To say I’m a fan of DC Steampunk would probably be an understatement by this point. Their pictures have been circulating ever since SDCC 2012 and the quality of their work in undeniable. I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves in that department. All of the above photos were taken by Mike Rollerson at SDCC, how flipping fantastic are these? And for convention photos at that? Blown away. You can check him out on his flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/mikerollerson
I was lucky enough to speak to J. Lance, (Scarecrow) about the group, his personal cosplay career and what’s in store for DC Steampunk, (Lance leaves us with a bit of a cliffhanger, can’t wait to see the other members!) Hope you all enjoy this insight into a unique and talented group of cosplayers. x
So! The cosplay community has gone crazy over the DC Steampunk group. These are the first pictures I’ve ever seen of the work, is this the first time you’ve all appeared in public together?
YES! San Diego Comic Con was our first reveal of the group. It was kept a secret for almost a year. Our Riddler and Catwoman came up with the group and around last October started recruiting members.
That must have driven you batty (pun not intended) keeping it a secret for so long!
Yeah, every once in a while someone would catch wind that there was a secret group being organized, especially when seeing friends working on things. But we wanted to make sure that when we first showed the group that there were no weak links. We added some people, lost some people, but kept the group moving forward.
And what a debut you had! So for those who don’t know, how many official members do you have now?
Well, we had 15 people show up for Comic Con. Currently we’re hovering around the 25-30 range. Different people are able to make different events, so it will be interesting to see if we ever truly get ALL of our members in the same place at the same time.
If you ever do… there better be A LOT of cameras. That’s certainly an impressive number for such a new group! What really makes the difference is the quality of each and every costume. These were certainly not thrown together the night before the con, am I right? How long were you working on Scarecrow?
I have been in the pre-convention crunch before so I tried to avoid that as much as possible with a design this complex. I think I did my first fabric shopping around last December or January and got started on pieces right away. Each month I’d start on something else, buying small pieces, fabric, buttons/buckles, I wanted to get as much done as I could as soon as possible.
I think there are a lot of last-minute cosplayers reading this envying your motivation.
I bet there are. We had a few members of our group scrambling to finish the days leading up to our reveal, but I couldn’t afford to do that.
We can all sympathise with them! Imagine the pressure of living up to the other phenomenal costumes in this group!
There were definitely a few people worried about if their costumes would be “steampunk enough”.
So, you mentioned you’ve felt the pre-con pressure previously. Tell us a little about your personal cosplay career. How long have you been in the game?
I’ve only been cosplaying for a little while. I’ve helped my roommate out with a few of her cosplays, but my first official cosplay wasn’t until wondercon in Anaheim, Ca this past March.
But I did go to school for fashion design so it’s not like I started with no background.
That we have in common! Your experience definitely shows in the details of Scarecrow.
Thank you! Wverall I think scarecrow has about 8 garments/accessories that I had to make. Only the boots, a puff tie, and a pair of suspenders are things I bought and didn’t modify.
You’ve got to have a favourite piece!
To be honest, almost every piece has something about it that would make it my favourite.
I’d say that’s the mark of a job well done! It’s easy to forget that all of these costumes are custom designs. How did you work on your design for Scarecrow?
I looked at every version of scarecrow I could find. Every comic book, tv show, movie, and video game. I drew 4-5 concept sketches and took my favorite elements from each
The vest and overcoat are very tailored pieces but have multiple straps and buckles on them because I was watching batman begins and Dr. Crane appears at the end riding a horse and the straight jacket that he was wearing was hanging off of him like a cloak. All the straps were dangling off of him so I decided to incorporate that straight jacket feel into it.
And thus a bad ass scarecrow was born! One of my favourite things about your costume is the fabric choice. The layers of different colours and textures gives it a great depth that is definitely screen-worthy.
I’d pay a lot of money to see a DC Steampunk fan film!
I had about 12 different fabrics in the whole costume. Almost every version of scarecrow also looks very patchwork in his costume design, so I made my pants completely patchwork. I cut out every piece I needed and sewed them all together, topstitched them, and then did tight zig zag stitched across the seamlines to make it look like scarecrow had made the pants by hand.
Each section of the pants (2 front pieces, 2 back pieces) took about two hours to make, BEFORE turning them into pants.
Speaking as someone who has experienced the pain of patchwork… I know that feel, bro. What commitment!
But of course the whole thing would be nothing without the mask.
The base of the mask (what you don’t see) started as just a blank plastic face mask. I then added an industrial gas mask and a single goggle, taped the pieces into place, then covered the whole thing with fiberglass and laminating resin before painting and adding the head cover.
Then my friend Johnny (the Riddler) constructed a respirator with a clock motor inside so the gears on it would move….we wrapped that piece in leather and added it to the mask with rivets and buttons.
An impressive result! I’m certain it’s a piece that will be coveted by many a Scarecrow cosplayer to come.
I’m actually interested to see how many people try and do this design… though I encourage any cosplayer out there to try and make a design that is more YOU.
That is certainly the most inspiring aspect of DC Steampunk in my opinion. The fact that you have all given parts of yourself to these timeless characters. It makes me want to get designing!
Glad to hear. I actually chose Steampunk Scarecrow because nobody had ever tried it before, so I really had a blank canvas to work with.
Being a part of a cosplay group is a unique experience, making a commitment to others is totally different to finishing a costume for yourself. Clearly DC Steampunk is a shining example of a successful group effort. Do you have any advice for cosplayers wanting to work in a group?
Well, everyone has to be open to collaboration, in our group we encourage everyone to submit concept sketches and progress photos, and then it’s an open forum for other members to give suggestions. Also, make sure that you work well with the people you’re in a group with because one bad apple can split the entire group. We have established a three person “committee” in our group to handle any issues or disputes that come up within the group, some groups that have one leader or no leader tend to break apart or have drama because of one person’s opinion. Our leadership works together to come up with a best case scenario for the whole group.
An excellent idea, and the kind of professional approach that leads to success *and* happy little cosplayers.
Thanks so much for giving us an insight into your fantastic group! I think I speak for us all when I say I can’t wait to see more from you all in the future.
Well, we’re hoping to have a few new members join us at the Comikaze expo in Los Angeles in September.