Cosplayer of the Week: Allen Hansard

Michelle Simpson February 21, 2012 0

While I could send question after question to Allen for days, I figured at some point, you guys would have to get on with your day and not want to read something that was going to take you four hours to get through.  What I found most interesting about this cosplayer is the same thing that I find interesting in each and every person we profile here, such imagination and such a wide variety of characters!  Every time I think I have seen it all someone comes along and mixes it up once again.

Take a moment to get to know Allen, aka Loganallenwolf, as we talk about his first costume, dressing up with his twin brother, online forums, and how anyone can cosplay at any age!

Enjoy!

1.  What made you decide that you needed to make your first costume?

As I assume it has for many others, DragonCon got me into costuming (and forever changed my life).  Not really knowing what it was all about, the first year I attended D*C in 2005, I only went for one day – and I kicked myself for it the entire next year.  I had so much fun and I was simply blown away by all of the costumes there.  I distinctly recall calling my identical twin brother Adam on the phone and excitedly telling him “Adam, I am looking at IRON MAN!!!  (Bret Hill, RIP)”.   “And there’s even an Earth X Captain America (Jeff Holland) here!”  After seeing so many incredible costumes on display, the next year I decided (rather at the last minute) that I would join in and dress up too.

 2.  How long have you been doing cosplay?

Proving that you’re never too old, I only started costuming in 2006 at the age of 30.  And proving that everyone has to start somewhere, here’s my less-than-stellar costuming debut at DragonCon that year, a “Super-Friends” styled Bizarro:

As you can see, this was just a cheap Rubies Halloween Superman costume that I painted a backwards “S” on (which took me 16 hours by hand – I’m somewhat of a perfectionist) and face-paint that took me over 3 hours to apply at the Con.  As you can also plainly see, I knew nothing of posing – or makeup.  I think the white grease paint I had on my hands ended up on every door handle in all the hotels and I was actually kind of scared to move.  The night I wore it, I saw an amazing Hollywood-quality Bizarro costumer on the Con floor and it kind of bummed me out.  But this first experience gave me a taste of what it was like to be in costume at a Con – it gave me “the bug” if you will – and instead of letting this dismal first effort get me down, it only inspired me to get better.

If I may digress, I always keep this rather humble beginning in mind, never look down on the efforts of others and absolutely detest any elitist attitudes in costuming.  Without the help and support I’ve gotten from the incredibly wonderful superhero costuming community, I would never have made the strides I have.  So now I always do my best to help out others with advice and encouragement whenever I can.

3.  What is the most expensive costume you have ever done?

This one isn’t even close; Sasquatch from Alpha Flight cost over $1,000 in just materials alone and took over 7 months to complete.  The finished costume stands over 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide and to give you some sense of scale, while standing on stilts I look out through some slits in the middle of the chest while my arms end in the elbows and my feet end at the knees.  The interior of the costume includes 4 fans, a camelbak for drinking and a walkie-talkie for communicating with the assembly team of 5 people.  Co-made with my good friend and amazing mascot maker Beau Brown, Sasquatch won the Wizard Magazine Costume Contest in 2010.  I’d also like to thank Shane Browning for all of his help too! (That’s Shane’s car I’m standing in front of in the bottom left of the picture).

4.  Are you able to make a living with cosplay?  If not, what is your dream job?

LOL!  I wish I could, but I’m honestly not that talented!  I know quite a few who are, like Brian Parsely (kapaya@aol.com), Brad West (www.OutrageousOutfits.com) and Laban Boldero of 4th Wall Designs (labanboldero@hotmail.com).  But I’m not in this to try and make a living – I’m just in this to have fun.  However, in 2007 I dressed as Spider-Man on top of the Empire State Building and in Times Square – and if I could get paid to do that every day I’d take that job in a heartbeat!

My dream job, and eventual goal, is to teach History at the collegiate level.

 5.  Do you have a costume that keeps falling apart at the last minute or do they always execute perfectly?  What would you say is the amount of time involved in the costume from inception to unveiling?

With my limited experience, no Costume ever executes perfectly.  You just have to accept this will happen and roll with it as best you can.  For example, I thought it would only take 15 minutes to paint my brother Adam’s face pink with an airbrush for my Klaw costume at last year’s DragonCon – and it took an hour and a half!

I’m very critical of my work, and with every costume I make I find things I’d do differently the next time.  Since I prefer to make things that have never been done before and also things that can sometimes be quite technically challenging, my costumes tend to take me longer than most to make, with the average probably being 3-4 months each.

 6.  How many Cons do you attend a year?

While I’ve been to numerous Conventions, with my busy schedule, running an online forum and with having 3 little boys (pictured), I unfortunately don’t get to attend as many conventions each year as I’d like.  While I’ve been to Megacon, Philadelphia Comic Con, and Wrath of Con in the past, for the last several years I’ve only been able to attend DragonCon.  That’s a con I’ll never miss each year!  I’m definitely planning on attending more cons each year in the future, especially MegaCon again, HeroesCon, and Wizard World New Orleans.

7.  Do you make the pieces from scratch or do you commission your costumes?  I would imagine you are contacted by designers that beg you to wear their work…

It’s been a mix of both.  When I first began costuming, I simply started with basic zentai (cheap Chinese eBay) spandex suits and modified them.  I’m really not the best at sewing (I get frustrated rather easily) but my girlfriend Mary Cahela (pictured) is an amazing seamstress and she’s really helped me out tremendously in learning.

And since I still need to learn how to sculpt, mold and cast my own props, I’ve bought commissioned pieces several times.  While no one has ever begged (or even asked LOL) me to wear their work, I’ll certainly entertain any offers!

 8.  What is your all-time favorite costume?

After Bizarro, my next and first “real” costume (and also my personal favorite) was Firestorm.  Firestorm was one of my favorite characters as a kid.  And remember the really amazing Bizarro costumer I saw back in 2006 that kind of bummed me out?  Well, the incredibly talented (and available for commissions!) Brian Parsely (kapaya@aol.com) actually ended up becoming one of my best friends in costuming!  He eventually helped me make my Red Tornado costume, and along with my Firestorm costume we won the Wizard Magazine Costume Contest in 2008.

9.  What changes have you seen in the cosplay community over the years you have been participating?  Are they good changes or bad changes?  How has technology affected the fabrics/ideas/designs?

Superhero costuming (what I’m familiar with) has grown quite dramatically in numbers and changed quite dramatically in tone in the short time I’ve been doing it.  When I first started costuming, the community was pretty small, there often was not much sense of camaraderie or fellowship, and there really wasn’t much of any attempt at organization.  While I met some amazing individuals, genuine and helpful feedback seemed to be the exception rather than the norm while destructive criticism often reared its ugly head without consequence.

In March of 2010, I started The Superhero Costuming Forum (also known as “The SCF,” at www.thesuperherocostumingforum.com) with a stated goal to go beyond the role of a typical online forum and instead try to achieve a new sense of community and togetherness, and help our members establish real friendships.  We’ve put our top priority and focus towards having fun, and we’ve tried to keep things as drama and elitist-free as possible.  We’ve tried to create an honest, safe, and open atmosphere that’s welcoming and non-intimidating – and a place for both novice and expert alike.  The forum has quickly grown from a couple dozen initial members to over 2,000 members today and the costumes, photoshoots, and friendships that have subsequently come out of the creation of The SCF have been staggering in number, size and scope.

The SCF has made a big impact on the costuming superhero community since I’ve been involved.  But that’s not due to me – The SCF is simply a reflection of its membership – and our members are simply amazing!  Without question, The SCF has far and away been my most rewarding and proudest accomplishment in costuming, and I’m so grateful for all the friends I’ve made there.

At its foundation, technology itself has been the driver of the growth in costuming as a hobby.  I mean, without the web, there’d be no SCF in the first place!  Prior to the internet, costumers usually only had the occasional chance encounter at conventions – but now can keep in touch and exchange ideas year-round.  I have friends all across the country (and around the globe!) that I never would have been able to make before.  Prior to the internet, costumers were limited to whatever supplies they could find in their local hobby and hardware stores – but now can easily find and order virtually any material or item they need (sometimes from the same suppliers as Hollywood)!  The level of skill and craftsmanship today – as opposed to what it was just a few short years ago – has simply skyrocketed and now, anything is possible.

 10.  Any advice for novices?

  • This hobby is about one thing: HAVING FUN.  Keep that in mind always.  Don’t allow your happiness to ever be dictated by what others say or think.
  • Join an online forum!  Don’t be too afraid or too proud to ask for help.  I still ask for advice all the time!  Remember, there’s always more than 1 way to accomplish something and no one starts in this hobby knowing everything.  The costuming community is full of wonderful people who will oftentimes bend over backwards to offer advice, support and encouragement.
  • We’re all nerds, and we’re all in this together :)  So have the courage and make the proactive effort to make new friends.  Besides, it’s kind of hard to make new friends if all you ever do is lurk online – so do yourself a favor and speak up!
  • Keep things in the proper perspective.  My motto on The SCF is “costumes are fleeting, friends last a lifetime.”  In other words, I don’t think I’m going to be wearing my Hawkman costume 25 years from now – but I’ll still have the friends from when I made it.  ”Cosplay Drama” is always stupid so stay away from it and don’t waste your time on it.  This is just a hobby and there are simply more important things in life.  If others are bringing you down, unsubscribe, unfollow, or defriend them, and instantly make your life a little brighter.  After that, let it go.
  • It’s very easy to say “good enough,” but it’s often the little details that can detract from a costume or really make it stand out!  Make the extra effort – you’ll be glad you did!  Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ways of doing things and if something isn’t working don’t be afraid to start over.  (For example, I once threw away a sub-par Human Torch effort $150 into it.)
  • Practice makes perfect but don’t be paralyzed by perfection.  Sometimes you have to accept the fact that it’s not perfect and keep moving on.  It’s always better to make something than nothing.  Can’t make it?  It’s Ok to commission things.  Very few people can make everything, especially when you’re first starting out.  I’ve bought a TON of stuff – but I always credit those who I’ve purchased from.
  • It’s Ok to want attention and accolades – we all do – but be strong enough to solicit and accept constructive criticism too.  It’s the only way you’ll get better.  It’s always Ok to disagree with someone, as long as it’s done in a respectful, thoughtful, and mature manner.
  • When choosing which costume to make, I highly suggest making only those costumes of characters you’re passionate about.  Make your dream costumes!  Don’t make costumes for the wrong reasons – make them for yourself and for what makes you happy.  You’ll find that you put more effort into it and have more fun making it if you really care about the character.  Every costumer I know has a “to-do list” of costumes they want to make, and they have a separate “dream” list of costumes they dream of making “one day.”  What are you waiting for?  I really don’t have this separate list of costumes; my “dream list” is my to-do list.

 11.  Who has an easier job, male or female cosplayers and why?

I won’t even pretend; female costumers have it MUCH harder than their male counterparts.  My undergarments are simple.  I usually only have to worry about my costume and generally never have to worry about my makeup or my hair while in it.  I have never had my butt grabbed in costume at a convention.  I’ve never worried about being out late in costume by myself.  Men don’t have the unfair expectations around their body image that women have around theirs either.

In recognizing the special needs of the female costumer, we established a “Superheroines Only” forum on The SCF, where female costumers can feel safe and secure (and without cattiness) in discussing and asking questions just among themselves.  We’re very protective of the female members of The SCF and their safety and security has always been our #1 priority on the site.  The SCF now has the highest percentage of female members than any other forum I’ve ever been a part of.

 12.  You mention painting Adam’s face, how often does your brother cosplay with you?

Adam comes to DragonCon and dresses up each year with me.  While my hobby is obviously costuming, Adam’s hobby is collecting graphic novels and TPB’s.  So every year he comes to DragonCon I’ll have costumes for him to wear and he’ll have comics for me to read.  Here’s Adam describing the first time he ever dressed up with me:

“For the (2008) DragonCon parade, Allen asked me to dress up as the Atom to go along with his Hawkman costume. (For those of you who don’t know, these 2 characters shared a comic book together.)  I wasn’t too concerned about people seeing me in costume, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted the whole world to know.  Well, after Allen and I show up at the parade, within 5 minutes a reporter from the Associated Press walked up and interviewed us together, and snapped a picture of us both in costume.  It turns out that the article the reporter wrote, on DragonCon and featuring our quotes and picture, ran AROUND the world in newspapers in London, Guam, DC, etc.  So what, right?  Well, I was interviewing for my job in Boston about a month later, and these days Human Resources departments routinely Google each candidate.  So, on my 2 interviews with HR, both times I was shown a computer screen with that article and picture on-screen, and asked (playfully): “Is that really YOU?”  But, I still got the job though.”

Here’s the best thing about that story: not 30 minutes prior to showing up to the parade, Adam said: “Why not?  I don’t know anyone here and no one’s ever going to see this.”  HA!  Since Adam is mind-boggling busy at his job as a training director for a biotech company in Boston, he hasn’t started costuming on his own just yet.  But he’s an incredible artist and a talented sculptor, so if he ever has the time or the desire – Watch Out!

 13.  You mention learning to do your own props, anything you are working on right now?  When you commission work, is there anyone in particular that you use for props?

I’m not working on any props myself currently, but I have recently commissioned an Eye of Agamotto from the lovely and talented Joy Sutton for a Doctor Strange costume that Mary and I are working on together.  Other prop makers I’d highly recommend include Laban Boldero of 4th Wall Designs (labanboldero@hotmail.com) and Lance Coulter.  For Lantern Corps rings, no one beats my good friend Shane Browning (shane9mm@cox.net).  There are many more other fantastic vendors that can be found on The SCF and I wish I could list them all!  As for other costumes, I recently acquired all the materials for a SHIELD costume and I’ll be making a Captain Britain costume later in the year too.  Peppermint Butler from the cartoon “Adventure Time!” is a very strong possibility and also on my wish-list for this year.

 

Do you have questions for cosplayers?  Are you a cosplayer and would like to be featured as Cosplayer of the Week on www.almostnerdy.com?  Send an email with pictures and contact information to info@almostnerdy.com.  (Please put “cosplay” in the subject line)


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