Cosplay Family Spotlight: The Colley Family

Cosplay is becoming more and more popular around the world and at conventions. I’ve personally found a lot of joy and personal confidence doing cosplay at conventions, and the number one reason I started was as an activity with my son. After seeing a great panel about Cosplay Families at Rose City Comic Con a couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to parents and families who cosplay and spotlight them here on GeekDad!

Cosplay Family Spotlight is a new recurring segment where I interview and spotlight a cosplay family. This week, I interview The Colley Family. I met Jake and Annie at a recent meet up at SoDo Makerspace (Punished Props just uploaded a video of the meetup).

Interested in participating? Leave a comment here or reach out to me on twitter @billythebrick.

GeekDad:
How many members of your family are involved in cosplay?
Jake Colley:
We are just getting started so, for now, it’s my wife, Annie, and I, and our daughters, Krissy (seven) and Lainy (five). Our son, Will, is only two, and I don’t have the skill or patience to scale stuff down that small. So, for now, he gets the store bought costumes.
GeekDad:
How did you and your family get into cosplay and prop/armor making? Did one particular member start it or did you all jump in together? What was your first cosplay?
Jake Colley:
Hawgirl, Wonder Woman, and Superman. Photo by Colley Family.

Like I said, we are pretty new to this. Back in September, we asked our girls what they wanted to be for Halloween this year. Lainy wanted to be Wonder Woman, and Krissy wanted to be Hawkgirl. A Wonder Woman costume would be easy to find at any costume store. Heck, Target has them up the wazzoo. But most people don’t even know who Hawkgirl is, let alone find them in a store. So I figured we’d just make it ourselves. Annie and I went to ECCC and PAX West this year working for Extra Life and got to see a lot of insanely good cosplay, so I figured if they could do it, so can we. We loved the process of taking 2D designs and making them something tangible and wearable. I also try to teach my kids that the internet isn’t just for playing video games and streaming Strawberry Shortcake on Netflix. It is an incredible tool to learn just about any skill you want. So I searched YouTube for tutorials and used some GoogleFu to find some great forums for inspiration. My wife and I managed to put together all the costumes in less than two months. The process was so much fun that we’re hooked.

GeekDad:
Do you have a favorite cosplay of yours? A favorite group cosplay you’ve done as a family?
Jake Colley:
I’m a DC fan, so doing the Justice League was a lot of fun. It will probably always be my favorite and will most likely not be the last time we do the JL in some form.
GeekDad:
Speaking of group cosplay, do you always try to cosplay together? Or do you all do your own thing?
Jake Colley:
The next cosplay we are doing (for ECCC) is just going to be Annie and me, and we plan on coordinating. After that, we plan on doing a few more group ones. But as our kids get older, we want to encourage them to do what interests them. I’ll either coordinate mine around theirs, or not, depending if they want their lame old man around anymore.
GeekDad:
Do you have a favorite piece that challenged you?
Jake Colley:
Green Arrow and Black Canary. Photo by Colley Family.

This being my first time, most of it challenged me. I’m pretty sure the number of hours spent watching tutorials is in the neighborhood of hundreds. But the hardest piece, and the piece that taught me the most lessons in what to/not to do, was Rebirth Green Arrow’s chest plate. I haven’t yet seen anyone else do one like this, and I think I discovered why. One-piece EVA foam chest armor was a bad idea. But I learned a lot from it and will be able to refine my technique from those lessons. My favorite piece we built though is by far the Hawkgirl helmet. It was the first thing I did, and it was the project I used to teach myself all of the steps in making EVA foam armor. From templating (Krissy didn’t like that part, she had to sit still too long) to figuring out where to cut the pieces to what materials to use to painting, that was the test piece. And I love how it turned out and, most importantly, so does Krissy. I plan on refining it in the future, but I am still happy how it finally turned out.

GeekDad:
What’s your favorite “medium” to work in (sewing, EVA foam, resin casting, etc.)?
Jake Colley:
Hawkgirl helmer and mace. Photo by Colley Family.

Hands down EVA foam. There is something inherently cool about taking a simple product like floor mats and turning it into something that, in my opinion, should be considered art. I mean, just go to a con, and tell me that’s not art! Also, I’m a nerd and always wanted to wear armor like in a video game. Now I can!

GeekDad:
It’s been awhile, but I used to do quite a bit of scale model building and I see a lot of similarities in techniques between small-scale building and prop and armor building. Have you ever done any scale modeling or smaller scale builds?
Jake Colley:
No, never small-scale stuff, but quite the opposite. When I was a kid my father was a contractor. So I learned how to build everything from decks to houses to redoing landscapes. There is a lot of similarities, though. You still have to plan everything out, make sure you are doing your measuring correctly, and take material properties into account. I think that experience gave me the confidence to know I could build this stuff if I was willing to try.
GeekDad:
Most of our readers are parents and, like me, want to share their geeky interests with their kids. I’ve been doing father and son cosplay with my son since he was born. Do you have any suggestions on how parents can get their kids interested and involved with cosplay and fabrication?
Jake Colley:
The biggest piece of advice I can give is also what I struggle with in that regard. Don’t be afraid of messes and mistakes. Kids are messy and make mistakes, but they learn best by doing, not just watching you do it for them. And if they are anything like mine, will just get bored sitting on the sidelines. Put them in the game, coach!
GeekDad:
Something along the lines of “Being a geek isn’t about what you love but how you love it,” is sort of the new geek mantra. Do you have anything, besides cosplay, that you consider yourself a geek about?
Jake Colley:
Totally! I’m a big Dragon Ball nerd. I like most types of sports from snowboarding to football. But probably the thing I geek out about most is video games. I love going to LAN parties with my buddies. And when I discovered Extra Life, I jumped at the chance to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and game while doing it. (Shameless plug, and no, they don’t pay me). You can ask me another day why it’s so important to me.
GeekDad:
What upcoming conventions do you have on your schedule that people could see you at?
Jake Colley:
Like I mentioned earlier, Annie and I will be at ECCC, cosplaying there for the first time. We also for sure plan on doing PAX West again this year. But we are going to be looking at the other cons in the Pacific Northwest and see where we are at with availability. As for what we will be cosplaying (is that a verb now?), wait and see, I guess!

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Will is a geek, athlete, husband to a geek mom, and father of 4-year-old and 1-year-old geeks-in-the-making living in Seattle, Washington. He loves reading, comics, cosplay, games (tabletop and video sorts), and robots - especially Transformers. He's also the co-host of the Sunday Evening with Captain Owen podcast (available on iTunes) and custom prop builder at Billythebrick Cosplay.