Today at MASSive Comic Con I was fortunate enough to speak with the extremely talented and lovely Abby Darkstar. She and her husband/cosplay partner Keith Zen were in attendance as Archer characters Kreiger and his Virtual Girlfriend. They were nice enough to take time to speak with me about food, World of Warcraft, the influence of social media on our society and of course, cosplay.
AiPT!: When you arrive at a convention, whether it’s a big one like San Diego or a smaller con such as this, what’s your favorite thing to do right off the bat?
Abby Darkstar: I usually seek out good food. A unique restaurant that’s highly recommended by locals. I love good food laughs
AiPT!: Did you guys find anything good in the area?
Darkstar: Armsby Abbey. It’s a very nice restaurant that does farm to table and had great cocktails.
Keith Zen: Although there was a disconcerting moment with a story about the pig we were about to eat. I felt guilt that if I didn’t order it, I wasn’t honoring its sacrifice. laughs
AiPT!: You’ve traveled across the country and the world through cosplay and met countless people. What’s the strangest or most surreal situation you’ve found yourself in through cosplaying?
Darkstar: That’s a really good question–I like your question, sir! I think it was when we were in Australia for Oz Comic Con. We were there for two weeks and all the guests were kept together the entire time–the actors, voice actors, artist, cosplayers all a bus together. We’re going to wine tours, the zoo, and drinking with cast members from all these different shows while singing to songs on the radio. Moments like that have me saying “what even is this? Okay, I just dress up for fun and here I am in this situation.”
Zen: Abbey was wearing this exact outfit and there was a moment with Billie Piper, where she came up and said “Do you think I could do this? Do you think I’d look good in this wig?”
AiPT!: You have a Tumblr, DeviantART, Twitch, Facebook…a lot of social media, a lot of ways to interact with people. Out of all those platforms, what’s your favorite way to interact with your fans and talk to people?
Darkstar: I think my favorite is Twitch or even Facebook Live. It’s very reactionary; you know, instant conversation and silliness. I could drop something or make a funny sound and then Twitch chat has me laughing and making these instant connections with people. I love that because that’s what our community is about. It’s about sharing; a comic book story or a costume tip. That sharing builds this positive environment and that’s why I love it.
AiPT!: As I’m sure you’ve both heard, recently at Phoenix Comic Con a man was arrested for showing up with several real guns and threatening police officers. In response, the con organizers banned all weapons. Do you think this was the right move and do you foresee other big conventions like San Diego, New York and Boston banning all weapons because of this? Do you think it’s going to influence the community?
Darkstar: I do think that they larger conventions will exact the same ruling or much stricter rules around prop weapons. Unfortunately, the way things have been lately in the news I think that it’s warranted. It’s sad and it sucks but no prop costume is worth someone’s life. If I had been the reason that someone like that got in, because I had a similar weapon, I would feel like shit.
I really hope that what happens is training for the people who’re screening prop weapons, that way we can build a better environment that includes them. I hope costumers and cosplayers support these things instead of becoming angry douches about it. We have a right to be angry because something is being taken away from us. But it’s being taken away from us for a very very good reason.
I think if we come to the security and police officers at cons and say “How can I help? What can I do to show that this isn’t a real weapon?” and step up and show that we’re a good community and that we care about protecting each other, I think that it will improve. We need to take a positive stand before we resort to complaining. Shit or get off the pot.
AiPT!: I saw on your Facebook page that you’re a historian. As a fellow history buff I’d love to hear more about that!
Darkstar: I got my degree in British and Medieval history with a minor in Japanese Cultural history. I had an amazing history teacher when I was in school; he was a storyteller. The way he would explain history to us was through stories as opposed to quoting dates and blandly stating facts. It helped me understand how these events influenced our future.
There are so many things we can learn from history that apply to our future. A lot of the time it helps us understand people. We’re all different, we all have baggage, we all have damage, we all have reasons behind why we do things. If we can understand someone, we can effectively communicate with them. History is a way to understand people and the whys of what they are.
I especially enjoy British and Medieval history because that’s one of the real building blocks of civilization. Japanese cultural history is so unique, respected and relevant. The Japanese method of preserving their culture is phenomenal to me.
AiPT!: As a fellow World of Warcraft player, I’d love to know what you think about Legion. Specifically, what’re your thoughts on artifact weapons, class halls and the addition of the demon hunter class?
Darkstar: I really like Legion. So often when a new expansion comes out it’s, okay boom boom boom, max level done! Alright I guess I’ll work on my professions now? After that I guess I’ll go level another character?
I wasn’t a fan of WoD, especially garrisons. I didn’t want to be stuck by myself in this thing. So when class halls came out I was worried it would be another garrison all over again. But I was wrong and I love it. I have the app on my phone. There’s story quests, world quests, outdoor boss fights and so much more to the game now. I especially like all the ties to past lore, it reminds me of all the things I love about this game and I really think they did a great job with Legion.
AiPT!: Social media is a huge part of our society. Nearly every individual, business and even government office participates. With its massive role in our day-to-day lives, it has a strong influence on children and how they view the world. Given the exploding cosplay scene and its place in commercial media spotlight, especially female cosplayers, do you worry that young girls and women could be receiving the wrong message about cosplay? That they could receive the wrong message about how to dress and what to post pictures of to get followers and have people like them?
Darkstar: It’s a hard to question to answer. While yes more revealing cosplay does get a lot of attention, if you look at it statistically, there are more cosplay photos out there of Star Wars characters and armor than ever before. So, some could draw similar conclusions and say “Oh I guess I have to dress up in armor or Star Wars cosplay to be successful”.
For myself and I’ve always had this point of view, I do not feel that sexy is a negative. I feel like it’s a way to embrace yourself, your sexuality and your confidence. I was raised in a very strict, very Christian household where you didn’t even wear spaghetti straps. The fact that I can put myself out there with my sexier costumes is me owning my power. It’s me saying “I am a woman. I am proud of my body. I am not afraid of my body.” I think there are levels of appropriateness and as women in this community we have the responsibility to put out the message, do what you are comfortable with, but is age appropriate.
If there is a young woman and she’s embracing herself and being positive about her body, who the hell is anybody to tell her to go cover up? We shouldn’t be telling people what they can and can’t do if they’re behaving safely and making wise decisions. We need to look out for each other, be kind to each other and realize that we don’t all have the same reasons for the decisions we make.
AiPT!: What’s your favorite piece of geek clothing that you own?
Darkstar: My very good friend Jesse Thaxton won the Her Universe competition at San Diego Comic Con–her and my friend Hannah and two additional ladies. They each created two pieces for the Wonder Woman line and one of them is the Daughters of Themyscira tanktop. It has Wonder Woman’s sword embroidered into the back.
The other would be my friend Hannah’s motorcycle jacket but Wonder Woman themed. Those are my two go-to pieces of my wardrobe. I wear them so much that I must remind myself that I can’t wear the same thing two days in a row.
AiPT!: What’re you most looking forward to this year?
Darkstar: That’s another good question. Honestly, I’m most looking forward to the holidays because that’s when I don’t do anything. Sweatpants and Netflix! I can catch up on my games. I don’t have to leave the house. I can become a house potato. A little fungi in the dark.
Here’s where you can find Abby online:
Zen and Abby: facebook.com/keabtium