Interview with Cosplayer Monica Clare

Be the Spark Cosplay Mandy Pursley

The world of cosplay is diverse, creative, and is a celebration of many aspects of fandoms that we all geek out about in one way or another. Cosplay is hard work, and The Geek Post celebrates cosplayers any chance we get. One such cosplayer who deserves the spotlight is Monica Clare. Not only is she a talented cosplayer but she is an author as well. Geek Post got a chance to ask her some questions to get to know her work and more about the person behind it all.

GeekPost: We discovered you because of your Supergirl cosplays; tell us about how that came to be. 

Monica: My brother and I have always been into DC comics, we enjoyed watching the Justice League show when we were younger, and he was actually the first one to say that I reminded him of Supergirl. At first, I brushed off the comparison, and was too stubborn to accept the resemblance, but finally I gave in and decided to make a Supergirl costume. I had only made two costumes before Supergirl, a classic Star Trek dress and an Imperial Officer costume which I had submitted to the 501st Legion, both had received some recognition within their respective fandoms…. but nothing compared to the reaction I got to my Supergirl costume. People began referring to me as Supergirl, even writing birthday sentiments to me on my birthday addressing me as “Supergirl”. It was so unexpected, and foreign to me, my Instagram account, which I had not started as a cosplay page, exploded from a few of my Supergirl photos being shared on various cosplay pages. My stubbornness still sort of kept me in denial for a little while about how big this was… but I slowly began to accept the popularity of the costume. I really enjoy the reactions I get, and I’m very thankful for the love people have shown to my work and what I do. It’s a great honor to me that for some people I’ve brought the character to life, and because of the deep fandom she has, I always try to stay true to her values and represent her in the best way possible. 

GeekPost: Do you create your own cosplays, if so, tell us about your process?

Monica: Yes, I have put most of my costumes together myself. It really depends on if it’s something I plan to take creative liberties with, or if it’s something that I want to be 100% screen accurate. The ones I take liberties with are definitely more rewarding to my creative side, much like my Hawkgirl costume, which is still recognizable as Hawkgirl, but with my own spin.

T’Pol was a very challenging costume to make, and for that one I started with a mock-up which I marked where I wanted all the panels to be. Then I cut up the mock-up and used it to make my pattern. I don’t always have to make a pattern, but I will say that 9 times out of 10 it ends up being a requirement, if not, I usually must adjust an existing pattern. 

GeekPost: Great! We must ask because our readers love to know. Do you have any pets?

Monica: Yes! I have a cat, Tiberius (named after Captain Kirk). And three chinchillas, Ash, Pikachu, and Ari. 

GeekPost: They are so cute, thank you for sharing. Now, how long have you been cosplaying; how did you get your start?

Monica: I suppose I started cosplaying in an official capacity back in 2014 when I attended my first comic con- Wizard World Philly. I made the Star Trek TOS dress for that weekend, but my interest in costumes has gone back so much further than that. My mom made a C-3PO costume for Halloween one year, I think I was about 7 or 8 when I wore that. I also remember back in the early 2000’s using our family camcorder to film myself dressed as Sarah Connor in T2 re-enacting the scene where she escapes the asylum. I’m not sure what happened to the tape, but I’m sure it’s pretty hilarious. The first time I tried to make a costume was in 2003, and that was T’Pol’s white jumpsuit from Star Trek: Enterprise in the episode where they go to Vulcan. I adored all of her jumpsuits, but the white one was just so sharp! I had no idea how to sew at the time, and it was a total disaster. Later in life I got a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising, and I learned how to sew and make patterns. I have made so many costumes since then, including a successful T’Pol jumpsuit! 

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GeekPost: It seems to be a pretty common theme with people into cosplaying that they get started with costumes as kids. So, beyond cosplay, what other geeky hobbies do you have? Monica: Aside from cosplaying, I have recently started my own book series, so I stay pretty busy with writing. The first book, Sandstorm: The Legend of Adira, was published last year in July. And I just released the sequel, Sandstorm: The Plight of Yesterday the beginning of this month! I’m currently working on a third book. And if I’m not writing, I really enjoy road trips and doing projects and upgrades around the house. 

GeekPost: That is exciting! We will have to revisit with you further down the road to focus just on your writing. So, does your family and friends support your cosplay?

Monica: Absolutely! My family and friends have always facilitated my fandom’s, and I also like to keep my work family friendly. 

GeekPost: How has cosplaying helped you in your business ventures?

Monica: I never dreamed that it would be a source of income, but it has surprisingly developed into something that I can make some money doing- whether it’s attending shows and selling prints, ko-fi donations, costume commissions, paid photo shoots or Instagram promotions, it all definitely helps. At the current moment I’m promoting my two published books, which can both be found on Amazon – Sandstorm: The Legend of Adira and Sandstorm: The Plight of Yesterday. And to give a little insight on the stories, Sandstorm (also known as Adira) is a superhero that I created, and I also cosplay as her and modelled for both covers. She’s a very altruistic character who started from nothing, as a Hebrew slave in ancient Egypt. She received superstrength and the ability to control the sands after praying for strength against her oppressors, and what I love most about her is that (like me) she is a strong Jewish woman. 

GeekPost: We know a lot of authors who would be envious that you can cosplay your own character for covers.  What are your current favorite cosplays, upcoming cosplays, anything you would like to reveal?

Monica: It’s honestly so hard to pick a favorite, but I really love the T’Pol suit that I just recently completed. I also replicated the velvet battle dress that Padme wears in the end of Star Wars Episode 1, and that will always be one of my favorite costumes. And of course, because Adira is a character that I created, that costume will always hold a special place in my heart. As far as upcoming projects, I have a few commissions that I’m doing for other people, as well as putting together a costume to photograph for the cover of my third book. Thankfully all the shots of Adira have been photographed already, but I’m designing the villain’s costume and that’s currently in the works. 

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GeekPost: Do you consider yourself a geek, what does that mean to you?

Monica: Hmm, I definitely have a lot of fandoms that are considered “geeky” but I don’t necessarily like to be put in a category based on labels. I’m a pretty complex person with a lot of interests, so I just don’t feel like one word can define me accurately. I feel like “geek” has been used as a derogatory slander in the past, but I love that people are taking it back and redefining it in a positive way. I’ve always thought of a geek as a super smart person, like a scientist or engineer. I gravitate more towards the humanities- art, history, psychology, philosophy, language, etc which I suppose one could be a geek in those categories too. I honestly don’t know if I’m a geek or not… I probably am, and I’m probably overthinking this answer too. 

GeekPost: You are right, the word Geek does have quite the history. We are indeed taking it back as part of healing trauma from the past. So, what challenges have you faced while building your cosplay portfolio?

Monica: I think the biggest challenge with cosplaying is being misunderstood when it becomes known to your employer or co-workers that you “cosplay”. A lot of them just don’t get it, or make their own assumptions about what it is, they usually assume the worst (which is honestly a reflection on them). Because I didn’t intend to become a “cosplayer” all of my pictures were posted on my personal Instagram and Facebook pages, but now that it’s taken off the way it has, everything is still under my real name. So, when, and if my coworkers go searching, they sometimes treat me differently when they see how many followers I have and what I do. I’ve also been asked to start social media pages for the companies I’ve worked for, as if there’s no extra time and effort required to do that. I suppose the takeaway is that it’s given me some insight on what it’s really like to have a secret identity or double life. Superman and Supergirl are always struggling to find the balance between being who they really are and who they’re supposed to be in day-to-day life. I feel like the challenge of living in both worlds’ parallels with their own struggles of having that secret identity.

It’s difficult when you’re balancing the two, it’s a time management struggle, keeping up with social media and working full time. Right now, my cosplay and writing aren’t lucrative enough to allow me to work for myself, but at the same time, it’s worth investing the time and energy to grow in hopes that one day it will be. 

 

The Geek Post would like to thank Monica Clare for taking the time to give us a peek behind the curtain. Make sure you take the time to follow her on social media and check out her novels! Monica has agreed to come back soon to talk more with us about her writing and other future projects.

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