First Name & Last Initial: Joshua B.
Where are you from originally, or where do you reside currently: I was born and raised in Forest Grove, OR; and currently live in Memphis, TN.
How long have you been cosplaying: About 11 years.
Characters cosplayed: Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Spider-Man, Batman, Tyranno Ranger (MMPR).
1. What inspired you to start cosplaying?
I attended Dragon*Con in 2005. How could you not cosplay after that? Every costume there looked amazing, and the amount of detail and care that went into each one gave me the drive to do it as best as I could.
2. What do you do when you are not cosplaying?
I’ve been playing guitar for 17 years and recently started to learn to play lap steel. Firearms have always been a big part of my life; I was state certified as an instructor in 2005 and currently enjoy shooting Cowboy Action. It lets me combine cosplay (in this case cowboy costumes) and competitive shooting. My newest hobby is racing and building FPV quadcopters. It’s an exhilarating sport experience I can safely enjoy from my wheelchair.
3. What costumes have provided the biggest challenge and rewards so far and why?
My main cosplay that will never be finished and has been the most challenging is Batman. I’ve gone through a variety of suits, masks, gloves, belts, etc. There are so many options and design choices, I could keep changing it and never run out. I have very little skill when it comes to creating my own stuff so the biggest challenge is having to heavily rely on friends and other cosplayers that are incredibly talented to help bring my vision to life. I am proud of the way it has turned out so far.
4. What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying?
Just do it and don’t worry about how it looks or what other people think. Make the best costume you can and wear it proudly. The more you do it, the more you learn, and the better it gets.
5. What is one thing the cosplaying community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other?
The cosplay community has been nothing but good to me. They’ve been incredibly helpful and supportive of my adventures into the realm of cosplay. Every once and awhile I’ll come across a few negative Nancy’s but nothing out of the normal for any group of people.
6. What challenges have you faced as a disabled cosplayer?
I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced is my own self. It can be quite intimidating to put spandex on and go put in public dressed up like a superhero. Adding the fact that my wheelchair draws attention to itself on its own, it can be a little overwhelming at first. Seeing the smiles on people’s faces takes care of any of those feelings pretty instantly.
7. Do you find that you are treated any differently from other cosplayers because of your wheelchair/disability?
I’ve definitely been treated differently because of the wheelchair. It’s mostly positive though, “good for you” type stuff. It’s not something you see all the time and it reminds them that we (the handicapped) are not all that different. I’ve also heard my share of negative stuff, but I’ve never let it get to me. I’m sure whether you’re disabled or not, you get your share of hecklers when you cosplay.
8. What would you say to other disabled individuals who are skeptical about cosplaying because of their challenges?
I would say don’t let your disability decide what you cosplay. If you want to use your disability in your cosplay then use it – but don’t feel required too. Cosplay the character you want and are going to enjoy. People will respond positively if they can see the hard work and love you put into it.
Photo credit for the Batman shots goes to Bryce Robbins.