If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be standing in old Fremantle on a cold winter night with a man dressed as Batman I probably would have had a lot of questions. Nevertheless this is where I have found myself.
Al Fuller, Western Australias very own Caped Crusader, doesn’t let the cold get to him. The only thing the bone chilling winds seem to do is add to effect of his costume as his jacket blows in the wind. He is a man who loves what he does, standing proud in the cosplay he made in his home, and talking with passion about a character he clearly loves.
8B: So how long have you been doing cosplay for?
AL: I came into the game later then most, I had recently hit the big 4-0 when I did. I’ve always been a big kid at heart so it wasn’t the stereotypical middle-age thing… I don’t think so anyway. I already had bought the big red V8 to cover that! I’d been to the Supanova conventions a couple times as regular me but my sojourn into cosplay started at OZ ComiCon in 2013 when I convinced a friend to tag along, this time in costume. I borrowed a Dark Knight muscle suit from a friend and my mate went as Bane. It was a lot of fun to say the least and a little overwhelming in a way. It really was a buzz having people want photos with us. The popularity of the Dark Knight movie was obviously the source for the attention but from then on I couldn’t wait for the next convention.
8B: The cosplay community at conventions has gotten bigger in the past few years, how does it feel being a relatively well known figure in the community?
AL: I really enjoy the community of cosplay and the social aspect of being at the conventions with like minded people who you wouldn’t otherwise know. There’s really no barrier to getting involved. I enjoy being a character that people know and love. I enjoy catching the train to the conventions in costume and seeing the reactions from everyone. There’s nothing I really don’t enjoy, except probably what most cosplayers dislike…. the restriction in being able to use the toilet. Really it’s just fun, that’s what matters.
8B: You have a few variations of Batman, any reason you’ve chosen to focus on the Dark Knight?
AL: So far I’ve done a few Batman variations. The Dark Knight (my first one), comic style black and grey, comic style blue and grey, Batman bobble-head in both blue and black, Lego Batman (my biggest and most awkward) and DC Bombshells Detective Bruce Wayne. Something just drew me to the character long ago. Maybe it was the Corgi Batmobile and boat set I had as a kid? Or the plastic cake topper I remember seeing in a long gone bakery many decades ago? Either way it was imbedded somewhere, and in recent years it’s become something I’ve aspired to bring to life and have some fun with. I got back into comic collecting with Batman as my main focus when DC released the New 52. I used to love reading the Punisher, Lobo, and Judge Dredd/2000AD but it was Batman that really drew me back in. He’s a character that has no super powers so there’s an element and depth of reality to him. And seriously, if you could drive around in a Batmobile and punch bad guys why wouldn’t you?
8B: While we’re on the subject of different Batmen, do yo have a favourite?
AL: That’s a tough one. I definitely love the Batman of the silver and bronze age in the comics which is what my blue and grey suit is based on, but there are so many variations and takes on the character in both book and film that each adds their own element. I also love the Adam West Batman from the 1960’s. Ultimately I think it can really boil down to the look of the costume and characters. If it looks crap (did someone say 90’s films?) then it’s a lot harder to sell to the fanbase. I enjoyed BvS a lot and the Lego Batman movie is a really fun ride with so many hat-tips to everything that came before, even back to the serials in the 40’s.
8B: We know you like Batman, but is there a dream cosplay you are hoping to do?
AL: I don’t think I have a dream cosplay as such, although I’ve started to focus on my photos and how my character looks a bit more where I can. I’m currently working on something a but different; comic style Judge Dredd. He may not be Batman but there were some DC crossovers in the 90’s where the two characters had their disagreements but ultimately became unwitting allies. I’ve started the build and it won’t be without its challenges but so far so good. Learning new skills and working with different materials is always a challenge and my methods of getting from A to B in building and patterning can be a little unorthodox, but as long as i’m happy with the results then that’s what really matters. I’m always surprised with how things turn out and excited when I get them right. For everything else there is always a wheelie bin in the Batcave.
8B: How about highlights?
AL: There are plenty of personal highlights and fantastic moments that i’ve experienced in cosplay, one of which was having the artist responsible for DC Bombshells, Ant Lucia, give me some info and awesome feedback which allowed me to add some fine detail into the detective costumes vest. But i suppose the biggest ones are the reactions from people of all ages who love Batman and seeing the character step out of the comics and come to life. It makes my effort all that more worthwhile. I also love getting other cosplayers together at the conventions by organising, and I’ll say that loosely, or participating in the various DC group photo gatherings. Catching up with other bat-family cosplayers is a lot of fun.
8B: Finally, where can people find you if they would like to see more of your cosplays.
AL: I started a Facebook page back in 2014 called Caped Crusader of Western Australia where I like to share my costume photos and the stuff I’m working on, plus bits and pieces of my collection and photos from conventions. I also have an Instagram called Caped Crusader Cosplay, that’s mainly cosplay but I mix it up with some other photos outside of cosplay as well.