Vindicate by Karla Ortiz
In performing arts, there’s a lot to be said for playing to type. You’re leveraging “what God gave you” as it aligns with people’s expectations, which can be very effective. This is your creative bread-and-butter, the stuff that pays the bills. It might be awesome—when people’s expectations also align with what personally makes you feel good—or it might be unglamorous or in some cases, downright eye-roll-inducing. I remember reading Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) saying that for someone with his stats, acting was at times a redundant exercise in deciding whether to take the leprechaun role. Or not. Playing to type, you have Angelina Jolie in Original Sin or The Rock in Hercules. You can kill it, and people will love it, but you’re not surprising anyone.
Then there’s playing against type. High risk, high reward. If it flops, you’ll get trolled. But if you own it, you get an Oscar. This is The Rock auditioning for Willy Wonka and coming in second to none other than Johnny Depp. Yep. Would have been brilliant. I would actually have watched the Willy Wonka remake if it starred The Rock. This is Angelina Jolie in Salt—where she replaced Tom Cruise and they rewrote the script to accommodate a woman in the lead. This is Denzel Washington in Training Day.
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 Load Screen 1 by Igor Kieryluk
Cosplay is a performing art, and most of the time, playing to type will not only save you work in recreating a look, but it also lends authenticity and adds bonus cool points. In other words, I would very much like to put my friend who is a size-four African-American model in my Noble Hierarch costume and photograph the result. Bam! A great thing about cosplay, though, is that while authenticity matters, attitude (and whether you’re having fun) matters more. So the generally-accepted standard is to treat race and body type as secondary to your love of the fandom and just do what makes you feel good.
And this is great because it frees cosplayers from expectations that might limit creativity. And sometimes, just as with acting, you get the most insane results from the unexpected. The best Garruk cosplay I’ve seen was worn by a woman whose body language said she was really about to leap out of the photo and kill me. A petite, toffee-skinned young lady rocked the most believable Elspeth on the Tumblr, her soldier’s gaze bravely concealing all the Phyrexian horrors she’d seen while silently telling me she was ready to die for her ideals.
“Hi, my name is George Li, and I am a cosplayer from Montreal, Canada.” Sure, Sorin, whatever you say.
1. Do you play Magic? If so, when did you get into it, and what decks and formats do you enjoy most?
I started playing Magic about ten years ago—it has been on and off for me because of school—in Legacy and Vintage formats. I love red decks. I use mono-red burn decks about ninety percent of the time; the other ten percent would be aggro decks (Red Deck Wins, Rakdos, and Boros).
I started playing Legacy and Vintage because these two formats have the fewest restrictions in card choices, so I can build and calibrate my decks to their best. Being a red player, I did better tournament-wise in Legacy than Vintage. The Power Nine didn't offer enough advantage to red decks compared to the other colors, so I played and enjoy the Legacy format the most.
After I was accepted to one of the best universities in Canada and then medical school, I had to stop playing Magic for four years. When I came back, I switched to Standard (Innistrad and Return to Ravnica). That was when I started playing multicolored decks like Rakdos, Boros, and sometimes even R/W/B.
“There are ancient, dark arts that fascinate even me.” Like killing fools. Sorin Markov cosplay by George Li.
2. What drew you to cosplaying Sorin Markov?
It would be for his art and flavor. While I have never played Sorin Markov in my decks, I found his past and personality intriguing. He struck me as someone who would do anything to achieve greatness. I kind of identify with this ambition in my deck-building.
3. You look snazzy! Give us an overview of how you built the costume.
All armor and weapons are real. The sword can shave paper, and the steel armor is all gauge steel. All the armor was commissioned for medieval combat and aesthetic. Some armor pieces don’t work without other pieces, and if I put the additional armor piece on, it looks less like Sorin’s outfit. So I had to modify the leather coat myself to suit his look. I have also modified the leather straps that hold the shoulder armor.
I used the strongest neodymium magnets to hold the steel armor securely to the leather coat and pants so it doesn’t damage the coat; and at the same time, they can be taken off. At first, I didn’t know how well magnets would hold the armor pieces to the leather, but once I tried those industrial N52 neodymium magnets, I sometimes even had trouble taking them off.
Most armor pieces were commissioned here by an armorsmith in Canada. The commissioned steel chest plate is from Russia—I think they make the best steel chest plate without charging thousands of dollars.
“I have seen planes leveled and all life rendered to dust. It brought no pleasure, even to a heart as dark as mine.” Sorin Markov cosplay by George Li.
4. What do you feel was the most successful about the costume?
I know about the thermoplastic materials most cosplayers use to make their own armor, but I like this costume because of its genuine battle-readiness. I think that’s the most successful part of this costume. Many centuries ago, this costume would have been in a knight’s armory instead of in my closet. If our plane is ever invaded by werewolves, I know I can don this costume and be ready to go to battle!
5. What do you feel was the most challenging?
There is a learning curve and a set of proper procedures to wear real armor. If I put one leather strap before another, I wouldn’t be able to put a certain armor piece on. If I put on a certain armor piece first, I wouldn’t have enough flexibility to tie the strap. In medieval times, knights would have squires and servants to help them put on armor. Even though my armor is not a head-to-toe set, I still needed four hours to put on the entire cosplay during my first try. There was a lot of trial and error. The leather coat has to be worn over the heavy chest plate, but once I have the chest plate on, it is significantly harder to put the leather coat on. Despite all that, once everything is in its place, I can do a tornado spin kick in it!
Sorin's Thirst by Karl Kopinski
6. Do you have plans to do a post-vampirism version with the white hair and makeup, and are there other MTG characters in your cosplay future? Let us know what we can look forward to.
The entire costume cost hundreds of dollars. I spent about a year putting it together. Getting a white hair wig and makeup would be no problem financially—in fact, I was thinking about getting them for this cosplay—but I like my cosplay for its realness, so I want to use my real hair style and look. Also, I think I look better this way, too!
As a male cosplayer, becoming popular in this craft is harder than it is for female cosplayers. If I one day do have a larger fan base, I would definitely try whatever my fans want to see! Disclaimer: Not Liliana or Lightning Bolt. Disclaimer: Maybe Lightning Bolt . . . We will see; no promises.
Sorin (Dark Ascension Fat Pack) by Karl Kopinski
7. In terms of art and flavor, is there anything you'd like to see MTG do better? Anything you wish they'd explore?
In terms of art and flavor, I think MTG is doing very well. They have great writers and artists working for them. However, in card design, I would like to see new and better red cards to match blue cards in power level. Down with blue control decks!
8. What's your advice to people thinking about cosplaying, especially men, who might not be sure it's something they can pull off?
Men can definitely pull off good cosplays, but it might be harder to generate a substantial fan base. I have seen a nice male Jace cosplay recently, and I have seen many female Jace cosplayers in the past. Women can cosplay either gender and be popular, while the same cannot be said for men. So my advice for male cosplayers is to go for areas that are unique in cosplay—wear something that only you can pull off! If you are a bodybuilder, wear an entire steel suit of medieval armor! I don’t think many cosplayers can pull that off. Just be genuine with yourself and your cosplay.
“All your steel won’t protect you if your will is weak.” Sorin Markov cosplay by George Li.
9. Where can fans find you? (Social media, upcoming events, etc.)
10. If you could have one Magic ability, what would it be?
Time Walk! That’s how powerful blue cards are: Even dedicated red players love it—when not used against them, that is! Time is the most precious commodity. Gold, money, houses, sports cars—you can get anything if you have sufficient time. Time is the only commodity that doesn’t decrease in value. Burn decks aim at limiting the time your opponents have. An extra turn from Time Walk certainly messes things up!
Time Walk by Chris Rahn
Till next time, may Magic be your last line of defense during the zombie invasion.