In a previous article, (Inside Cosplay) I took a look at what CosPlay actually was. People who Cosplay, short for Costume Play, are really a collection of folks that are having fun while paying tribute to their favorite games, shows, movies and genres. But not all CosPlayers wait for someone else to think up a new character for them to portray. A growing number of CosPlayers are using their own imagination and talents to invent, and bring to life, their own characters. One such CosPlayer is UnDeadDu, a model for Red Rage comics and rising CosPlayer in the CosPlay world.
Although Du is incredibly beautiful she has no hesitations creating, and portraying characters that have some aspect, which, we would not normally associate with beauty. A self admitted comic book junkie, UnDeadDu has been collecting comics for about 15 years as well as watching anime and playing video games. Going to a comic convention was always on her ‘To Do’ list, and when she finally attended one it was an eye opener and turning point for her.
“I remember loving every minute of my first con;” she recalls, “the amazing items, rare comics, panels and friendly, like-minded people but the main thing that caught my eye was the CosPlay. I was amazed at the skill and creativity it took to create the costumes.” While she describes herself as more of a comic fan, she also enjoys horror movies “I do love great horror movies though! I still re-watch classics all the time.” UnDeadDu said when asked about her preference for comic books or horror movies.
Her characters range from anime, comics and movies; including science fiction and horror genre with an underlying dark humour. Victoria’s Secret Zombie, Shark Attack and her take on Freddy Krueger (a picture of UnDeadDu in her take on Freddy is seen at the top of the article) are examples of her choices of dark and horror imagery. “The Shark Attack was for Rue Morgue Magazine’s Festival of Fear at FanExpo Toronto. I wanted to do something fun and playful while gory and horror based. It was such a strange mix of beauty make up with gore that I ended up laughing and being more silly than undead, so I would suppose the humour was accidental.”
However UnDeadDu also portrays comic characters (such as Lobo and Mr Freeze) as well as plans to portray as many Batman characters that she can; to pay tribute to the 75th anniversary of the character. Her characters are portrayed with costumes as well as extensive use of make up and prosthetics. After taking art throughout high school and classes later on in university, UnDeadDu continues to expand her skill set through a special effects internship with Daley K
reations (where owner Kate Daley creates props for movies as well as teaching classes and work shops).
“When it comes to developing CosPlays, I do a lot of research on the character before sketching out the CosPlay design.” UnDeadDu said while explaining her costuming process. “I design and create all my costumes because I want to display my creativity and enhance my skills. By practicing my sewing, crafting and make up, I learn and I am very excited to continue developing my skills. My collaborations have been with make up artists to show CosPlayers that they too can learn some make up and SPFX techniques to enhance their CosPlays.” I am a very creative person so I hope to continue creating original characters that are based on fandoms that have inspired and captivated me.” She says, “While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (CosPlay), I owe much of my imagination to the comics, books, t.v. series, games and shows I grew up with and want to show what they have gifted me by CosPlaying as original characters.”
Her detailed costumes can take quite a while; add the prosthetics and makeup and you’re looking at quite a time commitment “Each CosPlay is unique so the time it take to put everything together varies. I make all my outfits, armor and props. My Mr. Freeze CosPlay took around 80 hours to make and the make up took 2 hours.” Although she makes her own costumes and props, UnDeadDu also works with others (on her designs and ideas) to bring the most she can out of a character. “Most of my BIG make up and prosthetic based CosPlays are from make up demos; I partner with Jen Wright, Kayla Gilkinson and Melis Stevens.I come up with an idea and we talk about how to execute it. Then, we do a make up demo at cons which can take anywhere from 3 to 5.5 hours.”
On top of her busy CosPlay and internship UnDead Du is also a model for Red Rage comics; “I met Red Rage Comics at ConBravo! in Hamilton, Ontario.” UnDeadDu told me, “We got to talking about CospPay and all things nerdy. Ultimately, they offered me sponsorship and since then, I have been able to work with them on projects and learn more about graphic novels. They have been very encouraging when it comes to my writing, illustration and CosPlaying and I am very excited for the plans we all have for 2015!”
As for her plans for the future of her CosPlaying UnDeadDu intends on keeping very busy; “I have three special goals for 2015 though. Firstly, I will be visiting hospitals in CosPlay, such as my “Big Hero 6” Go-Go Tomago. I hope to share smiles and promote creativity among youth. Secondly, I will be giving away a free mini print of my Vampire Diaries CosPlay to anyone who gives blood and tags / messages me on my social media as a thank you for helping out! Lastly, this summer I will be participating in an “We Are Groot” campaign that involves planting a tree and nominating two friends to do the same. “
If you wish to meet UnDeadDu, fans will have a chance to do so December 14 in Toronto at the Toronto Comic Con, as well as Geek Market in Ottawa, Fan Expo in Toronto, the Montreal Comic Con as well as the Albuquerque Comic Con in Albuquerque New Mexico.
If you are unable to get to any of those events you may purchase UnDeadDu’s prints from her webstore or follow her on: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or see her likeness in action at Red Rage Comics. However you choose to enjoy her work, UndeadDu is someone to keep an eye on as she gains popularity in the world of CosPlay and costume making.
Photo credits: UnDeadDu ‘Mr Freeze” Photo by Droo Chin, UnDeadDu ‘Victoria Secret Zombie’ Personal Camera, UnDeadDu ‘Boudoir Mikasa’ Photo by Droo Chin, UnDeadDu ‘Lobo’ Photo by Rahim Photography, UnDeadDu ‘Shark Attack’ Photo by Tony Pags
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight