done thus far she would tell you her Lady Bane that she successfully pulled off for DragonCon 2014 because of all the work she put into it and how well it paid off…like gaining 8lbs of lean muscle.
Because she’s a comic book junkie she’ll get most of her research just by what she’s read and knows exactly where to look for more information to study her desired character to portray. She’s also addicted to the SyFy Channel, the latest Marvel or DC film that’s released, Star Wars, Star Trek, and the re-imagined series of Battlestar Galactica just to name a few, so she can easily get plenty of character reference to copy in her chosen cosplays.
But it’s her strength and perseverance through uncomfortable situations that a costume may require; like crazy contact lenses, heavy wigs or tight fitting corsets that has a straining effect on the body, which defines her dedication the most.
She does enjoy the body building portion, though…but who wouldn’t with the results she gets and the beautiful physique she has.
So without any further delays, my chosen picks that I give to you:
The Best of Mystique’s World of Cosplay Gallery of Photos
DC Comics Cosplays
Marvel Comics Cosplays
Star Wars Cosplays
Collaborated Action Poses
Out of Cosplay
Sons are the anchor to a mothers life.
If you were to ask Damaris what her greatest achievement in life is, she would say being a mother to two beautiful twin boys which is a forever, ongoing happy endeavor. In her own words about Justin and Ethan, “The world did me a favor by giving me two of you. Although you are each unique, you share the same wonderful qualities that only twins share. Ethan Degen and Justin Degen. Born June 1st, 2006 at 7:24pm and 7:25pm. I got double the blessing and twice the love!”
Twice the hugs, twice the fun, twice the laughs and twice the proud moments. She needs twice the energy, too, to keep up with two boys…I can see where she gets her juices flowing to pull off three or four different cosplays for past DragonCons. Maybe, it’s the other way around…she got twin boys because forces knew she could handle the glorious task of raising them in a fast paced modern world we live in today.
Here are some of my favorite pictures and selfies of Damaris Out of Cosplay:
Earlier I told you one of her hobbies is painting…check out these samples of her work, including some sketches, I pulled from her collection:
So not only is she a terrific sculptor and 3D artist through her Cosplays…she’s a great 2D graphic artist and painter as well. Her background in fine arts she credits to her success with any artistic task she conquers.
There are times at a comic convention, believe it or not, that an Out of Cosplay experience happens more frequently then you’d think. It’s mostly about the people and friends you hang out with and Damaris feeds off these times the most.
I don’t go to conventions just to show off my craft or to express my fandom with others.. What drives me the most is to be with people that I consider to be family.. like all these faces right here! THAT’s what conventions has done for me.
Our History Together: A Shout Out to The TCF!
DragonCon Colonial Fleet photoshoot.
Damaris and I first met on a forum for Battlestar Galactica fans called the Colonial Fleet Quorum, where we hit it off right away talking about props and her first and still planned attempt at her Borg Queen from Star Trek First Contact motion picture Cosplay she aspires to do someday. It’s still my favorite makeup FX of all time and hers too. We saw that we were local and met face to face for the first time at a TCF (The Colonial Fleet) gathering of the first Iron Man movie release in the summer of 2008. Since then, a few Cons, gatherings and 10th floor Marriot parties later, along with a Clonetrooper armor build together has been a complete pleasure being around this fun-loving friend and Queen of Cosplay.
She’s not the only true friend I made at the TCF…a dozen more immediately comes to mind when I think back at all the past events involving these Frakkers. I miss you all and I am soon coming back out of the shadows of lost time.
Here is what Damaris feels about The Colonial Fleet:
Today [December 9, 2017] is the 14th year anniversary of one of the GREATEST shows of all times, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA!! This show changed my life as a geek, introduced me to the best group in the FRAKKIN world AKA: The Colonial Fleet, as well as giving me the best hobby: costuming! It also brought me closer to my fandom and I got to experience many wonderful once-in-a-life-time events such as the BSG auctions ran by Propworx. I raise my Top Gun mug to all you frakkers that share the same feelings as I.. So Say We All.. Thank You Ron D Moore for BSG!
…So Say We ALL!
Notoriety and Publication Appearances
DragonCon2017 Co-hosting a panel on body building for costuming
I knew I had to include this section to my write up on her because it tells you just how well received she is in the Cosplay community. I’m going to include only a few of these because there is so many and also when I asked her to list them to me, she couldn’t remember all the different publications that have featured her in the past.
First I need to give you the link to her Facebook Fan Page here because it is definitely an important achievement, it’s her publication.
Next is her Instagram account here. Go and follow her if you have Instagram. She’ll continue to update you on what she posts next.
Trailer for Quest of the Muscle Nerd where Mystique makes a cameo appearance with her Killer Croc Cosplay for DragonCon 2017. She was also invited to be a guest co-host for a panel on body building for costuming, and a judge for the competition: https://www.facebook.com/JayShettyIW/videos/1995740577407064/
Aside from a few calendars she’s appeared in, here is a few publications and links to past interviews:
Perhaps the best notoriety, ironically, is something she wouldn’t want or need the attention for, and that is when she joined forces with Costumers With a Cause and has volunteered for Toys for Tots, Freedom Riders, and Free Comic Book Day benefiting BASE Camp, just to name a few…where she gets to dress up and interact with children in special circumstances.
Thanks for the Fun Ride, Mystique, We’re So Looking Forward to More!
Isis (Damaris Degen of Mystique’s World of Cosplay) and Skull Knight (me) at DragonCon 2011
One question I did ask her recently, which I was reluctant to ask because I thought I should have known already was why she picked the alias Mystique for her Cosplay name. The answer was really simple…Mystique is just her favorite X-Man…
I don’t know if she realized this when picking the name, or you as the reader figured out while reading about her, that Mystique is the BEST most PERFECT name for a Cosplayer. Think about it…Mystique’s mutant power is shape shifting, and a really good cosplayer, as Damaris is, has the ability to change into any character she chooses…Bravo! I can’t wait for the next adventure with Damaris at Mystique’s world of Cosplay!