I have been to a lot of Conventions, even more comic events and at each one a couple things are for certain. There will be geeks and there will be Spider-Man Cosplay (though this is quickly changing to Deadpool Cosplay). That being said, it takes a lot for a Spider-Man to impress me. During free Comic Book day I ran into one of the best Spideys I have ever seen. He was so impressive I went home and tracked down who he is, his name is Zach Luna, and just like Spidey he strives to be a hero in his own life. Not only does he do events, but he also donates his time as Spider-Man to bring a little joy to sick kids.In getting a chance to talk to Zach he helped me understand why his cosplay stands out from the Spidey pack, the level of detail that goes into his costume and his persona is above and beyond the rest.
Zach, you do one of the best Spider-Man Cosplays around, from your blog we have a pretty detailed description of the suit, why don’t you tell us how you prepare yourself physically to become Spidey.
Thanks very much! I’ve done a bit of dance and yoga over the years, these days I do a lot of calisthenics, bodyweight exercises to stay in shape. If I had a bit more room in my budget to accommodate a good gym membership and clean gaining diet I would likely be doing (and I would definitely recommend) a more traditional weight training regimin, but for now all my pushups and pullups and pistol squats are a placeholder that keeps me at an at least functional level of fitness. No matter what you do do prepare yourself physically for your own endeavors, it’s true for just about everybody that it’s worth it to get yourself up and moving with consistency for your health and well-being. If I could go webslinging every day, (the way some people bike everywhere) I’d do that, but the technology’s not quite there yet.
Seems like that would be the best physical prep.
You seem to have all of his poses, and body language down. How do you go about perfecting the character in that level of detail?
It’s all a matter of observation, concentration and practice. There are a lot of things about Spidey that are iconic–the mask, the powers, the webbing, etc, but one smaller thing that sets him apart is his particular physicality. Big and memorable characters usually have an instantly recognizable sillhouette, but since Spidey’s costume is a simple body suit, (no ears or cape or whip and fedora) what makes his silhouette memorable is his body position and poses. So whether you’re conscious of it or not, a significant part of your brain’s response that makes you go “oh, look, it’s Spider-Man!” is tied into the way his limbs are positioned in space. He doesn’t stand like a power ranger or do arms akimbo like Superman, he’s always perched in a corner or swinging through the air. I might not be the most buff costumer with the most heroic physique or imposing size or anything, but if I can tap into the unique physicality of the character a little bit, I’ll really look like a superhero to that eager child inside of all. Spidey’s powers are all about climbing and perching and crawling and swinging, so he’s all elbows and knees, stable and graceful in positions where most of us would not feel stable and graceful. He’s rarely standing level with the viewer in the comic panels, he’s always drawn from below or above as he moves past, sometimes on perpendicular surfaces or upside down, so anything you can do to change the angle that you’re being seen from in costume can feel a little more authentic. Spidey’s almost never standing up straight, but he’s often up pretty high, so if you can combine those two factors in a real-world situation (usually by finding a structure that you can perch on and then crouch down) it looks a whole lot more like Spider-Man than standing still does.
It’s the difference between someone who kind of looks like Captain America wearing a Spidey suit and someone who embodies that Spidey suit, someone that makes you go, “Wow, I totally thought that was a statue of Spider-Man at first!” I want to chase that second option. For me that involved scrutinizing the comic panels, seeing what’s physically possible to transfer directly to the real world for my own physique, and testing options in the mirror. Lots of crawling around on my floor in preparation. 🙂
So I hear you have been doing some work in children’s hospitals, tell us a little bit about how you got involved in that?
Well, the work in children’s hospitals, which I consider to be the best experience I’ve had in costume, has been completely due to the generosity of friends. My friend Thom Parham brought me aboard to do my first hospital visit at City of Hope last year. He had found me online after reading my costuming guide and knew we were in the same city, so he set up a meeting to talk about comics and costumes and acting. He has a close friend at the hospital who organized bringing a group of heroes to come meet the kids and Thom recommended me. I was honored to have been included. In the same vein, Jun Goeku from The Comic Bug also works in Neurology at Harbor-UCLA and set up our more recent hospital visit there after we’d been connected through mutual friends. Jun runs the Comic Bug with Mike Wellman, whom I first met when he tracked me down online after literally posting a photo of me on the store’s facebook page wondering if there were any Spidey costumers with a similar suit in Los Angeles. I certainly don’t have the words to explain what it feels like to visit kids in that situation, but it suffices to say that it’s a very humbling experience when you’re surrounded by real heroes and real bravery. All of the sewing and headaches are worth it when you can act as an ambassador, linking these characters to people they mean the world to. The look on their faces says everything:
Where can we find you on social media?
You can follow me on instagram and twitter as @zacharyjluna, though I’m but a fledgling at social media participation. I suppose I should make a costuming page on facebook as well, but I’m pretty green at all that. Am I supposed to have a Cosplayer nom de plume like my reddit username or something? The mind boggles.