Tom Blasco, an effects artist by trade (creating masks, prosthetics and puppets for the entertainment industry), has been part of the cosplay community for five years. Though a professional fabricator of costume elements, Tom prefers says suiting up is a voluntary effort. “For me cosplaying means much more than just wearing the gear or showing off my costuming skills. I spend a great deal of my time attending charity events to help ease the suffering of sick or terminally ill children by bringing a smile to their face.”
Known for excellently executing the roles of Batman, Space Ghost, Captain Nemo or his original steampunk aeronaut Professor Copperpott, Mr. Blasco first found his fondness for cosplay in childhood. “Halloween, the one time of year that gave me the opportunity to dress up and do something creative. Cosplaying offered that opportunity far more than once a year.
“Characters such as Batman and Space Ghost have been favorites since childhood and I take my inspiration from films rather than comics to achieve a more authentic and realistic look and feel to the character. My steampunk character, Professor Copperpott, is an original creation which was inspired more by Leonardo da Vinci’s ornithopter, a flapping winged device.”
OTM had the privilege of interviewing this talented volunteer hero recently. . .
Is there a particular arena (conventions, events, photoshoots) that your enjoy more? Though I’m always up for and enjoy attending conventions and photo shoots my favorite would have to be attending charity events, nothing beats seeing an otherwise sick and unhappy child suddenly spring to life because I stepped into the room.
Have you made any appearances as the guest of an event/convention?
I was asked to appear as Professor Copperpott at a prop making panel at Conjure and as a featured cosplayers at the CBC comic convention and I’ll be featured in an upcoming episode of Steampunk Nation, an interview program about all things steampunk. I’m also a reoccurring guest on the Riley and Kimmy pod cast show plus countless interviews at most of the conventions I attend.
*Tom has also been the subject of a cosplay documentary (“Always be Batman” clip courtesy of Tim McNutt Media)
Is there a particular genre/style you prefer?
I am partial to superheroes and the steampunk genre. — As for a favorite, Batman is at the top of the list.
Do you make your own costumes/props?
Yes I do, many of my supplies come from local hardware and fabric stores and we do have one local effects supply company in town, but some things you can only find online. Most pieces are fabricated by a sculpture and molding process while others are scratch built from multiple materials i.e. aluminum, wood, wire, etc.
When you create your outfit do you strive for near perfection in accuracy or just the essence of the character?
With the exception of my current Dark Knight outfit, which is a replica of the Chris Nolan Dark Knight, my cosplay is always have an element of originality to them. Though I always strive to stay true to the character it’s always been my goal to create something nobody has seen before, such as the new Batsuit I’m working on which is an original design.
Is there a particular event/memory that stands out for you?
I was visiting a brave young boy with a brain tumor who is lying in bed rather placid and seemed somewhat depressed. As a couple of characters walked in he raised his head a little in acknowledgement, but as soon I came in he immediately sprung to life popping up and pointing at me shouting, “You’re Batman! You’re Batman!” And proceeded to fight his way to his feet so he can take photographs with me. When I arrived I saw a rather unhappy child, but when I left he was glowing.
What roadblocks or concerns do you see in the cosplay community?
Though I’ve been fortunate enough to not run into this yet, there are people out there who will bully cosplayers by saying or behaving in an inappropriate manner. Some may disparage you for being involved in this activity where others may make lewd comments while others may engage in inappropriate touching or handling of your props or person. For those that may say things to you keep in mind these are not the kind of people whose opinion should matter to you, so try to just let it roll off your back and don’t engage with him as that will only encourage and prolong them to continue. As for those that will take physical liberties there is safety in numbers, so it’s always best to attend these conventions with someone.
What advice would you give to someone getting started in this realm?
Cosplay is for everyone, no matter your age or skill level. Pick your favorite character get a costume and start hitting the convention circuit. As the popularity of cosplay has grown there are numerous tutorials, websites and Facebook pages where you can learn to fabricate your own or simply purchase what you’re looking for, so get online and start Googling.
“As I mentioned before, cosplay is not just for kids, it is for everyone. You should not feel limited by your age or your abilities. I’ve seen cosplayers well into their 70’s out there. If this genre speaks to you in any way, go for it! There are no rules! Except one, be safe.” –Tom Blasco