We've always been interested in the cosplay scene, so when we met up with the Arizona Avengers cosplay group at the recent Phoenix ComicCon convention, we jumped at the chance to get some interviews. We'll be bringing you interviews with a number of Arizona Avengers over the next few months, and here's the first - Cameron Richard. 

Name: Cameron Richard
Current Character(s): Wiccan, Wolverine
Organization: The Arizona Avengers

1) How and why did the "Arizona Avengers" start?
"The Arizona Avengers" was started a little over a year ago by Liam Stillman (Deadpool), Aaron Forrester (our original Iron Man), Daniel Burgos (Agent Burgos and Iron Fist), and Ben Dickinson (our original Spider-Man). They saw groups like the 501st and decided they wanted to do something like that but involving the Marvel Universe.

The idea behind the AZA was to provide a collective identity for costumers and comic fans who wished to bring these characters to life, not only for the fun of it, but to also use it to do some good volunteering our time and resources.

We currently take part in fundraising and events for charities such as Tracie's Tooth Fairy, a cancer organization; and Kids Need To Read, an organization that promotes literacy and helps get reading materials to kids that might not otherwise get them. We are also about to go on our very first hospital visit to bring smiles to some kids who really need them as well.

As for the how of it, I wasn't there for the original conversations between the original four, but as I understood it, they just decided to go with the idea and start recruiting friends. Gradually a few more friends liked the idea and they created this small group that debuted at Phoenix Comicon 2010. They began recruiting other people who were Marvel fans and the whole thing just blew up.

Next thing we knew, we were 30 members strong and going national with two other chapters, the "West Coast Avengers" based in California and "The East Coast Avengers" spanning the east.

2) Have you had any problems with members overlapping characters?
We have, and do have some overlapping in characters but we don't consider that a problem by any means. Whenever someone wants to join and wants to know what characters aren't taken, we always tell them that it doesn't matter who we already have. We want people to be able to portray a character that they love and will want to bring to life.

Not only that, but we actually WANT doubles and even triples of characters, especially the more well known ones...that helps when someone can't make it to an event, or if we end up doublebooked and there are special character requests.

3) When and how did you first get into cosplay?
I personally first got into it at Phoenix Comicon in 2010. Some friends and I had made plans to go and the original plan was for us all to dress up as characters from the Final Fantasy games.

Unfortunately I had to spend some time away from Arizona and was on the east coast for a little over a month, using up any time I had to actually make a costume. I had entertained the idea of just not going when I got back, but one of my friends convinced me to just look for some kind of costume and go. I ended up buying a Wolverine costume off the internet, had it shipped to me quickly and that was what I wore to the con.

It wasn't the best fit or anything like that, but I caught the eye of Liam, who immediately recruited me. I talked to one of the other existing members who told me what the AZA was all about, and the idea of doing good and making people happy while getting to basically have Halloween all year called to me.

I worked on the suit a little (again with the help of friends) and modified it in a few ways, making it a much better fit and a little more personalized and gained full membership status with the AZA about a month later, which opened me up to the world of cosplay.

4) What characters do you play?
I have Wolverine, though he doesn't come out as often as he did before now that I have a second costume and we've gotten another member who also portrays Logan.

I am also more currently Wiccan of the "Young Avengers" and will soon be brainstorming who my next costume will be.

5) Do you make your own costumes or purchase costumes or both?
It's really a little of both, and that goes for a lot of us in the group. Some pieces are completely homemade either by ourselves or by other members of the group or family members. These are seriously some of the most creative people I've ever met!

Some costumes have various parts that were bought and then put together to make the final look, and other costumes are a combination of made and bought items, and some of the items are made from existing items that are turned into whatever we need. For myself, I bought all of the Wolverine, though some pieces were bought and added to it and weren't part of the original package.

Wiccan was my first try at actually making anything and while I bought the bodysuit and the boots, everything else was made either by myself or with help from other members. An example of what I meant by turning an item into something we need is evident in my Wiccan costume where we took a soapdish, painted it up, added a few things to it and it became my "belt buckle".

6) What is it about cosplay that keeps you in the scene?
For me, it's two things. One is the new family that I've found.

Since joining the Avengers and entering the cosplay scene with them, I have made some amazing friends who I've become very close to. Sure, we get together and do these events and while not everyone are best friends, we really are a lot like a family. There are inside jokes, sometimes arguments, but for better or worse, we all will do anything we can for each other.

The other reason is the looks on the kids faces, and I don't even just mean the little kids. There are times we do events for the National Guard, or comic stores, or even at the conventions where the public reaction is just amazing.

Adults and children alike absolutely love to see their favorite characters to life and will sometimes stand and talk to us for a good five minutes about how we've always been their favorite character. For the adults, I think it's just a fun suspension of reality for a minute...but for the small kids, you can just see in their faces that they are amazed that these movie, cartoon and comic characters are standing in front of them and talking to them.

Seeing the excitement as they describe their favorite thing we did in a movie or on TV, and then how happy they are when they ask us for an autograph and we comply...that is what keeps me doing this. 

Thanks Cameron! You can find him on Facebook here.

These guys are great. Check out their site ArizonaAvengers.com, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter today!

What do you think of the Amazing Arizona Avengers member Cameron Richard? Which Marvel superhero would you dress up as?
[Image Source: Grant Brummett]



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