Phoenix Comicon hits the streets of Arizona this week. I asked some questions of one Arizona’s top Zombie cosplayers, Lizzie Lee, to get a little insight on the event from someone with costumes sure to make waves at the event.
BP: With Phoenix Comic Con coming up, we know your group are one of the bigger zombie attractions of this convention. Tell us a little bit about your background getting into the zombie scene.
LL: I guess it started with just a general love and interest in zombie films and comics like 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, and The Walking Dead. As The Walking Dead started to gain a bit more traction, Robert Kirkman started to make the rounds at conventions and hold make-up/zombie competitions, which eventually started to turn into zombie walks! My best friend and her husband really got us all into the walks. We started playing with make-up and different ideas. Our signature Raccoon Walkers with the police and the zombies on dogcatcher poles have been something that has developed after a few years of walks. Talyah and Lance are the geniuses behind all of that. I’m just lucky enough to work with them!
BP: How long have you been running panels at Phoenix Comic Con now?
LL: We have been doing panels for a few years and kind of just do them as we are asked! We have been going to conventions for about 10 years now. My partner and friends are really involved with the Arizona Avengers, so we will be hanging around the booth and the panels the group is hosting.
BP: Phoenix Comic Con usually features a zombie walk event. Give us the craziest story you have.
LL: Hm, so Phoenix Comicon two years ago we did our usual get up at the zombie walk, which is usually held the Friday night of the convention. We had a busy day that Friday with panels and then hanging various booths during the convention. A bit frazzled we ran down to the walk and jumped in a bit later than usual.
We normally take some time to just stand around for photos. As we were walking along, there were various people jumping in front of us trying to get photos as we walked and some of these people were these young teenage kids who just would not get out of our faces. One of the kids was wearing a Minecraft box on his head. If you have ever seen us at a walk, we don’t talk at all. We have leather collars in our mouths to prevent us zombies from biting. So this kid just kept trying to get between Tia and I and just tripping us and getting in the way. I got so tired of this kid I finally just hit the kid in the face. I hit him so hard his box spun around on his head and fell off. It was pretty great. The best part was the two zombies stifling laughter in between growling.
BP: Could you describe both the best zombie you’ve seen on the con scene and the absolute worst?
LL: The best would have to be this guy, I have no idea his name, but we usually call him shovel guy. He has some pretty intense make-up, but what gets me is this shovel he carries. It’s just this gnarly old shovel that he drags on the ground as we walk. It’s terrifying because of the sound it makes as he drags this and as he does this, sparks fly off the shovel.
The worst—well generally speaking I don’t like to say that anyone’s costume is bad or the worst. Everyone does his or her own thing. However, I will say that there is this weird new phenomenon in the zombie scene that has always made me chuckle: the whole zombie beauty queen thing. I personally think zombies are about gore and facing mortality in a strange way (I took a class on this in college, I know stuff).
Once I saw this girl who was wearing just a small black dress, something from Hot Topic, hair perfectly straightened, bows in her hair, tons of eye make-up, a bit of make-up on her face to look like exposed teeth, and a wee bit of blood. I don’t think she was even in the walk itself. She was just standing on the side yelling. It was pretty interesting. I don’t think it’s bad, but different, and a bit odd to me considering I like the detailed gory make-up, the more brutal the better!
BP: What can people expect to get out of attending your panel?
LL: This year we are not holding a panel specifically for us. We are hanging out with the Arizona Avengers who will have a booth and a few panels this year like the Avengers Boot Camp where you can learn to throw Thor’s Hammer. This is also the 5th year they have been around so there will be some fun things around that.
BP: A lot of people associate superheroes and pop culture characters with the costuming at cosplay. It sounds like you spend plenty of time with the Arizona Avengers but are there any feuds between the comic characters and zombies?
LL: Not that I’ve ever seen! In fact, most of us do both zombies and superheroes. Some of my favorites are those that will combine the two. I love some of the zombie Stormtroopers and zombie Sailor Moon girls. The walk is always late enough on Friday to where we generally don’t have to pick and choose. The only thing that sucks is the blood just does not easily wash off… So the next day I might have a little blood left over. Also we generally go right from the walk to the bar which everyone hates because we are still drenched in fake blood and tooth rot.
BP: Outside of zombie costuming, do you do any other cosplay? Give us some examples.
LL: I do! I actually started in cosplay with video game characters back when I was 13 or 14. Talyah and I have always done everything together (as we do now). We have done a ton of couple’s costumes. I’m pretty excited for some that we have coming up (a certain couple from Game of Thrones…)
We started with a lot of Final Fantasy characters like Yuna from Final Fantasy X and Selphie from Final Fantasy VIII, Tia always doing a counterpart character like Lulu or Rinoa. Talyah and I were really well known for our Chi and Freya from Chobits too. In 2007 we actually won an award at the Phoenix Comicon Masquerade for our costume. Now we tend to do a lot more comic book characters. Our two most worn costumes are Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
BP: What kind of costumes can people attending Comic Con expect to see you around the convention in this year?
LL: This year a group of my costuming pals are going to be the dwarves from the Hobbit. It’s a pretty exciting endeavor. I will be Thorin, my partner Dwalin, and then various other friends are filling in the other roles! Other than that I just finished up Kitty Pryde from X-Men.
I’m working on a few others for Las Vegas Comicon that I was fortunate enough to get invited by a friend who helped set it up. Costuming is never ending.
BP: Who are some of your cosplayers to keep an eye on at Phoenix Comic Con this year and why?
LL: I am very fortunate in having a lot of really talented friends! Obviously my best friend Talyah, of Serenity Costumes. Talyah has been my best friend since we were fourteen or fifteen. She is totally self-taught and just naturally talented. She does some pretty amazing work. Her big goal for this year are the dwarves from The Hobbit. She has been busting her butt making beards for what might be an entire year… So keep an eye out for her!
My friend Sara Moni is kind of a rising star of cosplay not just in Arizona, but is getting noticed for other events. She just went to Salt Lake City CC as guest. She is well known for her Storm, Polaris, Wasp, Inara, and Sailor Pluto! She is also just naturally talented and gorgeous. Beyond just that, she has a truly wonderful personality and is so kindhearted. She handles everything that is thrown at her like champ and is very admirable because of it. No doubt she has amazing things to come. I suggest following her via Facebook or Instagram to keep up. She will be posting some super-secret special photos the days prior to convention.
Aaron Forrester has been around for quite some time and also has a decent following. He makes some amazing props. His Iron Man and Loki are some of the best I’ve ever seen. His prop work is just out of this world. He has also supplied contacts to most of the Phoenix based costumers. We’re pretty bummed he is no longer running his store. He does, however, have a new really neat project underway called Print Share, a time share based 3D printing company.
Kevin O’Connor , AKA TD- 0013, is another really talented guy! He is the guy that basically runs the PCC Masquerade. He is one of the Dune Sea Garrison 501st Stormtroopers. He also does some amazing make-up work and other costumes as well. Definitely check him out!
BP: What are you most looking forward to with this year’s event?
LL: Well, this year is exciting because we are entering into the Masquerade, which I haven’t done since 2007 or 2008. I’m also really excited because my awesome boyfriend is coming to his very first convention! I think for the first time in many years this will be a smooth, low stress event since we are cutting back on some of our actives and just hanging out and relaxing more. I’m totally meeting Adam West too, so that’s exciting. In general, I’m just excited to spend time with friends and meet new people.
If you couldn’t tell from the interview, Lizzie is very supportive of those within the cosplay community. Following her sharing her answers for us, she wanted to give quick plugs to a lot of the folks she mentioned.
First and foremost, go vote for Salt Lake City to bring back Sara Moni as an invited guest.
For other folks referenced in the interview: