This week’s Cosplayer Spotlight features Brian Gregory, born in Camden, New Jersey, now residing in Philadelphia at 42 years young!
COMIC ATTACK: Tell us what got you into cosplay.
BRIAN GREGORY: I have attended Cons all my life, and always marveled at the people who would dress up. I had always said a Con is the only place one couldn’t be judged for letting out their inner geek, and all walks and races are accepted. In previous years I had always wanted to cosplay, but didn’t have a clue on who or how. March 25, 2010 that changed. Thanks to Eric” The Smoke” Moran, whom I’ve meet few years ago at the Wizard Cons, he contacted me on facebook and proposed I would make a good partner to dress up as Salim from Army Of Two for Wizard World 2010. At first I was gun shy, but when I saw the mask I knew he was serious. And so it begun. I made my 1st debut as Salim at Free Comic Book Day Held at Atomic Comics in Philadelphia, PA on May 01, 2010. I also appeared there as one of my favorite super-heroes, Batman.
CA: Have you always been into comics, or has cosplay inspired you to get involved in the hobby?
BG: Actually I’ve been into comics since I was 5 years old. My 1st two comic books were Batman and The Mighty Avengers, which were purchased at 7/11 in the early 70s. Cosplay had always alluded me because I didn’t have enough belief in myself at the time that I could be convincing in whatever character I choose, due to stereotypes.
CA: How, in your mind, were stereotypes holding you back in pursuing something you love to do?
BG: Well to be frank about it: Perception. You don’t see a black Batman, Superman ,Wonder Man, Dr. Strange or Kato, so it was my belief you can’t pull those characters off. Fortunately, I’m glad I now know better. It’s not the color of your skin, but the detail in your costume and the love you have for the character you’re portraying that will get you over with the fans.
CA: Recently we interviewed Milestone co-creator, Denys Cowan, and he had some very enlightening things to say on the subject of race and comics. Since we’re on the subject, what are your thoughts on how black heroes are portrayed in comic books, and do you believe the companies are doing their job in providing diversity in their catalogue?
BG: I believe black heroes in comics have come a long way, but we still have far to go. We need a lot more of them, ethnic heroes from all races, all creeds. I like the concept of Batman Incorporated- that is a start in the right direction. The hope would be to have a black character as beloved and recognizable as Superman or Batman that all races are familiar with, and like the ones I mentioned I identify with.
CA: Which black character do you believe is the most popular in comics? Why do you think this is?
BG: The most popular character by far is Black Panther. He has been a main stay in comics since the 70s. I believe this because he is a proud, intelligent King with his own land, and is extremely self sufficient. He can hold his own against the likes of noteworthy heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man, and other very well respected characters in the Marvel Universe.
CA: Would you consider Black Panther to be one of your favorite characters? Who else are you really into?
BG: Yes he is my number 5: Dr. Strange is #4, Superman #3, Batman #2, and Ultra Man (Japan) is my #1. Of course there are many under that list.
CA: It’s cool when obscure characters are people’s favorites. What can you tell us about Ultra Man that makes him so awesome to you?
BG: Ultra Man is my favorite because he only destroyed the monster or villain if there wasn’t an alternative choice. Ultra Man represents the preservation of all living things, great or small. The true cosmic design of how all living things depend on one another for survival. The needs of the many outweigh the need of the one, which is a reoccurring theme in many superhero and sci-fi films.
CA: Which comic cons do you plan on attending this year? Do you know whom you’ll be dressed as?
BG: This year I plan to attend Wizard World Philly, Baltimore Comic Con, Monster Mania, NYCC,and Dragon Con. I will pose as the following characters: Dr. Strange 2.0, Dr. Strange Steve Ditko version (blue cloak), Kato, Green Lantern, Spider-Man Noir 1.0, Cyclops, Wonder Man, Ultimate Alliance Daredevil, Dr. Fate, and my first villain, DC’s Ultra Man.
CA: Wow, that’s a lot of characters! How long does it take you to assemble a costume, and what’s the general cost?
BG: Generally depending upon the character, it can take as quickly as 30 days or as long as 4 months. Sometimes a little longer for props. Price-wise it can get hefty, from $100.00 to $360.00 or better.
CA: What are some of your most memorable Con moments?
BG: Wizard Comic Con 2010 celebrities wanted to take pictures with me, and that really blew my mind. New York Comic Con 2010 when Marvel Comics Online interviewed me. The most memorable was when a young man had asked me how much does it cost to take a picture with me. I chuckled and said, “Nothing at all- the pleasure is all mine.” I appreciate the acceptance. Enclosed are the pictures with the following celebs that made my Wizard World 2010 first time experience as a cos-player truly memorable, Ernie Hudson, Gil Gerard, and Adrianne Curry.I have also enclosed a picture of the Marvel Online interview with me dressed as Spider-Man Noir,and The child that had ask me how much does it cost to take a picture with Green Lantern John Stewart.
CA: In some of your photos you look to be out on the street with the local kids. Can you tell us what the occasion was?
BG: The occasion was a community project called Taking It to the Streets. It’s a block party in Camden, New Jersey held every last Saturday in the month of June. I do to it to give inner city kids hope, to hold on, and to think about what you’re doing and how it can not only effect your life but others. There is a lot of pressure in the inner city to do all sorts of wrong things that have far reaching consequences which can affect your life as an adult. Simply stated, it’s to make them think in the dire hour of decision what would Batman, Green Lantern, or a Dr Strange do? Hopefully by seeing these characters as a child they may remember and hold on to the courage these heroes represent in their hour of need.
CA: Have you ever had any awkward or negative experiences while in costume you can share with us?
BG: The first time I wore Batman at Wizard World, it was 89 degrees and very humid with a bright sun. I chose to wear my costume coming out of the hotel in full gear with the cowl on- I was roasting inside. I went into the bathroom to remove the cowl and sweat poured out.
CA: What do your friends and family think about your cosplay work?
BG: My family is very supportive as well as my friends, considering I’ve done two fan films. One is entitled Clash In The Knight, which stars another ComicAttack.net Cosplayer Spotlight alumnus, Eric “The Smoke” Moran. We completed a second fan film which is currently in post production and should be out by Dragon Con. We also have our own production company called Together Brothers Productions.
CA: What kind of films does your production company produce? Do you have a link where people can go to view your work?
BG: Our current focus is putting out outstanding fan films, however, we will be expanding to create our own superhero action films and animation. Click the following link to view the Clash In The Knight video.
CA: What do you do in “real life?”
BG: In the real world I work in the hospitality business as an auditor.
CA: Any closing thoughts on comics or cosplay in general?
BG: In the comics scene I want to see an increase in ethnic heroes as well as more powerful female superheroes. The times we are in call for it. Kids, as well as adults, need heroes that inspire us to hold on and not give up or give in to dark times. I would like to see a cosplay network, like a facebook type model. In time, I would like to see a convention that just focuses on cosplay where the dealers are prop makers, costume makers, and suppliers. Plus, panels which discuss how to take your cosplay to the next level, whether it be doing charity events or fan filming. It’d be nice to see A-list companies like Marvel and DC recognize the love that goes into making fan films and sponsor them.
Check out even more costume gallery’s of The Cosplayer Spotlight!