Cosplayer Spotlight: Ned and Margie Vizcarra Cox
Welcome back to another edition of the Cosplayer Spotlight! In today’s segment we feature another kick ass husband and wife team, Ned and Margie Vizcarra Cox, who are soon to be residents of Atlanta, GA!
COMIC ATTACK: You’re our second husband and wife cosplay duo to be featured on the site; how did you meet, and how did you both realize you shared a passion for cosplay?
MARGIE VIZCARRA COX: Gosh, I think we’re both crazy excited to be featured. So thanks, Andy! Ned and I met in college ROTC. We were both studying to be Army Officers. He did. I didn’t. And here we all are! That was the annotated, if you’re interested here’s the rest: The first year of our relationship was actually quite professional. He called me “Vizcarra.” I called him “Cox” and laughed a little to myself on the inside each time. Needless to say, that joke’s on me now. Anyways, we did some extreme camping in that first year, where we got all tarted up in night camo and tried to ambush each other in teams…ah, the good ole days. We did some rappelling, some classes together, but we never really talked about comics or dating.
Neither of us even thought of each other in that context until I decided to leave the program in the second year. If you’re an Officer and you’re called, you should be ready to deploy. You should never expect or demand to be a peacetime officer. I would have been fine with that as a single woman. But I kept thinking, what if I end up getting married and having a kid before they call me up? That thought really frightened me. So I took a different professional path than Ned, but oddly enough somehow it put us on the same road. It’s been a fun ride. I married my best friend and we just have a great time together. It was the best decision of my life.
Ned has been a lifelong fan of comics. I’ve always enjoyed pop media comic related stuff. I remember watching the Batman movies as a kid—and the Animated Series. Like any kid that grew up in the 90s watching Batman, I got plenty of cuts and bruises trying to jump off the couch onto our villainous dog with the curtains tied around my shoulders. But I’m embarrassed to say that I thought it was kid’s stuff and “grew” out of comics for awhile. Ned reintroduced me to comics when we started dating, the first graphic trade he let me [borrow] was Batman: Year One. I just kept reading more trades! It was like crack for me. Ned started putting together costumes. I’ll admit, I found it odd and alienating when my husband came home and said, “I think I want to dress like Batman.” But seeing him work with the kids, I understood the appeal. And being a “reborn” fan of comics and seeing people bringing the characters I love to life—it was a cool experience. I didn’t know if I could pull off wearing spandex, but I wanted to be a part of the costuming scene. So yeah, I was a fan first and costuming ended up being an outlet where I could express my fandom and talk to other people who like comics. It’s just a hobby that kind of got out of control.
CA: How long have you two been together?
MVC: Seven years.
CA: Who were the first characters you cosplayed as together? What characters have you cosplayed as since?
NED COX: We first costumed together as Batman and Catwoman nearly five years ago, and have since costumed as a variety of characters together. Aside from Batman and Catwoman, the only other “couples” costumes we’ve done were Green Lantern and Star Sapphire. However, we try to go for a theme or group dynamic when we choose costumes. For example, Flash, Black Canary, Batman, and Wonder Woman are all on the Justice League. While Margie and I do all kinds of characters on different Marvel and DC teams, it’s best to have a theme going on while walking the floor at a convention or event.
CA: How long have you both been cosplaying?
MVC: I’ve been costuming for about four years. Ned’s costumed for five I think.
CA: What costumes are you most proud of?
NC: I’m pretty self aware. Some costumes I do, such as Superman, aren’t my best and I tend to do that only at community or charity events with the Heroes Alliance. I’m not a bad Flash or Batman, but I consider myself a fairly strong Cyclops and Captain America. There are just a lot of characters that I gravitate to in terms of personality and the kind of person they are in the comics. I think Green Lantern is my best. I really identify with the character in a lot of ways and I think he’s my strongest costume.
MVC: I’ll definitely agree with Ned that some costumes are just a much bigger stretch for me than others. And some costumes were much harder to construct. It was an AWFUL movie, but I’m very proud of my movie style Elektra corset. It took me months to put together. It’s definitely the most difficult costume I’ve made from a technical perspective. I almost lost some fingers working the armor for Wonder Woman. I had to hold down a jumpy piece of metal while a friend cut around my fingers with a jigsaw. The armor turned out better than I expected it would, so I’m just very happy with it. I really like how Soranik Natu turned out although it wasn’t a particularly difficult one. I’m actually very pleased overall with how well Star Sapphire and Starfire turned out too. I had to be pretty ingenuitive to translate the designs to real life for those. At the end of the day, costuming is a lot like drag, you’re either passing or you’re not. I’m just proud if I’m passing!
CA: What characters do you each plan to take on in the future?
MVC: I really want to Trek it up and work on a Klingon and maybe a Jadzia Dax costume! I’m also going to do a Sith costume. As far as comic costumes, I’m doing a Hush Catwoman and a Young Avengers Hawkeye costume this year. I tried on my friend’s Thor wig and helmet. It made me feel like an 80s rock star, so I definitely want to work on an Asgardian character although I haven’t decided which one. I plan to do a Huntress and Lady Blackhawk sometime, but I’m not sure when. At some point, I’d also like to do a Lyssa Drak costume, but that’s far in the future, if at all. That much body paint is just very difficult to wear. She Hulk is there with Lyssa Drak. Gosh, that’s a lot and I’m probably even forgetting some.
NC: I’d like to work on upgrading or making a few changes on some costumes I have like Cyclops and Flash. The next new one I plan to look at is the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch. I’m still conceptualizing it, but I think I have an idea. I hope to have it for a convention next year. No gasoline required.
CA: What Cons have you attended in costume? Plan on attending any more this year?
NC: Dragon*Con, MegaCon, TampaCon, MetroCon, Texas Comic Con, Wizard World, and the Superman Celebration in Metropolis. We’ll probably attend the Wizard World in Atlanta later this year.
CA: Do you make all of your costumes? If so, how long do they take to complete? If not, where do you obtain them?
MVC: I put together most of mine. There are parts that I pick up here and there. Psylocke was made by Brian Parsley. My old Catwoman costume—I don’t think I did anything to that one except sit still while someone worked on the mask. Soranik Natu is one of those costumes that it started out as something purchased, but I messed it up horribly when I first got it. It was the first costume that I had to sew. I thought Ned was going to kill me, so I just found spandex online comparable to the spandex in it. A friend showed me how to work a serger, so I just went over there and ended up getting thrown into the deep end of the pool pretty quickly. It was literally like, “Here’s the serger. There’s the threading diagrams. Let me know if it gets jammed.” Ned was at training, so I didn’t tell him I messed it up until I could tell him that I fixed it too. So I’ve tweaked, redone, and upgraded pieces so many times that I don’t think there’s anything original to Soranik Natu?…Nope, it’s kind of like how all of the cells in your body die and are copied in seven years.
Some costumes don’t take that long at all. You have to order stuff. A lot of things you have to find ways to repurpose something ordinary into a costume piece. There are a few small vendors who do commissions, but I think a lot of the hobby is really learning to make things. Luckily, most people in the costuming community are very talented and friendly. I know if I don’t know how to do something, I can call several people who can probably figure it out.
NC: We make most of our costumes. A few costumes, such as Cyclops, came our way through different trades and deals. The community is very tight knit nationally and people sometimes go through costumes and are looking to hand them over to a friend. Fortunately, I’ve wanted to do a Cyclops costume for some time. Other times, we’ll commission costume parts from friends. Margie’s an extremely talented seamstress, but we might know people who are better at prop work and molding and it’s just a good idea to go through them. It’s a great benefit of being in a community like this.
CA: While in costume, have you ever met any of the creators whose characters you were portraying? What was their reaction(s)?
MVC: I have. Gail Simone and George Perez were amazing! I get a lot of kisses and hugs, and “Oh my goodness!” Sometimes, I get squeals, which is also very flattering. Ethan Van Sciver has always been very nice to me. Doug Mahnke sent me a PM one day that said that “awesome Star Sapphire costume. Looks better than how I draw it.” I’ve had bad reactions as well, but I’m always discreet about those. Most creators have been very nice. The ones who aren’t—it’s not my problem. I usually smile and say “Don’t be THAT guy” and just enjoy the rest of my con. Costuming is just too much fun to let those few weird experiences or unpleasant creators get you down.
CA: What comics do you both currently read? What are some of your all time favorites?
MVC: I find myself mostly re-reading old trades. I really miss the panel layout and how much story fit in the space. Since I’ve been writing a novel, I’ve been spending more time reading prose, although I’ve been able to squeeze some comics prose in there with Priest’s Sleepers. I read the O’Neil’s novelization of TDK, the Wonder Woman Animated Movie novelization. I find when I read a lot of comic titles and start writing my novel, it reads a little more like a screen play. But a few that I’ve read regardless are Gail Simone’s run on Wonder Woman and Birds of Prey. I really liked Rebirth, Identity Crisis, Tower of Babel, Judas Contract, No Man’s Land, Hush, Killing Joke, Batman: Year One, Long Halloween, Tales of the Demon, The Perez and Jimenez runs of Wonder Woman…Right now, I am reading the first trades of Young Avengers and Dark Tower. My favorite story of all time was Watchmen though. Comics are an illustrators medium, but being a writer, I can really appreciate how well put together and truly visceral the writing was in Watchmen. Alan Moore looks like Jesus. ‘nuff said, right?
NC: I read most DC Comics titles. I like Marvel, but it’s an apples and oranges thing and I just like apples more. DC’s characters just appeal to me more, but there are a few Marvel heroes that are great too. Superman’s my favorite character, but Green Lantern has been a solid book since Rebirth and its been my favorite every month. I enjoy a lot of newer stories like Flash: Blitz, The Sinestro Corps War, not to mention runs like Waid and Morrison on JLA, Simone on Birds of Prey and Brubaker’s Captain America. But I’m a really big fan of the classics. I can read the Teen Titans: Judas Contract story over and over again, and I love a good origin story like Batman: Year One.
CA: Who are your favorite characters?
MVC: Batman, Wonder Woman, Hal Jordan—Green Lantern, Superman, Black Canary, Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, Pieter Cross—Dr. Mid-Nite…I’ll stop at eight. Those are my favorites today. There are a lot of characters I like in the contexts of certain stories. I don’t think you can love Batman, without appreciating his villains or support network and the same with the rest of the characters. It’s the same with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps and Star Sapphire. Over time the characters have become intertwined for me.
NC: I’ve been lucky to be able to costume as my favorite characters. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Captain Marvel (SHAZAM) are my top five and I’ve worn all of them. Over at Marvel, I really like Captain America and Cyclops too.
CA: Margie, you were recently featured in Wizard Magazine. What was that all about?
MVC: I was very happy to place third with my Carol Ferris—Star Sapphire costume! I won a sketch by Phil Jimenez! Now all I need is a wall to put it on!
CA: You mentioned you’re writing a book. Care to tell us about it? Would you consider writing to be your “job”?
MVC: I’m close to wrapping up my novel. It’s a dark comedy set in a small town in the South. The main characters are named Crazy Deb and Wild Ernest. They’re quite po-dunk and heavily medicated. They end up inheriting a house in a very prestigious traditional part of town after they’re declared “uncrazy” and leave Chattahoochee Mental Institution. The forecast is sunny with a splendid chance of decapitation over sweet tea and carrot cake. I’m enjoying writing it. I hope someone enjoys reading it?
The last I heard, the first issue of mine and Eugene Selassie’s comic is set to debut at Wizard World Texas. It’s called Rock, Paper Scissors. I’m just co-writing on that one though. It’s a great story, but this one is Gene’s baby. I’m just here to cut the cord! It’s a super-powered mob story set in Chicago. It’s brutally fun and highly forensic. It’s been a blast working with Gene though. He’s very creative. I love how well our styles fuse. He’s very versatile and great with grounding a work. He has a true love of the craft and of comics. It’s funny, but we actually have the next seven years of independent comic projects planned out. The next one is my baby!
I’ve also written about four skeleton novels for Batman. I love Batman and prose. I would love to finish those one day. There’s just so much great space between where he is in the comics now and the person he is in Kingdom Come… Batman Beyond…etc. As long as the writer approaches it from an Elseworlds, out of time, platform, you could really just do a lot of great character developing stories in that empty space. I don’t want to see Batman age or change a lot in the standard continuity, but I think DC would really do well to allow writers to do more in the safety of that “great beyond future canon.” There’s really a lot of space there. I wish I could just buy a few acres to plant my beets.
I do consider writing my job. I have a Bachelor’s in English from the University of South Florida and a specialty in Creative Writing. I’ve been trained, but it’s a hard industry to break into. I’ll keep writing until I do. I very much believe that it’s important to set professional standards, especially when your field is creative. Even when you don’t have an imminent deadline, you have to establish imminent goals that you can accomplish if you want to be successful. I just hope it works out.
CA: Ned, you’re a military man; how long have you been in the service and what is your chosen branch?
NC: I’ve been an Army officer for four years. I’ve wanted to serve my country since I was a kid and I was very happy and blessed to be able to do it as an officer. I’ve met some of the finest men and women in the world in those four years and I’m very proud to have served.
CA: From your Facebook pages, you both appear to be very dedicated to the Catholic faith; do you tie your craft into religion at all?
MVC: I think my faith has shaped who I am and how I perceive the world around me. My values would be the same regardless I think. But morally, I did have to evaluate if wearing the costumes that I wear to be moral. I get so much joy from comics, costume creation, and bringing these characters into the real world, but the costumes are considered skimpy by today’s standards of modesty. My intent obviously isn’t to offend anyone. I visit sick kids in hospitals and raise money for different charities. I wear a cape and tights at community events, but sometimes people are still a little shocked. I’m unsure if Jesus would approve of my Wonder Woman costume, but I think he would appreciate the intention there. I don’t think Jesus would approve of my Star Sapphire costume, but he probably wouldn’t approve of my bikini either, so I just make sure I wear them in the appropriate arenas. I’ve often been asked whether I thought the Wonder Woman costume is sexist or empowered. It’s a lot like Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, it’s terrifyingly beautiful—bordering on offensive. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but I know it would be a crime to cover it up. There is a lot of reconciliation that goes on between my love of bringing these characters to life and my identity as a Christian. I’m very religious, but my intention has always been to be a good person and true to myself. I find religion to be secondary to true Christianity. I’m not sure if that’s right or wrong, but it’s pretty damn honest. I just live my life and try not to worry about the context in which other people view me. As far as my relationship with God goes, I’ve messed up, but I’ve loved God from the beginning—I felt that way before costuming.
CA: Have you ever cosplayed as Biblical characters before? If so, whom? And if not, whom would you like to take on?
NC: No, and we have no plans to. Our faith is very personal. Through our community and charity work, we prefer to use established comic book characters and we keep it very in-character and spiritually neutral. We aren’t afraid to show our faith, but it would not only do a disservice to the character, but might alienate the people around us or make them uncomfortable. If we preach or witness, we try to do it through our deeds rather than our words.
CA: To date, what has been your biggest challenge when cosplaying?
NC: We’ve been very blessed that we’ve been able to regularly see our friends at conventions as well as continue costuming in the community through our Heroes Alliance community events. We can’t complain too much about challenges. Certainly location was an issue now and then, but I’m sure any costumer would say the same at times.
MVC: Location, funds available, and body paint—always.
CA: Have either of you had any awkward experiences with fanboys or girls while in costume? Any horror stories you can share?
NC: Nothing too horrible for me. Then again, I don’t walk around downtown in a shiny purple bathing suit. I know Margie has plenty!
MVC: Well…yes. I have a stalker, 30 something unprovoked messages over three years propositioning me for sex and to tie him up and to beat him dressed as Wonder Woman. He also wants to rub my feet as I’ve been fighting crime in heels all day. I blocked him from 4 different social networks under several different handles SO many times. I had to talk to local police, FBI, Florida Highway patrol…what a dreaded experience. His name is Steve Kosmatka, btw and he’s from a town near Chicago. Beware.
One guy very casually asked me to make out with a nearby Catwoman my second year at Dragon Con. I was like “What?” “Kiss and hug her so I can take some photos.” “What the Hell, dude? I will Spartan kick you into a pit. Get out of here with that stuff.” He seemed genuinely upset with me.
I was Wonder Woman at Dragon Con a few years ago walking back to the Westin when a drunk woman literally stumbled upon me. She looked up and was like “You are…” “I am.” “Woah…Yeah…very pretty…” “Thank you.” “You’re very pretty…and tall…and your hair…you look just like Wonder Woman…Your boots are shiny. Can I borrow your cell phone?” “Sure sweetie.” The woman borrowed my cell phone and cussed someone out for like FIVE minutes while I stood there. It gets better. A few days after DragonCon, I get this call. “Hey, who’s this?” “Cox, Margie Cox.” “Why are you calling my boyfriend at 2 am?” After two phone calls and some back tracking, the woman realized it was her who called her boyfriend on my cell phone while she was drunk and just didn’t remember what happened. I spent the next twenty minutes of my life giving her relationship counseling.
There are so many more stories, but those are some of the crazier ones.
CA: On the flip side, what are some of your most memorable cosplay moments?
NC: Working with the Heroes Alliance is certainly the most satisfying part of this hobby. These are men and women with full time jobs or school commitments that take time out of their schedules (usually on a weekend) to visit with children at a hospital, raise money for a great cause, or support local community groups, law enforcement, and the military. On a more personal and fun level, nothing really compares to reciting the Green Lantern Oath among dozens of your fellow Lantern friends! Having George Perez sign the Captain America shield that I put hours of frustration and work into was truly special and randomly meeting Stan Lee in an elevator dressed as Cyclops is also something I’ll never forget.
MVC: Most memorable…I think my most memorable moment was with a terminal little girl in a hospital. She was very bloated from the illness or maybe medications, but she had watched Wonder Woman on the JL animated series. She was asleep when I came in and I had to scrub down and she was in this bed tent thing. Her mother encouraged me to wake her up. She tried to hold my hand and I think she tried to smile at me too. I didn’t feel at all heroic or useful, but it was a very nice moment. I’d like to say more about it, but sometimes words are just insufficient. I’ve also really enjoyed working with Give Kids the World, BASE Camp, and the Army’s EFMP.
CA: How do your family, friends, and co workers respond to your love of cosplay? What do they think of your costumes?
NC: All kinds of different ways. When you’re talking about the hobby with the hunting/fishing/sports crowd, it gets a little weird. Usually, when they see pictures or hear about the Heroes Alliance, they think it’s pretty cool. Also, fandom and comic books are working their way into the mainstream more and more. Everyone has seen The Dark Knight and Iron Man at the movies, and Superman and Spider-Man cartoons are always on television. There’s usually at least some common ground.
MVC: I’m definitely everyone’s favorite aunt at Halloween. I think most people are cool with it. I’m very respectful of other people’s comfort areas and if they have a genuine issue with my costuming, I can respect that. I really want to be accepted for who I am and what I do. I want to be neighborly, but a good part of that is respecting other peoples’ space. I live my life in my yard, but if someone wants to put up a privacy fence, the proper thing to do is respect that boundary.
CA: Besides comics and cosplay, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?
MVC: I love the historical perspective of forensic pathology (especially the Plague and TB eras. I really think we’re in the AIDS era now. I think it’ll be fascinating to see how they cure it. I think they’re doing some fascinating research on Delta-32 now.), analyzing failed military campaigns (like Waterloo, Bay of Pigs, Vietnam), serial killers (I actually have a Jack the Ripper case file. It’s a book where you have all the police forensic evidence and you can make your own notes and “examine the scene” yourself), World War II political and military history, Revolutionary and Civil War battle sites, American rock ’n’ roll, old cemeteries, pastry construction, the French language, literature, flea markets, cinema, power tools, thrift stores, quilting and antiques.
NC: Working out, video games, funny movies, American history, reading.
CA: Do you have a fan page or website?
MVC: I don’t, but Heroes Alliance does. We’re on there.
NC: We’re on Facebook, but please visit www.heroesalliance.org to learn more about the group!
CA: Any parting words about cosplay or comics in general?
MVC: I’m very honored to be featured on Comic Attack! Wow, thanks for thinking of us, Andy! I look forward to seeing everyone around. If you see me at a con, please stop me and say hi! Best Wishes!
NC: Have fun and please don’t hesitate to say “hi” when you see us!
Be sure to check out previous installments of the Cosplayer Spotlight, and check back often for more awesome cosplay!