You all know Kate as IMJ’s own Manga Girl!™, but did you know Kate is also an amazing cosplayer? I can’t believe the wonderful costumes she’s put together– and have always been fascinated by her story. Enjoy her interview and look for her next Manga Girl!™ column coming soon!
Best ~ Deanna
1. Tell me a little about yourself– who you are and what you do.
Hi! I’m Kate Martin, and I am an author, a dance teacher, and an adjunct writing professor. I write fantasy novels and short stories of all shapes and sizes, and largely got my start with fan fiction– oh, that lovely extension of anime where anything is possible! Favorite anime/manga are: Sailor Moon, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, 07-Ghost, Ouran High School Host Club, Sword Art Online, and of course, my guilty pleasure, Dragon Ball Z– among many others.
2. Why did you start cosplaying?
My first conventions I didn’t dress up. I wanted to see what the whole thing was about before I dove in head first. But as I watched everyone else wander around in their awesome cosplays, having their picture taken, and just generally making favorite characters come to life, I started to get the itch to do it myself. Now I wonder why I wasted so many years not cosplaying!
3. What was your first?
My first cosplay was Sailor V. I chose her because she felt comfortable (in high school my friends and I all identified with one of the Sailor Senshi, and Sailor Venus was me). It also helped that her outfit isn’t overly revealing. It was a great choice for a first time. The look went over well, I was recognized by people, and had my picture taken a lot. It felt good. I was hooked.
4. What is your favorite?
I don’t know if I have a strong favorite yet. Sailor V is near and dear to my heart, but the Milla Maxwell (Tales of Xillia) that I just did this past year is really cool, and a lot of fun to wear. (And a little more daring). I’ve also gone as Applejack from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and while the costume is incredibly simple, it’s proven to be pretty popular as well.
5. What’s your dream role to cosplay?
Sailor Venus. I know I’ve been Sailor V, and they are technically the same character, but I really want to have a great Sailor Venus cosplay someday. Mostly for nostalgic reasons.
6. Tell me a little about your process from developing to construction.
I start by googling characters I think would be a good cosplay–someone I already look like in some way. Once I find someone, I google cosplay costumes that I can commission. Haha. I’ve bought all my cosplays so far, and then I make adjustments or add details where needed. Sailor V needed the right shoes, and I plan on making a new choker. Milla needed to be taken in, and I want to redo the boots at some point (didn’t have time before I wore it this summer, but the boots I have worked out fine). Wigs are new to me, so I’m still searching for the perfect one for Sailor V, but regardless I had a lot of fun picking them out, and styling them. My friend is my hair dresser, and I’m no fool– I have her cut the bangs on the wigs. All in all, I guess my process is to make the best of the resources I have access to.
7. What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Hmm… This is a tough one. For me, since I’ve been commissioning as much as I can (leave it to the people who have already perfected this) I guess the hard part is sometimes altering the costume so that it’s truly a perfect fit. Milla has a lot of faux-leather pieces, and they all needed to be taken in–and I did it all by hand.
The other thing that’s been a bit of a challenge is getting wigs the right color. Shopping online means the pictures may not always be what they seem. It’s taken some trial and error and a lot of research.
8. Oftentimes spectators are amazed and quite complimentary. What kind of reactions have you had? What was your favorite reaction?
Oh, let’s see… This summer I was told I was “rockin’ that outfit” (Milla). Really, just being stopped and asked for a picture is a great compliment! I’ve also been told I am a “perfect Sailor V” and that means a lot. I’m a believer that if you’re going to cosplay you might as well do it right, and look like the very character come to life. This summer a little girl wanted her picture with me as Sailor V– that was a definite highlight.
9. Give us one pro-tip for creating your look.
Find the right wig. Wigs can make or break a cosplay a lot of times. Plus, once you put on that wig, and your own look is gone, you really start to feel like your character. Also, know your own creation limits. There are a lot of great creative people out there who do commissions for reasonable prices. If you really want to cosplay, but aren’t so great with sewing, or with making the necessary accessories (swords, armor, etc) then seek some help. Start small and teach yourself little by little as you go along.