Gail Simone: “When I first had the idea for [the CBR Message Board], I wanted to be absolutely certain that the full wealth of Wonder Woman material was represented. Not just people who write and draw the comics, or people who work on the film versions. I wanted to talk to the uber-collectors and the fan artists and the website owners. I think that while there are lots of Wonder sites out there, many of them tend to focus on one or two aspects of the character, and I’d like this to be as big a tent as possible.
One of the most fun, and most visual aspects of Wonder fandom is the sometimes hilarious but often inspiring world of cosplayers.
Now, I love cosplayers. I love to see people who have made this their art. People who look at these folks and only see hot babes in thongs or overweight Spider-men to be laughed at seem to me to be missing the point entirely. It’s an interactive, living, breathing type of fandom. It’s no different from fan art or fan fiction, except for the tremendous level of commitment required. I’ve seen well-known pros making fun of these people and I think that’s just awful. They love the comics, they love the characters, and they bring a lot of fun to any convention they attend. What’s not to love?
But some go a little further. Some take the time and expense to get their costumes JUST so. They pick characters that match their body type. They work out to get the right physique. In short, they become the character.
I’ve seen it several times, where a costume is so ridiculously good that you can’t help but feel, wow, this guy got the character better with a sewing machine and some make-up than a Hollywood studio did with trained professionals and millions of dollars.
I’ve seen a Nightwing that looked more like Nightwing than the guy in the comic does. I’ve seen Supermen that put the actor in the film to shame.
And I’ve seen a very small handful of Wonder Women who are so amazing that it’s hard not to address them by the name Diana.
The first truly great Wonder Woman cosplayer I ever saw was at the CAPE event in Dallas, Texas, and it was the woman I’m interviewing here. When people, kids and adults saw her walk by, it was enough to take their breath away and leave the onlookers gape-mouthed. It wasn’t just her beauty, though she is beautiful. It wasn’t just her costume, though her costume looked fantastic. It was something in her attitude and acting, and it really made me reflect on what a remarkable expression of love for these characters cosplaying can be.
I’ve always been curious about these folks, the really elite cosplayers. Margie took the time to answer my very unknowledgeable questions and the results are sometimes moving and surprising. In a very cool move, she and her cosplayer friends have formed a group called the Heroes Alliance, that does wonderful things for children by appearing in full costume at hospitals and camps. It’s pretty great, actually, and if you doubt the power of cosplaying, wait til you get to the end of this interview. If you don’t get choked up, you’re a stronger person than I am.
Thank you, Princess Margie!”
1) Just to start with, may I say I have seen probably hundreds of WW cosplayers and I love them all, but there are a handful that seem to have everything; the right acting ability, the right attitude, the right look, the right costume, the right body type, and you definitely are in that very very top tier. I remember how kids would stop and look at you–they didn’t see a cosplayer, they thought you WERE Wonder Woman and it’s hard to argue the point. Let me ask the basic question first…why cosplay? What is it about this activity that you enjoy?
Thank you so much for the compliments, Gail. I am absolutely honored that you like my portrayal of Wonder Woman.
For the first question, why cosplay? And what is it about this activity that I enjoy?…It’s a very freeing experience. I have a beautiful life and I wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s, but there are very few things that are quite as exciting as getting to be Wonder Woman, part of the Green Lantern Corps, or a member of the Teen Titans for the weekend. Who would give that up?
There’s such a feeling of connectedness walking into a room and seeing other people who love the characters enough to dress up as them. We really do share and express our fandom together. Do some others find it a little weird? Well, sure…But it is comforting to know I’m not the only one who almost lost a finger because I wanted AWESOME Wonder Woman armor.
Finally, the compliments that I most enjoy are from fans of the characters, who have said that I’ve brought the characters to life for them. These characters belong to everyone, so it’s just an honor to make a character that I carry in my heart a little more real for other fans who love her as much as I do.
2) It’s pretty obvious that you respect these characters, so that makes total sense. But more specifically, why Wonder Woman? I know you have done lots of other characters, but there seems to be a specific love for WW in your photos.
Wonder Woman is who I hope to be on my best day.
Honestly, I’m pretty overwhelmed portraying Diana. I can put on the costume and look and act the part, but I always seem to feel like a little girl putting on my mom’s heels. I could say so much about why I love Wonder Woman, but I’ll stop with this: When I grow up, I want to be Wonder Woman!
3) I think you’ve made it there, already! I know your husband also is a cosplayer (he was an AMAZING Green Lantern when I saw him). Can you tell me a little bit about the Heroes Alliance, and what you do, and how you work with children in your costumes?
Of course—my husband, myself, and a lot of our friends are in a group called Heroes Alliance. Our goal is sharing our fandom with our communities, other fans, and each other by having a presence at some conventions, community events, and charity events. We have groups throughout the UK and US. We visit children in Hospitals, B.A.S.E. Camp, Give Kids the World, and we’ve been recognized by the US Army for our work in Ft. Hood at the Month of the Military Child Celebration. We are always looking for people who want to give back, so if anyone wants to know more about us, you can find the Heroes Alliance US page at www.heroesalliance.org and the Heroes Alliance UK page athttp://heroesallianceuk.webs.com/!
4) It’s such an amazing expression of love and kindness, I really think it’s one of the most fun aspects of the industry lately. Now, I once read about your workout/diet routine that you use to maintain your Wonder-shape. I’ve tried to convey this many times, but it’s really so much about the acting–I’ve seen fantastically convincing African American Supermen and female Deadpools and slightly chunky Batmen and you yourself are half Filipino, correct? It seems to me that it’s the acting that really makes the difference. Do you have any theories about what makes a superior cosplayer?
I am half Filipino, Gail. And I do have to overcome my features for most of my costumes. Blue contacts, cellulite cream, wedge heels, and a huge can of Big Sexy Hair do wonders for my costuming range.
You know, the people I really notice in costume are the ones who had to overcome or sacrifice the most to be convincing. I really appreciate the Mystique who spent five hours being airbrushed, or the Superman who’s been lifting weights for the last few months, or the Wonder Woman who put her costume together from scratch. When I see that kind of dedication and hard work—it impresses me.
5) I do understand that, but I hate to think someone can’t be their favorite character because of their body shape or ethnicity. I love seeing the divergent characters come to life. So finally, can you tell me both your favorite and least favorite experience doing cosplay? What’s been the most rewarding, and what is sometimes frustrating?
My favorite experience doing cosplay was when I was visiting a terminally ill little girl as Wonder Woman in a hospital in Florida. Because of confidentiality laws, I was only briefed that she was four years old and liked watching the Justice League cartoon series in her room. I was asked to scrub down in the observation deck adjoining the room, which I did. All I could see in scrub down was a plastic tent over a bed. I walked over to the bed with my little mylar balloon and looked at something that didn’t really look like a child to me. The little girl was bald and disfigured by bloating. I didn’t even think she could have curled her fingers her hands were so swollen. I felt the least heroic I have ever felt in that costume. Her mother who was sitting down, encouraged me to wake her up. I put on my best Wonder Woman smile and put my hand under the plastic and patted the little girl’s face to wake her up. As she tried to hold my hand and smile at me, I realized she was just a four year old girl who was happy that Wonder Woman came to visit her. She obviously didn’t survive, but I was glad to bring Wonder Woman to her while she could still enjoy it.
My least favorite experience doing cosplay…Wow, I hope this isn’t too honest, but I have a stalker named Steve who keeps creating new profiles and sending me messages about paying me money to beat him up and then give me “thigh worship.” I go through his letters and think “Wow, this is a special kind of crazy.” It’s really like Dexter, Silence of the Lambs, and Indecent Proposal all rolled into one—Steve is truly a man for all seasons.
Definitely my least favorite experience in cosplay thus far…
What I find most rewarding is the work that I get to do with kids. They are by far the coolest part of costuming.
What I find sometimes frustrating sometimes…I vainly indulge myself every once and a while and find pictures other people have taken of me on line. Through this process, I’ve found several pictures of my star spangled behind over the last few years.
Strangely enough, I’m usually not mad. Some of them are even pretty good. I’ve actually commented on a few of them. Mostly, “You’re welcome.”
I suppose it’s a good thing I have a good sense of humor!