MAGAZINE

January 3rd, 2018
Jesse Gussow


It’s always amazing when someone uses their talents to create and bring joy to others. Cosplayer Knightmage is one such person. The details in his costumes are incredible and the makeup is spot on. He’s a regular chameleon, completely becoming the character he’s playing. Looking at the characters he’s done, it is difficult to see that it's the same person playing them. His outlook and energy are contagious and it’s incredibly admirable that he does it to bring children and adults alike their favourite pop culture characters.
 
 
 
Where are you from?
 
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio but now residing in Youngstown, Ohio.
 
 
 
How did you get interested in Cosplay?
 
It really started in 2011. For Halloween that year I decided to try and make my own costume as I wanted to be John Stewart Green Lantern and that’s not a costume you can find in stores. So I made the costume and went out partying for Halloween. Soon after I was asked to participate in a local Relay For Life event as a Superhero. I did the event and had a blast! I was then asked to participate in another charity event and then another. Nearly all of 2012 was nothing but charity events and Children’s Hospital visits. It wasn’t until the fall of 2012 when I attended my very first convention ever. It was like a whole new world opened up to me. I immediately was addicted to the scene. The rest is history.  
 
 
 
What was your first Cosplay?
 
Technically I would say John Stewart Green Lantern but at the time of me making it I had no idea that cosplaying was a thing. I knew that people dressed up and went to conventions but I didn’t know just how vast that world was. Once I experienced the world of Cosplay and conventions I think my first big costume was Spawn.
 
 
 
The amount of Cosplay Conventions seems to have exploded overnight and a culture that was once considered nerdy and geeky is now part of everyone. Why do you think that is?
 
I think that culture has always been a part of everyone but now it’s just more socially acceptable to show it. And I think that’s wonderful! I always call conventions "family reunions". No matter where I’m at, whether it’s in the States or halfway around the world, everyone comes together out of a love for our fandoms. Despite whatever petty differences we have, we all understand and celebrate with one another. It really is a very special and unique thing.       
 
 
 
Which is your favourite Con to attend?
 
I’ve had the privilege to attend many cons since I’ve been cosplaying. I can honestly say that I’ve never had a bad con experience. Some of my favorite conventions however are C2E2 in Chicago, Colossalcon in Sandusky, Ohio and Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia.
 
 
 
What is your favourite Cosplay to do?
 
I’ve done over 100 different Cosplays and they’re all my babies so it’s really hard to choose a favorite. It also depends on the situation and event. Batman and Super Grover are always great for charity events. At conventions I love doing badass “wow” factor costumes like Kratos, Hellboy and Spawn. Then sometimes I just love doing more makeup based costumes like Darth Maul. It all just depends.
 
 
 
What Cosplay was the biggest challenge and why?
 
I would have to say Predator which also happens to be the one I’m most proud of. One big thing with me is that I do my Cosplays on a strict budget. If I can’t make it, buy it or modify it for $250 or under then I’m not doing it. When I first decided to do Predator I was legit intimidated as I know that’s a costume that can easily go into the hundreds and even thousands to make. Once I calmed myself down and started working I was able to make it for $125 and I was extremely proud. The icing on the validation cake was when MAN AT ARMS, a popular YouTube show, contacted me to be their Predator Cosplayer for an episode they were doing.
 
 
 
If you could Cosplay anything regardless of technical and financial issues, what would you do?

Voltron: Defender of the Universe! The answer is always, yes!
 
 
 
Besides just doing Conventions, do you do any volunteering or charitable work?
 
Honestly, I think that’s what I’m most known for. The charity aspect of Cosplay is initially what I fell in love with. Whether I’m doing hands-on events like visiting Children’s Hospitals or raising money for different charities, it remains my main focus with cosplaying. I’ve received numerous awards for my charity work through Cosplay but most notably I received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from former President Barack Obama. Funny story about that is I missed the award ceremony due to having a charity event to attend. I totally stood up the President of the United States but for a good reason. I always said that the day I’m unable to give back through Cosplay is the day I stop.
 
 
 
When you are Cosplaying, how do you get into that particular character? Do you stay in character the whole time?
 
It really depends on the character and my mood. There are some characters that I really just like the costume and then there are some that I really embody. When I wear Cosplays like Kratos, Spawn and Lobo I really feel like a badass. When I wear something like Snake Eyes I feel very noble and ninja like. If I’m doing an event where kids are involved I love to try and be as much in character as I can. It sounds weird but I love being villains, especially characters like The Grinch. I get to have a slight attitude and I’m loved for it.
 
 
 
Do you always make your own Cosplays?

I do but I’m not against buying and/or modifying costumes. I will admit that when I first started Cosplaying I had a bad experience with a commission and it left a bad taste in my mouth. So that spear headed me into working harder on my own skills, which I’m now thankful for.
 
 
 
Did you know that you would become a Cosplayer when you were younger?
 
Absolutely not! I honestly didn’t know what Cosplaying was until 2012. I knew of conventions and that people dressed up for them but I had no idea how big that world was.
 
 
 
What were you like in High School? Were you a geek?
 
Thinking back, I’m not really sure what I was. I was big into sports and chasing girls but I still loved video games, comics and cartoons. If I had to say, I would say that I was just a kid.
 
 
 
What do you think the future holds for Knightmage?
 
I don’t even want to speculate but I believe it will be an adventure! Cosplaying has opened up so many doors for me in such a short amount of time. I’m just so thankful that I’ve been able to keep up.
 
 
 
Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?
 
If we’re including the wide assortment of Oreos then they win hands-down!

Photography by Gwen Graham

Photography by The Portrait Dude

Photography by The Portrait Dude

Photography by Gwen Graham

Photography by Gwen Graham

Photography by Gwen Graham

Photography by Gwen Graham

Photography by SF Design

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