Welcome back to my blog. I hope you guys enjoyed my previous post about the Long Beach Comic Expo. Today, I’m conducting another interview. I’m getting more acquainted with members of the Star Wars Steampunk Universe. They’re a very friendly group who engages in both cosplay and charity work. Our guest is Baron Von Maul, aka Shaylor Duranleau. I met him at two comic events and it was a very pleasant experience. He’s a very active cosplayer and steampunk enthusiast with a seriously creative Darth Maul costume. Thanks for joining us today, Shaylor.
Q: Why did you join the Star Wars Steampunk Universe?
A: It happened really organically. I had met Captain Seekerman through a mutual friend at a couple other steampunk events. He asked one fateful afternoon if I could come up with a Star Wars Steampunk mashup cosplay for the up coming weekend for a photo shoot he was trying to put together for Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. After the initial response we received from WonderCon and Star Wars Celebration we realized we had something there. That was two years ago now and we haven’t looked back since.
Q: It seems like you make a lot of public appearances. How do you find the time?
A: Sometimes it’s difficult. I am lucky now that I have a job where I can make my own schedule for the most part. So if there happens to be a convention or a charity event that may take place during a weekday, I am able to work around it. Sometimes it can get challenging. Between work, charity, conventions, and just having a social life, from end of March till the end of the year most weekends are packed with at least one event if not multiple.
Q: Everyone appears really close and open minded in the SWSU. Would you say my assessment is accurate?
A: We are. We all come from different walks of life, at different stages, but we all share a desire to express ourselves creatively and find away to give back at the same time. That was one thing that was very important to us when forming the group. We didn’t want our focus to be about self promoting. We wanted to take a hobby we all enjoy and do something positive with it, and encourage others to do the same within the cosplay/steampunk community.
Q: I know the SWSU participates in cosplay and charity work. Is there anything else we should know about the group?
A: We are always looking for good causes to help out with, it could be from supporting runners in a charity marathon, Make-A-Wish events, toy drives, to a food drive for local animal shelters. We try to help out how ever we can all over Southern California.
Q: Why did you choose Darth Maul as your cosplay persona?
A: I have always been a big fan of Star Wars, some of my earliest memories are watching the VHS versions of the original trilogy. Even has a kid I always found the Empire/Dark Side interesting. My favorite character is Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, but our group already had our Darth Vader, Dude Vader. So when Nathan asked me to come up with a cosplay for the photoshoot I knew I wanted to “Go to the Dark Side.” Maul’s character has always intrigued me. He is fleshed out a lot more than his brief appearance in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, with other media, such as; The Clone Wars tv show, some comics, and a few novels. It was thinking about what I could do with his iconic double sided lightsabers that really finalized my decision.
Q: I think your lightsabers were fantastic with a lot of Tesla influences. Was it a DUI project?
A: Thank you. Yes they were. Before I moved to California from New Hampshire I was a master plumber and HVAC tech. I had been soldering since I was a freshmen in high school. I was very lucky that my small town had a Technical Career Center. My plumbing and heating teacher, Doug Morton, taught me how to solder and braze copper and brass as an art form. Which is great to know if one of your hobbies is Steampunk.
I knew I wanted to make his sabers something special as they were so iconic in The Phantom Menace. My idea was instead of a lightsaber to have a Lightning-Saber. I envisioned lighting rods with arcing electricity flowing up and down to make the up the blades.
I actually just finished a new set of lightsaber hilts out of copper and brass for my girlfriend, Harely Kat Cosplay, and her new steampunk Asaaj Ventress.
Q: Do you cosplay as other characters outside of the SWSU?
A: I like to do a lot of mashup cosplays versus just a straight up recreation of a character. I have a couple unique steampunk cosplay charters as well, such as my Lou Sulfur, a steampunk devil. I also do a lot of pokemon mashups. Last year for SDCC I did a crossover with Ash Ketchum from Pokemon and Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, I called it House Ketchum. It was very well received.
Q: What’s the best part about cosplay in your opinion?
A: For me, its getting to be creative. I love coming up with ideas, especially with crossover cosplays between different characters. I enjoy every step of the process, from idea, to creating the costume, to the initial debut to see how it is received at the con.
Getting to take that hobby now and put it to use it for helping others is a great is the best of both worlds.
Q: Would you mind giving us a definition of steampunk? Everybody gives me a different answer.
A: I think everyone has a different definition of steampunk because I think it means something different to everyone. For me its a way to express myself, it represents a simpler time as well. A time of unlimited possibilities, adventure, something more romantic than the world we have today. Steampunk to me is about an era that could have been, but never will be.
Q: Have you applied steampunk elements on a practical level outside of cosplay?
A: Sort of but actually in reverse. I used my skills and knowledge of copper metal working, steam systems, and electronics, and apply them to my cosplaying.
Q: I always see steampunk from a writer’s point of view. It might be somewhat different from a steampunk artist, clothing designer, prop maker, or cosplayer. Do you believe different types of professionals and hobbyists are bringing multiple perspectives to steampunk?
A: Very much so, I know sometimes I actually have a difficult time because of my background with plumbing and steam systems. At times knowing what a certain part would practically be used for can hinder my creativity. I always have to try and make something look functional as far as steam systems go. I have friends that feel the same way but with the actual fabric part of costumes. Where they have a background in doing era accurate costumes for reenactments they have a hard time not be “accurate” as there is no right or wrong way to steampunk. I think regardless of how you are involved in steampunk everyone brings their own unique perspective to it.
Q: What do you think about the other “punk” genres? Cyberpunk, dieselpunk, biopunk, etc.
A: I find them interesting but I am not drawn to them like I was steampunk. I think that is because of my background working with copper and brass, even working on old turn of the century steam system in New England.
Q: Is there anything else we should know about you?
A: Well, cosplay isn't my only hobby, and certainly isn't the most expensive one either. My other hobby is cars. I have been building, and breaking, a car for four years now. A 1992 Acura NSX, I have replaced, upgraded, and rebuilt everything on it at least once. It is currently sitting in the garage right now with a broken transmission from the excessive amount of power it is making, 830 rear wheel horse power with 700 Ft/Lbs of torque.
That was a really interesting Q&A. I always learn something new from my interview candidates. Thanks for taking the time and I think your Baron Von Maul outfit is very impressive. Best wishes for your future appearances in the steampunk and sci-fi community.
All right! Thanks for checking out this interview. Here are some links, so you can learn more about Shaylor Duranleau. You can find him on Instagram @DLoCosplay. Leave a comment if you have anything to say about this post. I also hope you guys enjoyed the Academy Awards. Get some rest and stay tuned for next week's post.
Hello again. This is going to be a lengthy and very special blog post. I'm going to show a lot of pictures and some links from the Long Beach Comic Expo. It takes place at the Long Beach Convention Center every Spring. The Expo showcases a variety of artists, celebrities, cosplayers, and vendors. A lot of attendees dress up in costumes and it's a really fun event for people who love comic books, superheroes, science fiction, and fantasy. Surprisingly, comic events aren't bad for steampunk fans. There are quite a few steampunk cosplayers and vendors who attend. I have a little bit of bad news. Due to rainy weather, I didn't wear my costume. Sorry guys. I didn't want to damage my outfit. But it was still a fun event and I met a lot of cool people. Cosplayers and comic book fans are not afraid to be geeky or nerdy. I love it. Let's take a look at the gallery.
First, I ran across an independent comic book publisher called Top Cow. Their comic series veer away from mainstream superheroes. It seems like most of their comics venture into the realm of supernatural, macabre, or post-apocalyptic. Some of their titles include Eclipse, Witchblade, and Postal. Some of their series are being adapted for television. I haven't read any of Top Cow's comics yet, but they seem like my type of fandom. Eclipse seems particularly exciting to me because it's post-apocalyptic.
Fanbase Press is another interesting comic book publisher. They have a variety of comics. I saw some fantasy, science fiction, and horror titles. The Odds looked particularly appealing to me. It has a weird west and dystopian feel. They also have podcasts, reviews, interviews, and giveaways. You can open the link for more details about their work.
Gears & Roebuck should make the steampunk enthusiasts happy. Mark and Shannon Hoage own the company. They make custom steampunk props. I talked to Shannon for a while. Their merchandise has a very reasonable price. It would be a good opportunity for steampunk cosplayers who are looking for faux weapons, masks, and accessories. I might commission her at some point because their work looks very good. I love the guy's steampunk costume in the picture below. If you want to contact Gears & Roebuck for a potential commission, send an e-mail to email@example.com or call (951) 898-9335.
I talked to a comic artist and illustrator named Calvin Nye. He has a very unique line of comic books. One of his comic series features a superhero who was diagnosed with autism. It's a different approach to graphic novels and I consider that a good thing. People need to stand out from the crowds. I'm going to list his website below. You can also call this phone number for inquiries at (805) 797-1861 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's a vendor for the ladies. Botti Vingelo Arts & Accessories makes ear clasps, tiaras, hair bows, pendants, etc. Their merchandise looks great for cosplayers. Vampires, Medieval fantasy, steampunk, witches, fairies, and all kinds of genres would be compatible with this type of jewelry. Botti Vingelo is on Facebook and Etsy.
This vendor caught my attention. Nerdy Prints etches images on drinkware and vinyl decals. The owner is Andy Tune. What do you guys think? Perhaps, some coffee mugs would be a good choice for a tea drinker like me. I can think of some emblems. Maybe Captain America, Fallout, Avengers, Batman, Assassin's Creed, BioShock, etc. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you want custom orders, visit their official website or e-mail address at email@example.com.
Medieval Times! I haven't seen that show for years. Maybe it's time for me to buy some tickets down the road. I had a photo op with a knight in shining armor. They're located in Buena Park. You can purchase tickets online or call 888-WE-JOUST. It's worth the price. The show is really cool and dinner is part of the package.
I had a chance to meet Jason Momoa. Most of you probably remember him from Game of Thrones. He's also the new Aquaman with a feature film coming up in the near future. Photography wasn't allowed, but I still had the opportunity to say hello. Personally, I think he's better looking in person than on television. I'm sure a lot of women are envious right now. A lot of attendees wanted autographs and it kept him really busy. He's looking forward to the Aquaman film and I'm sure many of you are too.
Are any Supernatural fans reading this post? I met some of the Ghostfacers from Supernatural and the web series. You know what? They were a totally friendly and approachable group of people. I had a good chat with Travis Wester, A.J. Buckley, Mircea Monroe, Austin Basis, and Dustin Milligan. You should be able to find some of them on Twitter and possibly Facebook. Travis is also an author. His novella titled Circle of the Keepers is available on Amazon.com. He's also working on a fantasy series called Legion of Windvale. I'm sure it will be really interesting.
I also met Michael Golden. He's a comic book illustrator with an impressive resume. Michael Golden worked on Batman, The Walking Dead, Spider-Man, Star Wars, Doctor Strange, and more. He's a very talented artist and I appreciated the photo op. Thanks for being open minded, Mr. Golden.
Okay, let's talk about Star Wars villains. The Empire is downright menacing and I believe Darth Vader is one of the best villains ever. Meet the 501st Legion. They're a cosplay group devoted to Imperial characters from the Star Wars franchise. You'll see every type of Imperial character ranging from stormtroopers, tie fighter pilots, scout troopers, and everything else. Last year, I saw more than a dozen scout troopers at the Comic Con. You should check out their website. It's very detailed with a list of members, groups, events, charity work, etc. I took a picture with Shadow Scout TX-12015, aka Tony Brennan. His costume was really cool. You can learn more about him on Instagram@oc.shadowscout.
These guys were pretty funny. I met Bonnie Gordon and Xander Jeanneret. Their stage name is the Library Bards. Gordon and Jeanneret take popular songs and create parodies that work with the comic or sci-fi culture. Their music is very whimsical and amusing. You can check them out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. They have an official website and you can buy their music on iTunes.
The Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club also attended the expo. They engage in cosplay and create Mandalorian merchandise on commission. I was always a fan of Boba Fett and other Mandalorians, so this group is very cool to me. They're a personable group and I met them at last year's Comic Con too. The group is available on Instagram and Facebook. You can contact them through e-mail; firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm also posting a link to their official website.
Evil Ted was an interesting cosplayer. Don't freak out about his name. He actually seems like a really nice guy. Evil Ted has a YouTube channel that shows people how to create elaborate outfits and helmets out of foam. It doesn't look like foam, but that's part of the illusion. He does good work. You can learn all kinds of information about Evil Ted on his website. For those of you who enjoy DUI projects, try out his YouTube videos.
Well, I thought this girl's Harley Quinn outfit was really cute. She's a friend of Angi Viper. Both of them are on Angi Viper's websites. You can learn more about their cosplay through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. If you want to request a cosplay appearance or a particular item on Etsy, contact her through email@example.com.
Livia Chu was located at the show's Cosplay Corner. Her cosplay name is Chu Bear. She has a variety of costumes, but this one was from a video game called Overwatch. I never played it. Can any of you guys tell me about Overwatch? You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
These guys are from the Saber Guild. It's an international cosplay organization entirely composed of Jedi Knights and Sith Lords from the Star Wars series. They remind me of the 501st Legion in a way. Take a look at their website. It shows a membership directory, a blog, a contact page, and more.
How many of you remember Battlestar Galactica? I'm talking about the original series. Herbert Jefferson Jr. was at the expo. Isn't that awesome? I'm geeking out right now. Those of you who remember Battlestar Galactica know him as Lt. Boomer. He was really laid back and approachable. Mr. Jefferson seems to appreciate the show's fan base and is attending a couple conventions abroad this year.
This is Megan Golden and she was one of the featured cosplayers. She also does some acting and modeling. This is clearly a Tomb Raider outfit, but she has other costumes as well. Here's a list of her pages.
One of the featured cosplayers was a guy named Bernie Bregman. His company is Nerds Like Us. I actually enjoyed talking to him. Bernie was very open minded to conversations. He wore a vampire costume, but most of the attendees thought the costume was Hook from Once Upon a Time. I can see the resemblance, but vampires totally works too. You can view Nerds Like Us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you want to hire Bernie for any gigs, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 818-383-2363.
There were a few fantasy vehicles outside. I'm pretty sure this car was from the Blues Brothers movie. Am I right?
This Jeep is definitely from Jurassic Park. I would totally drive that Jeep in real life.
It's always interesting to see hybrid costumes. I guess this is a Mandalorian from Star Wars and some type of barbarian like Conan or Thundarr.
Lady Judge Dredd! I really liked this costume. A lot of girls did this type of thing at the expo. I saw other conversions into female outfits like Captain America, the Joker, Darth Vader, and more.
Here's a more traditional version of Black Widow. Since the Avengers became a film series, I became quite a Black Widow fan.
It's Megatron! This guy must be wearing stilts. Actually, Optimus Prime was also at the expo. But it was so difficult to take pictures because people kept swarming them. Inventive costumes though.
This is a great pic for the steampunk fans. I ran into a couple of steampunk Mandalorians. Their costumes looked really good. Isn't that fun?
A blast from the past. This costume is from the original Planet of the Apes saga. His outfit looks authentic. I was such a huge fan of those movies. In fact, I recently recorded all of them on my DVR.
These guys are from the White Glove Society in Fallout: New Vegas. It's always great to see video game characters at comic events. I recognize the Pip-Boy on her wrist.
Believe it or not, this cosplayer is a woman. She's a very convincing Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean series.
I'm not a big fan of The Walking Dead, but a lot of people dressed up from the television show. These guys were definitely in the Walking Dead spirit.
The Green Arrow. I would say this one is more like the original Green Arrow from the comics and cartoon series. Less like the one played by Stephen Amell on the tv series.
I loved this outfit. She's a fabulous rendition of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I asked if she was looking forward to the live action movie that's coming out in March. Both of us are really stoked about it.
What a great Hawkgirl costume! Her wings actually retract. I saw a large number of female superheroes at the expo.
A trio of Deadpools. They were a lot of fun. I'm glad they enjoyed the expo.
This guy had a terrific Doctor Strange outfit. I thought the whimsical pattern on his cape was cute. There were a few Doctor Strange cosplayers walking around, probably because his movie was released back in November.
Who likes Game of Thrones? I don't watch the show, so the characters aren't familiar to me. Do you guys recognize these characters? Actually, I saw multiple cosplayers dressed as characters from Game of Thrones. But I didn't have a chance to snap many pictures. They kept getting swallowed up in the crowds.
I got a photo op with Batman in the food court. It's not a comic book event without Batman, right?
Finally, I ran across the Riddler. I always see a lot of Batman villains at comic shows. That pretty much concluded my photos of attendees and cosplayers.
Usually, I don't attend a lot of panels at comic events. I actually watched two panels at the expo and they were quite interesting. The first panel was about a web show called Super Power Beat Down. I've never watched the series, but it looks fun and amusing. It appears to be a series of short webisodes that feature fight scenes between various superheroes. Many of them are Marvel and DC crossovers. They also feature video game characters at times. The episodes are whimsical yet bloody with great choreography. Basically, the panel was a Q&A with the cast and creators of the series. They also showed video footage of the battle between Wolverine and Wonder Woman. The panel included Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke, Shaun Piccinino, Orion Acaba, and Tatiana DeKhtyar. They're making a lot more episodes, so I'm sure their fans will be really happy about it. Click on the link below to learn more about Super Power Beat Down.
Part of my day was spend with everyone from the Star Wars Steampunk Universe. They're a group of cosplayers who participate in a lot of charity work. The SWSU takes characters from Star Wars and blends a strong steampunk aesthetic to the costume design. They attend events all over Southern California. I got to know them starting from last years Comic Con in Long Beach. Along the way, I chatted with some of them through social networking. I interviewed Nathan Seekerman a couple months ago. By the way, he's the Han Solo persona. Now I'm getting acquainted with more of their members. The SWSU is very welcoming to anyone who's interested in steampunk, science fiction, and cosplay. They're also very creative. Most of them created elaborate costumes through the DUI approach. Their panel discussed how cosplay can be fun and help particular causes. The members talked about their personas, DUI stories, charity events, and how the SWSU brought so many people together. Take a look at their Facebook page. It shows their photos, discussions, and upcoming events. I'm going to post some photos and the link to their Facebook page.
All right! That sums up my adventure at the Long Beach Comic Expo. I hope you enjoyed the post and pictures. It was a great opportunity to meet other people in the sci-fi community and reconnect with familiar groups. This is an annual event. It's around $30 for a day pass. Food isn't particularly expensive and some of the merchandise is reasonably priced. I think it's worth the cost and the event is perfectly acceptable for families. Please leave comments and questions. Enjoy your President's Day. I get to have a three day weekend. Stay tuned for next week's post and let's see what the future holds in store.