At the recent Wizard World Philadelphia convention (which took place this past June) there was a particular cosplayer getting an enormous amount of attention and upon laying eyes on him, it was easy to see why. With his tailored purple suit, white makeup and sly grin it looked as if The Joker had sprung to life from Batman: The Animated Series. Itâ€™s easy to say that he was a big hit among those attending the con to the point that people were lining up and taking turns to be photographed with him.
Fast forward three months later and I stumbled upon the cosplayers online profile. His name is Paul and I discovered that he has a very impressive collection of costumes. After witnessing his impact on the convention crowd and being highly interested in him myself, I took this opportunity to interview him for Major Spoilers about the hobby of cosplay.
Victoria: How long how you been cosplaying and why did you decide to take on the hobby?
Paul: I’ve always been a Bat-fan and wanted a high quality suit for a long time to wear for Halloween. At the Baltimore Comic-Con ’05 (I think) I talked to a few people in costume, one of whom directed me to a cosplay forum called the League of Heroes (http://theleagueofheroes.yuku.com/). There I found people who made all kinds of cosplay items including cowls, boots, bodysuits, props, etc. and realized I could make it happen.
Victoria: How many costumes do you currently own?
Paul: Six. Batman, Joker, Riddler, Scarecrow, Two-Face & Bozo Joker from TDK. I also have a green flight suit I wear with a green lantern t-shirt and ring for a Hal Jordan outfit.
Victoria: Have you ever had any wardrobe malfunctions at a convention?
Paul: I’ve stumbled over my cape a few times but luckily I’ve never actually fallen.
Victoria: Out of all of your costumes, which one is your favorite?
Paul: Joker is the most fun to wear, but as Batman I always feel bigger than I actually am. The answer to the next question is why.
Victoria: Okay, what has been your favorite convention experience so far?
Paul: One year at the Baltimore Comic-Con I was walking around when I heard someone yell out “Batman!” I turned around and it was a boy in a wheel chair. He was really excited to see me as I walked over and shook his hand, posed for a photo and talked to him for a bit. As I was getting ready to leave his father pulled me aside and told me that he’d been in a car accident a few years ago in which his mother had been killed and this was the first time he’d spoken more than a few words since. He’d brought him to the con just to get him out of the house and asked if I’d talk to him a little longer. I stayed for a while trying my best to stay in character but I couldn’t help but be moved. I believe that was one of the moments I was born for and one I will certainly never forget.
Victoria: Wow, thatâ€™s a beautiful story! What other conventions do you attend?
Paul: The Baltimore Comic-Con, Wizard World Philly, The Pittsburgh Comicon and this year I went to Otakon in Baltimore. I also do appearances at my local comic shop for Halloween and Free Comic Book Day, been in a few parades and did one appearance at a minor league baseball game where I got to throw out the first pitch. Any opportunity to suit up.
Victoria: Your Batman and Joker costumes are incredibly impressive. Can you tell me more about them? Did you make them yourself? Why did you decide on those two characters?
Paul: Thank you. The Bat suit was the first one I put together. I purchased it piece by piece from several different vendors and individuals I found online. It’s gone through a few incarnations over the years to get it to the point where I’m completely happy with it. I did make the padded suit I wear underneath to give me a little more bulk.
For Joker, I found the materials and patterns for a tailcoat tuxedo and gave them to a professional tailor who was willing to put it together. I modified it a little and added some extra deep pockets in the back of the coat to carry props like a whoopee cushion, rubber chicken, Joker bomb, etc. and of course I always have my trusty joy buzzer handy. As for why those two characters, who doesn’t want to be Batman? He was always my favorite comic hero and Joker has always been my favorite villain. The two costumes let me express different aspects of my own personality.
Victoria: How long does it take you to put on the Joker’s makeup on? What do you use?
Paul: About an hour and a half. I use Manic Panic gel for the hair, a Mehron clown white stick for my face, a lipstick pencil and an eyebrow pencil.
Victoria: Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson or Mark Hamill?
Paul: Mark Hamill for the comic Joker who inspired my suit, but Heath Ledger did an incredible job bringing the character to life in the real world.
Victoria: Any upcoming cosplays you can tell us about? What other characters would you like to portray?
Paul: I hope to go up the the Pittsburgh Comicon next week on Sunday if the heavens align properly. I’ll definitely be at the Baltimore Comic-Con in October. Eventually I’d like to do a Riddler suit (green suit with question marks all over it) and a black and white Batman: The Animated Series Two-Face suit. I’ve also been playing with some ideas to do Clayface.
My thanks to Paul for taking the time to speak with me and for sharing his experiences with our readers!