Salt Lake Comic Con is an opportunity to escape from reality and play out fantasies. A walk through the crowded halls and auditorium reveals everything from Princess Batmans to scores of Deadpools and Harleys.
While some costumes look thrown together or appear as if they were purchased from Victoria’s Secret, others are elaborate and obviously crafted with love and care. Eric Hall takes cosplay to a new level, sometimes working and refining his costumes for years.
He portrays superheroes and science fiction characters at events and conventions. At Salt Lake Comic Con, in September, he roamed the convention center as Aquaman and Data, complete with pet cat, Spot.
“It all started with a love of Halloween. My mom worked in community theater and so I grew up around costumes, makeup and acting,” Eric explains. His first serious costume, at age 10, was a robot he put together with a vacuum cleaner box, dryer hoses, bleach bottles and the plastic containers from 25 cent toy machines. He won his school costume parade and was hooked for life.
With only a few missteps along the way, such as the blue food coloring that he couldn’t wash off his face for four days, Eric perfected his costume skills through imagination and by looking for bargains at after-Halloween sales and thrift stores.
He has created costumes for several comic book characters including Green Lantern, Aquaman, Superman and the Green Goblin. But some of his favorites come from the world of Star Trek.
He gets a lot of attention with his Data costume with people telling him he looks and sounds a lot like the real character, but his overall favorite is an elaborate Borg costume that has won top prize at the Las Vegas Costume Contest four different times.
Attention to detail is the key to his realistic creations. He started the Borg costume in 1993, and all the elements come from thrift stores.The chest is made from a bicycle motocross vest, the right leg is made from roller blade armor, the right arm is made from a leaf blower, his head is covered with a kid’s plastic baseball helmet painted white with martial art sparring gear added in. He recently wired in electroluminescent lights and uses a voice changer for authentic effect. He said that he is constantly updating it and refining it and adds something new every year.
As much joy as Eric gets from dressing up as his favorite characters, he also uses his powers for good. Eric started an organization called H.E.R.O.I.C (Heroes Engaging Real Organizations in Charity). He invited fellow cosplayers to join him working at charity events. They volunteer at organizations such as MDA, Make-A-Wish, Toys for Tots and the Downs Syndrome Walk. They dress up and go to the events to meet and greet the kids, pose for pictures and run arts and crafts booths. The kids are thrilled to meet their favorite superhero and the players help draw attention to the cause and thus increase donations.
Cosplay, is just what it says, play, but sometimes costumed heroes turn into real heroes when their cause is just.
Story by Connie Lewis