Comic Book Divas once again has searched the Internet and Facebook to find intriguing women in the comic book and pop culture genre and saw cosplayer, gamer, and comic book lover Abby Darkstar. Actually we had seen Abby’s cosplay work in te past and we were blown away so we had to approach her and talk to her about all things geeky.
Q: Abby tell us just a little bit about yourself, for those of us who may not know you.
AD: I’m a Northern California costumer/cosplayer. I moved here a little more than a year ago from Florida. I’m into history, reading, writing, costuming, horseback riding, and I play two instruments. I also don’t mind the occasional walk on the beach. Haha.
Q: We read that you got the geek bug early with your dad when you were growing up; what were some of your favorite shows, cartoons, and comics growing up and why?
AD: My dad definitely inspired my love of things sci-fi and comics. I remember watching episodes of the original Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Who, and other sci-fi shows. Dad also watched all the cartoons with me. From Rainbow Brite to TMNT, Ghostbusters, and especially Transformers. My dad was a mechanic who worked on big rigs, therefore Transformers was our favorite. Whenever my dad would bring home a tractor trailer from work, I’d ask him “daddy, are you driving a Decepticon or Autobot?”
Q: What were some of your favorite comics and comic book characters growing up?
AD: While I was into comics growing up, my parents were very cognizant of the adult themes in comics, until I got older I was restricted to the ‘softer’ comics, so to speak, based on the cartoons that I watched. Like Transformers, or Archie, or Batman. As I got older, Marvel & DC titles were my favorite. Specifically Batman: Shadow of the Bat, and anything Marvel featuring Rogue and Gambit.
Q: How did you get started in the world of cosplay?
AD: I was into theater through most of my school life, and when I graduated high school I continued into college with the intent of getting some sort of degree in theater education. I realized that I loved acting too much to make it a job though. That creative energy had to go somewhere and around that point I tagged along to a comic book convention with some friends. I saw people in costume and thought “hey! I can do that!” The next year I was in costume J
Q: You make many of your own costumes, what is the most difficult costume you have created?
AD: I make some of them, yes but if I don’t have the skill set, I have no problem commissioning pieces. I try to have at least a hand in making one or two aspects of a costume. As I’ve been learning more and more, I’ve been making more and more of my costumes. Each costume has its challenges, because for many of them I really try to bring the artwork (whatever medium it might be) to life as accurately as I can. It can be really frustrating though because art doesn’t always translate into reality well. For instance, you have the need to move, and breathe! The most difficult recently was probably my Kotobukiya Ivy.
I hadn’t worked with latex before, I didn’t know which glues were okay, or how to get the support I needed for my body type. The latex leotard was made by Vengeance Designs. I made some adjustments to the latex, replaced the straps and put in darts. Once I moved onto the casting phase of all those leaves, I had to go through a lot of product when the leaves weren’t the right consistency to adhere, yet give me enough stretch on the latex. Plus, many of the leaves had to be individually cast in order to get proper placement. It was QUITE the learning experience.
The most difficult recently was probably my Kotobukiya Ivy. I hadn’t worked with latex before, I didn’t know which glues were okay, or how to get the support I needed for my body type. Once I moved onto the casting phase of all those leaves, I had to go through a lot of product when the leaves weren’t the right consistency to adhere, yet give me enough stretch on the latex. Plus, many of the leaves had to be individually cast in order to get proper placement. It was QUITE the learning experience.
Q: What type of costumes are you the most proud o and why?
AD: I’m most proud (right now) of my Kotobukiya Ivy because of the amount of work that went into it. Working with the majority of the materials being new to me was a challenge and I am very proud of the way it turned out. Learning what I have has allowed me to consider new ways of doing costumes this year!
Q: For the beginning cosplayers out there, what costumes would you suggest that they start with and why?
AD: I would start with characters they really love. I say this because when you love something, you put your heart and soul into it and it shows. It shows in the work that you do on the costume, and how you shine when photographed in it. Also, if people haven’t costumed before, try to pick something to what they are comfortable skill-wise. For instance, if they haven’t made armor or sewed a ton, I wouldn’t pick anything too overly complicated, just for the sheer frustration factor that can happen!
Q: What characters would you like to portray in the future and why would you want to portray those characters?
AD: I want to do more different characters, dynamic characters. I look at designs and artwork that are just achingly beautiful and I want to try to bring that to life. It doesn’t even have to be well-known characters. I’m fascinated by mythology for instance and I would love to do a series based on the different myths that are out there.
Q: If the following industries comic book, gaming, and movie came up to you and said “We want you to redesign a costume”. What characters would you select and how would you redesign their costumes?
AD: Oh gosh, that is a difficult question to answer. I think so many of the companies out there do so well with the different character designs and they go through so many redesign themselves! I mean, sure I’d be flattered if they came to me and said “hey- design us a Poison Ivy” but then I’d probably chicken out and go…”but I like the original design!” I’m sure as soon as I send this article off I’ll have a dozen I think of!
Q: Do you see cosplaying leaning in the direction as not being so much as a fan oriented hobby into more of a business?
AD: I think that it will always be a fan orientated hobby. It is the fandom of comics, sci-fi, and fantasy, what-have-you that inspires other people. Yes, some people have made it into their business, but in the end, that business continues to support the community in some way. Either by providing a service, or encouraging interest in the original subject matter.
Q: What is the biggest enjoyment you get from cosplay?
AD: The kids are always my favorite part of this hobby. When I’m at comic-con, or any con and I have a child come up to me, eyes shining and just excited- it doesn’t matter how swollen my feet are or that I haven’t eaten in hours, I get immediately giddy. I also enjoy the creativity that I see. People are using materials that have never been used before with amazing results. Worbla is one of these materials, so is EVA foam.
The creative energy grows as people talk, discuss and collaborate. They encourage each other by the things they produce. I love that. I love that I can see one costumer working on a project using a material in a certain way and then think, ‘hmm- what if I apply that technique to THIS’ and BAM, it’s amazing.
Q: Some people feel that women in comic books, gaming and in pop culture are portrayed as being too sexy what are your views on this subject?
AD: As a history student though, I ask myself- what is the difference between a semi-nude Dejah Thoris and Titian’s “Danae”? One might respond “well Titian is art”, which leads to the follow up, “who decides what is art?” I think before people make statements as to ‘what’ something is they really need to consider the big picture. If they have objections to sexuality in comics, books and gaming then maybe they need to make whatever actions that will best make them comfortable, rather than just complaining.
Q: Women are becoming more of an integral part of comic books, gaming and pop culture do you feel that women are just coming out of the shadows of what was once a male populated genre?
AD: I think that women have always been present in the genre. What I think is happening is that they are finally becoming more influential and respected. Sometimes it is perceived that because a woman is involved that she will make a character less sexy, or bring a foreign element to a book or game. I’ve actually noticed the opposite. Most of the women artists, developers etc. that I know, embrace the sensuality and fun that has always been part of the scene.
It’s kind of the same old tale through history when it comes to gender integration in different ‘roles’. Consider the man who decides to be a stay at home dad. Many times his ability or competency is called into question just because he decides to pursue what was once a female dominated interest. For me- the sex of the person involved in a project doesn’t matter; it is the results that they produce.
Q: Do you feel that women have also established themselves in the gaming genre or do you think there is an overall male influence?
AD: I’m not exactly sure by what you mean in ‘establish’, but if you mean girls taking an interest in gaming, I think that they are definitely having a larger voice. The term ‘gamer’ has often been equated with masculine identity. So much so that women have felt the need to validate themselves as a gamer by labels. Again- if someone is interested in a subject, it is usually proven by their words and actions.
Q: Do you think that tastes in games between men and women are basically the same or do you feel there is a broad difference in their game appeal?
AD: I can tell you from my circle of female friends that we don’t have any difference in the games we choose than our male friends. I don’t think there is any difference in the appeal for gaming. I think for most people who want to invest the money in a game it’s about the game engine, the play, and the design. People want a game that pulls them in, keeps them playing and interested.
Having great scenery/character design is a definite must as well. I think the best example of this that I have seen is for the new Tomb Raider game. I had the chance to go to IGN’s demo launch of the game at Crystal Dynamics and the game is GORGEOUS. Yet- we don’t have the large busted Lara anymore, so some could think ‘welp- there goes the series’- but it doesn’t really matter. The gameplay sucks you in; you feel like you can understand the origins of Lara Croft even more and how she becomes the bad-ass she is. You don’t need the ‘fan service’ when the game is SO good.
Q: Do you think that there are not enough female gaming characters, and what female characters would you like to see in video games?
AD: I would like to see more female characters in games, but I think game developers are going in that direction already. There are so many dynamic female characters that I think as more games come out, that we’ll see an upswing in both male and female characters in gaming.
Q: What games are you playing now?
AD: I’m currently (and slowly) playing Halo 4, Tomb Raider, Little Big Planet, WOW, Dance Central 3 and others. Due to my busy schedule I hardly have tons of game time, but I try to slide in as much as I can.
Q: What comics are you reading today, what are the characters you are following now and what draws you to the characters?
AD: I’m ashamed to admit that I’m horribly behind on my titles. I’m sure that my local comic shop is going to kick my butt when I’m next in. I still have to catch up on Birds of Prey, Invincible Iron Man, Walking Dead, Catwoman and Batgirl.
Q: What female comic book hero or villain would you like to see in a comic book series or cartoon?
AD: I would like to see more Poison Ivy, only because she is my favorite character and I think she has more to offer than the things we’ve seen.
Q: Do yu think that comic book companies such as DC and Marvel relaunch their titles to often and do you think it hurts the titles?
AD: There have been so many re-launches in comics namely 52 and some Marvel titles, do you feel that these hurt comics ? I don’t think that they hurt the comics necessarily. I mean at some point, writers start going in circles and need something new to go on. If not, we’d all complain that it’s the ‘same old same old’.
Q: You attend many conventions around the country, what conventions do you most look forward to attending, and which conventions would you like to attend but have not gotten to appear at yet?
AD: I always look forward to San Diego Comic Con. There is nothing like the energy at SDCC. It is a state of ‘awe’. There is always something that has you stopping dead in your tracks to look at, and there are tons to inspire me in regards to costuming. I always love Dragon*Con. Going to Dragon*Con is so awesome it is almost indescribable. It has some of the best costuming, and the best parties.
When you have celebrities that petition to be allowed to come, you know you have a great con!! I really would love to be able to attend New York Comic Con. I see so many interesting panels and great costumes there that I would love to go and experience it for myself! I’m hoping that if not this year, next I can definitely make it!
Q: If someone approached you and wanted to create a comic book character based on you would you want to be a hero or villain and what powers would you want to have?
AD: I’d want to be a combination of both hero and villain. I don’t think that anyone can truly be completely ‘good’. I think as we go through life we struggle with things and make mistakes. I would want a character like that. I’d say mostly though that she would lean towards trying to be good, even if she made mistakes. As far as powers, I’d say the ability to have strength and call upon some sort of element would be most ‘me’. One thing is for sure, she’d have to have a kick ass costume and boots. I love boots. Most of the costumes I choose usually have boots. Haha.
Q: What future projects do you have coming up, anything you can tell fans to look forward to the remainder of the year or next year?
AD: This year I hope to complete a costume based on Sideshow’s Poison Ivy statue. I also hope to do several different costumes, maybe an Anderson from the new Dredd movie. I have a whole list of ‘wants’ but actually getting things done is a different story sometimes. Costume projects are often a fluid list depending on time, money and issues that come up when you are putting a costume together!
Q: Where can fans follow you?
For costume, silliness, and general geekery you can find me: Abby Darkstar Website or on Abby Darkstar’s Facebook Page; you can also follow me on Twitter @AbbyDarkstar and on my DeviantArt Page.