Happy Tuesday! New Cosplay Cafe, and no Tuesday is not becoming “Cosplay Cafe day” I just have a con I’m going to this weekend. Anyway, got to team up with Andrew “Blackstar” Henderson for this episode of the cafe. So sit back and get to know Andrew. I’ll catch you guys down below.
1. What were you like growing up? What were some of the things you were into as a child/teenager?
I’ve always been a bit of an introvert, so I tended toward solitary activities, like reading, gaming, exploring the neighborhoods on my bike. I loved getting lost in other worlds and dimensions, living a thousand lives. I became more of an extrovert as I got older, but it’s hard to pass up a good story with well-developed characters. Amusingly, I always loved costumes. Dressing up for Halloween, even when it was July and I was dressed as a Power Ranger while I watched TV. My mom helped me make my costumes back then, and a lot of what she taught be about sewing and crafting in general ended up coming in handy years later.
2. Who or what got you into cosplaying?
It wasn’t until 2011 or 2012 when I finally got into cosplay. There were always these stereotypes, the “other” that hung around the term, like cosplayers were mole people or something. It made me never really associate the excitement or passion I had for pulling together something creative for a themed party or Halloween with what it was: Cosplay. My first real cosplay was either Nathan Drake from Uncharted 2 or Captain America comic costume that ended up in the Winter Soldier film. *pushes up imaginary glasses* Guess that makes me a cosplay hipster. I really caught the bug when I went to San Diego Comic Con in 2013. Some friends scored tickets, and I realized I had found my people. It was like living in a Harlem Shake video for four days, but I had an amazing time.
3. How is the progress on your Tempest Ryder suit going? I know you’re making a few upgrades for it before Nova con.
*laughs* Like many of the projects that Jae (of Crazy Jae Cosplay) and I design, we tend to work without patterns. It gives us more freedom, but it’s also a frustrating experiment. We ran out of time (and a couple key resources) when putting the shirt together before blerDCon, so there were definitely a couple things I wanted to fix before NOVACon. I bought a smaller Andromeda Initiative patch off Etsy to replace the giant one, added more piping to the back, re-engineered the shoulder stripes with vinyl, and Jae built a smoother looking collar. I’m excited to take it out on another voyage.
4. What went into making your “Outlander” Jedi costume. It looks amazing and now I want to make one or something similar.
My original ideas for my Hero Of Tython had been for the typical tunic and robes, although I eventually added armor. When designing the Outlander though, I imagined the character had been torn away from his roots in the Republic and Jedi Order. He’s starting from scratch with a handful of allies, and building the Alliance from not just Jedi and former Republic troops, but Sith, Imperial Officers, criminals, Mandalorian warriors, disenfranchised refugees… The Outlander cosplay retained some of that Jedi past with the armor, lightsabers, and pouches I’d used previously, but it skipped the robes in favor of a lighter and more explorer feel. I drew a lot of inspiration from a KOTOR-era character, Zayne Carrick. He was a former Padawan that had to go on the run when he’s accused of murder, and he finds himself in all sorts of predicaments. Disney/Marvel is republishing the old Dark Horse run, if anyone’s looking for a good graphic novel!
5. Do you have a favorite convention you like to attend?
AwesomeCon will always hold a special place in my heart. I was born in Washington, DC, so it’s wonderful to have something in my hometown. I also met Jae at AwesomeCon, while attending the Sci-Fi Speed Dating, if you can believe it! A lot of good memories, and it helped me really begin to meet other people in the community while growing my skill set.
6. Off topic question, favorite food?
Oooh… That’s a tough one. I’ve been told Cherry Coke doesn’t count, so… Probably a bacon cheeseburger, medium, from one of my favorite local restaurants.
7. What is one thing you love about cosplaying?
The excitement in strangers’ eyes to see me dressed as some character they love. People have rushed over to me, balancing bags and dragging their friends, just so they can get a picture. It makes me happy that I can “be” some character I love, and others enjoy it too. This is especially true for kids, and how it makes their whole day to meet Nightwing or a real Jedi, and I let them hold my eskrima sticks or lightsaber. They don’t see the imperfections in the stitching or that my armor is made of foam, they just see a hero.
8. Second off topic question, are you ready for the Last Jedi?
Cautiously optimistic. I actually enjoyed Force Awakens, and I’ll freely admit I watched the new trailer a couple dozen times. I’m hoping they take some risks with this movie, and that they work more of the Legends in. There’s endless piles of characters and plot ideas just sitting there, and I know they’ve used some of it in the Rebels TV show. At the end of the day though, I still love the Old Republic era more. There’s hundreds of Jedi and Sith, a true Mandalorian force, a wide variety of nuanced storylines- and no Skywalkers moping or running away.
9. What is one thing you feel the cosplay community should improve on?
Just being more personable with one another. I’ve met so many amazing people while cosplaying, but I’ve run into many cosplayers I admire, only to have them be rude or even insulting when I tell them I follow their page and appreciate their work. I know it doesn’t compare to issues like Cosplay is not Consent, encouraging body positivity, subcultures of toxic masculinity, or lobby conning, but it’s more achievable in the short term.
10. What cosplay projects do you have lined up for the future?
My most ambitious one to date, actually: Pathfinder Ryder. I’m planning on having the full Andromeda Initiative armor completed for Dragon*Con 2017, but I’ll admit that I’m a bit nervous about completing it in time. Armor is something I’m learning more and more about, and there’s a lot of it on Ryder’s hardsuit.
11. What conventions can people find you at later this year?
As of now, I’m planning on attending NOVACon at the end of July, sojourning to Atlanta for Dragon*Con at the beginning of September, and finishing my con season a few weeks later at Baltimore Comic Con. After that, I’ll rest and recharge before I begin again in January!
12. Final question, do you have anything you want to say to your fans?
Might sound cliché, but thank you. All the support I get is what makes me want to find bigger and better projects to work on. My presence on social media has hit some speed bumps, like when the original Blackstar Cosplay page went down, but you stuck with me. I’ve only expanded, I’m always publishing new content, and I can’t wait to make even more fans as this journey continues!
As always social media links as to where you can find Andrew are above. I’m looking forward to meeting him at Magfest next year.
Coming to the cafe next is….