There are many talented models and performers who bring their love & enthusiasm to dressing up as their favorite characters. Comic Book Critic will regularly showcase a performer who embodies this spirit of cosplaying.
Whether it’s creating the costume from scratch, altering the appearance of an existing one, or just getting into character, these performers spend a lot of time and effort on their craft. As much as we all enjoy seeing our favorite fictional characters represented in real life, let’s not forget the behind-the-scenes work that goes into that portrayal.
One thing is for certain though, their love of cosplaying shines through in their work.
The Comic Book Critic Featured Cosplayer Interview this week is:
Kelldar from Memphis, TN
Costuming and performing for over a decade, the superbly talented Kell “Kelldar” Stark from Memphis, TN is a veteran cosplayer. Not only does she have a very large array of costumes, they span many different genres; influenced by movies, comics, TV, literature, and historical figures, her work is very high quality.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity ask Kelldar some questions about her amazing costumes and her experience in the art of cosplaying.
This week’s feature is jam-packed with photos of Kelldar. Since she has so many costumes and uniforms, we decide to concentrate mostly on her comic book character costumes. If you have plenty of time to spare, check out her Facebook page and her website for an enormous selection of fine costumes. You’ll be glad you did!
I see that you’ve been doing this for over a decade and have quite a variety of costumes. Do you remember the first costume that you made for yourself?
It was Quistis Trepe from Final Fantasy 8. My grandmother and mom helped me make it for Halloween. I didn’t wear a wig, and it included a pair of velour brown pants and black rainboots, and tassels instead of chains hanging on the skirt because I didn’t know where to buy chains.
I actually got a wig, different boots and pants and re-wore to a convention five or six years later just for fun.
What made you decide cosplaying was something you wanted to pursue?
I think it was always part of my genes and just waiting to come out. Halloween was always a big deal when I was a kid, my parents would go all out for their Halloween parties. They also took me to the local sci-fi con when I was a kid, and one year my mom made a Star Trek TNG uniform for me to wear. I went to college for illustration, and I think costuming and prop-making just became another creative outlet for me.
Have you done any modeling work outside of cosplay?
Not really; my husband’s a photographer, so sometimes I end up standing in for something he wants to do. Generally if I’m not in costume I don’t want a camera pointed at me, haha.
Of all the costumes that you’ve created, which were the most satisfying for you?
Out of all of them, I’d pick Marie Antoinette. Sometimes I just like to pull it out and stare at it, I’m so happy with it. It was very nearly a disaster; I colour of fabric I got was completely wrong. I had to re-design the entire concept and accessories and supplies I’d already bought for the original concept no longer worked. But in the end it was worth it, because thanks to the colour, I also got make some extra TARDIS accessories for it, combining my love of Doctor Who with the costume!
You’ve won many awards for your costuming in the past, what are your thoughts on those?
I’ve won some cool stuff, and competing in costume contests gives you a fantastic chance to meet other costumers. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized competing is not really what I want to do, I’d rather spend the several hours I’d have dedicated to a costume contest hanging out with my friends and enjoying the convention.
Who are some your favorite characters to portray?
Princess Leia is one; I adored her as a kid so growing up and getting to “be” Princess Leia through the Rebel Legion is really awesome. I also love Wonder Woman, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast for much the same reason. Donna Noble has become a more recent favourite; I apparently have a slight resemblance to Catherine Tate, so that it makes it doubly fun.
Do you choose the characters to portray because they fit your personality or do you like to challenge yourself by playing an altogether different personality from yours?
I don’t really play the characters I costume as; but I would say nearly any character I pick has some aspect of their personality that I wish I could have. I’m an admittedly shy person, so “being” Wonder Woman, or Leia, or any number of strong women I’ve costumed, is because I admire them. Out of the characters I’ve done, I’d say I’m most like Fluttershy from My Little Pony in real life. (Though if you asked my cousin, he’d say Hermione because I’m “bossy like her”!)
Do you read comics or play video games and which are your favorites?
I grew up on X-Men and the X-Titles and they’re still favourites, along with Avengers and anything related to Thor. I had to stop actively buying issues a couple of years ago, but I still occasionally pick up single issues here and there when I can. Mostly, though, you’ll find me re-reading my old issues and borrowing trade paperbacks from friends. Just like with favourite novels, I like re-reading my favourite storylines.
I’m still stuck in the past with video games. I still play Battlefront 1 and 2 all the time – my PS2 is in my sewing room so sometimes when I should be sewing I’m laying on the floor playing battlefront. I also replay Final Fantasy 7 every year or so. I love the Lego games, Sims and Animal Crossing, too, and occasionally my husband will convince me to play Call of Duty with him.
I see that you’re a member of the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion – MidSouth Garrison & Corellian Base, what requirements do you have to meet & what does that entail?
You have to have a screen-accurate costume, be able to attend an event once a year, and be over 18 years of age – that’s it. There are garrisons/bases for nearly every corner of the world so you can always find some member near you who can help you build your costume, plus the local forums are chock full of information. Just reach out to a member and they can point you in the right direction.
It’s a lot of fun. We do a lot of charity events, hospital visits, and of course conventions. I’ve gotten to do a lot of amazing things and meet a lot of amazing people (including my husband!)
Are there things that bother you about cosplaying in public?
I tend to be really iffy about putting on a costume unless I see somebody else in costume – I never want to be the only one getting stared at! Even at a con, I usually feel really weird in costume for the first few minutes when we initially walk in. Then I get comfortable with it and it’s fun.
The general public – sometimes even non-cosplaying convention folk – really don’t have a good conception of cosplaying; it’s either a fetish, or you’re “one of those Trekkie people.” For most of us it’s just artistic expression and another creative outlet.
On the other hand, what do you enjoy the most about it?
I love meeting other people who enjoy the same things I do – whether it’s the fandom I’m representing or costuming in general. Being around other costumers is the biggest inspiration I have.
In terms of the general, non-convention going public, sometimes they can surprise you. I had a long conversation with an older gentleman at a convention one year – he’d wandered into the venue after seeing people in costume and had no idea what was going on. I explained it all to him, and he was fascinated and determined to bring his grandson back the next day.
What’s one of your most memorable moments while cosplaying?
Right now the thing that first comes to mind is meeting Stan Lee last year – it was my second time meeting him and he was so sweet and funny.
Beyond that, I’d say, the time this acquaintance of mine (didn’t even know his name, just knew he was in my 501st garrison) came up behind me while I was wearing Slave Leia and tugged my braid as he walked by. He was so cute I married him 3 years later. :)
Who are some of your favorite cosplayers?
Oh Lord, I’m going to forget somebody and feel bad, so instead of trying to remember them all I’m just going to point at my list of “favs” from my facebook page.
There are SO many amazing cosplayers out there now, all doing fantastic work, it’s impossible to keep up with anymore!
What changes have you noticed in the world of cosplaying, good or bad, as it gets more mainstream?
The BEST thing that has come of it is the availability of products – it’s so much easier to find wigs and things now than it used to be!
You also have a ton of new people flooding into the hobby, bringing in new ideas and perspectives, plus a level of excitement about costuming and conventions than some of us old fogies can’t manage to muster sometimes, haha.
The worst is the overexposure and the misconceptions that go with it. Going back to what I said regarding cosplaying in public – to a lot of people, it’s either a fetish, or you’re a loser who lives in your parent’s basement. A lot of people seem to think we all live in a fantasy world, when that’s far from the truth.
You also get people coming into the hobby for the wrong reasons – thinking it’s a great way to make money. It’s not, it’s truly the money pit.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out?
Have fun and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be ashamed if your first, or second, or fourth costume is not as good as you want, you’re still learning. Make friends and just enjoy yourself, because it’s just a hobby. Stay out of drama.
If you could change anything since you started, what would it be?
Not a thing, if I hadn’t made the choices I made back then, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
Well, I take it back, I would have gotten a photo with Carrie Fisher at SDCC 2006 while I was wearing Leia instead of skipping it because I’d already gotten her autograph.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m hoping to start taking costume commissions later this year. I’ve always turned them down, but I had a realization last year that sewing is what I wish my job could be, so I’m hoping to turn it into a full time job over the next year or so.
Thanks, Kelldar, for the wonderful interview!
If you’d like to see more of Kelldar or keep up with her cosplaying adventures, check out the links below. Give her Facebook a like if you enjoy her work!
You can see more of her work at these links:
Share your thoughts about Kelldar in our comments section below!
– The Comic Book Critic