The Classic Batman TV series, to my memory was my first real exposure to superhero media- my parents were both the right age to watch the show growing up, and around the time I was 4 or 5 I remember knowing when Batman would air on TV land in the evenings. Even as a kid I remember loving how over-the-top the show was, even being amazed that the Batmobile had its own computer. I’d watch the movie very frequently on DVD on car rides, the Shark Repellant Bat-Spray and the bomb run scenes especially stuck with me (as I’m sure they do most people) I had watched all the movies that came after it, and though I thought they were great, Adam West always immediately came to mind whenever I’d think of Batman.
What I did NOT really expect though was the level of interaction that this character can evoke at conventions. The bomb was always a clear accessory choice to bring to conventions because of how famous that scene is, but I remember the first time I wore the costume this incredible thing happening where I decided to lift the bomb over my head and start running, and the crowds of people IMMEDIATELY recognized what was happening and parted to allow me through. In those moments, it felt like even more of my responsibility to bring the spirit of the Bright Knight as much as I could.
My absolute favorite part about wearing it, especially at New York Comic Con, is the discussions I get to have with people about the show. I don’t think i really understood just how special this version of Batman was to so many people beforehand. Getting to talk wit people about fond memories of their childhood watching the show as it released, perhaps people recalling being introduced to the show by their own parents, and parents explaining who Adam West and his Batman were always bring a smile to my face, knowing that all sorts of extremely different people share similar fond memories as I do with the character makes me happy to have brought the suit out and been able to put a nostalgic smile on their face. At this year’s NYCC when I wore it, perhaps my favorite memory in it was a father asking me to take a photo with his young son, who was dressed in a Pattinson style batman outfit- there was just some symbolism present there that reminded me of how crazy this incredible cross-generational impact of Batman as a character is, and makes me think about how much of that wouldn’t have happened had Adam West never put on the cowl.
I think costumes have played a major part in my life since a young age. I remember my mother used to make me costumes or elaborate on store bought ones for me, Ihad a Peter Pan she had made from scratch, and I remember felt “cowboy boot” spats she made for my Woody costume when i was about 4, Buzz Lightyear chest and back armor (with wings!) out of craft foam, the list goes on. I loved wearing them around the house well out of traditional season for Halloween costumes, and even when she wasn’t outfitting me i was outfitting myself- I’d put together what a lot of people would now consider closet cosplay to watch Bob the Builder, tossing together my toy toolbox and hard hat, denim overalls and a plaid shirt to watch the show in character, cannibalizing cardboard boxes to make Hylian shields to hold while I played Ocarina of Time on my Nintendo 64, and pestering my mother and grandmother to find me Ash Ketchum’s Pokemon league hat (something I would not have until i was 16), i already loved actualizing the characters in the media I enjoyed.
think the first major milestone “stepping stone” costume to me today came in 2002 when i got my first Rubie’s Spider-Man costume from the first Tobey Maguire movie. I had SUCH a love-hate relationship with this suit- I adored it in concept and that it allowed me to be Spider-man, I loved that it had the “brick” patterning that my 6 year old brain had already memorized as part of the “real deal”, perhaps from staring at the display in my local Blockbuster for too long, but I hated that it had no gloves or boots, that the back was tie together and didn’t have the red spider on it, that the lenses were printed on the mask and eye and nose holes had been punched into the fabric. I couldn’t do much to fix it at that point, but I would certainly constantly think about it. I got a spare pair of toy spider-man gloves from a friend i added onto the suit and strapped the silly string web shooters onto my arms- while i couldn’t do much more at the time, i was already thinking of ways to modify and upgrade- it also didn’t hurt that my grandmother and mother had taught me basic hand sewing techniques around this time in my life.
osplay as a thing really didn’t even sneak onto my radar until around late high school to early college, I had work some costumes for a summer camp I’d worked at, I think I saw the 501st legion at an event or two and was impressed, but mainly I learned about it online, i found myself specifically drawn to the superhero community first, mainly out of interest for characters like Captain America, Batman and Spider-Man. I really started seriously doing costume making, modification, all that stuff around this time- I was in college still earning an engineering degree, taking some interest in 3d modeling and printing and met a few friends with similar interests, both in school and on online communities. I had mainly started in the Captain America sphere, quickly also branched into Batman over the next couple years, moving from small time modifications to 3d models and prints, casting up rubber pieces in association with friends, learning about garment construction and starting to design and make my own pieces, and i suppose the rest is history! I think for me at least, I keep at it for a variety of reasons- I still love bringing these characters from the media i love into some tangible existence, but i also love the “hunt” almost of actualizing it- the problem solving that comes with everything, wether its developing a technique to best mimic a type of weathering, figuring out the best component or designing something to address an issue in a costume’s form or functionality, even elaborating on things other people have discovered in their own work I find to be a very rewarding experience. I like that i constantly feel like I’m pushing the envelope and developing and elaborating on my skills in tangible ways, and I love being able to do that and sort of show off my work and enthusiasm about the characters I costume and do so in a way that allows other people to show their enthusiasm and love for the characters and stories as well.