Cosplay Spotlight: Jennifer Van Damsel
Welcome back to Cosplay Spotlight! For the thirteenth edition we present to you Jennifer Van Damsel! As usual, our promise is to bring you some of the amazing work these cosplayers do, but also we will be focusing on the why’s and the how’s!
I am a new cosplayer from Houston. I don’t have many cosplays so far, but I have so many planned!
Comic Book Therapy – Thank you for taking the time out to speak to us. How have you been doing lately?
Jennifer Van Damsel – Very well, thank you. Just super busy since convention season has started.
CBT – What got you into doing cosplay?
JVD – I was going to my first comic convention, and I decided if I’m going, I’m going to “dress up!” This was before I even knew there was a cosplay community. A friend and I cosplayed the whole weekend, and I haven’t stopped since.
CBT – What is your process in choosing the characters you want to portray?
JVD – I only cosplay characters that I like, from games that I’ve played, animes I have seen, etc., so all of my cosplays mean something to me. Well, I’m sort of a nerd when it comes to organization, so every time I have an idea, I write it down in my “Cosplay Ideas” journal (yes, I have an entire journal for this purpose). When I know I’m going to a convention, I just go through the list and pick something that really speaks to me at the moment. I have way more ideas than conventions, so its’ really hard to pick sometimes. When I really can’t decide, I will post a poll on my Facebook page and let the people who are interested in my cosplay choose!
CBT – What was the first character you cosplayed as? Your favorite?
JVD – My first cosplay was a ballerina version of Zatanna and Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, Selene, at Comicpalooza in 2012. My favorite character I have cosplayed as so far is Magik, but the most fun to cosplay was Red Lantern Laira.
CBT – How long have you been making your costumes by hand?
JVD – The first thing I ever made by hand was Selene’s cape (May 2012). I had no idea how to sew or about patterns or anything, so I just winged it. Since then, costumes I’ve made entirely by hand are my B.B. Hood (Nov 2012), Laira (Aug 2012), and Dr. Strange (Jan 2013), including the Eye of Agamotto. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people that can and do make everything by hand, but if it saves me time and money to buy something and alter it (such as my denim shorts for my Western Wonder Woman), I do!
CBT – Creating costumes is very time consuming, especially when you want to make sure it’s authentic as possible. What keeps you motivated to continue and how do you handle the stress?
JVD – I just tell myself, “You have to get this done!” Usually the night before I leave for a convention is a very long one lol. I’ve even sewn in the hotel room the night before I wear something. I don’t really find cosplay stressful; I have kind of accepeted that I’m not a master seamstress, I’m still teaching myself, learning new things, so when things don’t work out perfectly, as much as I am a perfectionist, I accept it. Every new cosplay that I make, I try a new technique or learn a new craft, so I take the good with the bad!
CBT – Have you participated in any contests?
JVD – I only have twice, both at DragonCon 2012. I won Zombie Prom Queen with the help of my friend Lizzie Leigh. I really loved the idea we had and how she executed it. The other was the comic contest they held, but we just did that for fun.
CBT – What is your best Con memory?
JVD – Oh, gosh. I really can’t say that I have a favorite. At every convention, something really wonderful happens. Dancing in the tesla cage at Comicpalooza last year was a blast. I remember finding videos of it on the internet! In Albuquerque this year, I was talking to Billy Tucci and “another artist,” and Jonah Hex came up. I said how much I loved Jonah Hex; the “other artist” I had been talking to all weekend says, “Hey! I write Jonah Hex!” It was Jimmy Palmiotti! So embarrassing haha. So many good times
CBT – How would you describe yourself as a geek?
JVD – Pretty much any nerd activity you can think of, I enjoy it. I play MMOs, video games, Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, and Warmachine. I read comics, mangas, and other books (for fun!). I have comic book debates in public haha. I even work at a Comic book company, Overground Comics!
CBT – There’s been a lot of turmoil because of the “sexual” component that is being discussed amongst convention organizers that sees many cosplayers getting asked to put some more clothes or turned away because their costumes are to “risque”. How do you feel about the apparent censorship of these costumes?
JVD – I haven’t really ever thought about this in order to make an informed opinion, but I would say one thing- If everyone was just more courteous of one another, we wouldn’t have this problem. I don’t have a problem with a cosplayer wearing something sexy or risque, but before you put that on and go to a convention, just think of how there will be children there. At the same time, parents should realize there might be things at conventions they might not want their kids to see. If conventions would post a very specific “dress code” beforehand, I totally agree they should enforce it; a dress code sets the “mood” of the convention. To me, the atmosphere of say, DragonCon, is different than of Wizard World Austin. I don’t think you can treat them the same, but I also don’t think you can change the rules later.
CBT – Many Cosplayers are either into Comic Books or Manga/Anime. What are you most into? Favorite Comic or Manga/Anime?
JVD – I like both, but I read more comics. I like mature, deep animes, and it’s easier to find ones that I don’t like than I do. Favorite comic- All Star Batman and Robin. I LOVE IT! haha. I’m really sad there won’t be a continuation of it. Favorite manga- Angel Sanctuary.
CBT – Any advice you would like to offer up and coming cosplayers?
JVD – This is always my first bit of advice; I kind of touched on it earlier. Don’t be afraid to buy and edit! I know it’s a fantastic feeling being able to say you made 100% of a cosplay, and I think you should if it makes sense. But don’t make a pair of denim shorts if you can find them for $5 at a second-hand store. Don’t make a white pair of gloves if you can find them for $10 at a costume store. Most of the time you will save money, but you will always save TIME; Time you could spend paying more attention to other pieces of the cosplay!
CBT – Thank you so much for your time. Anything else you’d like for us to be on the look out for?
JVD – Lots of conventions planned this year, so that means a lot more cosplays! Keep in touch with me through my Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferVanDamsel
Hey cosplay and fellow geeks!! As the continuing interest in the cosplay world grows, we want to reach out to the cosplay community and highlight those who dedicate their time and effort to a passion for cosplay. Tell us YOUR story! If you know someone that you would like to be featured in this section let us know!
To be featured in a Cosplay Spotlight, please complete the following steps:
- Contact us at: [email protected] (Please put “cosplay” in the subject line)
- Gather 5-10 photos of you in your favorite cosplay outfits
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