Strange Love: Feel the Love--of Cosplay--with our January 2020 Bombshell of the Month

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Strange Santi, Bombshell 2020 01

Every month the staff at Critical Blast combs the cosplay community for up-and-coming cosplayers who deserve to have a broader audience for their work, taking into account not only costuming skills and spirit, but also how they use that ability in service to others. Through this, we've not only met some talented cosplayers, but also some fine human beings. And we could not think of a better exemplar of the spirit of cosplay than this talented fellow from Argentina, who kicks off our new year of cosplay greatness.

It's a brand new year, and Critical Blast is going to fill it with bombshells! So let's get started.

Ladies and gentlement, it is our great pleasure to introduce you to the...

 

Critical Blast Bombshell, January 2020

Strange Cosplay


The Anti-Monitor (DC COMICS, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS)

What is your interest in cosplay?

Cosplay is art. Cosplay speaks out and makes a new reality. When I’m portraying a character, I’m making a statement: this represents me. This character defines me, its style, its author, its legacy. Maybe this character held me up in a tough moment. Maybe this character represents ideals I’m aligned with. Maybe this character was an important lesson I learned. Or maybe something trivial, maybe this character’s design I love. Either way, it’s a way to express something about me, to tell people, “THIS is who I am. This is what I stand for. This is what I feel.”

And there’s something more. There’s a childlike sensation when seeing a cosplayer. It’s that feeling a child gets when meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. They’re not thinking, “What a great costume.” They’re thinking that’s the actual character, standing in front of them! In a convention, I get that stare from grown people, a spark that ignites that kind of imagination: “I’m standing next to Galactus!” “This comic panel came to life!” “It’s straight outta the page!” This kind of magic you only get cosplaying.

And finally, I love crafting stuff from raw materials to tri-dimensional actual objects. It’s like magic, like alchemy. There was nothing, and suddenly there was a character. A Doctor Frankenstein’s kind of sensation: “it’s alive. It’s ALIVE!!!”.

How did you get into cosplay, and what was your first cosplay experience?

Back in 2005, a local Star Wars event was held at my hometown because of the release of the “final” Star Wars movie. There was a costume contest, and as I am a huge Star Wars fan, thought I should give it a try. Very amateurish, very improvised, but a nice Jedi Knight was born that day. Couldn’t compete though! I didn’t know it, but the contest was for small schoolers only!

Later, I had other experiences making costumes for Halloween parties. But 2012 was the first time I attended a major con in another town. I was blown away by the costumed people. That was my first taste at actual cosplay. I decided I needed to attend again next year, but as a costumed performer myself. And I did, as Galactus.

I stole every look. It was exhilarating! One of the best experiences of my life. People couldn’t believe it. I even had a Silver Surfer figure on my shoulder, and when people noticed it, they went properly nuts. This time I took part in the contest, but lost the first place to an applause meter that preferred God of War’s Kratos over me. However it was awesome. Dream fulfilled 100%.

How has your cosplay evolved since you began?

Well primarily my craft has evolved, my skills with armor have grown, and my criteria when choosing materials and methods. I’ve developed a sense of how much time will take to make something, and that’s very helpful when planning or scheduling.

Other thing I’ve developed is empathy. Something happens when you start cosplaying. You can feel the weight of the craft and empathize with beginner cosplayers. When you’re at a con and see one cosplayer having trouble, you step right in. I’ve had lots of, “Here, let me help you, this strap is loose,” or similar. And I found myself running towards a cosplayer with a tube of glue or scissors or whatever they needed without them asking.
It’s incredible, actually. We support ourselves because we know it’s such hard work, often done by yourself, often frowned upon, often misunderstood. We know how it feels, so we show that support to our fellow crafters and performers to show they’re not alone.

It’s beautiful.


Doctor Stephen Strange (MARVEL COMICS)

What is your "secret identity" outside of cosplaying?

I am a full-fledged nerd. I’m an illustrator. I majored in graphic design, but drawing is what I do for a living. I’ve done theater, radio drama, stand-up comedy, and am currently introducing myself into action figure customisation. I’m also a fully committed tabletop roleplaying game master. I live in Argentina! That’s a large country at the south end of South America. My native language is Spanish, so please excuse my English.

My love for art has shown me that everyone’s got it inside their hearts to make art, and I love every form of expression, regardless of skill, because not drawing “properly” is so stigmatized and I don’t support that. Everyone has to start somewhere, and there’s no right or wrong. You draw like you draw, and it’s beautiful. This same concept applies to cosplay.

What kind of social or charity activities do you get involved in with your cosplay?

I’m not currently engaging in any social activities beside conventions. There’s regardless a huge local group (which my girlfriend is a part of) that visits hospitals, and their work is incredible.


The Vault Dweller (FALLOUT)

Do you make as much of your own costume as possible or rely on purchased materials -- and is that important overall to cosplaying? 

I rarely buy props or armor. I’ve once or twice bought some 3D-printed accessories, but nothing of significance. What I do buy are the textiles and clothing. I usually work with a designer who I commission the clothing of my characters.

But armor and props, that’s what I’m good at. I try to make as much of the costume as I can. I consider that to be important in some degree, yes. Cosplaying for me is a form of art that encompasses many actions. Crafting the costume is one of them. Another is playing the character. Another is choosing a character that’s important for you. Another is actually wearing the thing. The combination of any two of these becomes cosplay. Any of those by itself is a different activity. Crafting a costume is building, playing a character is acting, choosing a character is just being a fan, wearing the costume is just putting on funny clothes. When you combine any of those, you start to get a feel of what cosplay is:

I love this character, so I bought a costume. I love acting and this character. I make costumes for a living, only characters that I love. I crafted a costume and I’m wearing it for some pics, tho I will not be playing the character, I love the process of creating a costume and wearing it. Cosplay is a lot of things, but it is primarily passion.

What's your favorite cosplay, your "go to" look that you just love to put on and act out?

So many! Foremost Doctor Strange. I became known with that one! That’s why my name is now Strange.Cosplay. I love my FALLOUT Vault Dweller cosplay as well. I think they both represent me as a whole: comics, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, rpg, videogames, props, acting. The whole thing.

Doctor Strange is one of my favorite characters of all time, and FALLOUT is one of my favorite videogames of all time.

I love when people comes up to me and just engage in conversation about the character. It fills me with joy! It’s like long lost siblings finding themselves again. It’s a big family. We’re all outcasts, until we’re not. It’s affection. It’s love.

Where can people go to find you online?

You can find me at @strange.cosplay, @strange.illustration and @strange.toys on instagram! I’m on etsy as Strange.Craftworks, and on Behance as Strange Santi. Or just Google "Strange Santi" and follow everything that comes up! Thank you so much for having me!