There is no force more powerful than the heart within the black woman. She is strong yet gentle. She is both wise and innocent. It is her guidance which drives the advancement of generations. She is the Superwoman.
Her voice is the panel. Her stories draft the art. There can never be an ending when she prompts the start. After all, what mortal can be more creative than the goddesses who bring forth new life. With this series, we, at Konkret Comics, will honor, highlight, and herald the great Queens of Blerdom.
To begin this Superwoman Series, I had the privilege of interviewing the Cosplay Queen, Leairis Cross. This is Leairis's story.
JE: I can recall being a child and pretending to be the characters from my favorite television shows and cartoons. I’m sure most people can relate. Were you the type of child who loved playing pretend and dress up? If so, was that the foundation of your love for Cosplay?
LC: I think that I was a nerd at a very early age. Watching power rangers as a child I remember thinking to myself how much I wanted to be the pink ranger and always pretending to be her when I played with other kids. This definitely helped form my love of cosplay, being able to be these characters that I looked up to either as a child or even now instills me with a level of confidence that I haven’t found anywhere else.
JE: What was the first character that you officially cosplayed? What was that experience like for you? Did it come naturally or was there an adjustment period?
LC: My first cosplay was an Eevee (Pokemon character) that I threw together for a con. It was soooo wanky and it was falling apart and it was a mess but I still rocked it as best I could. It definitely takes a while to get to a place where you think your costume is “good,” but in all honesty, that's a relative term anyway so who cares. If you like it that's what matters!
JE: Did you have any examples of black female cosplayers, famous or not, when you were growing up?
LC: I did a lot of cosplay burlesque when I was younger and while I was doing it I met a woman names Anita Banks. She had been in the industry for a long time before I came around and she filled the role of the “drag mom” “burlesque mom” basically overall mother figure for the community. She helped me and so many others in my area embrace what we were doing and own it and I’m truly thankful for that. Also seeing a woman her age up there just being sexy and owning it helped me see the beauty in myself.
JE: Historically, there hasn’t been a lot of media representation for black women in science fiction and fantasy categories. Do you think this fact has served as a barrier for black women in Cosplay?
LC: I definitely think that it has, but it shouldn’t. We can be anything we wanna be, I was megaman a couple months ago and people loved it. That being said though the best thing we can do to give more black characters to cosplay is to go out there and make them. Create the characters you wanna see and then cosplay them! I love what you guys and other indie companies are doing, creating things that you wanna see out there. Don’t expect anyone to do it for you, make the characters you wanna see.
Leairis cosplaying as Konkret Comics' character, Kosmosa.
JE: There are people who believe that, regarding accuracy in Cosplay, people should be allowed to include makeup or skin coloring to mimic a character’s skin color. Should race be a factor in cosplay, and as a black woman, how do you reconcile this with the threat of blackface or any other form of offensive racial mockery?
LC: Don’t do blackface. Don’t do brownface. Don’t do white face. Don’t do anything face. If you wanna cosplay a character just do it. They are fictional and there are literally millions of versions of them on the internet. Be black megaman, be Asian Thor, do what you do but don’t paint yourself to do it.
JE: So, I recently saw a post where a Cosplayer was being criticized for portraying Homelander of Amazon’s hit series, The Boys. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the show, but Homelander makes some very questionable choices in this past season. Do you feel that a character’s morality should be taken into consideration when choosing to Cosplay them?
LC: I’ll be real Homelander is a dream cosplay for me. I don’t take on a character's politics when I cosplay them. There are Red Skull cosplayers out there! Honestly at the end of the day if I wanted to stick it to Homelander I think taking sexy pics as a black female version of him would really hit him where it hurts.