Hero Behind the Mask: Skyman

This month’s interview is a little different than my usual interview. This month I interviewed a Real Life Super Hero in my local community instead of a CAUSEplayer. This man has a heart of gold and truly makes a difference in his community. He recently had his birthday and instead of throwing himself a party he arranged a homeless outreach event. As you can see by this example he is truly an inspiration regarding his community and we can all copy a page from the Book of Skyman! Here is to you Skyman! I can’t wait to continue following your adventures!-Mala

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Can you please describe for the readers what a real life super hero is? 
What is a Real-life Superhero (RLSH)? Well, there are a lot of definitions swirling about the internet and definitely Wikipedia! I’m going to give you the definition that I find relevant for myself and the others that I interact with through social media. An RLSH is one that has developed a superhero persona of their own creation that isn’t part of any canon of comic-books. We are our own creations, yet with a nod to the inspiration we get from comic-books.

The costume is intended to either be intimidating or inspiring depending upon what your purpose is. Some wear the mask to keep their personal lives private and some wear it to continue with the iconic imagery that the comic-book superhero has. Now does the ‘secret identity’ really work in the real world? Not so much, however I do know some that have kept up the separation and we don’t know their real names. To them I have much respect… some do have lives that need to be kept.. secret.

Having created a persona with a name and individual costume we travel outside in the real world attempting to make real change in our neighborhoods. An RLSH’s given ‘work’ is only limited by the groundings in reality… we don’t have superpowers! The stereotypical work is primarily through neighborhood watch patrolling and seeking out the ‘criminal element’ At least that’s the hope! Never really happens though, being in the right place at the right time to intervene in a physical altercation or anything related that needs de-escalation is few and far between.

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What inspired you to become a super hero?
Well, its been an evolution of my personality really. You see, back in Junior High in football I was given the nick-name of ‘SkyMan’ as my first name is Skyler. It stuck. When I was diagnosed with a mental illness in my teenage years I needed something to help quell the personal demons I was battling. So I turned to back to my childhood of superhero comics and cartoons. From there I created the inner personality of SkyMan to help Skyler survive the bouts of depressive suicidal idiation and manic cycles.

It was only in 2010 that I stumbled upon the movement/concept/community of the Real-life Superhero. I was still battling the demon of alcoholism that Ive been struggling with for 20 yrs now and one afternoon of drinking was watching the Watchmen movie DVD Boxed set. There was a documentary attached to it entitled “Real Superheroes, Real Vigilantes”

Of course I immediately Googled the term and then found the online movement and saw that there are people that actually do this in real world situations.

What does being a local super hero mean to you?
I truly believe being an RLSH should be a beacon of hope and inspiration. I guess you could say I want to hearken back to the Golden Age of superheroes that were colorfully clad and had high ideals. I also believe that being a member of your locality is where one should start. I live in a major metropolitan area and can spread myself out a bit. The Greater Seattle area is where I operate and am from and live in a suburb. Hailing from Federal Way I have, over the years, become a bit of a local notable. I attend and volunteer at events around town, show up to community led charity walks, been featured in the local newspaper, and have even shown up at City Council meetings to lobby for issues that I find important. I do some neighborhood watch in my community but have found it difficult over the years to fully develop a strategy to defend my local turf.

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What do you hope to accomplish by doing this?
Simple and grandiose answer? To save the world, of course!

I know that’s not entirely doable for just one man in some handcrafted armor and some colors though… Really, I want to get to a place where I am happy to live my own life. To have a life worth living. I’m not there yet and some 6 yrs in I don’t expect to be anytime soon. I call myself a ‘crusader’ Well, my crusade is that SkyMan continuously improve Skylers life. Its a selfish answer but its the one I live by.

What differences have you made?
Over my career as a ‘costumed activist’ I’ve foiled a few crimes in progress, saved a life or two by being in the right place at the right time and many, MANY, acts of charitable kindness. I’ve helped hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homeless stay alive one more night through the homeless kits and supplies I’ve given out; paid for out of my own pocket mostly. I’ve shared my own personal struggles of battling mental illness and substance abuse with many people by sharing my own ‘experience, strength, and hope.’ Most importantly, being SkyMan and doing the work of an RLSH, being committed to a cause greater than myself, has saved my life on more than a few occasions by not succumbing to my depression.

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How do you keep yourself safe while patrolling?
I made one rule for myself that I’ve pretty much adhered to over the years;
‘Never patrol alone’. Does it mean I get out there on the ‘mean streets’ less than Id like?

Of course. But I’ve always believed that there is strength in numbers and you cant have eyes in the back of your head or keep your situation awareness up constantly. Our heads weren’t born on a swivel.
I do carry a fully stocked and functional utility belt that carries personal self-defense devices; pepper spray, baton, and stun knuckles It also has a fully stocked trauma rated First Aid kit. So I don’ t go out on patrol without the ‘tools of the trade’ However, I’ve been in patrolling groups where the others I’m working with carry enough protection for the lot of us so I’ve been known to only go out in my armor.

I also wear a Level IIIa bullet-resistant vest. For many years I operated without one to prove the point that you don’t have to have it to do the work… also, its always been outside my budget and very hard to find plus sizes. I lucked out around Christmas last year as one of my teammates picked up the tab on a functional vest he found for me. So after many years I do have one that I wear for patrol and crowd control purposes.

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Do you feel that others can be super heroes without a costume? If so, why?
I feel that we all have the ability to emulate the compassion, tenacity, and true heroism that the comic-book inspired superheroes show us. The costume, or super-suit as we call it in the RLSH community, is just the tool we use to draw attention to ourselves. To be a true superhero get outside yourself and do something for others. Whether its as brave as helping to feed the homeless or something as simple as smiling to your neighbor…. that’s enough.

How long have you done this in your community?
SkyMan the Tri-Colored Crusader was given form on Arbor Day 2010 in a local park where he helped with trail maintenance and planting.

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What advice do you have for becoming a real super hero?
Advice for somebody wanting to join the RLSH Community and to become one?
First, do some cursory research on what you are passionate about and search for your inner heroes identity. Do plenty of internet research into the people involved in the movement and read about us and what we do. Why? There are always people coming and going in the community that I find it troublesome that the lack of research and examination isn’t done.

Also, please try and be creative with your persona. There are a lot of black-clad ninja looking folks out there that think they have to be Batman and skulk in the shadows. I’m here to tell you as one of the more experienced, seasoned, and active RLSH out there that that mindset and attire don’t work. Its not in the imagery of the iconic golden-age era of superheroes that wanted to present a friendly image to the general populace. I understand that names and creativity are difficult… but nobody said that being a superhero was simple, much less easy!

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Favorite Comic Character: Captain America! Sure, Steve was given the super-soldier serum that turned him into a super-strength powered person but before that the tenacity and patriotism of the scrawny youth was what made him a real hero.

Least favorite comic character and why? Superman! He is an alien from another planet trying to fit in when we all know he cant. His a God among mere mortals and is an anomaly.

Favorite Book: How to be a Superhero by NightRider. Its one of the very first published manuals out there and documents the very early days of the RLSH Community.

Favorite Video Game: I grew up on Super Mario Bros. And my SNES.

Favorite Convention: Emerald City Comic Con… even though its become a larger than life event. I’m going to stay loyal as I won my 4 day pass this past year.

Affiliations (clubs or groups): I’m a member of a local team of RLSH in the greater Seattle area, the Emerald City Heroes Organization (ECHO)

Facebook: is the one major form of social media I participate in on a daily basis.
https://www.facebook.com/skyler.nichols

Twitter: SkyMan253

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Hero Behind the Mask: Shaun O.

This week’s feature is about an amazing guy that I have the privilege to know! He is kind and giving! Plus I have seen him in action interacting with children. He is more than happy to get to their level to talk and take a picture. Not only does he use his costumes for charity but he has donated items that were raffled of to raise money at Salt Lake City Fan X 2014 for the MDA! Their is way more to say about his personal life and the example he has been but that is for him to share, not me. Thank you for being a shinning example in and out of costume. – Mala

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Name: Shaun O.

Location: Seattle-ish, WA

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
I think the “CAUSEplaying” just happened. Prior to building my first costume, I met someone who shared a video called “Heart of an Empire” and told me to watch it before committing to the group. The video focused on the charity aspect of the 501st and the children which it impacted. That video pretty much set the standard and purpose who the costuming world I was about to enter.

In fact I actually befriended one of the main people in that movie this past year and hoping to meet him sometime this year.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
Funny you should ask that. It is twofold. I like meeting new people, in fact I would have never meet half the people I talk to, had it not been for costuming. The major reason however, is that I want to bring a smile to a child or a child at heart. Being able to bring a little happiness in a world that isn’t so much, is what makes it worth it to me.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
My first event was a birthday party for a 6yr old girl with brain cancer. The event was a pretty large community event in Florida and the first time I would be wearing armor in public. I was pretty lost and had no clue what I was supposed to do. Shortly after that event I was on my way to Seattle to start my new job.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Meh…that’s a tough one. I like my Commander Wolffe a lot and I get into character when I am in costume, which really gets people going, especially with the Kiwi accent. However, I think I would have to go with Spidey on this one. My comic version of Spider-man seems to always be a hit, who doesn’t like your friendly neighborhood web slinger?

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Most memorable CAUSEplay moment:Though I have had many memorable moments the one that always sticks out to me is during an event for foster children which come together (as they have been adopted) and have a picnic and field day. That day I met a girl name Kayden, which seemed to not know who I was in costume, which kind of puzzled me, it wasn’t until one of her sisters came up to me and whispered that, Kayden, was blind and unable to see who I was. That day I had to walk away for a little and take back what I had heard and experienced. It just broke my heart that this sweet little girl had already been through so much in her life and didn’t seem to have one complaint. I ended up spending the rest of the day playing with the other children but Kayden took a liking to me and ended up coming back, wanting to spend some time, and even having lunch with her and her family.

What is your favorite cause to support?
Anything that is community based, especially for kids. I have been pretty active, as of late, with Make-A-Wish.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
This one is easy, I’ve actually had to get dressed in a Porta-Potty, it was pretty tight in there and the fact that it smelt like flowers was amazing…

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Who inspires you?
Walt Disney is someone that I have a lot of respect for. It always amazes me that he grew up from humble beginnings, had a lot of setbacks and failures along the way, but stuck with his dream. Every time I walk into Disney World it amazes me that this guy had all this in his head at one time and was determined to make it work. He had a vision; he saw something where others saw nothing. That helps me realize that dreams really can come true, as corny as that sounds.

My dad is also someone else on a more personal scale which has done similar things, coming from a very poor family and making something for himself, with a lot resistance and yet persevering. Growing up my dad could fix just about anything and in that I knew that nothing was beyond my grasp, just needed to work hard and in some cases people have the right people to help along the way. If I don’t know how to do something, I usually find someone who does and soak it in…another tool in the tool belt.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: 1) Do it because you want to 2) It’s a hobby 3) Have fun and learn as much as you can 4) It can be a very expensive hobby, so try to not go and follow every fandom. You will be poor.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
I have no idea. It always seems very last minute.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
Costumer, seems like there is just a lot of hype with the word “cosplayer” these days…sadly I actually use “cosplay” for my fan page name.

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What was your first costume/cosplay?
My first was a Clone trooper from the Clone Wars, the animated series. I really liked the concept and idea that Clone troopers were breed for combat and also wanted to have a character that I could relate to, which happened to be Commander Wolffe.

My love for Clones started when watching Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Yoda’s “Begun the Clone Wars, has” and seeing an army of Clone troopers marching. I thought having armor like that would be cool. While I was deployed in Iraq I brought The Clone Wars to watch and feel in love with the characters, their struggles, who they began to take on personalities, and become their own. Once I got back Stateside, I found out that you could actually build animated armor kits, and so it began…Kamino.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I currently work as an engineer for one of the largest commercial airplane manufacturers in the world; That’s what pays the bills.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
Well…that’s been on my mind for some years now…I joke around that I’d be happy selling coconuts on the beach somewhere…though the engineer in me says that isn’t gonna pan out. I’m hoping the space program picks up, that was what I went to school for and hoped to eventually build the next Space Station or help work on a Lunar Base. I need something where I can work with my hands…an Imangineer at Disney was always a cool job I’d like to have.

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Tell us something random about yourself: I listen to Taylor Swift when I workout…sometimes.

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars…I will refer to quotes from Fan Boys if we continue this question.

Marvel or DC: Tough one…probably gonna go with DC on this one because it seems like Marvel is all over the place and messing up a lot of characters lately.

Favorite Comic Series: A no brainer that I read Amazing Spiderman but I have also really gotten into the new Harley Quinn series ( I like Harley).

Favorite Comic Character: Peter Parker…he’s probably your most complex character you’ll meet. Depending on the series you get different looks and stories, however, but I go for the lost of his Uncle Ben and losing his first love, Gwen Stacey, and how that happens to both drive him to be bigger than himself and also cripple him at times emotionally.

Favorite Book: Depends on what mood Im in. The Hobbit was always a good read. I started reading the Republic Commando series and really like those books. Last leadership/management book I read was Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and that was a good read, as well. The last one that sticks out that I read was Fearless which talks and follows the life of Adam Brown (a Navy SEAL) and his struggles in life: personal, through BUDs, and Deployments.

Favorite Video Game: Any of the Grand Theft Autos. I just like stealing cars, running red lights, being chased by the police, and picking up…friends.

Favorite Convention: I have just recently started going to conventions. I actually started when I moved to Seattle. However, my favorite Con so far was Celebration 6. I was able to meet up with a ton of friends I had personally met and people I met online. It was fun just hanging out, costuming in groups, and the random adventures at night. Good times were had.

Affiliations (clubs or groups): 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, 501st Clone Trooper Detachment, and the North West Mutant Academy.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/That-Guy-Cosplay/160248877502575

Other forms of social media: I really don’t like social media

Hero Behind the Mask: Abi Sue Cosplay

I would like to introduce you to Abi Sue Cosplay.  She is a veteran of the costume community who loves to share her knowledge!  It can be anything from worbla panels to cosplay modeling or photo editing!  She also uses her knowledge and love to bring smiles to children through various groups that she participates with!  Abi Sue was also kind enough to appear at the CAUSEplay panel as GeekGirlCon 2014 too!  –Mala

Name: Abi Sue Cosplay

Location: Seattle, WA

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
I met a great group of cosplayers at ECCC 3 years ago, they were posing in front of a cheezy poofs bucket and asking for funds for Children’s Hospital. They are Comics Book Characters for Causes and I’ve become one of the staff members.

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CBCC at ECCC 2012

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
The children! At CBCC the charities we support are children’s charities. I love how they think we actually are the characters, it’s so fun to see how excited they are. The occasional time when I get a picture with a mini me is just so fun too!

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Rogues at Rose City Comic Con 2013, little Rogue is AJ Cosplay photo by Snap It! Photography

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
Outside of being pulled in to the ECCC group I think my first event with them was the Marvel vs. DC event at Bobakhan Toys in Everett.

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Bobakhan Toys event, I am Domino in this.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Definitely a toss-up between my own favorite costume 90’s Rogue and Wonder Woman. 90’s Rogue is just me, I dye my hair like hers, she is recognizable by a lot of people and family friendly. Wonder Woman is more iconic and also easily recognizable. That’s really the best thing at a charity event, the more recognizable characters are more popular with the kids.

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Wonder Woman by Kairu Photography

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment :
The little girls that just wouldn’t let my hands go at Camp Goodtimes this summer. They made sure Rogue sat at their table for lunch, they were just the cutest!

What is your favorite cause to support?
Camp Goodtimes (http://www.thegoodtimesproject.org/) is an amazing camp which “exists to offer Western Washington and Alaska families affected by childhood cancer a cost-free week of summer camp” (quote from website). They recently lost funding from the American Cancer Society so we really like to help them as much as we can!

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At Camp Goodtimes, summer 2014.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
This summer at Camp Goodtimes we did a flash mob style dance to the song Classic, it was so fun! I lost the heel pads of my Rogue shoes, had to get new ones for my boots covers. Worth it though!

Who inspires you?
Other cosplayers that also give of their time and energy for causes. Ani-Mia and BelleChere both come to mind. There are tons of amazing cosplayers that love to help at charity events, cons, and online, it’s just amazing!

Advice for CAUSEplaying:
Find a group to work with! It’s really nice if there are already established groups that you fit with, if not you can always start your own! They are a lot of work but definitely worth it. Keep the drama out of the group as much as possible. We’re all there to help the charities we are working/raising funds for, it’s good to be professional, and looks good for future CAUSEplay events. You really want to be able to work with your fellow volunteers, you’re going to be around them a lot!

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CBCC photoshoot, summer 2014, Studio5Graphics we can also be quite silly at times

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
The next event Comic Book Characters for Causes has is Emerald City Comic Con. We’ll have a photo booth set up and will be raising money for local children’s charities.

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CBCC booth ECCC 2014, Snap It! Photography, I’m the one with the wings.

CBCC also has a calendar we are selling to support us right now! Find it here: http://cbc4c.storenvy.com/products/11320137-cbcc-2015-calendar

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Back cover of calendar, designed and edited by Abi Sue Cosplay, photos by Snap It! Photography, Studio5Graphics , and iCandy Photography

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
I don’t really have a preference, in some ways I’m more of a costumer though. I don’t tend to ‘play’ the characters that much, unless it’s around a kid who thinks I’m the character, then how could you not?

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Wonder Women at Rose City Comic Con 2014, little Wondie is AJ Cosplay Photo by Thunderflash

What was your first costume/cosplay?
Twliight Princess Zelda about 5 years ago now.

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Princess Zelda, Noetic Creations

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m a Graphic Designer, regular 9-5 hours.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I would probably try and be a costume designer in Hollywood or something like that, it just sounds like a lot of fun! I really do like what I do now too, being in the art field as a career is rewarding.

Tell us something random about yourself: I have 5 brothers and was home-schooled.

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Trek, we watched all of them growing up. As much as I’ve watched a liked Star Wars, I’ll always love Star Trek more.

Marvel or DC: Marvel all the way, much more diverse characters. I do like the occasional DC movie and do have a couple DC costumes.

Favorite Comic Series: X-Men.

Favorite Comic Character: Rogue.

Favorite Book: That’s hard, I have so many! How about favorite book series? The Bellgariad by David Eddings.

Favorite Video Game: I don’t really play games much anymore. I kind of stopped playing after I quit WoW and costumes became my hobby. But I would say from my younger days my favorite was Myst.

Favorite Convention: Emerald City Comic Con

Affiliations (clubs or groups):

Comic Book Characters for Causes (www.cbc4c.org) and Northwest Mutant Academy

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AbiSueCosplay

Twitter:@AbiSueCosplay

Instagram: >http://instagram.com/abisuecosplay/

Tumblr: http:// abisue.tumblr.com/

Hero Behind the Mask: Angry Mushroom Pixi Cosplay of The Free Cosplay Project

I am proud to announce my affiliation with this weeks feature!  The Free Cosplay Project is a fundraising effort that shows us we don’t have to be in costume to do something great!  If you like to make props or costumes and have been interested in getting involved in charity work than the Free Cosplay Project is something you should consider! Check out the interview below for details and how you can get involved!

If you are interested in more about the creator of this project make sure to check out her Facebook page, Deviant Art, and YouTube channel!  She loves to share how to make cosplay and props so check out the variety of videos she offers.  It also goes to show she knows how to make things, which means if you enter to win a prop you will be getting something amazing and worth the donation to see if you win the raffle!

Angry Mushroom Cosplay, thank you for letting me be involved in the launch of this great idea!   The only catch is this project will need YOUR involvement to reach its full potential!! So either donate to win a prize or join the group to have a fundraiser for an organization of your choosing  Either way we can show the world the amazing talent and heart of the cosplay community! –Mala 
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Name: Marie Turner AKA Angry Mushroom Pixi Cosplay of The Free Cosplay Project

Location: Seattle, WA

What is the Free Cosplay Project?
The Free Cosplay Project, or FCP, is a non-profit group that organizes and hosts charity raffles for cosplayers by cosplayers. It was created as a vehicle for cosplayers, prop makers, seamstresses, and crafting artists within the cosplay community to help promote their art and pool money for charitable causes at the same time. Each FCP Featured Artist will pick a charity they care about and have a raffle prize as an incentive for the community to donate to that charity.

If someone is interested in adding their own work to this project how can they do this?
There is a submission form for artists (of all kinds!) to enter on the Volunteer page of the website. Having new Featured Artists essential for us to keep the ball rolling. We are always thinking of new ways to involve artists as well, so definitely contact us with suggestions!

How did you determine the organization (cause) you are raising funds for?
We are picking all of our causes through Crowdrise.com. Crowdrise is amazing because the money donated goes directly to the charity and not through us. All the charities on their website have been IRS approved so you can feel confident donating. With their system it takes less than a minute to donate!

What are the benefits of using the fundraising platform you choose?
The Free Cosplay Project is great because its a flexible program that fills a niche in the CAUSEplay community. Each Featured Artist gets to find a charity that they feel passionate about, so there is always a new charity benefiting from the program with every raffle. Allowing artists to gain exposure and promote themselves to the public is a huge incentive for the artists as well. And the art is what creates the incentive for the public. Raffle giveaways have been really successful for aspiring independent prop makers and hey, who doesn’t like winning free stuff? Currently we are working on introducing the idea of gifts for every donor and not just a grand prize, but we are taking it one step at a time.

If someone wanted to donated to win a prop from you how much do they need to donate?
Crowdrise requires a minimum donation of $10. That is a 1 in 100 chance to win! That may seem high but really, what is $10 to you? 1 (and a half) expensive brand name latte? Or the costume of your dreams? Make it a priority to live a generous life and HELP ME SHOW THE WORLD WHO THE REAL HEROS OF COSPLAY ARE!!!

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What got you into CAUSEplaying?
Honestly it was a desperation. I was feeling disconnected from the community. It had been over 6 months since I was able to cosplay because I was going through career changes and things were really hectic. I was either not attending cons or working them, and cosplay meetups were either not being organized or being canceled. Almost like a personal cosplay dark-age! When I finally was able to come back to cosplay I had gained weight and was having a hard time feeling like I could be confident in my skin. I kept that depression to myself for a long time because I felt ashamed of even feeling that way. I know that the cosplay community is really body positive so I felt silly for even being so insecure. Ultimately my favorite thing about cosplay is the technical aspect so even if I didn’t dress up, I wanted to keep making things. But if it was going to be a costume I made, then I had to let SOMEONE wear it! That’s when I thought of The Free Cosplay Project. The idea was rather serendipitous because it was good for me to take the focus off myself and spend time in supportive role.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
Giving feels great. It allows a person to do something transcendent with their lives.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
The first event for The Free Cosplay Project is live now. We are looking to have a different Featured Artist each month.

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What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Because the FCP is an online charity I haven’t gotten the chance to actually cosplay for charity! Pretty ironic.

What is your favorite cause to support?
Anything to do with solar energy, building self sustaining infrastructure in developing countries, or disease research. Hope for Vision is my first charity because they are a research focused charity aimed at curing degenerative retinal diseases. And I think we need greater funding in the sciences. BUT! I really think the way our society views blind people is wrong and limits their potential so I’m really eager to do a fundraiser in the future for World Access for the Blind, because they are an organization focuses on enabling blind people by teaching echolocation. http://www.worldaccessfortheblind.org/

Who inspires you?
I was incredibly inspired by Amanda Palmers “The Art of Asking” because it has a really beautiful view of life.

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Advice for CAUSEplaying:
I think I’d love everybody’s advice instead! I’m not sure if I’m qualified to give it quite yet. I’m still learning and I really wouldn’t be anywhere without the help of family and friends.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
Its interchangeable for me. I’m definitely a cosplayer, but I graduated with a degree in costume design.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
This GOD AWFUL Lina Inverse cosplay for 8th grade Halloween party. Its was a thrown together red t-shirt of red tights with scrap fabric, just awful! My first “actual cosplay” was a minor villain from One Piece called Miss Goldenweek.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I work part time for my dad as a licensed Real Estate Agent. You could say I’m his assistant. When it’s slow in the winter I work odd jobs. Currently I work at a plastics manufacturing factory, so I go to work and cast plastic parts, and then come home and do it all over again. One is for an airplane, the other is for cosplay!

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I honestly wouldn’t want to be an independent commissioner for prop fabrication. That seems so stressful! It’s hard to make run business that way, that’s why the FCP is great, because it supports those independent artists. I’d rather work for a studio making props, but that’s Hollywood, which is its own monster.

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Tell us something random about yourself: I love the show Good Eats!

Star Wars or Star Trek: Trek for sure!

Marvel or DC: *stuffs name brand candy bar in mouth to avoid question*

Favorite Comic Series: Tomb Raider

Favorite Comic Character:The Prince from Saga

Favorite Book: I read mostly non-fiction these days. I can’t really call myself a book nerd. Pass!

Favorite Video Game: Anything Naughty Dog or 2K or Valve.

Favorite Convention: PAX or ECCC!

Affiliations (clubs or groups): The Free Cosplay Project! 😉

Website: freecosplayproject.org

Affiliated websites: https://www.crowdrise.com

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Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories!

Hero Behind the Mask: FirewingCreations

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!!  I hope everyone had a safe and fun holiday season!

For the first blog of 2015 I want to introduce you to FirewingCreations.  This lady is a sweet heart!  I had the please of meeting her at several conventions this year.  At Rose City Comic Con we had fun at a photo shoot and made a fun video!  Its never a dull moment around FirewingCreations! People from Comic Book Character for Causes and the Northwest Mutant Academy can confirm this.  She is a wealth of costume knowledge and shares her skills as a panelist at cons in the Seattle area. I hope you enjoy the interview with her as much as I enjoyed putting this together.  I am looking forward to seeing her at cons and charity events in the future!   –Mala

Name: FirewingCreations

Location: Everett, WA

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
At my second ever convention I happened to see a large group of cosplayers collecting money in a rather unassuming bucket to be donated to Children’s Hospital. One of the members handed me a card with contact info and I joined what would more officially become Comic Book Characters for Causes. I remember thinking that it was a really nice idea to take something that was just a personal hobby and turn it also into an opportunity to help people in real life. Why just dress as a superhero when you have the ability to make an impact in someone’s life at the same time.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
I continue with CausePlay because I know it makes an impact. It is very encouraging to hear the positive feedback from many of the adult volunteers and coordinators that are involved with events. Of course, I often get a lot of good interactions from kids when they are around at events, but often kids can be kind of shy around new people; so many times I’ve had adults follow up after and tell me how the kids kept talking about our participation and inquire if we will be back again.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
My first event was at a local toy store called Bobakhan Toys and Collectables. They hosted a Marvel vs. DC day where they were raising funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I wish I could recall the wish they were fundraising for, but I know they had a really good turnout.

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Bobakhan Marvel vs. DC Fanshots

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Currently, Batgirl is my favorite to wear CausePlaying. Batgirl is my most recognizable character costume, it’s quite comfortable (though I’m still looking to make the cowl better), and has a utility belt and cape. I would say character recognition is fairly important in costume choice for charity events, I think it’s often easier for the public to identify who you are and then what you’re doing if they can place your character.

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment:  This past summer at a foster family picnic, there were two young girls that apparently picked me as their buddy from our small group of superheroes and princesses. They kept coming back to talk to me and hug me and one even insisted on giving me some candy she had won at one of the games they had there. They were the sweetest.

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July 26, 2014 Foster Family Picnic

What is your favorite cause to support?
I like supporting causes for children in need. Camp Goodtimes (http://www.thegoodtimesproject.org/) is a great group that provides a summer camp for children affected by cancer. They recently lost their funding by the American Cancer Society and so can really use the publicity and donations. I also have enjoyed supporting Hand in Hand (http://www.handinhandkids.org/) a group that supports foster kids by providing safe and comfortable transitional housing when they are removed from their homes and are waiting for their new families.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
This last summer I had the opportunity to visit Camp Goodtimes West with some other members of the group Comic Book Characters for Causes. We split up and participated with the kids at some of their recreational choices. The activity I joined was a flash mob, dancing as Batgirl to the song “Classic.” It was really fun, and there is video proof.  Which can be found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzkWwzAyWiY

Who inspires you?
I am inspired by all the people that daily work in jobs dedicated to directly helping others and providing for their needs, particularly when it’s usually a thankless job. I couldn’t adequately list every job position that does this, but some that I’ve personally encountered or worked with the last few years include: veterinary staff (who try their best to take care of the animals they see, even if their owners don’t understand why Fluffy shouldn’t be eating fast food every day…), medical staff (who really wants to clean up and tend to the things that they do daily?), special ed staff (there are some really awesome kids that can be trying at times). Most of these jobs aren’t really high-paying or glamorous and they certainly aren’t easy, but these people do what needs to be done. It’s amazing really.

Advice for CAUSEplaying:
Don’t be afraid to talk and connect with people, that’s how you will find a good group to join for CausePlay. Once you connect, be reliable and professional. Do what you say you’re going to do. Last, but not least, leave your drama at home when you attend an event. I think it’s important to remember that we who CausePlay come together to promote a cause that’s bigger than our ourselves and more can be accomplished if you’re able to work together smoothly with your peers.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
The next big event for Comic Book Characters for Causes is Emerald City Comicon in Seattle at the end of March. We’ll have a photobooth as usual and will be raising funds for local children’s charities.

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2014 ECCC

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
I tend to use the term costumer because my personal focus is more on the crafting of an outfit instead of becoming a character. However, I’m not the type of person to quibble over vocabulary.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
Well, I’ve had Halloween costumes over the years of course but my first costume at my first convention was Kaylee from Firefly. That basically only involved removing sleeves from a flight suit and sewing on patches. The next year I decided I could figure out how to sew gloves and boot covers and dressed in spandex as Dark Phoenix.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
Trophy wife. Ha! No, its kind of true. Previously I’ve worked in a veterinary clinic as a receptionist and lab assistant and also in the local school system as a substitute paraeducator. My husband works and supports my role as a home maker so I can take care of our household and also help my parents who have had some health issues recently.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I love being a home maker, that is my dream job. If I wanted to do something where I actually get paid though, I think it would be fun to be a lab assistant and do nerdy and scientific things like running bloodwork, looking under microscopes and most importantly not doing retail or customer service. I’m pretty introverted and I love science.

Tell us something random about yourself: I have a bachelor’s degree in business and I’m very good at jigsaw puzzles.

Star Wars or Star Trek: I grew up with both. My dad was really into Trek, but I guess I like the overall aesthetic of Star Wars a little better. As I watch some more Trek…..

Marvel or DC: DC. I started reading American comics because I thought, justifiably, that Batman was just the coolest. I’ve stayed with DC because of the strong females like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Black Canary… etc.

Favorite Comic Series: Fables. Birds of Prey. But really, if we go international… Sailor Moon.

Favorite Comic Character: After much mental deliberation: Storm from X-Men.

Favorite Book: *sigh* Ella Enchanted. But I love so many others too…

Favorite Video Game: I love me some Pokemon. I still remember saving up my own money to buy myself a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Red game package back in the day. And yes I still play.

Favorite Convention: Sakura Con in Seattle. 2014 was my first time attending and it was super fun. This may be in part because I got to join a Sailor Moon group and costume as a Sailor scout, something I’d wanted to be since about 1st grade.

Affiliations (clubs or groups): Comic Book Characters for Causes (cbc4c.org) and Northwest Mutant Academy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FirewingCreations

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Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories! If sending info on an individual person please let them know you have done so, to reduce the creep factor of a stranger contacting them for a potential interview.