Eric Hall as Data

By Aimee Gertsch

With FanX quickly approaching what could be better than geting cosplay tips from one of Utah’s favorite cosplayers, Eric Hall. Eric has provided some great tips, as well as insight into why he loves cosplay.

What inspired you to get into cosplay?
As I was growing up, my mom was involved in a lot of community theater. She would act and help with makeup backstage, and I had child roles in “Carousel”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, and a few other productions. I think my love of costuming grew from those childhood experiences. I have always loved Halloween, and I loved making my own costumes, like a robot made from a cardboard box, dryer hose, and bleach bottles, or the time I used blue food coloring to turn my face and arms blue so I could go as Desslock from “Star Blazers”– the food coloring didn’t come off for three days, so it’s not a technique I’d recommend.

What is your favorite character to play? What makes it your favorite?
That’s a DIFFICULT question– my top three would be Data, from Star Trek: The Next Generation, a Borg, also from Star Trek, and Superman. Data, because of his childlike wonder, his quest to become more human by improving himself and expanding his talents, and his devotion to his friends and the principles of Starfleet. I’ve been told a bear a resemblance to Data, and when I meet people at conventions while dressed as Data, I’m frequently asked to pose for photos.

EricHallBorgMy Borg, because I’ve been working on it since 1993 and it’s my most “complicated” costume. It’s got a voice changer so I sound like a Borg when I speak, a holographic eye, a laser, a plasma disc, a working claw, a radial (plastic) saw, lights in the chest and head, and EL tubing. At conventions and other events when I wear it, people ask me to pose and “assimilate” them.

Superman, because he was the original superhero. He stands for truth, justice, and the American way. I do charity work with a group called H.E.R.O.I.C. Inc., and most events we’re involved with are for or on behalf of kids, and with his bright, primary colors, Superman isn’t scary or threatening, and most kids instantly recognize who he is. I also appreciate his literary roots as a retelling of the story of Moses.

You are part of a group on Facebook for cosplay in Utah called Cosplay Utah. What is your favorite part about the cosplay community here?
From my experience, I’m appreciative that we work together to achieve common goals. At many events, there will be representatives from the Star Wars costuming groups, the Ghostbusters, Dolls and Gents, and H.E.R.O.I.C. Inc. We have friends in the other groups (and sometimes costumes that would go with the different groups), so I never get the feeling that we’re “competing” with each other– we’re there for the same reasons, to have a positive effect on the community and to make at least a small difference in the lives of those who need it the most. EricHallSuperman

With FanX just around the corner, do you have any advice for people going in costume?
YES! In no particular order:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. If you buy shoes a half to one full size larger than you normally wear, and you use inserts/arch supports, you’ll have happier feet at the end of the day.
  • Bring some props. As Superman, I have a shard of Kryptonite that lights up. As Green Lantern, I have a ring, a power battery, and a ring construct shield. As Data, I have a phaser, a tricorder, and a mechanical toy cat that I use as Data’s pet cat Spot. As the Joker, I have a joy buzzer and one of those toy guns that drops out a “BANG!” flag. Props add to the overall “look” of your costume, add interest to photos, and allow you to interact in a fun way the the other people in the photos.
  • Carry a small repair kit, like some duct tape, some safety pins, a needle or two, and some thread that matches your costume, for quick repairs.
  • Stay hydrated and snack on granola, some veggies, etc. to keep your energy up.
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Bring extra batteries and memory cards for your camera so you don’t run out of power or memory space.
  • If you’re using makeup, bring some to do touch ups after eating or drinking. Keeping it inside of a plastic ziplock sandwich bag or two keeps it from accidentally leaking.
  • A few baby wipes in a ziplock bag can help to clean up spilled food, makeup, etc. from off of your costume.
  • If you take medication, think you might get a headache, etc., be sure to bring what you will need for the day.

That SOUNDS like a lot to carry, but you can be strategic to carry your stuff “in character”– when I cosplay as Green Lantern, I use the power battery that I made (the top is hinged and the interior is hollow) to store my phone, camera, batteries, repair kit, wipes, and granola bar or two. As Superman, I hide my phone and camera case on the back of my belt, hidden by my cape. I use a kid’s school backpack with the Superman logo on it for a bottle of water, snacks, repair kit, etc. As Data, I use a plain black backpack with a Starfleet Academy patch sewn on.

Are there any rules of etiquette that non-cosplayers should know when approaching those in costume at events?

  • It’s always nice to ask permission first before taking a photo. If you see a cosplayer eating, taking a drink, on a bench with their shoes or mask off, etc., it’s polite to let them finish before asking for a photo.
  • Some costumes and makeup jobs are delicate, so please don’t “glomp”, or violently hug a cosplayer unless they say it’s okay. In the same way, please ask before touching a cosplayer or their costume and accessories.
  • There have been times that I’ve been in the restroom changing costumes, or applying makeup, and someone begins a conversation asking me about my costume or makeup– right as I’m trying to concentrate on my quick change and makeup application. It would be helpful– and appreciated– if you really want to know about the costume/makeup, if you would wait outside the restroom and approach the cosplayer after they are done and ready for the world.
  • If you see a cosplayer hurrying somewhere, they may be on their way to a panel or an event they don’t want to miss. It’s helpful to have your camera already out and ready to go for a quick photo, rather than in the bottom of a bag, inside of a case, with batteries that you forgot to change first.
  • If you know the name of the character and you’d like a photo, but you’re across the room, instead of yelling, “Hey, can I get your photo?”– when you could be addressing ANYONE there– it’s helpful instead to say something like, “Hey– Superman!”– then wait for the cosplayer to turn around– “Could I get a photo?” With so many people there and with so much going on at once, and with cosplayers wearing helmets, masks, contact lenses, etc., it’s NOT that your request is being ignored– we may just not realize that you’re trying to get our attention.

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