This interview was original posted on the Underground Video Network Facebook page. To see the interview, click here.
Mike here, let me just start this off by saying it was an absolute delight doing this interview with Abby. We have never formally met, so I was a little nervous approaching her, but I have to say that in this and in the past emails we’ve exchanged setting this up, I’ve learned that she is one of the sweetest, genuine and down-to-Earth people I’ve had the joy of interviewing. *sidenote….she will totally call you out on any spelling or grammatical errors. So let’s begin, shall we?
Mike: Let’s first establish a little street cred. What are some of your favorite movies, TV shows, and comics?
Abby: Let’s see. Favorite shows, in no particular order: Star Trek: TNG (I like all of em, but TNG hands down fav), Big Bang Theory, Dr. Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, Fringe, Suits, Master and Commander, Galapagos (documentary), Alien Quadrilogy, Sleepy Hollow, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Halo Legends.
Comics, well since DC switched to the new 52, I’m still reading and evaluating. Some of my all-time favorite comics has to be the Shadow of the Bat Series. I always loved the story lines in it and the art was always great. I’ve been reading a lot of Tarot, I love Balent’s work. I haven’t been keeping up with much of Marvel at all, other than reading issues of Invincible Iron Man.
I know I’m forgetting tons…
Mike: What got you started in cosplaying and when did you first start?
Abby: I got into cosplay because I was a theater geek. My second semester of college I realized that I loved theater too much to make it a career and switched my major. I still needed a creative outlet, and being a geek girl all my life, I saw that costuming/cosplay could be this outlet! I believe my first costume that I attempted to put together was in 2006? I did an Anita Blake costume at Mega Con in Orlando, Florida. After that- I knew I could do so much better and began researching/work on my first Poison Ivy costume.
Mike: How long, on average, would you say it takes to put together a costume?
Abby: It really depends on the costume. I have several that have been in the planning stages for years, just waiting on funds or the right type of material to do it. Other than that, I can put together a costume in about six months. That being that everything goes according to plan.
Mike: Have you had any formal training, such as make-up or sewing?
Abby: I learned to sew as a child, and know the basics. I’m trying to improve my skills. Both my mother and Grandmother were amazing seamstresses, so trying to work on my own creations often got taken over, haha. I have been trained in theatrical makeup, as well as taken make up lessons. Since I was in theater, I do have theater training in movement, dance, and voice.
Mike: Where do you find the inspirations for your costumes, such as your Indiana Jones? Which may I say was incredible.
Abby: Much of the inspiration for my costumes comes from a love of the characters, or the way they inspire me. Indy-Abby Jones was a costume born of pure love. Growing up, my Dad was a stay at home Dad. We watched cartoons, read comics, and watched movies together. Indiana Jones was always one of our favorites. When I started dating Zen, he had an Indy, and we both love the character. So one night, discussing what costumes we could do together, Indian Jones came up.
I try to choose costumes that I can have a connection to, for me this is very important so that I can portray the character effectively. If perhaps, it is the costume that I find inspiring, I really try to still study the character, understand them and be able to be conversant in aspects about the character.
Mike: Any projects coming up that you’re currently working on?
Abby: Right now I’m starting to do the final research phase for a new Poison Ivy costume. The one I originally made (not Arkham Ivy) was on it’s last legs and needed to be replaced. While I enjoy the iconic look of the leafed bodice Ivy, a lot of people are now doing that type of Poison Ivy costume- so time for something different.
I will be revamping my Arkham Asylum Poison Ivy, re-doing the wig, shirt and shoes.
I’m also working on an original design of my own, as well as a Female Master Chief from Halo. Hopefully all the above will be done by San Diego Comic Con.
Mike: We on the show follow a lot of folks who attend the larger conventions we can’t make it to. It seems we can’t look though a convention photo gallery without seeing pictures of you popping up. Do you find yourself being recognized by people at the cons? What about outside the convention scene?
Abby: I actually to my astonishment, do. I was actually at a local event and someone came up to me saying my online name. It wasn’t a con, or anything like that, just the Dicken’s Faire in San Francisco. That day several people recognized me. It is very disconcerting. I’m the ‘friend not fan’ type of person. I am not in this hobby to be famous or to make money. I have a career. This is my passion, my hobby and it really makes me happy that people enjoy what I do. If I can share my love of the characters, what my Dad shared with me and inspire others- that is the ultimate compliment that can be paid. ☺
Mike: Aside from conventions are there any events one might bump into you in costume?
Abby: I try to do several charity events a year. These are usually fundraisers or events that are orchestrated through the Avenger’s Initiative of which I’m the Executive Officer.
Mike: A couple years ago we attended a con that featured a costume contest. There was a young lady who by standard definition would have been considered very attractive. The problem was she arrived in what was blatantly a store bought costume. I won’t say she got booed, but her reception was not what I think she expected. You put a lot of time and effort into your costumes, do you kind of scoff at the girls who show up in store bought costumes?
Abby: I am going to answer this completely honestly. Everyone judges, if a person somehow draws attention to themselves they are INVITING others to judge them.
There are times that I see things and I might inwardly cringe. It is not because I think that costumes should be 100% made by a person, or that store bought costumes don’t count or that. I endeavor to NOT JUDGE. I’m not perfect, but I’ve been judged very harshly by some and I try not to do the same.
My viewpoint is this: I put a lot of work into my costumes, but it is FOR ME. I am a perfectionist; I try my best to put my best out there. That is MY work ethic. Not anyone else’s and I don’t expect that from anyone BUT myself.
When I do see costumes that may not be what others might consider ‘the best’ or are store bought I have one thought: “oh please be gentle” because I KNOW some heartless jerk is going to put that up somewhere on the web and trolls are going to attack. I just hope that those people that chose to bring attention to themselves in certain ways realize that.
Mike: While checking out comic convention photos, along with you, we seem to see a few others whose pictures pop up all over the place. Is there any friendly competition amongst the cosplay circles, or is it more of a community?
Abby: There CAN be a lot of competition. There CAN be a lot of drama, at times. At other times it is the tightest knit supportive community there is. I view it as this: Cosplay is like a family or a small town. Everyone knows everyone, most of the times everyone is up on everyone’s business. There are going to be silly, petty rivalries, misunderstandings and sometimes just stupid feuds. BUT- you attack one of us and the whole of us is rallying. Case in point, the asinine statements/article by the ‘journalist’ Jordan Bourchette in Men’s Health magazine about NYCC. I have never been prouder of people and their binding together as I have been about our cosplay community over that situation.
Mike: Are there any celebrities you’ve met at the cons that have made you just completely loose your cool?
Abby: I’m going to understand loose my cool in a good way, haha. Normally I really don’t ‘loose it’ over celebrities. I’ll appreciate him or her, thank him or her, but mostly I treat them like anyone else, because every person in this world has worth. That being said, the only celebrity I did get flustered meeting was James Marsters because I was such a huge Buffy fan. I hope to get to meet Sir Patrick Stewart this year at Dragon*Con and I hope to be (mostly) non-plussed. Ask me after September, haha!
Mike: Are there any celebrities you’d like to be able to meet?
Abby: Sir Patrick Stewart, David Attenborough (I’m such a nerd-lol), Nathan Fillion.
Mike: Over the years, are there any highlights you can think of while attending comic cons?
Abby: The best highlights for me are great times with friends, meeting new friends and getting to see kids reactions to me in costume. THAT is my favorite part, having a little boy or girl come up to me and just be so happy to see their favorite character!
Mike: Any advice you can give anyone whose looking to get into cosplay and attend conventions?
Abby: My advice is this, be aware of what you are getting into. What you see some cosplayers do isn’t easy nor is it cheap. We put ourselves out there and are judged harshly. Think of your reasons for cosplaying and make it your own. Do it to make yourself happy.
If a person is worried about appearance or looking their ‘best’- put the work into the costume/character. Do your research, join online boards (like the RPF.com or Superhero Costuming forum), and just remember why you are doing it. No matter what it may be, love of the character, the craft or you just want to. Do it for you.
One thing I will say can help a costume really look good is makeup. Makeup and the right eyecolor/or contact lens. It is amazing how these small details can make or break a costume!
Mike: Is there any advice you can give your average person who may run into you at a comic con who’d like to approach you for a photo or to just say hi?
Abby: Just say hi! I am NOT anyone special. I’m just a girl who loves her comics/movies/games. Come up, say HI, introduce yourself. If you are on my FB or we know each other on a forum, remind me of your screen name. So many people are across so many different social medias these days it is very easy to lose track of who is whom! I love meeting new people ☺
If I can’t stop to chat- don’t worry its not you, I might be dead on my feet, or have a costume digging into me. Sometimes with some costumes I can’t eat/drink/sit down/go to the ladies room- and I might be at the ‘time limit’ I’ve set to get out of costume. I always try to explain this if people do ask me to stop, though ☺
Mike: On our show we talk quite a bit about “geek chic” or the idea that the geek/nerd culture has moved out of the backrooms, basements and comic book stores and into the mainstream media. Do you think this is helping or actually hurting the geek culture.
Abby: I think it has helped in a lot of ways. It has gotten people to realize that “hey-that lawyer goes to comic con” or “wow my teacher knows more about Supes than I do!” I believe it has promoted acceptance and understanding.
Mike: Lastly, are there any websites you host where our followers can check out the incredible adventures of Abby Dark-Star?
Abby: Right now myself and Zen’s website, KeAbtium.com is in the works. It should be up and running after the first of the year. The easiest way to follow me right now is on twitter or facebook. I have a deviant art but I hardly update (shame):
One thing I ask on Facebook, PLEASE send me a message! It is how I define who might be a spammer or some such!