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:
Liana Richardson from Philadelphia, PA
Originally from Portland, Maine and now living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Liana Richardson has quickly blossomed as both a costumer and as a cosplayer. She began honing her talents in the hobby only a couple of years ago, but she’s coming along quickly, as can be seen in her female Nightwing costume.
Not only do her talents lie in the creation of the outfits she wears, but she seems very comfortable in front of the lens as well; displaying a lot of fun and enjoyment in her photos.
Liana was kind enough to grant us an interview and we jumped at the chance! Take a read and learn more about this very talented young lady…
When did you begin cosplaying?
I began cosplaying in June 2011.
What made you decide that it was something that you wanted to do regularly?
I’ve always been very creative, but prior to 2011 I had never sewn anything more than tears in my clothing. I had never used a sewing machine, and no one in my family had sewing experience. I taught myself to hand sew and that’s how I’ve made each costume. In fact, I only started learning to machine sew a few weeks ago. I jumped right in, creating Poison Ivy in a little under a week. When I put on the first costume I’d ever made I was absolutely thrilled. I was addicted to the creativity of the hobby before I even went to a convention.
Do you make all of your own costumes and which was the most satisfying to make?
Yes I make all my own costumes, and usually from scratch. I think the most satisfying costume to complete was my Arkham City Harley Quinn. It was only the second costume I ever made, and I was in way over my head trying to make that corset. In the end it came out well and I was super proud of myself for tackling that with no experience.
You look great in your cosplay photos, have you ever done any fashion modeling work?
Nothing professional. I’ve always been interested in photography, and I take many of my own cosplay photos. I’ll do mini shoots for myself here and there, but I’ve never done anything serious. I’m open to the idea and looking for potential opportunities though!
Which are some your favorite costumes that you’ve worn?
I think my favorite costumes are Nightwing, Wonder Woman, and Duke Nukem, in that order. When I’m Nightwing I can be tough and sexy, which is an awesome combination. It’s a genderbend that really makes sense to me, and I can still portray his personality fairly accurately as a woman. In other words, it’s not just senselessly sexy. Wonder Woman is an icon, and there’s no better feeling than a child asking for a picture or an autograph from their favorite hero. And as for Duke, it’s the only appropriate attire for when I kick ass and chew bubblegum.
Did you grow up in a nerdy/geeky environment?
Somewhat. My parents aren’t particularly geeky, but my older brother was a video game geek. Trying to impress him is probably why I started gaming. I stumbled across my uncle’s old comics in the attic at a fairly young age, and that’s what got me into them. Oddly enough I consider myself a DC fangirl now, but I grew up reading Silver Sable, X-Men, X-Factor and Silver Surfer.
Did you consider yourself a nerd or geek while growing up and do you now?
Most definitely. I’ve always been a quirky geeky weirdo, and I’m proud of it. In elementary school I only had crushes on the boys who drew the best dragons, or knew the most about the Teen Titans. Haha, not much has changed.
What’s the geekiest thing you’re proud of?
Well I don’t know if I’m proud of it anymore, but for most of my childhood I bragged that I’d have an interspecial marriage with Sonic the Hedgehog. Now I’m proud of my favorite signed comics and things like that. I also have a pretty impressive collection of Star Wars figurines.
What are some of your current favorite videogames & comics?
As far as video games go, I love anything Zelda, Morrowind, Skyrim, Fallout (I’d take 3 over New Vegas any day though), Mortal Kombat, the Conflict games for gamecube (especially Conflict: Desert Storm), Left4Dead, etc. I’ve always loved a few older games as well, including Ghost Lion and Breath of Fire (3’s my favorite). For comics I’m currently into Magdalena, Saga, Green Lantern, Supergirl, and Freshman!
I see that you’re also a belly dancer, what attracted you to that and do you perform regularly?
I’m a very artistic person and belly dance to me is art through movement. It’s absolutely mesmerizing to me, no matter who’s dancing or what their skill level is. I don’t perform much anymore, unfortunately, but I’m looking to get back into it this summer.
What keeps you wanting to do more in terms of cosplaying?
I don’t have a choice, I need it in my life! Cosplay is so much fun, and it never stops challenging me. It’s an addiction, I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop.
What’s one of your most memorable moments while cosplaying?
One of my most memorable moments cosplaying is probably from Boston Comic Con 2013, when I was cosplaying Ariel. I felt someone touch my butt and I whipped around thinking it was some creep. I looked down and there was the sweetest little girl in the world staring back up at me with these big doe eyes. She wanted to get a picture with her favorite Princess, and I was so thrilled to share that moment with her. It’s such an honor being able to impersonate such meaningful characters and be a part of memories like that.
I completely agree with your statement on Facebook about stopping slut shaming, do you still see a lot of people who don’t “get it” and is it just as bad with women doing it as well as men?
Oh don’t even get me started. I definitely think slut shaming is more common amongst women than men. It’s normal for us ladies to be jealous, but bashing others for the way they dress, the character they’re cosplaying, or their sexual behavior is demeaning and absolutely 100% wrong and unjustified. Us ladies need to respect each other before we can expect respect from men.
Have you ever had any bad experiences with people at conventions or while cosplaying?
Nothing too terrible, but I’ve had a few creepy guys saying inappropriate things and that always makes me uncomfortable. For the most part it’s always a positive experience.
How do you find the time to create all the costumes that you do?
I definitely struggle! I’m a full time student and I work while at school. When I’m home I waitress full time at a breakfast restaurant. It can seem impossible at times, but it’s something I’m passionate about so I always find time for it.
Do you have any cosplayers that you look up to?
All of them! I learn things from every cosplayer I meet, no matter how experienced they are. I love Nicole Marie Jean’s work, as well as Destiny Nickelsen, Jessica Nigri, Alychu, Cheryl Wilde, Teeny Foxx, Bethany Maddock… I can’t even list all the amazing women I look up to!
What are your thoughts on how the hobby has progressed in the last several years?
I think that the hype about fake geek girls is silly. There have been times where I’ve pouted and whined about fake geeks, but then I had to slap myself back into shape. The geek community has always been accepting of me when other communities weren’t. We have to stick together, all the hatred and judgment of others is what pollutes the community. There is no ‘level’ of geeky that makes it okay for you to cosplay, it’s open for anyone. Besides, all the extra people symbolize money and support that’s going to my idols and my favorite conventions. We should be happy for the social and economic boom of Geekdom!
What advice do you have for a novice cosplayer?
Don’t be discouraged by your skill level. No one starts out crazy talented, and that’s not even what it’s about. Enjoy conventions, love the characters you cosplay, and make friends with all the awesome people. Just have fun.
If you could change anything since you started, what would it be?
I don’t know if I’d change anything. I mean there are small things like accidentally ruining costumes, but I don’t regret anything about the experiences. It’s been so much fun and I’ve met so many amazing people!
Do you have any new costumes that you’re working on, that you can tell us?
Yes! Catra and The Queen of the Black Puddle. Possibly Black Cat.. Meow :D
What does the future hold for you?
I have no idea. As much as I’d like to be a ‘famous cosplayer’, I’m happy with my life the way it is. Hopefully I’ll finish up school and get to work in my field, but I’ll continue going to conventions and meeting new people. I’m happy as long as I can be creative, make connections, and enjoy the things that truly matter in life. The future is a mystery and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for me!
Thanks for the interview and letting us showcase your hard work and talent, Liana. We look forward to seeing a lot more of you in the future!
Liana Richardson Links
Rodney Brown, FirstPerson Shooter
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– The Comic Book Critic