Leo Nocedo: How did you discover cosplaying?
Mike Disher: I always enjoyed going to conventions, but the idea of cosplaying never felt right to me. People tried to encourage me to do it, but I couldn’t find a character that I really “connected” with. Until a few years ago, I was re-watching Firefly, and Captain Mal suddenly clicked, so I thought I would try it one time. I was very surprised by the positive experience and just watching people’s reaction to seeing a character they like. Plus it’s great to share my fandom with others, not to mention how fun it is to pretend to be someone else for a while. Since then, I’ve discovered a few more characters that feel right for me, and I really regret not doing this years earlier.
Leo Nocedo: What was your first cosplay?
Mike Disher: Captain Mal from Firefly
Leo Nocedo: What are your next 3 cosplay plans?
Mike Disher: Rick O’connell (The Mummy) Captain Pike (Cage era) Han Solo (Empire Strikes Back, my 3rd version of Han!)
Leo Nocedo: Do you prefer to do photoshoots at cons or at specific locations?
Mike Disher: Conventions are always crazy with so much going on. I’ve done a few photoshoots at them, but it really does take time away from everything else. I haven’t done any location shoots yet, but I think it would be great to have a chance to really lose yourself in your surroundings.
Leo Nocedo: Is there a type of character you cosplay frequently?
Mike Disher: I didn’t make a conscious decision, but it seems I’m drawn to being a Captain! Between Captain Mal, Captain Han Solo, Captain Kirk, Captain Lone Starr etc. Other than that, I typically like doing cosplays that are not too complex, but iconic and (hopefully) instantly recognizable.
Leo Nocedo: Do you have any favorite cosplayers?
Mike Disher: Most of my favorite cosplayers are really just good friends that are phenomenal at what they do. Like WeyrWoman Cosplay (Lauren) is someone I’ve known for a while who always impresses me. And between Teri and Hadley ( @batestab and @spaceprincesscosplays ), they both do fantastic variations of Princess Leia as well as few other great cosplays too. My friend Josh ( @southerndoom ) is typically my counterpart doing cosplays that work well with whatever I’m doing. I’d also say Michelle ( @malicious_machinations ) does some unbelievable cosplays every single time. And I have to mention @kylo.wanderer who does mostly Kylo Ren, but is so fun and talented, everyone should check out his YouTube channel. And I know I’m going to regret not naming a few other dozen friends of mine later, so apologies in advance!
Leo Nocedo: What is your favorite cosplay you’ve done?
Mike Disher: I’ll always be partial to Mal because that’s the cosplay that started it all. And Han Solo was my 2nd, and he always gets such a positive response, plus I kinda like being a bit of a scoundrel for a while too.
Leo Nocedo: What is your worst cosplay “horror” story?
Mike Disher: My gun for Mal has a couple of screws that stick out on the end of it. Over time, pulling it out of the holster, one of them started getting loose. Fortunately I was able to find another Mal gun exactly like it, and decided to just get a spare. The very first time I pulled it out of the holster, BOTH screws broke right off. ARGH…!
Leo Nocedo: What’s your funniest cosplay story?
Mike Disher: I was cosplaying as Mal at a con, walking around with a friend who was cosplaying as Harley Quinn with her her giant mallet. Someone passed by and they said, “Great Mal…”, I thanked them and at the same time, I heard my Harley friend thank them also. My friends stopped and looked at me and everyone just started laughing. They said “Great MALLET…!”. Ugh….
Leo Nocedo: Have you ever cosplayed with a family member?
Mike Disher: I have a couple of nieces that have cosplayed with me occasionally. Most of my family is in Indiana and either don’t know or maybe don’t want to know.
Leo Nocedo: What is your favorite cosplay photo of yourself?
Mike Disher: I’m definitely my own worst critic. And it doesn’t help that most of my pictures were taken and edited by myself. But every now and then, the planets align, and I’m kinda proud of how something I did turns out. I’ve always liked my Mal picture holding the mug in front of the tattered Browncoat Independent flag. I was also surprised how good the Clark Kent picture revealing a bit of the ‘S’ shield came out, because I never imagined cosplaying this before. And I’ve always loved the picture of my Han Solo with Teri ( @batestab ) from DragonCon who was cosplaying as Leia from the Ewok village. She is an amazing cosplayer herself and really helps me look good. 12: Have you ever had someone mistake you for a different character?
Mike Disher: Yes!! I’ve been told quite often, I look more like Simon from Firefly than Mal. I’m thinking I need to put together a Simon cosplay, but he isn’t as recognizable as Mal, so I’d need a Kaylee or Jayne, or another Mal to be with me. Also, when cosplaying as Lone Starr, I’ve had people still mistake me for Han Solo.
Leo Nocedo: List all the cosplays you’ve done.
Mike Disher: Han Solo (ANH and TFA) Captain Mal (Firefly) Captain Kirk (TOS) Dirk Gently Ash (Evil Dead) Agent K (Blade Runner 2049) Lone Starr (Spaceballs) President Loki Cliff Steele (Doom Patrol) Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks)
Leo Nocedo: What’s the biggest con you’ve cosplayed at?
Mike Disher: DragonCon. Almost too many people for my taste, but I’ve been coerced into going three times now. And yeah, probably a fourth.
Leo Nocedo: Do you prefer cosplaying characters with props, or characters that you don’t need to carry a prop around all day?
Mike Disher: I don’t mind small props I can keep in my pocket, but having a chainsaw arm as Ash from Evil Dead gets pretty annoying very quickly.
Leo Nocedo: Have you ever lost a cosplay piece at a con?
Mike Disher: Not yet, but I’ve had a Droid caller pop off a few times from my Han Solo holster. So if you find one at a convention, might be mine!
Leo Nocedo: Have you ever bought a cosplay piece at a con?
Mike Disher: Yes, I bought a DL-44 (Han Solo’s blaster) once. I seem to keep having problems with those and have bought four of them now! Between not being allowed to bring it in because it looks too real, to the scope falling off a 3D printed one, and another that just didn’t fit the holster, I’m hoping that’s the last time I need to buy one.
Leo Nocedo: Do you prefer to cosplay solo or in a group?
Mike Disher: Going to cons with friends in group cosplay is always a lot of fun. You can goof around with each other and I think people notice you more when you’re with others in the same theme. But for pictures, I think I prefer just me.
Leo Nocedo: Do you prefer to buy or make cosplays?
Mike Disher: I’m definitely not skilled in making anything and always scour the internet to find just the right pieces. I’ve got some talented friends that I’ll ask to help with things like 3D printing or occasional stitching, but that’s it really.
Leo Nocedo: If you could tell your past self anything about cosplay, what would you say? Just do it already! Stop being so insecure and have fun with it. And you’re right, most of your friends haven’t given you any good suggestions, so go with your instincts.
Leo Nocedo: What is your ultimate dream cosplay?
Mike Disher: When I originally started cosplaying, I thought maybe I’d get a few dozen of my friends following my Facebook page who might appreciate what I do. Now I’m almost at 1k followers, and I’ve gotten likes from some of the celebrities I’ve cosplayed as. Not to mention being offered cosplayer of the week here. I’d say I’m living my ultimate dream cosplay. 22: What’s the most difficult cosplay you’ve ever done? (Craftsmanship, wearing of, ect) Did I mention what a pain it is carrying around a chainsaw arm as Ash? Yeah, that. Plus I get frustrated fighting with a wig for President Loki.
Leo Nocedo: What is your favorite part of cosplaying?
Mike Disher: My favorite part is just making people smile.
Leo Nocedo: What is one thing that bothers you about the cosplay community?
Mike Disher: The negativity. I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t experienced it much first hand, but I’ve seen other cosplayers go through it. This is supposed to be fun for everyone. If you disagree with how a cosplayer looks, or their age, or ethnicity, or whatever… So what? Just move on! There’s enough toxic behavior in the world. Just let someone have their fun. Cause I guarantee, there’s hundreds (thousands?) of others that love what their doing. And unfortunately that completely unsolicited disrespectful comment can be louder than all the positive comments. Not everyone has such thick skin to ignore it. So knock it off.