One of the features we do here at Comic Impact is the monthly Cosplay Spotlight. The idea is to showcase people from every facet of this wonderful world of fandom we call, “Cosplay.” We believe in the fun of dressing up and want everyone who plays a part to be recognized.
What is your name?
We are By the Way Cosplay
- SM- Stephanie Maldonado (SM) havent gotten around to making up a stage name
- NM- Nichole Marchese (NM)
How many years of experience do you have and what got you into cosplay?
SM/NM- We started making costumes about 15 years ago as part of a LARP group doing mostly medieval garb and leather armor. The first “official” cosplay we did was for Star Wars Episode One. We dressed as Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee
What character/design are you most well known for?
- SM- Probably Lady Loki and steampunk Maleficent
- NM- Phoenix 5 Magik and steampunk Evil Queen from Snow White
Which is your favorite character/design?
- SM- I love Loki, I’ve made and remade it 3 times so far and plan to make modifications still
- NM- There’s something about wearing my Evil Queen costume. I just feel empowered even though I have the hardest time playing an evil character cause all I wanna do smile and be happy. Plus my shoes are the most comfortable out of any other cosplay I have 😉
Did you know how to sew/fabricate before you started cosplaying?
- SM- Nope, not a clue. My friends Christian and Jeremy were the guys who first showed me how to set up a sewing machine in order to make battle garb for our LARP group. To this day I still have very little to no experience with patterns or sewing technique. Its all been learning as I go, failing about 80% but pushing through and learning from my mistakes.
- NM- My parents taught me to sew. My dad used to be a tailor and has taught me a few tricks on a sewing machine. Though I still don’t understand patterns. I can get about half way through before I just start to get frustrated with the terminology and just guess where stuff is supposed to go.
How have your techniques improved over the years?
- SM- Big time, I would say our first attempts were somewhat pathetic, but we had so much fun making and wearing them that it really didn’t matter. Over the years we have branched out into new materials such as latex and plastics which has helped us to improve the quality of our costumes.
- NM- Immensely!!!! If you look at pics from our LARP days or even our first year @SDCC in 2009 you can really see a big improvement. We have experimented with new mediums and have really taken pride in the quality and creativity of our work. We have both pushed each other to grow and try new things.
How long does it usually take and what’s your typical process to complete a costume?
- SM- Depending on the type of costume it can take us anywhere from days to months to finish. If we are trying to replicate a costume we will typically research several different artist renditions of the character, as well as action figures and other people who have cosplayed as that character in order to get an idea of how we will appropach a cosplay. If we are doing an original design, such as our steampunk Disney villians, it will often take several days to weeks to draw a final design pattern then usually even longer to fabricate. For instance we are working on turning our Disney Villians (Maleficent and the witch from Snow White) into Sith Lords. It has been a lot of research into the characters from both worlds so that we can combine them (successfully we hope) into a recognizable and creative cosplay
- NM- What she said. Also we usually spend hours upon hours and several trips to the fabric store and hobby shop once we have settled on a design to pick out the proper fabrics and colors for our design. We have become good friends with the employees at our local stores.
Is there a particular fabric/pattern/accessory that you consider your Achilles’ heel?
- SM- Spandex and lycra, ugh and ugh. Hate having to sew them and they are such a pain to try and dye.
- NM- Spandex is definitely difficult to sew without issues and hair pulling. But I feel overwhelmed with the mere thought of making molds of myself (or others) and making prosthetics. It just seems so foreign when I read all about it. That’s why I have Steph. She can do all that for me
Have you met any of the artists or writers where your costume is based on their work?
- SM/NM- We have, and are usually met with a great response. One of the most memorable was meeting Olivier Coipel at SDCC.
- SM-I love the way he portrays the female form and my first Loki cosplay was based entirely on his version of Lady Loki.
- NM- I got to meet Marko Djurdjević at Wizard World Dallas one year. I love the creativeness of his costume designs. Him and Coipel are my favorite when it comes to reinventing classic characters looks.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you at a convention?
- SM- lol, I’m not sure where to begin. I don’t want to implicate any celebs in antics that we have either been a part of or witnessed. So I will tell you and leave it to your discression. We dressed as Loki and Valkyrie at SDCC in 2010 and happened to be at the Marvel booth when Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston were signing autographs. At that time there were almost no Loki cosplayers and even fewer Valkyrie cosplays and the staff at the Marvel booth asked if we could stick around so we could meet the actors and get photos with them. So of course we stayed and 5 minutes later we were meeting Thor and Loki. Nichole was so enamored by Chris Hemsworth’s biceps that even after they introduced themselves she just stood there staring. So after introducing myself and Nichole, we were talking with them a bit and I caught Loki sneaking a peak of Lady Loki’s plundging neckline. To make things more uncomfortable he caught me catchin him. I got a grin and the remark “that’s a very impressive costume”. To which big brother Thor slapped him on the back and cracked up laughing, telling him “Awww man, even you couldn’t pull that one off”. Probably one of the funniest/ embarrassing/ surreal con moments ever for me
- NM- So our very first year at SDCC we dressed up as Black Cat (NM) and Spiderwoman (SM). We spent all day in Hall H and after each panel we kept moving closer and closer to the stage. By the time the Kick-Ass panel happened we were right up front. We loved the comic so we were super excited for the movie. The panel was awesome and all the actors from the movie were there. When the panel was over, we stood up to leave when we noticed that Clark Duke was trying to say something into the microphone and was going to every mic to see if they were on. Finally someone turned the sound back on and he announced, in front of 6,000 people, “I just wanted Black Cat to know I’m staying at the Marriott”. My face turned bright red. I looked up at him and just waved, super embarrassed. The funniest part was that Steph’s husband kept wondering if we were gonna go over to the Marriott. I told him he could wear my costume and go in my stead.
What is one of your best memories in cosplaying?
- SM- It always melts my heart when a kiddo runs up and just wants to hug you because they recognize the character. It’s also very complimentary when you walk past artist alley and artists stop you to tell you “you are the best dressed so and so character I’ve seen” It feels good when other artist recognize you for your work
- NM- At SDCC 2012 I dressed up as Phoenix 5 Magik for the first time. The AvX comic series had just come out 2 weeks before so not a lot of people recognized me but it was such an amazing feeling when people who did know who I was came up to me and complimented me on my work. They couldn’t believe I had already made this costume when the book was so new. There were even some people at the marvel booth who had worked on the book that loved my cosplay. It was just awesome to be recognized by people in the industry.
Do you read comics and if so, what are your favorite titles?
- SM- Hellboy and BPRD come to mind immediatley as ongoing series that continually rock my world. Silver Surfer Requiem is still one of my favorite books ever, and I think it always will be. The story and the art work throughout the book is just stunning. The first comic run I ever read was the Infinity Gauntlet, so it will forever have a special place in my heart.
- NM- I really enjoy Brian K. Vaughn books. Y the last man and Saga are amazing. I also love the new Guardians of the Galaxy series that has been out. I just really love the characters and I’m super excited for the movie.
What is your favorite comic book character?
- SM- I love the crazy complex ones. Mystique and Spiderwoman are two of my favorites. Their internal and external struggles that have made them into the complex characters that they are have always been very fascinating to me. Spiderman and Cap, of course, they are the all around good guys. And Hellboy is such an amazing character, always denying his nature in order to do what he knows to be right is very inspiring.
- NM- Ever since I was little I loved Rogue. She is strong and beautiful and she can fly. I’ve always wanted to fly. I love Spidy and his wit But I feel my true hero is Captain America. He is just the best. I can’t help but love him.
Who are your inspirations?
- SM- The guys from Strike Works cosplay are amazing! They make full body armor from actual metal that is unbelivably cool. They have a Daedric armor cosplay that makes my heart go pitter patter every time I see it.
- NM- There are so many amazing cosplayers out there. I feel my true inspiration comes from every cosplayer I have the privilege to meet. The fact that so many people love to do what I love do encourages me to continue making costumes. The sense of community and acceptance I get from seeing others cosplaying and enjoying their craft just makes me feel like I have a place to belong.
Have you ever participated in any cosplay events or costumed fund raisers?
- SM- We have been fortunate enought to host cosplay panels and sit as Judges for EPCON and Wintercon. And though we don’t live in El Paso anymore, we started a group of cosplayers there called the El Paso Cosplay Girls that are still very active in the con and cosplay community.
- NM- We have a special place in our hearts for charity work. I know Steph and I do some charity work in our normal lives but we are looking to do some with our cosplays. Hopefully living in Denver now will bring forth more opportunities to do so.
What do you like to do when you’re not costuming, such as other hobbies?
- SM- I have worked as a labor and deliver RN for about 8 years now, so most days I am rocking a pair of scrubs and look completely unglamorous. We love to dance and do so as often as possible. And also play video games, I have a sick addiction to Might and Magic clash of heroes and Borderlands 2
- NM- I’ve been doing hair for 13 years now and I’ve been privileged to participate in doing hair for fashion shows and magazine shoots. I love going dancing and just releasing all my stress and having fun being silly. Having fun with friends and enjoying all Denver has to offer.
Do you have any advice for others wanting to get into cosplay?
- SM/NM- DO IT!! We hear all the time people saying they want to but one of three excuses follow: 1) I couldn’t make anything as good 2) I don’t have the money 3) I don’t have the body for it. First off, cosplay shouldn’t be seen as a competition (we feel pretty strongly about this which is one reason we almost never compete) It doesn’t matter if it comes out perfect, in fact if your first cosplay does come out perfect I might kind of despise you a bit. SO long as you are having fun doing what you’re doing, keep doing it. Your techniques will improve with time Second, money definitely has to be considered but should not hinder you in your cosplay endeavors. Goodwill, Savers, craft foam and the discount fabric bin make cosplay possible on almost every budget Third, you don’t have to have a perfect body to cosplay. Research a character that has a similar body type that you do. Or modify, modify, modify. Figure out a way to modify the costume so that it flatters the parts you want to show (just be mindful that there are children at the cons) and find ways to hide the parts that you don’t. Most of all just have fun. Cosplay should be fun and nothing should distract you from that.
Where can people find and interact with you?
The best way to contact us for cosplay questions, commissions or just to say hi would be through our Facebook www.facebook.com/bythewaycosplay
Every 10th of every month, we will be feature a new Cosplay Spotlight. If you’re interested in having your hard work featured, contact me.