Student suits up for cosplays

Crum’s Robin costume consists of scuba shoes and a wetsuit, among more pieces that he has modified. “It’s an expensive hobby,” Crum said. Justin Gilliland/HERALD

Kierstin Kirk

Cosplay by definition is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game. Participants pour immense amounts of time and money into costumes they will wear, for a weekend, at most. But for senior Andrew Crum, cosplay is much more than that.

“It does change your life in more ways than just dressing up for a few hours,” Crum said. “There’s benefits that go all the way up to the sky.”

Crum is an Elizabethtown native and has been participating in cosplay for about three years in both his hometown and various conventions. Some of his previous characters he’s taken on have been Nightcrawler from the “X-Men” movies and Robin from “Batman and Robin.” He’s also created many zombie costumes for zombie walks and past Halloweens. 

Although cosplay is a long and expensive process, it has allowed Crum to experiment with artistic elements and techniques that go along with his major. 

“This may just be since I’m an art major, but I always want to outdo myself, I always want to make something better,” Crum said. 

For his Robin costume, Crum worked with many artistic methods, including creating a plaster mold of his head and heating the mask with an iron. By the end of the lengthy process, Crum had created a mask that could securely stay on his face without the aid of string or rope.

“My Robin probably took me a few weeks with sewing and figuring out how to make his mask,” he said. “I was going to make a retractable bow staff for Robin and on paper everything seemed to work out just fine, but once you test it crazy things happen.”

His constant practice with cosplay has paid off in many ways. He has won awards at events with his costumes, including an award for “scariest zombie” at a zombie walk in his hometown. 

“Before, it was just a mask I would put on and I would suffer for four hours or however long the event was, but now I can chomp and talk normal, but with a mangled zombie face,” Crum said. 

His next costume has not only become an artistic time commitment, but a physical one as well.

“What I’m working on right now is for next year, and it’s a Wolverine cosplay,” Crum said. “I’m working on fabricating the outfit, the mask, the props and everything else.” 

The Wolverine costume has Crum in the gym four times a week, eating healthy and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. He’s been doing this for the past six months and plans to continue this routine all the way up to the next convention, which is six months away. 

“When you do a costume, you want to do it justice, you want to make it as cool as you possibly can,” Crum says. 

Cosplay has even become a way for Crum to keep in touch with friends like graduate Kevin Pierson from Shelbyville. Crum met Pierson when they both worked at Southwest Hall. 

“My first experience with him was when we decided to do costumes for Halloween,” Pierson said. “He went as a zombie Spiderman and I went as Bam-Bam from the Flintstones.”

The two are planning on cosplaying together every year. 

“We actually have the perfect heights for doing the same character at different time periods,” Pierson said.

One of the most rewarding benefits cosplay has brought to Crum has been children’s reactions to his costumes.

“Sometimes they don’t really know it’s a costume and you can really make someone’s day,” Crum said. “When I was Nightcrawler, I had kids screaming my name and they wanted pictures and were just smiling ear to ear, and that was really cool.”

Crum said a year ago he would’ve considered cosplay as strictly a hobby, but it really has become a part of him now. 

“It has become a small way of life and as far as I’m concerned a pretty healthy way of life,” Crum said.