Biowars has a deep appreciation for anyone bold enough and creative enough to cosplay their favorite characters. And to show our love for the community, we regularly interview cosplayers who offer insights on taking their enthusiasm for comic books, video games and films to a whole new level. Today we have the pleasure of talking to Jenn Marvel, who spills her secrets on what comic book characters she likes, the costumes she prefers and where she thinks cosplay is going in the future.
What got you into cosplaying? Were you influenced by fellow cosplayers or was it through comics/gaming/film?
I’ve been going to conventions for a very long time, and I’ve loved comics and video games since I was small. I loved dressing up as a kid and my mom would always make these really elaborate costumes for us.
So when I started seeing people cosplaying, and thought it was really cool, I started doing research on various things and decided I wanted to start making them for other people. I started making armor, I made a Mass Effect armor for my friend Roxy Lee from the GeekxGirls. Adam Jay from Superhero Creations was coming from the UK to Toronto to do a shoot with her wearing my armor and I thought it was incredibly cool because I had followed his work for a few years.
After being there with the other girls, and watching them in front of the camera, I just thought to myself, “This is so cool and awesome, I HAVE to do this.” So I stopped making things for other people and started making them for myself, and I’ve cosplayed ever since.
What is the one of the most challenging aspects of cosplay that you have seen or faced?
One of the most challenging aspects of cosplay as a hobby, for me personally, would have to be learning to sew. At first I didn’t know how to sew anything together, but over the past 4-5 years I’ve learned how to make my costumes completely from scratch.
Another challenge would be facing today’s body, race, gender, age standards and how people are treated, judged and bullied within the cosplay community. It’s a really big issue a lot of cosplayers struggle with it on a daily basis.
Do you copy a character’s costume exactly, or do you prefer to add your own interpretations?
It really depends on the character and how it’s drawn. If I feel like I would be uncomfortable wearing it the way it is drawn or portrayed then I alter it to fit my body type or gender. I do a lot of male characters, so to make them as if they were female is one way I add my own flare to the character but stay within its origin and details.
How long does a costume take to make for you? Do you make them from scratch?
Now I make about 80-90 percent of the costume stuff except for boots or wigs I cannot make from scratch – I just don’t have the time or know how. Depending on the character, it can take a few days to several months to finish something. Also, it depends on my work schedule as I have a full time career and cosplay is just a hobby.
What’s your favorite part about putting on your cosplay?
Depending on the character, I love just how you feel like a completely different person, your body language, attitude and confidence change as soon as you put it on. For example, when I wear Deathstroke I feel like a complete and total badass. If I do a character like Harley, I get to be completely goofy and psychotic which is also a lot of fun too. Playing a character is definitely one of the fun aspects of cosplay. Another great thing about it is, when little kids see you and get really excited.
Cosplay can be very expensive. Do you participate in cosplay events or competitions to win money? Or is it more about meeting others and having fun?
Cosplay is expensive, but I have a really good paying job, and I know how to find deals and make things on the cheap. I just do this as a fun hobby; rarely do I ever enter a contest, and if I do, it’s just for fun.
You have probably had great memories participating in cosplay at numerous conventions. What was one of your fondest and where was it at?
A good memory would probably be last year at Fan Expo Canada here in Toronto. I met Stephen Amell dressed as Deathstroke, he really liked my costume, and we had a really nice chat. Another great memory, is probably being able to meet all the amazing actors and artists at the Marvel booth at SDCC for the past 2 years.
When relaxing at home after a convention, what is your comic or video game of choice to wind down with?
My son is obsessed with Minecraft, so basically if I have free time, that’s what he wants to play.
Is there anything you learned through your years of cosplay that you wish someone had told you about when you first started?
I have learned that this community has a lot of drama, and that over the last 2 years it has become very cutthroat. I think a lot of people have lost sight of what cosplay is really about.
Besides cosplaying, what are some other hobbies you have?
In my spare time (ha that’s a good one), I play guitar. I’ve been playing since I was 13, and piano since I was 7. I really enjoy music a lot. I am also a powerlifter. I train at a gym here in Toronto called Fortis Fitness, it’s a strongman/powerlifting/Olympic lifting gym. It’s really a lot of fun. I’ve been doing that for about a year now and I love it.
Is there an unwritten code amongst cosplayers? If so, how would you feel if someone was to break that code?
I think maybe somewhere there is a code. I mean, there’s that whole “treat others how you wish to be treated”, which I find a lot of people don’t live by. I find that this community has its ups and its downs. There is also a lot of drama and I have seen a code broken at least once or twice in my day. Sometimes you just have to remember that you’re cosplaying for yourself, and nobody else. Let things roll off your back and try not to care what other people think of you. At the end of the day, if you’re happy that’s all that matters.
When deciding on what cosplay you will be, are there any distinct characteristics about a character that draw you to them or do you follow a specific theme or genre of cosplay?
I LOVE X-Men. I grew up with X-Men, they are probably my favorite characters to cosplay. I love doing the old versions with all the bright colors. I am also drawn to characters with a lot of detail. I love concept art. I have a fine arts background, so for me art work really sets it off in terms of the things I choose. I also tend to choose male characters, and then apply rule 63 to them. I have been trying lately though to do less comic book characters and branch out to other genres.
Being a cosplayer, you are bound to have a fun and unique personality. Is there anything you would like to share about yours that your fans don’t know?
I work in the television and film industry, so I get to work on a lot of amazing projects. On my Facebook page, however, I try to keep an open book style to my page. I mean there’s not much people don’t know about me. I am very open.
Why do you think there are more female cosplayers than males?
I dunno if I would say there are more female than male. I mean there are a lot more females who push their cosplay into the public eye. Yes, there are a lot of female cosplayers, but I don’t think the difference is huge. I think women like to dress up. Whether it be in costume or going out to a fancy dinner or party. Not saying that men don’t like it either, but I think it’s just more popular with the ladies.
Follow Jenn Marvel and her future cosplay adventures here:
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/jennmarvelcosplay
On Twitter: @jennmarvel1
On Instagram: @jennmarvlecosplay