Have you ever wondered what it’s like to participate in cosplay at Comic-Con? For Gary and Liz Ochs, who have been attending the annual convention in costume since 2005 (Gary first stumbled upon the convention while on vacation in 1973 and has been going continuously since 1991), it is a production that they look forward to all year long.
The Ochs, who live in Carlsbad, light up when they talk about the decade’s worth of costumes they’ve created and worn through the Convention Center halls. The couple, along with a rotating group of friends, co-workers and family members, go all out with their cosplay, each year — and even each day of the Con — aiming to have costumes that are unique, so that they stand out among other cosplayers.
Before they hit the crowded streets and Comic-Con floors, Gary and Liz took some time to reflect back on years past:
Q: What is it about Comic-Con that gets you so excited?
Gary: It brings together such a diversity of people and genres - and they all get along and have the best time together. Hollywood, comics, panels, cosplay, art, celebrity autographs, music - it’s all here.
Liz: It is the feeling I get that everyone is enjoying themselves immensely, excited to be at the Con, relating to and appreciating the people around them.
Q: Who do you usually go to the Con with?
Gary: Originally, I just went by myself. As I kept talking about it, eventually I brought along my wife, several co-workers, and family members. We have had as many as eight people in our group on our cosplay days.
Liz: We have gone with friends, family, and employees. The past five years we have gone with Gary’s second cousin and his wife and my sister has joined us for the last three.
Q: What was the most complex costume you’ve created?
Gary: It’s a toss up between DC’s Mr. Freeze, Marvel’s Mojo (a space alien), and this year’s costume, DC’s Metallo.
Liz: Marvel Comic’s Spiral character. She had six arms complete with three layers of latex skin, bracelets, fingernail polish, and swords in her hands. People were pinching my arms to try and figure out which arms were real. The harness I wore was somewhat heavy and painful the first time I wore it to the Con. Fortunately, we perfected it for the second time I wore it.
Q: What was your favorite costume?
Gary: Mr. Freeze.
Liz: The DC Batman character known as The Huntress because it was very recognizable but rarely done by anyone — and it was comfortable to wear!
Q: What kind of reaction do you usually get on the Con floor?
Gary: Everyone just has such a great time. They recognize our characters, want to pose with us, and we get our pictures taken more times in one day than pictures taken over our entire life.
Liz: It is just so cool when my costume is recognized as the character I intended it to be. The comic book or movie enthusiasts want to pose with us, take pictures with us, or act out a scene from the genre. It is so much fun and there is so much camaraderie. Sometimes, we even get a hug.
Q: Favorite Comic-Con memory?
Gary: In 2006, we went as Batman characters. There were five of us walking the Convention floor when George Perez, the acclaimed comic artist and writer for both DC and Marvel wanted to have his picture taken with us. He was so nice to us, saying that he had drawn at one time or another all of our characters. Years later we approached him about autographing that iconic photo and as he did so, he completely remembered that “Kodak moment.” It couldn’t get any better than that!
Liz: It was in 2007. We stopped by the 1966 Batmobile exhibit, and George Barris, the designer of that car (along with Knightrider’s Kitt and the Munster Koach) wanted to meet us. He interviewed us for his website and he introduced us as " ... the greatest group here in the whole show.” That was a pretty awesome moment!
Q: What’s something about Cosplay that would surprise people?
Gary: It is such an incredible adventure — to choose a character, then design and build something that in real life might never exist (alien life-forms, mechanical beings), but you find a way to bring it to life and stand with other similar visions. There are no barriers to those kindred souls who want to share their creativity. Anyone can cosplay, from the very simple (a cardboard box over your head) to the very complex (Hollywood layered armor or complete makeup with prosthetic appliances). And we all embrace each other, young and old. The creative challenges from such varied offerings of comics, movies, animé, Steampunk, and cartoons give a cosplayer boundless choices.
Liz: That there are so many materials available for making costumes — solids that can be heated and shaped, liquids that can be baked and molded, paints and coatings for every application and many more.
Gary and Liz will be at Comic-Con every day with various costumes, including Saturday when DiscoverSD will follow them along their route. Learn more about their Comic-Con cosplay lives and see video of the couple constructing their costumes, visit dsdcomiccon.com.