Ok, I got a bit excited with the Protoman cosplay, and who wouldn’t because it looks sweet! The man behind this awesome creation, Jonathan, very kindly took some time out to answer our questions, and another thank you is due to ace photographer Elle Riccardi.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Surely! My name is Jonathan Markle, I’m a Network Administrator, video game nerd, and roller derby player. I tend to be a very laid back person, there are a lot of things I love to do, and I have a social life that can sometimes be TOO busy. Generally I try to follow the mantra of “Go with the flow” and “Make your partner look good”, so far they’ve been solid rules to live by.
What or who inspired you to Cosplay?
Well, I still feel pretty new to cosplay as I’ve only done 2 so far, but I’m pretty confident there will be more in the future. I’ve enjoyed seeing other people’s cosplays at the cons I’ve been to, and when I went to my second ever con (Otakon), I went with a close friend and a bunch of her friends who were all in costume design/craft majors. They did in-depth Homestuck cosplays and I figured I could do a simple “Bro” cosplay that didn’t take too much effort so that I wouldn’t be the odd one out of the group. Even though it was simple it was still a lot of fun to walk around con as a character that other people there could easily identify. It made for a better social experience since it gave people around me a reason to say hi, and it was easy to start talking about the webcomic the cosplay was from. I also want future cosplays to feel like tributes to my favorite characters.
Are there specific types of character that you particularly gravitate towards and why?
While I started with a character from the webcomic “Homestuck” as I get more into cosplaying I’m starting to focus more on my favorite video game characters. I think it’s mostly because I’ve been playing video games since I was a child, when my dad networked together two computers in our house so we could play Doom and Duke Nukem together. Video games have been a big part of my life, helping bridge distance gaps with my other gaming friends and I relate most with those characters than anything else.
What for you have been the most challenging characters that you’ve cosplayed as, and which have been the most enjoyable?
My most recent Protoman cosplay was by far the most challenging, not even to create, but to walk around in. While I wanted to do the cosplay, I also wanted to actively participate in the con (PAX East), and with a buster on one hand and a helmet that killed all of my peripheral and some of my forward vision, wearing it the whole time wasn’t practical. I ended up having friends who helped me take off the helmet and the buster throughout the day as I switched between playing games in the expo hall and walking around the con. I still can’t stop thanking my friends Greg, Harry, and Henry enough for helping me out all day.
The Bro cosplay was nice and simple. It was just black pants, a white collard shirt, a grey baseball cap, fingerless gloves, and his signature shades. It was very easy to wear and was like a regular day of being dressed except that everyone who was familiar with him could easily recognize the character.
Could you take us through a little on how you made your outfits?
For bro it was just a case of going out to target and buying the right looking clothes. Amazon helped me get the gloves and plain grey hat easily enough, the shades my friend owned already and she let me borrow them. Protoman was a bit more in depth. I based him off of the version of Protoman from the rock opera done by the band “The Protomen”. The clothing was easy enough to come by, but for the armour, the helmet and the shield I was a bit out of my league. My friend Jay (https://www.facebook.com/jason.echevarria.3?fref=ts (I would be a jerk not to credit him)) helped me out with most of that. He does special effects work and was easily able to help me fabricate the armor with some surprisingly mundane household materials and a bit of Worbla and Wonderflex. He loves the darker grittier post apocalyptic style, so doing that post-apocalypse Protoman work was right in his comfort zone.
Which Conventions have the most enjoyable for you to attend and why?
While I’ve been to a few anime cons and enjoyed myself thoroughly, I have to say I enjoy PAX the most. As I mentioned, video games have been a big part of my life, and every aspect of PAX is something I enjoy. I never run out of games to see whether they be indie games, card games, or tabletops. I never feel like I have enough time at PAX and I love that I always have something to do from the moment the con starts on Friday until closing ceremonies on Sunday.
Have there been any memorable reactions to your costumes, and if so, what were they?
For the Protoman cosplay I will never forget the first morning of con when a guy standing behind me in line said “I love your cosplay! It’s awesome!… What are you?” He was entirely unfamiliar with the character protoman and had to google it when I told him. It was great that without knowing the character there were people who still enjoyed the costume. I will also never forget going to the Protomen’s concert at PAX while wearing the cosplay and getting to meet the drummer who complemented me on how good my interpretation looked.
A question about photographers. Obviously cosplayers are a dream come true for photographers, great outfits and poses, does it ever get a bit tiring having to pose endlessly for them, and how do you prefer to be approached by a photographer?
For me it was mostly tiring just because I was taking pieces off to enjoy con and re-donning them to take pictures, but I took that as part of what I signed up for by deciding to wear the cosplay in the first place. Anything as simple as “Hey can I take a picture of your cosplay?” is fine with me. I can’t even really say I would mind photographers taking candid shots, but I would like to be able to see the pictures afterward so I’d prefer they’d let me know how I can keep in touch/where I can see the photos later.
What impact has cosplaying had on your life?
Cosplaying has helped me improve at the social aspects of cons. While I consider myself to be a social person sometimes it can be tough to have an excuse to talk to a random stranger. Cosplay is a way to get past that for me. It gives people with common interests an excuse to stop me, say hi, take a picture and talk about the character and similarly I find I can do the same with other cosplayers who cosplay the characters I appreciate.
Do you have any advice for anybody thinking of cosplaying?
Go for it! If you don’t know how, ask; You’ll make new friends and likely learn some versatile skills. If you don’t have a lot of time, look into something simple; Even simple cosplays get appreciation and the simple ones can be the more comfortable ones to enjoy cons in. Pretty much, if you are considering it but have a hesitation, jump in and give it a go!
Images courtesy of Elle Riccardi