Wednesday, September 18, 2013


For F*** Magazine


Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Run Time: 152 mins
Opens: 19 September 2013
Rating: NC-16 (Coarse Language)

We’ve seen many examples of the “Papa Wolf” archetype in cinema over the years, a character who transforms into an unstoppable force of nature after his child is hurt, kidnapped or otherwise threatened, making the offenders wish they’d never crossed him. In films such as Ransom, John Q, the recent Snitch and of course Taken, fathers have leapt into the fire in the name of ensuring the well-being of their kids. Hugh Jackman now joins the ranks in this mystery thriller.

Jackman plays Keller Dover, a carpenter and repairman in the small town of Conyers, Pennsylvania. On Thanksgiving, Keller, his wife Grace (Bello), son Ralph (Dylan Minnette) and daughter Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) go over the house of Franklin Birch (Howard) and family for dinner. Afterwards, they discover that Anna, along with Franklin’s daughter Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons) is missing. Police detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) leads the investigation; a mentally handicapped young man named Alex Jones (Dano), cared for by his aunt Holly (Leo), seemingly involved. Keller is convinced of Alex’s guilt and takes matters into his own hands, repeatedly clashing with Loki as the days tick past with no sign of Anna or Joy in sight.

If the synopsis makes Prisoners sound like Taken but with Hugh Jackman, be informed that it really isn’t. While Taken was a straight-up action flick with Liam Neeson blasting a path of vengeance through Paris as the audience cheers him on, Prisoners is a thriller of the “glued to your seat with shivers down your spine” variety. The film marks the English-language debut of Québécoise director Denis Villeneuve, whose film Incendies was a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar contender. Prisoners is a tightly directed piece, a sense of foreboding established early on.

The film plays out in a realistic small town setting; bleak, dreary and constantly raining. Multiple Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins of The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, True Grit (2010) and Skyfall fame, delivers some nail-biting moments with nothing more than a slow push-in. The eerie, cello-driven score by Jóhann Jóhannsson endeavours to redefine the word “ominous” and is very effective, if heavy-handed and obvious at times.

Hugh Jackman has established himself as one of the best-liked leading men in Hollywood over the past decade, and it’s easy to see why: he can dance, sing, do comedy, do drama, do action and is very personable in interviews. In Prisoners, we truly get a chance to see a side of the actor we haven’t before. As a father driven to the brink, he is remarkably believable. Keller lashes out, gets mad and does some pretty unpleasant things, but Jackman’s conviction ensures the audience is always rooting for him even as he trudges past moral boundaries and we question his methods. He also never flies into histrionics or goes laughably over the top; the flashes of raw fury behind his eyes conveying a primal anger even Wolverine might respect.

He’s backed up by a supporting cast that’s very strong by any standards; for what might be seen as a smaller movie, it sure has roped in some top-drawer talent. Jake Gyllenhaal previously investigated child kidnappings as real-life true crime author Robert Graysmith in Zodiac. His character here is less obsessive and not so much consumed by his job as dutifully going about it. Detective Loki, possibly snicker-inducing name notwithstanding, is a character we want to see succeed as much as we want to see Keller find his daughter.

Paul Dano is very good as Alex and is an actor who deserves to hit the big time very soon. Is he just feigning a disability and is really the devious mastermind, or is he a victim himself? Dano plays it such that we’re not so sure one way or the other. Melissa Leo at her suburban grandmother-iest also ensures we’re never quite certain if Keller should be trusting her. David Dastmalchian is fantastically creepy as the other prime suspect, while Viola Davis and Maria Bello both make for convincingly distraught mothers. If there’s a weak link, it might be Terrence Howard, who struggles to match up to Jackman’s skill level. Dylan Minnette and Zoe Borde as the older kids of the Dover and Birch households also deliver rather stilted performances.

However, this far from cripples this absorbing film that manages to be feverishly suspenseful without being emotionally manipulative. There are several “plants and payoffs” that might be too blatant to some viewers; points of plot which are laid down in full view so they can be picked up on again later. The masterful construction of the piece isn’t undermined and from its haunting atmospherics to its powerhouse lead performances, Prisoners is the kind of film that doesn’t loosen its grip for a second.

SUMMARY: Its premise may sound straight out of any number of police procedural TV shows, but tight direction and a firing-on-all-cylinders turn from Hugh Jackman ensure that this will be lurking around the corners of your mind for a fair bit after leaving the theatre.

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2 Guns

For F*** Magazine


Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, Fred Ward, Edward James Olmos
Genre: Action
Run Time: 109 mins

Everybody loves a buddy cop movie. We get a kick out of seeing two different people flung into a sticky situation, typically involving blazing firearms, working out their differences to arrive at an uneasy partnership. Sometimes they’re serious, like with Training Day or Se7en. Oftentimes they’re more lighthearted, like with the Bad Boys, Rush Hour and Men in Black films. The late film critic Roger Ebert dubbed this type of film “wunza movies”, a play on the phrase “one’s a…” that might be present in the trailer voiceover. 2 Guns is the latest entry in this subgenre, based on a graphic novel by Steven Grant.

One’s an undercover DEA agent (Denzel Washington’s Bobby) and one’s an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer (Mark Wahlberg’s Stig). Both are posing as criminals, dealing with infamous drug lord Papi Greco (Olmos). The catch is neither is initially aware that the other is actually also one of the good guys. As is often the case in films of this variety, Bobby and Stig find themselves in way over their respective heads, with no choice but to trust each other as they get embroiled in an increasingly messy web of triple-crosses and dirty deals. Their foes and allies, including Bobby’s DEA colleague and sometime-lover Deb (Patton), Stig’s commanding Officer Quince (Marsden) and the sinister, shady operative Earl (Paxton) all have their part to play in what initially seems like a straightforward drug money heist but ends up as a whole lot more.

The first reaction one might have upon hearing the summary “a buddy cop movie starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg” is “wow, that sounds like it’ll work”. The pairing of its leads is indeed the best thing 2 Guns has going for it. Washington has plenty of experience playing a cop/agent and is still a sexy stone-cold fox at 58. Mark Wahlberg, whose last brush with the buddy cop subgenre was taking the mickey out of it in the raucous The Other Guys, is pretty funny here too. It seems his true calling is comedy rather than action; he’s probably happy to get the best of both worlds with this film.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot to recommend past the Double W double act. 2 Guns feels a lot like something Shane Black might have written and possibly directed, except that it might have been lighter on its feet had that been the case. The film suffers from noticeable pacing issues, never quite getting into a proper rhythm and feeling longer than its 109 minutes. The plot does get pretty hard to follow, which isn’t something you want in your fun, late-summer action flick. 2 Guns reunites Wahlberg with his Contraband director Baltasar Kormákur, the resulting film somewhat reminiscent of The Losers, which was set in similarly dusty locales.

Bobby and Stig go up against three main antagonists: James Marsden’s Commander Quince, Bill Paxton’s Earl and Edward James Olmos’ Papi Greco. All three clearly enjoy chewing their share of the scenery and it is fun to see the clean-cut Marsden play against type as someone who clearly isn’t the “nice guy” he’s often cast as. Of the three, Paxton manages to be the most genuinely menacing as the government-linked agent with a southern drawl and a penchant for dealing out torture. Edward James Olmos’ Papi Greco is pretty much the stereotypical Mexican drug lord – oh, he uses a jumpy, angry bull as an interrogation implement. That’s pretty mean. Paula Patton is decent as the requisite girl and provider of eye candy, though we certainly would’ve preferred seeing her in the thick of the action in a role more like the one she played in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

It seems the film would have benefitted from more of a focus. The crisscrossing plot threads don’t make the film complex, they make it unnecessarily confusing. This isn’t an action flick with an explosion going off every other minute, but the central set piece involving Bobby and Stig charging into the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station is executed pretty well, as is the finale set on a cattle ranch, which makes use of an ill-fated helicopter. Studios have generally shied away from the R-rated actioners that were all the rage in the 80s and 90s in favour of teen-friendly stuff, and in the end 2 Guns is as adequate a source as any if you need that fix.

SUMMARY: It’s not paced very well and suffers from a case of “plot pretzel”, but 2 Guns scores a casting coup in teaming up Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Bling Ring

For F*** Magazine


Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann
Genre: Drama
Run Time: 91 mins
Opens: 12 September 2013
Rating: M18 (Drug Use and Coarse Language)

Celebrity lives have always held a certain fascination for us hoi polloi. Since the golden age of movies, the luxury and glamour enjoyed by the stars of the silver screen has been the source of many a fantasy. From Broadway Brevities and Society Gossip to Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to TMZ, we seem to have been taught “who needs a private life when material pleasures are no object?” The Bling Ring, based on actual events, follows a posse of teenagers who take the fantasy a step further, endeavouring to live the celebrity lifestyle by way of burglary.

Shy new kid Marc Hall (Broussard) arrives at a Calabasas high school and gets swept up into the world of his new friend Rebecca Ahn (Chang). He is promptly introduced to drugs and larceny, plunging headlong into a risky, exciting new existence. Rebecca’s friends Nicki (Watson), Nicki’s adopted sister Sam (Farmiga) and Chloe (Julien) soon join in the “fun”. Motivated by boredom, bravado and a magpie-like love for shiny things, the group embarks on a serial burglary spree, the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green, Audrina Patridge and Orlando Bloom numbering among their celeb victims.

This variety of “true crime” story with its frivolous trimmings seems like the perfect fodder for a Lifetime movie of the week – in fact, one already exists, 2011’s made-for-TV Bling Ring. Sofia Coppola’s take on things is, as can be expected, an artier affair. The director, inspired by Nancy Jo Sales’ Vanity Fair feature The Suspects Wore Louboutins, presents a heady world of youthful abandon and a callous disregard for consequence. However, one gets the feeling that she has held up a mirror to society, but all society seems interested in doing is gazing into that mirror, applying lipstick and preening.

Does The Bling Ring glamourise the illegal activities its protagonists are shown partaking in, or does it critique and examine it? It feels more like the former than the latter, but then again, this comes off as one of those “ah, but that’s how it was intended” movies.

“This is really shallow and vapid!”

“Ah, but that’s how it was intended.”

“I can’t bring myself to root for these characters!”

“Ah, but that’s how it was intended.”

“This movie seems to be trying to say something, but I have no idea what!”

“Ah, but that’s how it was intended.”

The fascination with Bonnie and Clyde-type stories is something that’s mentioned in the film, and “young people doing dangerous things”-type flicks such as Natural Born Killers might come to mind. Thing is, The Bling Ring is to Natural Born Killers what a Chihuahua is to a Pitbull. The frothy frivolity with which the whole thing is coated means any message the movie tries to get across, it ultimately doesn’t. The film focuses on the superficial acts of the breaking and entering bouts without delving into any profound impact it might have had. Perhaps that’s what Coppola was aiming for, less of a polemic and more of a casual observation. This approach will pull some viewers in but will just as easily turn others off.

One of the main draws for the general audience is definitely the casting of Emma Watson. While Katie Chang’s Rebecca is ostensibly the female lead, Watson handily steals the show, at once mesmerizing and intensely annoying. The actress nails the grating vocal cadence of Alexis Neiers, the real-life person on which her character is based; commanding the screen with an air-headed confidence. Props must also be given to newcomer Broussard, whose turn as the naïve neophyte inducted a world of flippant wrongdoing is remarkably natural.

Do the Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch deserve the Sofia Coppola treatment? Probably not. The film doesn’t so much analyse the obsession with celebrity in the age of social media and the reckless impulses of privileged youth so much as it waves it in front of the audience. Sure, the movie’s nice to look at and isn’t shallow and vapid in that mass-produced bubblegum pop way – but it still is shallow and vapid.

SUMMARY: There might be something worthwhile lurking beneath the surface of the rich kids doing dumb things, but Bling and you’ll miss it.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 STARS

Jedd Jong


For F*** Magazine


Director: David Twohy
Cast: Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Jordi Molla, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Bokeem Woodbine, Dave Bautista, Conrad Pla, Raoul Trujillo, Nolan Funk, Keri Hilson
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Run Time: 119 mins

2000’s Pitch Black granted Mark Sinclair, better known as Vin Diesel, his breakout role of Richard B. Riddick. Audiences were very much taken by the tough, shiny-eyed anti-hero. Nine years after the less warmly-received sequel The Chronicles of Riddick, the last Furyan has returned – and what a hearty “welcome back” this one is.

The second film ended with Riddick being crowned Lord Marshall of the Necromongers, but it’s a given that such good fortune wasn’t going to last. Riddick is betrayed by the Necromongers under his command and gets unceremoniously dumped on a wasteland of a planet. Riddick battles the elements and some unfriendly local fauna as two rival mercenary posses arrive to collect the bounty on his head. One is led by the swaggering Santana (Mollà), and the other by Boss Johns (Nable), who has a bone to pick with Riddick after the events of the first film led to a personal tragedy for him. Riddick plots to play both gangs against each other, so he can eventually escape in one of their ships – but the bounty hunters don’t intend on making it easy for him.

Talk of a third Riddick movie has swirled for years, and it must be very gratifying for star-producer Diesel and writer-director Twohy, who also helmed the first two movies, to see this come to fruition. The first film was a fairly original sci-fi suspense thriller and the second attempted to expand the world and was more of a space opera. The Chronicles of Riddick strayed too far from the essence of Pitch Black and also had a PG-13 rating foisted upon it by the studio. It should come as a relief that this one is definitely a lot closer in tone to the first, and might be even more hardcore, armed with an arsenal of blood-letting, swearing and nudity (in that order).

We’ve all heard the griping that sci-fi action flicks just aren’t what they used to be –compare the entertainingly zany balls-out adventure that was Total Recall (1990) with the recent lifeless remake. Riddick harkens back to that era of unneutered blends of sci-fi, action and horror, an effective mix of “protagonist marked for death” and “things that go bump in the night”-type movies. The somewhat bloated scope of the second film is pared down, the entire movie set on that one barren planet, while Twohy manages to make it less repetitive than the first. There are several nice continuity nods, especially with the character of Johns, but this does function well as a stand-alone flick and newcomers shouldn’t be lost. If you’re looking forward to seeing Karl Urban return as Lord Vaako though, bear in mind that his appearance amounts to nothing more than a cameo.

It’s easy to see why Diesel is so attached to this character – dude’s badass to the bone, the fact that his name can be rendered as “Dick B. Riddick” notwithstanding. The first fifteen or so minutes are essentially Man vs. Computer-Enhanced Wild, with the resourceful Riddick in full survivor mode. Diesel and Twohy wisely keep this from descending into a self-aggrandising vanity project. While Riddick still gets the lovingly-framed shots of him walking in slow motion, the cool action bits and enjoyable one-liners, he doesn’t hog the spotlight and we get to spend a good amount of time with the supporting players (more on them in a bit). A suspenseful, well-staged sequence involving an explosive lock showcases the character’s cunning, as does a nicely-edited scene in which he disables the robotic Cyclops sentry.

The two rival bands of hired guns who descend on the planet in search of Riddick do add an interesting dynamic. There’s nothing about these guys we haven’t seen before and some of them are difficult to distinguish from each other, but somehow, that never becomes a problem. Mollà’s Santana, all bravado and posturing and not much else, is amusing to watch – though he does sometimes border on grating. Nable’s Johns is hard-nosed and militant, but there’s just enough character there and he helps tie this film neatly back to the original – though at just three years older than Cole Hauser, he’s too young to play William Johns’ dad. Dave Bautista plays the giant bruiser (when does he not) but he’s certainly not as wooden as other wrestlers-turned-actors who came before him. Katee Sackhoff gets to break out the tough gal schtick she perfected in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series and is reasonably kickass.

Battle-hardened mercs bickering can get boring, so Twohy wisely keeps things moving just enough. The swarms of raptors in Pitch Black were fairly memorable beasties, and the venomous critters in this film benefit from the advancements in CGI over the last 13 years. The other species seen inhabiting this planet is more dog-like, and Riddick even grooms one into a pet, in a moment that might be too twee for some. While the production design is solid, there is less spectacle on display than in The Chronicles of Riddick, but this goes with the territory of bringing the franchise back to its roots. There’s a fun hover-bike sequence thrown in for good measure; one does get a kick out of seeing Riddick astride a futuristic hog.

Grim and gritty may be the action movie flavour du jour, but Riddick pulls it off better than others. Vin Diesel might not be regarded as the best actor around, but he’s passionate about the character and clearly enjoys strapping on those goggles. Backed by a small assortment of miscreants, Riddick ends up feeling much more like Pitch Black and might even be an improvement on that.

Summary: Long-time fans of Riddick’s exploits should take a shine to this third go-round that recaptures the tension and atmosphere of the first movie but doesn’t feel like a retread.

RATING: 4 out of 5 STARS

Jedd Jong

Monday, September 9, 2013

STGCC 2013: Adi Granov interview

STGCC 2013 – 31/8/13
By Jedd Jong for F*** Magazine

If you’re a fan of Iron Man and the movies he’s been in, you’ll recognize the handiwork of Bosnian-British artist Adi Granov. F*** spoke to the comic book illustrator and Marvel movie concept designer when he was in town for the Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention.

Q: How did you get started in making art for comics? 

Adi: Well, I always liked comics, I grew up reading comics so I went to university to be an illustrator, then I was a concept artist at Nintendo for a couple of years, and then during that time, I was building my own portfolio for my private work. Once I was ready, I showed that portfolio to different companies and did some comic work and that's...pretty much it, that's how I started. Then once some of that stuff was published, Marvel saw it and liked it and they invited me to work for them, and that's it.

Q: Do you have any advice for budding artists? 

Adi: I think for me, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, so...even when I was in university, I never competed with fellow students; I always had in mind that I was competing with the best out there. I would buy magazines, illustration magazines, comics and I would always think "I need to be better than that", rather than being better than…whoever was sitting next to me in class. So I just always have this idea that if I created the best artwork I could, it would be succesful, and it turned out to be that way. So I think my main advice is still "figure out what it is that you want to do, and try to be the best possible at that something that you want to do."

Q: I was wondering if you've checked out the Nendoroid Iron Man figure...the tiny Iron Man figure with the massive head? 

Adi: I have one of those!

Q: What are your thoughts on that particular figure and the design of it? 

Adi: I mean with a lot of the figures, there are...obviously stuff that is sold in shops in England, I live in England, is more American stuff and a lot of stuff that is more interesting to us is in Asian markets and then because of my connection to Iron Man, a lot of my friends who go and travel, they usually bring me I have a lot of Iron Man figures. I even have a collection of fake Iron Man figures, my friends know that...well sometimes I don't even want them, but they think I do, so I have this huge collection of all kinds of Iron Man stuff. I have one that I don't know where it came from, I think my friend was visiting Hong Kong and he brought (it) back and you can tell that it's a Daredevil figure that they just painted like Iron Man! So I mean stuff like that I think it's a lot of fun, because it's really interesting to see the designs that I've worked on translated into something that I didn't really consider!

Q: What do you think of, I'm not sure if you're a big fan of Asian art, but what do you think of the cultural differences between art in the West and in the East? 

Adi: I am a really big fan of some of the art that I see, we don't really get a huge amount and I think to me the most interesting thing to me is how you can recognize which country the art comes from. I guess it's not that Europe it's the same. In Asia in general there seems to be really separate schools can recognize for instance a Korean artist or Japanese artist or Chinese's a very...I mean even if they're doing between the different styles, you can always...well not always, but often I can recognize which country. It's really interesting to me, I don't know why that is, but I find it really fascinating. Unfortunately, we just don't get enough of it for me to be able to follow it. You know, we get like a book that collects a lot of Asian art from many different countries, but it comes out once a month, I think, but it collects only small portions, so there's an artist I like, but the next issue comes out and that artist isn't in there, so it's very difficult for me to develop a way to follow the art that I like.

Q: How closely did you work with conceptual designers such as Ryan Meinerding and Charlie Wen on the Marvel films?  

Adi: With Ryan, I've worked a lot, very closely. I worked with Charlie on Avengers. But with Ryan, I've worked on all of the films, on all three Iron Man films and then The Avengers. When I worked on the first Iron Man film, Ryan was like a junior designer, but then with each film he was getting promoted and so on the last two films we worked on, he was a supervisor. But he works in the studio while I work from my own home. I don't like going to the studio, I like usually when we work together, we only work over the phone or through email. I know Ryan in person as well 'cause I've met him but when we work we usually work only...I'm in England and he's in Los Angeles. And with Charlie I've only ever worked through email actually, I don't think I've even spoken to him on the phone.

Q: Many people mistake your work to be fully digital. I had a friend who said "hey, Adi does all digital..." and I said "no, he does a lot of pencils". So after that, you scan and do the wash and maybe it's digital painting. So if given a choice now, would you not do so much digital painting and do a monthly book?

Adi: I prefer traditional. If I have the time, when I do covers, if I have four days to do a cover, then I do the whole thing traditionally. I do it in acrylic and watercolour's only if I have two days to do a cover then I do it in pencil and then colour digitally. But if given a choice, I just prefer to make that finished piece a physical piece of art. Nothing against digital, it's just...especially when you're an artist, a big part of the income is also from original art, because I retain the right to sell my own original art...when you do it all digitally, you're just eliminating a large part of your income and so it just doesn't make sense for me to do anything fully digitally because if I do it fully digitally, it's basically just like throwing away money. If that makes sense.

Q: You grew up in Bosnia, then you moved to America, and now you're staying in Yorkshire. How does that influence your take on the world?

Adi: It just makes you realize how small the world really is. I mean, yesterday I woke up in England and here I am today almost halfway on the other side of the world; it really is…um...because when I was in Bosnia, I didn't leave Bosnia until I was 18...not Bosnia, Yugoslavia, I was in Croatia for a while as well...but the world seemed such a huge place, and artists from other countries, for me they were like gods of the Olympus kinda thing. But then when I moved to the States, I was very poor, and then again it felt like I was on the edge of the world, everything seems so far. Then once the internet came in, and I think a lot of kids today don't really realize how isolated the world really felt when you’re' a kid living in a small country, but today, everybody just logs on to the internet and you can talk to anyone anywhere. And then obviously due to my work, my work is known in many different places, it makes the world seem even smaller because even before coming to Singapore, many different places like I've never been to Brazil but I have a lot of fans in Brazil so I know a lot of people from Brazil. And it just makes you feel like the world has really become a very small place.

Q: Just backtracking a bit to growing up in Bosnia, did you get a lot of Western comics back then?

Adi: Yeah, I mean we got a lot of European comics, and we got some Western comics, some American comics like Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, Batman, stuff like that. But when I was a kid, I liked European comics the most, because they were a lot more serious, you know, they dealt more with science fiction rather than superhero stuff, it's really interesting that now a lot of European comic artists work in American comics and it turned American comics because American comics now even though they're superhero (stories), they feel a lot more serious than a lot of the European stuff. But I think it's because there was this kind of crossover of a lot of European artists coming into the American comics, and then also a lot of artists from everywhere else. Leinil (Yu, Filipino comic book artist) is one of the biggest names and he's brought a real kind of sense of science fiction to him, his design sense and his art style to me just seem so much more advanced than a lot of American comics when I was a kid.

Q: What was your reaction upon seeing the first footage of the Iron Man armour in action in the first film in animatics or in the trailers?

Adi: Well, the first time I saw it was just the animatics for the...they were like storyboards, but they were animated storyboards, and it was terrible! It was really really bad, because they had...the whole thing was shot like looking from my eye level, so everything was really flat! I was telling them "move the camera, put it down, put it up, do something!" because it was and I just watching Iron Man walking around, that's kinda how it was. So that's part of the process, it gets better and better and better until, hopefully, it's really good at the end.

Q: What did you think of the translation of the Extremis armour to the screen in Iron Man 3?

Adi: I don't think there was any translation, I think they just designed a new armour for the show. Plus, it's not really Extremis armour, I mean that's what they called it, but it's really not because the Extremis armour in the comic is designed to work with his…'cause he injects himself with Extremis (nanites) and the armour is made to work with that. In the film, that isn't part of the story so really, technically, it's not Extremis armour.

Q: What do you think of the trend of everybody in superhero movies wearing armour? Do you think spandex can still work on screen?

Adi: It depends, I mean, I think like proper old school spandex probably looks a bit too silly on screen but not everybody needs armour either. It's one of those things that you know, when something is successful, everyone else wants to try to...emulate it and...I think sometimes I think they take it too far in being "realistic". know, Batman. Like in the first film, the first Nolan film (Batman Begins), I really liked the suit but then later on I think they took it too far, it just looked like a motorcycle suit, just kind of done "Batman-style". So I think it can be taken too far with kind of "realistic approach". I'm trying to remember, because in X-Men: First Class, I think they wore kind of X-Men suits rather than armour and I think that really worked with the era of the film. Old-school, and I really like that. So, it really depends on how you do it. You can overdo it. Even in Iron Man, I think you know in the third film I think some of the designs were a bit "too much" in my opinion.

Q: Speaking of Leinil Yu, he will always draw his wife into his comics. Have you ever designed a character which you based on your wife?

Not specifically one character, but I mean often, a lot of my girl characters just end up looking like my wife and it's not necessarily on purpose. I mean, you know, it just kind of comes into it. If I'm drawing an ear, I will draw an ear that I'm familiar with because you know I look at her face all the time and different things kind of make it into the art. Every once in a while, I will use her as a model in some stuff. But, actually, yeah, that's her! (Pointing to a character on the cover of the Extremis special edition hardcover book). Because she used to have dark hair, she has blonde hair (now), that was on purpose, but often it just ends up being natural.

Q: Do you have any projects in the pipeline?

Adi: I have a lot of smaller projects. I prefer working on like one illustration at a time, almost. So at the moment, I'm doing one very large illustration, it's about...if you put seven covers together, that's about how big it is. It's just one image, and it's Marvel-related, but it's not for Marvel, it's for a book publisher. So I'm working on that now, and then after that I'm doing a DVD cover for an animated series. I'm kind of working on both at the same time, except that some companies take a little time to process stuff, so if I start on one first, I might actually end up finishing it later because they take a long time to actually go through all the approval process and stuff. And then I work with a rock band called "Tool" from Los Angeles, I do all the artwork with them now and so that's kind of my thing outside of comics at the moment, because they're my favourite band and I will enjoy doing that. So yeah, I mean I have some stuff lined up for after that, but it's still too far in the future to even mention, so I'm kind of lucky to have enough work to know what I'll be doing for the next year really, so yeah.

STGCC 2013: Nathan Hamill interview

STGCC 2013 – 31/8/13

I got to sit down with toy designer and illustrator Nathan Hamill at STGCC - it ended up being my only one-to-one interview and I enjoyed it; he's very cool. And of course, he comes from cool stock. Let's start this party with a bang! 

Jedd: Welcome to Singapore!

Nathan: Thank you!

Jedd: Are you having a good time so far?

Nathan: Excellent. First time here and it's stunning, it's incredible. The weather was perfect yesterday; it's great so far. 

Jedd: I had a look at your Twitter feed, really cool stuff. Beneath your handle, it says "I makes what I likes". What do you think has been the most rewarding thing of living by that maxim? 

Nathan: Yeah, "I makes what I likes" is just...first of all, I think it's funny because it's using improper English, which makes me laugh. Like "I makes what I likes", yeah...I try to keep it as simple as that. So yeah, my motto, "I makes what I likes", at the end of the day it should come down to whether or not it's something that you enjoy, not to be too convuluted about what your themes and what your concepts are. Yeah, that stuff is good and fine but I guess I'm trying know, take things less seriously. 

Jedd: So, inevitable question: was Star Wars a big part of your childhood and did the early Kenner toys inspire you to pursue toy design?

Nathan: Well, that's the thing, it took...when I finally figured out that I wanted to do this, I kind of thought "why hadn't I thought of this earlier?" It was a marriage of two things I've always loved: I've always drawn as a kid and always collected toys, so why not combine the two? My Dad jokes that my first word was "Kenner". Not true, just a joke. 

Jedd: Was there a lot of "I'm feeling a little bit mad at Dad so I'm gonna take it out vicariously 

on Bespin Luke here"?

Nathan: Not that I remember, you know, but maybe a few chew marks. 

Jedd: So you've worked with Bongo Comics; do you feel more of an affinity with The Simpsons or Futurama?

Nathan: Simpsons. I mean it's been around longer, it's just...I grew up on The Simpsons. Futurama came later, I still like Futurama but The Simpsons are...can't top that.

Jedd: Who's your favourite Simpsons character to draw? 

Nathan: Oh, to draw...I would be the Life in Hell character, the one-eared rabbit Bongo. Other than that, probably Homer. 

Jedd: There's the Matt Groening signature hidden in Homer's that like something that all the artists are briefed on before they work on the Simpsons comics? Like "you have to keep the Matt Groening signature" in there...

Nathan: Oh, actually I'm a colorist so I don't draw them, I draw them for fun but...I knew that before working there, because I was just so obsessed with the Simpsons like...I started working for Bongo; I was the go-to guy for questions. They go, "we need uh, JFK" and I go "Season 4, Duffless" And they would go "okay!" and they would go get the model sheets, so...I'm like the Rain Man of Simpsons.

Jedd: Nice, "Rain Man of Simpsons." If you could do a project involving a comics supehero/villain, one of those Marvel or DC characters, who would you like to put your spin on?

Nathan: Uh...Lobo. My favourite.

Jedd: Nice. Have you seen what they've to him in the New 52?

Nathan: No.

Jedd: They made him skinny, sensitive Lobo.

Nathan: Emo Lobo? 

Jedd: Yeah, with the little beautiful facial hair...

Nathan: Emo? Well that', I like "Lobo's Back", that's my favourite. 

Jedd: I was talking to the Army of Snipers the other day and J*RYU had some very interesting things to say about hte label "desinger toys". So what do you think about the line between a toy and a piece of art, and what do you view your creations as? 

Nathan: Um...that's a good question. We were talking about that last night and whether like "designer toy" maybe makes it seem...too stuffy, maybe something you'd find at like an architecture yeah, I don't...that's a tough one. I almost...that one I might leave up in the air because I love to say...talking about art is like dancing about architecture. There's a certain point where you kinda just leave it... leave it up to other peoples' interpretation. Yeah I guess I'll refer you back to "I makes what I likes" and just keep it...that's an ongoing question, that's a question that I'll have an answer to maybe next year, if I'm invited back.

Jedd: Sure, I look forward to it! Did you do customization when you were starting out; did you take existing toys and modify them? 

Nathan: Yeah...I mean it was actually...I sorta did it in an odd way which is I started customizing Boris, the first toy that I did. So we released the toy and had like 50 artists customize it. I think it was about 50, so um yeah, I customize from time to time.

Jedd: What's your view on the big commercial toy scene, the Mattels and the Hasbros? 

Nathan: I think there's...I collect lots of different types of toys, I think there can be a little bit of a...snobbery involved in toy collecting, where people will look down on you if you buy this or that or the other...and it's like "if the quality is there". For example there was a...Toma did a Godzilla toy was in Toys 'R Us and it was mass produced but it was very well-made. It was a really high-quality toy, and just because it was in Toys 'R Us and it was sold for $18 vs. if the exact same toy was sold for $60, people would snap it off the shelves and they wouldn't look down on all has to do with quality. Kozac said, "make multiple". If you can make more and the quality's there, I feel like that's good.

Jedd: J*RYU said that he preferred the term "commoditized art pieces" to "designer toys", and he was talking about how the guy who did Dunny? I think his son was saying "Dad, my friends would like to have one of your monsters" and he was like "these are art pieces, these are $150 each" and when he was manufacturing it, people could have a hold of one for $10. 

Nathan: Is that Tristan Eaton and the Dunny? 

Jedd: I think it was Ryniak.

Nathan: They were limited edition ones? 

Jedd: I think it was a partnership they did with like Urban Outfitters...that the toys would be available at those stores.

Nathan: At KidRobot through Chris Ryniak? Not even stuffy and no...listen. J*RYU...when he was on Toy Break, he was so insightful, he knew a lot of stuff. I like to play around with it, I say like at the end of the day, they're just words. But it's good to have a dialogue, so I just...I'll say "that J*RYU's a snob!" Just kidding. 

Jedd: (Laughs) This is going to be the headline. 

Nathan: (Laughs) Fight! Fight! 

Jedd: The headline on the tabloid that I write for (laughs). I think you've been asked this a lot, but what was your experience like hanging around on the sets of the Star Wars films? In Episode I you had your cameo and before that...

Nathan: Well before that...well, I was so young that it was just a vague I kind of remember tall trees and little know...

Jedd: (Laughs) That should have been the tagline for Episode VI. "Tall trees and little bears".

Nathan: So for those I was...I mean I was probably two, two and half when they were shooting the third one (Return of the Jedi), you know, so...I don't...I wasn't making memories yet. And for Episode I, yeah, that was very cool to go over there and see the's just...there's a certain smell you get when you're on a physical set, it's a lot of fun. But the first one I just have photos, I don't have first-hand knowledge of that, so...

Jedd: Can I ask how you feel about Hasbro's Black Series? Now they've finally done Star Wars figures in six inch scale and everyone is going nuts and is like "ahh, why didn't you do this 20 years ago?!" 

Nathan: The Boba Fett is like...not only one of the's coming out in Series 2. Boba Fett is where the focus is; Han Solo is an okay's great, I have that and the Artoo one and they're fantastic. It's gotten me collecting them again, so...I'd stopped for a while. 

Jedd: Is there a particular piece of your collection that holds a certain sentimental value for you, something that was hard to find or hard to get...

Nathan: Oh, that's a good...let me think about that...yeah, it's not a toy, there's an Empire Strikes Back tote bag, it's like a mini bowling bag thing that was something I got to...something George Lucas gave me when I was (little)...I carried all my figures in it.

Jedd: Like a carrying cool. Do you have any insight, any views on Number 7

Nathan: I can tell you but as the saying goes, I'll have to kill you (laughs). I…yeah, I don't know much, and what I know I can't say. 

Jedd: Are you excited for it? 

Nathan: Yeah...yeah! I'll be there, I'll be there first in line, so yeah. 

Jedd: Thank you very much, I think I'm about done and it was great talking to you! 

Nathan:  Yeah, thank you! That was good, that was good. 

Here's the interview over on Red Dot Diva.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

STGCC 2013: Vampy Bit Me (Linda Le) interview

By Jedd Jong

Morrigan from Darkstalkers

I had the chance to sit down and speak to cosplayer Vampy Bit Me (Linda Le) at STGCC. She's an experienced cosplayer who has put together some incredible costumes, done some great photoshoots and earned herself a legion of fans on the internet. I'm a big fan of her Lady Nightwing cosplay myself (you'll see it a little later). Read to hear how she got her nickname, what she thinks of reimagined anime, which fashion designer she looks up to, that whole "cosplayers getting harassed" issue and how long it takes to put a costume together from concept to convention. 

Q: Is your name in any way inspired by the viral video?

Vampy: What viral video?

Q: The “Charlie Bit Me” video.

X-Force Psylocke

Vampy: No! No (laughs)…I got Vampy in middle school. I pretty much don’t sleep at night, if you guys follow me on Twitter, I never sleep at night. I’m usually up and I sleep during the day. It’s very weird, but it’s been like that since I was in middle school, so it was a nickname of mine. I don’t like it, but it stuck with me.

Q: Do you feel you’ve embraced it?

Vampy: I have to embrace it now, because it’s my name now, so…I still don’t like it, but it’s Vampy.

Q: What is the logistics like when you’re preparing for a shoot, looking for photographers and so on?

Vampy: Um, actually I only work with my friends. So it’s like, I work with four people, and it’s been like that for four years; just friends.

Q: Where do you get ideas for the poses?

Vampy: Oh, I research. So pretty much if I have my comic book, I have it out and I copy exact poses. Everything (comes back to the) reference. I don’t really change it, I have it exactly to the comic book’s guide, because I’m a fan, a fan of their work, and I want to translate it that way.

Q: I understand that you started modelling a while back, so is modelling or cosplay more attractive to you?

Vampy: Um, the funny thing is, I didn’t like modelling. My friend got me into it because I style women. I work with a lot of models who are…tall. (Laughs) I’m short. So I would style them and my friend said “why don’t you take some pictures?” And I was like “okay…” and that’s how it started. So which do I like more? I like both, I can’t really answer. It’s like me with K-Pop and metal music, I like both.

Lady Punisher. "Fran Castle", perhaps.
Q: What criteria do you look at when choosing a character you would like to cosplay as?

Vampy: I like strong characters. A lot of my characters are only strong women. If it’s kind of a weaker woman, I won’t cosplay it. That’s it, pretty simple. Powerful, they kind of have to be like a dude, that’s why I do a lot of guy characters. They just look better sometimes. So I said “hey, if Punisher looks cool, I’m going to make it into a girl character, because it looks cool!” It’s gotta be strong, like Claymore or something like that. Yeah.

Q: What’s the biggest sacrifice that you’ve made for the sake of cosplay?

Vampy: Everything. (Laughs) I kind of don’t have a life, really. If life meaning going out with my friends. My weekends…I don’t even know what a weekend is anymore, it’s been six years since I knew what a weekend was. Everyone’s like “yeah, Saturday!” and I’m all like “what? Working.” Sacrifices, I mean I love doing what I do, but actually going out with my friends…so I invite them over and “convert” them into making costumes, so that’s how I have a life now.

Q: At this point, you’ve been to a lot of conventions. Are there any “horror stories” or anything interesting that has happened?

Vampy: Every time someone says “horror stories”, it makes me think of a massacre or something, like someone’s going to get killed! No, not that bad! People are really nice, generally. Asia is just different. People are very like, they’re big fans, so they’re kinda like…there’s crowds. And that scares me because I’m usually by myself, so when there’s more crowds, I’m like, I clamour up. That’s the only thing.

Q: Which Marvel or DC artists/writers do you respect most?

Vampy: Oh, Jim Lee. It started out with Jim Lee; I talk about Jim Lee all the time because for me, I think he understood each character and he still does with DC, but he totally understands that character and how to depict women. Sexy, but strong, you know? And I love that; and I love his art style.

Jun the Swan from Gatchaman - and me! 
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced till now in creating your own costumes?

Vampy: To be honest, every costume is a challenge, because you don’t know how to make it, you know? You don’t really have anyone to go off of, because if you’re doing a God of War character, no one really does it, so you don’t really have reference. So you have to make it up in your head, which makes you go a little crazy, but every character is another way to teach yourself a new skill. Yeah.

Q: Has it ever happened that while making a costume, you felt like you wanted to give up, because you felt you weren’t able to get the results you wanted?

Vampy: Yeah, I go through that a lot. But then after a while, you just stop thinking and just doing, you know? You get depressed sometimes when you can’t finish something but you know what, overall, it’s just supposed to be fun. So you let it slide and you just bring another costume that you want to get ready and sew.

Q: Are there any fashion or costume designers working in film or fashion that you look up to, whose work inspires you?

Vampy: Alexander McQueen, I love that. (Laughs) I’m like crazy over it. I love high fashion, I think that in a lot of my photos you can see the high fashion influence, because I like the cinematic, you know the quality.

Reika from Gantz
Q: Is there a costume or character that you like so much that you keep wearing it?

Vampy: It’s kinda obvious (motions to Psylocke costume she’s wearing). (Laughs), oh yeah. I like Gantz a lot, even though the ending sucked. I like Gantz, it’s just I like black things and things that cover up a lot of stuff. I’m happy that it’s not hot here, right now, inside. So, I get to wear it. And Morrgian (from Darkstalkers), but I wore that too many times.

Q: What’s the number one irk you have while preparing for a cosplay event?

Vampy: Packing. You have to remember every little thing! So, that’s it.

Q: There have been lots of superhero movies in cinemas lately, what do you think of the designs or redesigns in making a comic book costume work onscreen?

Rei Ayanami, Evangelion

Vampy: Okay, well, do you want something specific? Like in G.I. JOE, when they did Snake Eyes and they added lips, that’s not cool. (Laughs) why did they do that? I wasn’t very happy about that. Um, thing is some look very cool, but some look too slick. For example Gatchaman, the new movie, I’m not too big a fan of it, because it looks like, um, Tron. Like “why did you make it like that?” I heard the reviews; I haven’t watched it yet but I heard bad reviews so, not very happy about that. When it’s too futuristic, you’re not really paying homage to the original, so that’s my gripe.

Q: You’re now very well-known in the cosplay scene; are there any cosplayers you really look up to?

Vampy: My influences aren’t cosplayers though, so it’s kinda hard (to answer the question). I like everybody’s cosplay though, it sounds really silly but I do. I like Kamui, Kamui Cosplay. She does a lot of armour. So next thing I want to do is start doing more armour. I like Warhammer, so hopefully I can start doing more Warhammer. I like Kamen Rider too, I wanna do some helmets.

Q: Is there any advice you can give newer cosplayers?

Vampy: Um, make sure you do it because you really love it. Sometimes you go into it thinking you’re going to be popular out of nowhere; that’s not true. Um, it’s definitely…you’ll see the ones that last the longest are the ones that love it. Because the ones that go away are the ones that are doing it for the wrong reasons, so yeah.

Q: Characters from older anime and comic book series, the designs are obviously quite different than those that came up in the past ten years. So, I was wondering what you think about when an older series is redone to suit modern tastes, and what are your thoughts on Gatchaman Crowds?

Vampy: Oh, don’t get me started! I’m not a fan. What is that? I watched the first episode and it doesn’t do anything! Phoenix is not in there, it’s just too cute…Gatchaman’s all about butt-kicking. I can say that, right? Yeah, butt-kicking. And there’s none of that! As an old-school fan, it made me a little said. And Ranma too. Ranma didn’t have red hair, so I was like “no!”

Q: If you weren’t a cosplayer, what would you see yourself as?

Vampy: I’ll continue being a stylist. I’ll probably style other women and men, doing nice things to them!

Q: I love that .gif I saw of you giving a Deadpool cosplayer a peck on the head, and he then pretends to faint. What are your favourite moments of interaction with other cosplayers at conventions and such?

Vampy: Oh man, every convention that I’ve been to, I’ve always had a good time collecting cosplay cards, especially here, I guess it’s popular and I just love every convention I get to meet new cosplayers, because they inspire me. Especially going to Asia, everybody’s so expressive in the posing, so it’s inspired me to work on my posing.

Q: Where did you start with making costumes?

Vampy: Ever since I was little, my parents told me that “you can’t have everything,” so I was like “fine, then I’ll make it.” My Mum taught me how to sew when I was four years old, and then my Dad taught me how to make things, props and things like that, when I was a little older. I started very young, pretty much all my life. It takes a long time, but I enjoy learning. (Even now) I don’t know how to do everything so I pretty much practice, do as much as I can, if I can’t do it then I go online and teach myself.
Lady Kratos; God of War

Q: Could you briefly explain the entire process from start to finish, from when you pick a character to cosplay straight through completion?

Vampy: Oh my goodness…okay, well, so what I do is I usually go online to look at turnarounds. So I do at least a couple of weeks’ worth of research. And then I go pick the fabrics, that takes about two weeks. Sometimes for Psylocke, it took me six months to get that fabric, six months to get that latex. So I had to wait six months. So I grew out my hair for four years and I dyed it purple. I was crazy! So it varies, but depending on how much I love the character. I pretty much do research for a couple of weeks, and then fabrics, if I don’t know how to make something, I go online, so that takes a couple of weeks…so maybe two months prep before. Each character is two months before, doing research.

Q: You’ve been to many conventions; what impressions do you have of STGCC?

Vampy: Oh man, I love it. I’m like literally…I’m super…I didn’t know how hot it could be sometimes, but it’s not that bad! People are so sweet here. Even if I’m not invited, I want to come back because everyone’s super cool, so I’m very happy, yes. I would totally come back, just to hang out!

Q: You’ve been here since Thursday, have you looked around Singapore, tried the food?

Vampy: Yes, I did. What’s that chicken and rice dish? Chicken rice? (Laughs) Yeah, I went there and it was some plaza with a lot of other things. I don’t know what it’s called. What is it called though?

Q: A hawker centre?

Vampy: Yeah, I went to a hawker centre, and that was cool. I think soon I’m going to go to the toy stores. After the convention, I’m going to go look at all the toys. Yes. I went to Flabslab the other night. Heard of him? He’s a toy guy here, I went to go over there, but I wanna see the Gundam, I wanna see the kits.

Q: What is cosplay to you, and how has it changed your life?
Lady Nightwing

Oh man, um, cosplay to me sometimes I don’t even know what’s going on with the internet, I just like to share art. So it’s definitely an art, because when you look at a picture, it’s not just a girl wearing an outfit. It’s her acting like the character. So to me it’s art. For example, if I see a video game I love to play, I express it through cosplay. So I want to give a gift to one of the creators, so I would probably cosplay his outfit really well, and tell him I love his game. So to me it’s art, art for art.

Q: I hope it’s okay to ask if you have anything to say about the whole “cosplayers getting harassed” thing.

Vampy: Um, well obviously I don’t like it (laughs), it’s not a good thing. I just think that sometimes, as a culture, we don’t like to speak up, we stay home a lot, we’re otaku (geeks), we don’t really have good interaction with people, so when people who aren’t really nerds or otaku or something like that and they do those things, it kind of feels like you don’t know what to say. Obviously I’m against it, but I just think that women and men – men get harassed too – they should speak up. If anything happens to them, they should tell (the person harassing them) “no.” It’s never happened to me because I say “no.” So yeah, speak up!

Q: You’re from the States and you’ve been to places such as Japan and the UK, are there any differences in the art that you’ve noticed being in these different places?

Vampy: Yes. American art style, if you notice, it’s not that clean. It’s very sketchy, right? Like Jim Lee for example, he’ll sketch the lines. But in Asia, oh my god, it looks like watercolour, you know? It’s unreal. It’s like if you have a dream, it kind of looks like that in Asia, you know? It’s just a cleaner art style. I appreciate both but when I go here, it’s crazy. For example Artgerm right, Stanley? I don’t even know how he does most of his art so, it’s amazing. I love both.

Q: Can you tell us about your future plans?

Vampy: My future plans? Next year, I’m trying to focus on more mecha. I think I shouldn’t do that now. Because before, I wasn’t very confident in my skills, but now I think I’m getting better. So now I want to do like Kamen Rider, I want to do Zaku (the Gundam), I want to do armour. I love Warhammer, I want to do Warhammer 40 K…I just want to do all the crazy stuff. Sexy is great, whatever, it’s just…me, like inside, that makes me go crazy, like the mecha. And my future plans, I’m coming out with a toy soon.

Q: If you were to cosplay Kamen Rider, which one would it be?

Vampy: Oh, Super-1. He was only around for one year, but he’s my favourite, I love his design, he’s cool.

Q: What’s the hardest cosplay you’ve ever made?

Vampy: Believe it or not, it was Morrigan from Darkstalkers. It’s very hard. I mean I know it shows a lot, don’t let that fool you because the head wings? Hard to do. The wings on your back? Hard to do. Picking out the colours was really hard, everything about that costume was hard. It took me like seven months to do, I didn’t sleep very much.

Q: With Warhammer, what would you like to cosplay as?

Vampy: I want to do Sisters of Battle, that’s my dream cosplay.

Vampy as is.
Q: What’s Vampy like outside cosplay?

Vampy: Just the same thing, just not this (motions to costume). I’m pretty simple. I don’t really…the thing is, I’m not too much of a fan of when girls say “I’m like a dude”, I’m totally a girl! It’s just that I like to do things that are cool, for example, build Gundams, it doesn’t make me a man. I just like it, right? I think that I’m the same, people tell me that I’m the same person. Just without this and the eyelashes and the contacts.

Q: What hobbies do you do in your free time?

Vampy: I used to play saxophone a lot, guitar, I love metal music so I go (to) concerts. When I come back, I’m gonna see Iron Maiden. I heard that you guys had…Metallica? I love Metallica. I like to eat a lot. If I didn’t do cosplay, my passion…my brother’s a chef, my little brother. I would totally be making food all the time, and building Gundams. I’m pretty boring (laughs).

Q: What’s the most out-there, “I wouldn’t have thought of that” material or item that you used in the formation of a costume?

Vampy: Uh well, like…I use everything. I use foil. I use tinfoil, and then I put clay over it, so instead of using all clay, you use that as the inside, foundation. Tinfoil is great for anything, tinfoil and then clay over it, epoxy.

Q: How do you make something durable, how do you make something last?

Vampy: I like to use Magic Sculpt, you guys know Magic Sculpt? Epoxy, I love that because it does not break. I used epoxy on this (the antenna for the Swan Jun helmet). I dropped it a few times and nothing happened.

Q: How many cosplays have you done?

Vampy: Too many. I can answer this: I make two or three a month. So out of what, 15 years? That’s a lot, if you do the math.
Q: How long do you think you’ll continue to be cosplaying?

Vampy: To be honest with you, since cosplay’s changing a lot, I see a lot of things happening in society that’s really sad. There’s a lot of hate in the cosplay community sometimes, it makes me really sad, it makes me not want to do it, but I continue to do it because I love it. But I wanted to quit many times, it feels weird because even though you’re wearing your Gundam shirt, if I was wearing my Gundam cosplay, same thing! We’re both fans, but we express it differently, right? In this community, I feel like sometimes there’s a lot of anger. Unneeded anger, so as long as no one tries to kill me, I’ll continue cosplay.

Q: You have quite a big following, do you have a message to your fans?

Vampy: Oh yes, of course! I think the message for me is that when you cosplay, it doesn’t matter if you’re putting $5 in cosplay or a couple of thousand, just have fun, because honestly, I appreciate all of it. Even if you’ve never tried cosplay, please try it, because it’s very addictive, you know? And it’s a good thing, because I see “box Gundam” guys – they just put (the) Gundam (logo) on a box – it’s cool! I like it! Whatever, so I just say “don’t be afraid to cosplay”, because I was afraid before.