An Interview with the Cosplayer Knightmage

What made you get into Cosplay modeling?
    -I have to say Halloween. I always loved dressing up. I really didn’t know what cosplay was all about. I knew of conventions and that people dressed up at them but I really didn’t know how vast that world was. For Halloween 2011 I wanted to be John Stewart Green Lantern. That wasn’t a costume that you could find at stores so I decided to try and make it. I did and went out on Halloween with much praise for the outfit. Soon after I was asked to participate in a Relay For Life event because I had a cool superhero outfit. I did the event and had a blast. Soon after I was asked to do another event and then another. All of 2012 was pretty much various charity events almost every weekend. In the fall of 2012 I finally went to my first convention and I’ve been addicted to cosplay and conventions ever since.


What made you think of your cosplay name?

    -Knightmage is actually a superhero I created back in 2006. I auditioned for the then tv show “Who Wants to be a Superhero”. Even though I didn’t make the show some time later I started doing quick web shorts of the character. When I started cosplaying I decided to keep the name. 

Where do you live? How is the cosplay scene there?
    -I live in Youngstown Ohio. It’s about an hour from both Cleveland Ohio and Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The cosplay scene in my town is very small. I’m very vocal in my community about my hobby so it’s nothing for me to be on the news or in the newspaper about it. With geek culture in general becoming more mainstream the curiosity about cosplaying has grown. Our local convention, Youngstown Comic Con formerly known as All Americon, has grown from an attendance of around 2000 people to 5000 in 3 years. People are getting more comfortable with themselves to indulge in the hobby which great!

How long have you modeled?
    -I would really say since 2013. That’s when I started getting pretty serious about cosplaying and doing it “professionally”. 

Who’s your favorite character to model?
    -There’s so many costumes that I just feel really badass in like Kratos, Hellboy and Predator. Honestly there’s just too many to narrow it down. 

2nd favorite?
    -Again, it’s too many to narrow down. 

Do you buy outfits or do you make them yourself?
    -I primarily make them but I’m not opposed to buying things or modifying store bought costumes. The thing with me is that I do everything on a budget. If I can’t make it, buy it or modify it for $200 or less then I’m not doing it. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be awesome. I do however love putting my own spin on the characters I bring to life. To me cosplay is like your own personal fan art of characters. 

What was your first major project and how did you achieve it?
    -I think my first big project was Spawn. Before that I had done small projects like Batman, Moon Knight and Captain America but Spawn was a total passion project. Being a huge fan of the character I knew the type of look I wanted and I would like to think even knowing what I know now I wouldn’t change my method if I did that exact version again. For being very new to cosplay and making things I was pretty proud of myself. I posted that very first photo and it went viral. I owe alot of my now drive to the love that Spawn got from people. 

What is an invaluable resource for someone who is starting to cosplay?
    -Absolutely it would have to be hot glue.

Who’s your favorite character to play?
    –To date I’ve done over 130 costumes. It’s really hard to say which is my favorite. It also depends on what event I’m doing. If I’m at a charity event then I love being characters like Batman and Super Grover. If I’m at a convention then I like the rarely seen or wow factor characters like Gizmo from Duck Tales or Goliath from Gargoyles. I will say that portraying villains are the most fun. I can just be a complete jerk and people absolutely loves it.

What do you feel about the presence of (or lack thereof) POC in the Cosplay scene?
    -I think there’s a huge presence and it’s absolutely growing! Again, people are becoming more comfortable with themselves to explore this hobby and more specifically POC are seeing that they don’t have to be limited on character choices.I do believe however that it’s hard to see how huge the POC cosplay community is because of the lack of showcasing many POC cosplayers get in articles, videos and other cosplay-centric places. 

What are your favorite Cosplay events to attend?
    -I do an average of 2 – 3 conventions a month. I stay busy. I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced a bad show. Though I’m actually working these shows now instead of just attending I guess there’s a different way of looking at things. The shows that I love and always recommend to people though are C2E2 in Chaicago, which has a great mix of convention going and after party scenes. Dragon Con in Atlanta, which I don’t really even call a con. It’s more like a huge nerd cosplay party that doesn’t stop. And Colossalcon in Sandusky Ohio which is pretty much like Dragon Con but at a water resort! 

Are you watching any dope animes or any shows with Cosplay worthy characters?
-Sadly, not really. I’m more of an old school Anime person but my cosplay partner, Superkayce is the one that keeps me up to date. Pretty much she comes to me and says we should do this or that character. I look at it and say “looks cool” and then I do my research and we get it done. 

What are your top 3 favorite animes?
-Afro Samurai, Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D. I told you I was old school. 

Who was the photographer of your submitted photos?
-One photo is from Wes Smith who also goes by The Portrait Dude. All I can say about Wes is that he is a wizard with photography. He genuinely loves these characters and couple that with knowing how to capture them naturally it’s absolutely amazing. The other photographer is Gwen Graham who is also my girlfriend. She says that she’s in no way a photographer but she’s been nationally and internationally published in magazines and books so I don’t know what that says.
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