Nightcrawler – Photo Credit: KnightMage
● Please tell us your name and where you are based.
Michael “Knightmage” Wilson -Youngstown, Ohio
● How long have you been cosplaying?
Since 2012 (9 Years)
● What characters have you cosplayed the most?
To date I’ve cosplayed close to 275 characters from various genres.
1. What made you decide to cosplay?
It started in the fall of 2011. I’ve always loved Halloween and dressing up. That year I wanted to be Green Lantern John Stewart but that wasn’t a costume you could find at a Halloween store so I had to piece it together myself. After doing the Halloween partying thing a friend of mine asked if I could make an appearance at his Relay For Life Cancer Walk as Green Lantern. I went and had a blast.
Gizmoduck – Photo Credit – KnightMage
Soon after I got asked if I could make another appearance at an event then another. I ended up making other cosplays for these events such a Batman, Captain America and Spider-Man. Every weekend in 2012 was spent doing a charity event. At the end of 2012 I went to my very first convention and I was hooked as soon as I walked on the floor. I knew of conventions and that people dressed up but I had no idea how vast the convention/cosplay world truly was. Now cosplay for me is 50% about the art and 50% about being able to give back through it.
Lion-O Photo Credit – Knightmage
2. What do you do for your day job or hobbies?
My Day job is a Deputy Sheriff for the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office. I’ve been in Law Enforcement for 21 Years now. Aside from cosplaying, which has now become my passion, my other hobbies are fitness and relaxing with a good movie.
The Mask – Photo Credit: KnightMage
3. Which of your cosplays have been the most challenging and/or the most rewarding and why?
This is always a tough question as each cosplay has presented different difficulties. I could say that my “next one” is always the most challenging because my mind is constantly thinking of things to do next. I’m also always looking to challenge myself creatively with materials and techniques.
Photo Credits: Predator – SF Design
Most rewarding I would have to say is Predator. It’s the one I use when I want to show that cosplay can be an expensive hobby but it doesn’t have to be. As a policy, I budget every cosplay I do. On average it’ll cost me between $75 – $150 but my absolute max is $250. There’s certain characters that you can get wrapped up in creating and before you know it you’ve got hundreds of hours and a few hundred dollars invested. Predator is one of those fandoms. When it was all said and done I spent $125 and it took 4 days making it.
But what really opened my eyes and made me proud was that MAN AT ARMS; Reforged, a popular YouTube show about Baltimore Knife and Sword Complany who recreates weapons from various video games, comics and movies sought me out to be their Predator for their Predator Wrist Blade episode. That really showed me that in the end it’s not always about the money you put into something but rather the heart.
Darkseid – Photo Credit – KnightMage
4. What is the best advice you would give to other cosplayers of color specifically?
Be unapologetically you! Don’t get caught up on the “I can’t be that character because” train of thought. Know that at the core, cosplay is nothing more than your fan art of the character and there’s no wrong way to do fan art. A character can be envisioned a thousand different ways depending on the director, artist, writer, actor, or art form that’s doing the character. Cosplayers are no different as we’re artists in our own right. Something I always say is that my goal isn’t to replicate someone else’s vision, my goal is to make you believe the character always looked like me.
Spawn – Photo Credit: KnightMage
5. What’s one thing could the cosplay community can do better when dealing with one another? – Realizing that we’re all on our own journey. There’s no wrong way to cosplay and there’s no wrong way to use it. If you buy your costumes or make them. If you do it as a hobby, or a profession or for charity. Whatever makes that person happy should be the focus. In the end, what someone else eats won’t make me sh*t.