Veterans Day: Cosplayers and Artists spotlight

On Veterans Day we honor those Men and Women who have fought and served for our country. As veteran they are known for their outstanding courage and devotion to the protection of our country. THey are known to us as warriors and defenders of the peace. Which is why I guess it is hard for some of us to see them as average human beings who love reading/drawing comic books, playing video games, and even cosplaying. On this Veterans Day myself and my best friend and veteran Nelson D. Martinez would like to not only honor his fellow veterans, but also spotlight fellow veterans in the cosplay community, photography, and comic book artists. We tried our best to find as many veterans who were cosplayers, photographers and artists in the comic book industry. When we think of someone who reads comics, or cosplays, or is an artist, we don't imagine that person as someone who is willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their country, we see them as real life superheroes themselves. But every superhero has an origin story, and here we present to you the origins of the few and the proud heroes of our military who have cosplayed superheroes, taken photos of them, and even drew them.

Bergevin, Matt 3051 Supply
US Marine Corps
Served from: 1995-2002
A stage combat performer who's worked with Wendell Smith (Skorpking Cosplay) for many years. Served in the US Marine Corps from 1995-2002 as a 3051 Supply. Costumes range from Pirate and Civil War reenactments, to Jedi and other various characters.

Matt Bergevin Jedi

Captain Berry, Shemika D U.S. Air Force Honorable Discharge (fulfilled commitment)1998-2004

Shemika has been cosplaying for 4yrs now; "I like the unity and camaraderie in the military and in Cosplay, The common thread that binds us together".
Her father was in the Air Force and she wanted to follow in his footsteps and serve her country. "My dad also got me interested in comics and superheroes. I remember him watching the original Dr. Who". She is an actress who loves costuming and when she found out there was a community and culture of costumers that mixed theatre with pop culture she was very intrigued. Being around other adults who dress up made her realized she wasn't alone in this pastime. She has also found groups to join that allow them to visit children in hospitals to bring them joy as their favorite characters.
"The dedication and pride in our uniforms and jobs translates into Cosplay. Ensuring the costumes are authentic and true to the character. Dedication to portraying them honestly and with respect". One of her most memorable moments was getting the opportunity to take a picture with Sir Patrick Stewart while she was dressed as Storm from the X-Men. Her favorite characters to dress as are Storm from X-Men, Wonder Woman (DC Comics), and Princess Tiana from Disney. She is a fan of all things Superman, X-Men, and Wonder Woman.

Blanchard, Carlos E-5
United States Air Force Retired
Served from: 1981-1985

A graphic designer and project manager by trade. Is just your everyday cosplayer, who was fortunate enough to cross paths with the likes of Adam Jay, and take some amazing photos with him. Cosplaying for well over a decade now, he has had the pleasure of meeting the best friends he's ever had through the cosplay community. For him being in the military and doing cosplay both have one thing in common; "It's an adventure of a lifetime, on both counts". Out of a sense of duty he wanted to serve this country of ours. What influenced him to get into cosplay were the sci-fi and comic book characters he grew up with. Being in the military gave him the patients and discipline to make the best cosplays he can.
Groups and websites like Wolf Pack Elite and League of Hero’s are where the best of the best meet and share costuming tips, and develop a wonderful sense of camaraderie. To be able to share a hobby like this, that can at times be all consuming, it’s important to find great people to share that with. As a result of getting to know all these amazingly talented people, he has started to up his game costuming wise, to what you see now. And because of that drive, he has had the fortunate experience to work with some extraordinary photographers like Adam Jay & Stacy Hokett (the photos with lighting bolts). "Being featured and recognized on the Stan Winston School of the Arts page. Having gone viral for my costumes and creations several times, and mainly the charity work I do".

Brave, Conyn 
United States Army

"I became a US ARMY INFANTRY SOLDIER because I love the ideals the USA are founded on and I got into Cosplay because of my love for the fun and art of Heroic comics and stories". He has been Cosplaying for about 5 years but only as a hobby, "although all my Halloween costumes for the past 20 years are basically Cosplay". Brave would usually wear the same Halloween outfit to any Comic/Sci Fi convention of that same year since they were usually Comic/Sci Fi based costumes."All of my favorite heroes mostly have a strong bit of honor about them. As to what got me into Cosplay, well I love art and it seemed like a cool bit of artistic expression"

My favorite characters and comics have been:

Sfc Chamble, Darlena B.
NY Guard Army Division

Darlena Chamble has a cosplayer for 6yrs now. It has allowed her to express herself creatively, even starring  and acting in a few fan films. "It is fun and I've met so many awesome people". She joined the military 2 weeks after 9/11 happened and was Navy bound. But her mom had a heart attack, which made her rethink her decision, and instead joined the National Guard of NY which allowed her to stay stateside as her mother recovered. Growing up Lt. Uhura became her idol; "I loved the idea of her travelling in space, exploring, wearing a cool uniform, and being smart & sexy". She read mainly Star Trek books/Graphic Novels as well as Batman (DC), Scarlet Witch (Marvel), and Amethyst Princess of GemWorld (DC). 
Two ways the military life has influenced her cosplay life: "As with my military uniforms, I keep all my cosplay 'uniforms' neat, organized, and all the parts are kept together". "Just like a soldier should not lose their ammo belt, Scarlet Witch cannot misplace her! Second, being an NCO places her in positions where she has to organize a lot of things; "Through my group the NY Cosplayer network, I organize cosplay activities like themed parties, photoshoots, hosted workshops, comic and gift drives for wounded service members. Last year we got to volunteer for fleet week on the Intrepid"!

Honored Transit Veteran

Collins, Ryan
Senior Airman
USAF: Served 5yrs, 1 tour: Iraq, Deployment: Kyrgyzstan

Ryan has been cosplaying for about 4yrs now and he was born into a somewhat military family. His grandfathers and great-grandfather were USAF and he wanted to follow in their footsteps, enlisting on labor day of '05. "That is one of the reasons I love dragoncon so much, my "enlistment anniversary"He got into cosplay because his friends over at Mind Game Productions got him hooked on Airsoft, and I got attached to the weaponry and the fun of it. He hung out with them as he did the US Marine Space Corps event at various cons. Since then he has become what most people consider as the Con Roadie cause he'd have a lot of different weapons, gadgets, tactical gear, and various things at my disposal. "While the military molds people to become someone better than they already are and to aspire to be even greater each day, cosplaying gives people a chance to become and pretend to be someone fictional they admire". Growing up his heroes were a family friend who was Marine Corp and of course his mother who he loves more than anything. Comic book wise he is a big Deadpool and Green Lantern fan. The biggest influence the military has had on him in regards to cosplay is: "I take it more seriously, especially with weapon props. I tend to be majorly OCD about other cosplayers whose costumes are fantastic but they don't have great weapon props".

Cuonzo, Frank M. 
Petty Officer Third Class CTI Navy 
Honorable discharge 5yrs 
2 tours in Korea, 1 tour in Fort Meade, MD  

The people he met in the Navy and some lifelong friendships are what Frank Cuonzo loved about the military. The collaboration between artists, being able to see something in your mind and create it is what he loves about being an artist. Frank did a year in college and wasn't sure what he wanted to do. He stopped by a recruiter's office and found out they offered language training in Korean. Since he was in Tae Kwon Do at the time, this really appealed to him. 
A friend of mine in the Navy asked me if I wanted to go to the comic store with him. I had no idea what a comic store was. So I said sure and tagged along with him. When we walked in and I was like, "whoa.". After I started reading comics I started trying to draw them. About half way through my service I really wanted to be a comic artist. 
Favorite projects: Creeps with Tom Mandrake. Doing The Phantom covers with Marat Mychaels. I got to help color some pages for Rob Liefeld's Youngblood hardcover edition and Onslaught Reborn. I've got one favorite from each of the big two. For Marvel it's Captain America and from DC it's Nightwing. I just did a cover for my buddy, Joe Martino's book, Vengeance featuring The Mighty Titan and Shadowflame. I'm also directing the art chores for a friend's series of novels that is will be re-released most likely early next year.

STG2(SW) Farmer, Carl B
United States Navy-Veteran
6-years of Active Duty with an Honorable Discharge
3 Tours of Duty WESTPACs, 1 RIMPAC, and an INSURV while on board DDG69 USS Milius

I have been cosplaying (within the most literal of terms) for 20 years; My first convention cosplay was in 2002.
When joining the military: "I liked the fact that I was able to travel the world; my experience was not as fruitful as I would have hoped, but I tried to make the most of it. As far as cosplaying is concerned, I get to be who I have idolized since I was a child".
He has had several factors influencing his joining of the service. "Primarily though, I am a patriot and I wanted to continue the legacy set forth by my father and his father and so on. I am a 6th generation serviceman". I have always had awesome Halloween costumes. I figured that I should take my costuming to a much larger scale. My heroes growing up include Captain America and my Dad. The military actually impeded on a lot of my cosplaying. However, I did manage to create a Captain America costume using my NWUs as a base. My biggest highlight in cosplay was meeting Stan Lee at Wondercon 2012 while I was cosplaying Tony Stark. My favorite comic book character is Captain America.

Martinez, Nelson D
United States Army
Served 1 Tour in Iraq

Born at South Dakota, on an Air Force Base and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up reading comics, watching cartoons, and playing video games on my free time. While attending school, at the age of 13, I took up Martial Arts style, Tae Kwon Do. I continued attending martial arts classes and participating in tournaments. At the age of 24, I joined the U.S. Army Reserves.
My first Con I attended was New York Anime Fest 2009. Baldwin one of my best friends and brothers, introduced me into the Comic Con life. I was very amazed at what I saw and of course me already being a comic book fan, I lost my mind when I was there! I thought I was literally in another world. While in Iraq, on my downtime, I talked to family and friends back home, most of my cosplayer friends I met online through other friends. We spoke about attending future Cons when I got back home. While I was in Iraq, I got the idea of wanting to Cosplay at a future con. Although I was very much into comics, I wasn't quite sure which character I'd be best as. So I asked Baldwin and he said he would get back to me on it. Finally he came up with DeadPool, he said I'm very much like the character already outside of the costume. So, I put my mind to it, started reading DeadPool comics, to get the history of the character, finally I decided, that's who I needed to work on. I knew DeadPool, from reading New Mutants, and X-Force comics when I was a kid. Cosplay, to me is more than just throwing on a costume. It involves creativity, passion, and becoming the character. No one is perfect and everyone should be able to share this lifestyle, no matter who they are, age, size, gender, and race, everyone and anyone can be a cosplayer. Everyone has their own style, and adds their own creative look to cosplays I've attended many Comic Cons over the years a various events. Each event and Convention is like a new adventure, you meet many people that have similar interests and things in common. I also met my lady through cosplay at a cosplay fashion show!

Raemer, Noelle E-5(P)
U.S. Army 12yrs
3 Tours in Iraq

Noelle has been cosplaying for 2 yrs now. The military has been her means for everything, to afford costuming and attend conventions. She likes to cosplay to show her love for her favorite characters. When she first dressed up at a convention, she was scared and flattered by people asking to take her picture. What influenced her to join the military; "I saw the Soldiers during the Gulf War as heroes and hoped that one day I could be like that". Her heroes have been her father, her brother, and her fellow soldiers.

Claire Sassypants Stripes
United States Army National Guard

Started cosplaying because it was a way to connect with people who have the same interests as she does.

Geary, Cody A.
United States Air Force 
Time Served: 2006-Present

Harvey, Dale
United States Marine Corps 
Time Served: 1996-2000

Newsome, Eddie
United States Navy 
Time Served: 1985-1989

Parker, Brandan M

National Guard

Smith Sr., Wendell

United States Marine Corps 
Time Served: 1990- 1998

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