Home The Blue Diary Articles Guest Article: ALSTON STEPHANUS Cosplayer Profile & Interview

profile-kristina-manenteIn her debut article for AEISD, blogger and member of the Baker Street Babes Kristina Manente (@CurlyFourEyes) profiles a rising star in the world of cosplay, Alston Stephanus, whilst looking at how the landscape of cosplay is evolving into a intricate and technically proficient aspect of the modern convention culture…


In the professionally posed picture above, master cosplayer Alston Stephanus is on a roof in Jakarta, Indonesia, in full Hiro Hamada regalia.

It’s an incredible shot. The lengths modern cosplayers will go to get the perfect shot is always a surprise, but this photo is an immediate indicator at how serious this particular cosplayer takes his craft. Alston is modeling his newly completed cosplay (Hamada, the lead character featured in the Disney/Pixar hit film, BIG HERO 6) that he then premiered at San Diego Comic Con in July 2016, some weeks later.

Alston is still relatively new to cosplay, but it hasn’t stopped him from making a big splash in the world cosplay community, especially the one in Asia. In his ‘day job’, he is mostly known as a fashion and accessories designer, having created numerous high profile pieces for pageants, as well as for celebrities and shows in Jakarta and Singapore. As his brand continues to grow globally, he decided to also start putting his talents to use in terms of his own cosplay efforts.

Despite being Indonesian, Alston only just had his home country cosplay debut at the second ever Indonesia Comic Con at the beginning of October, headlining as a special guest. It was there that he learned that he does things a bit differently from the other mainstream and popular cosplayers of Asia. All of Alston’s outfits are designed and constructed by himself personally, but the materials he uses are more for aesthetic reasons than functionality. While most cosplayers use molding foam for their armor, Alston instead chose a different medium: fiberglass.

image-kristina-manente-cosplay-article-alston-stephanus-hiro-hamada-3

“Nobody uses [fiberglass] because it hurts. It looks really nice though!”, Alston laughed as we chatted. Fiberglass isn’t a common cosplay material, but the shiny finish it gives off, especially when sanded and painted (Alston uses spray paint used for painting cars to give it that extra shine), making him look like “a cartoon in living form.”

It wasn’t the first time he had used fiberglass, but it still required a lot of work, and a lot of trial and error. The fiberglass is notoriously difficult to work with, needing to be molded. After sanding it smooth, the problem of getting the color right was the next obstacle, as spraying too much in one area or unevenly would result in having to respray the item structure over and over again. Overall, it took over back-breaking four and a half months to create the armor, Alston working on it off and on. He says that while it was very challenging, he enjoyed that challenge; it made it fun.

It was also a work in progress. SDCC 2016 was where he eventually premiered the outfit and he noticed a few things wrong with the finished project, that it was particularly painful to wear, and so he went back and altered a few things. Next up was Indonesia Comic Con in October and again, a few alterations here and there. By New York Comic Con in that that month, it was further improved, though he says he probably still has to fix a few things. “It’s not a case of it’s done, so it’s done. You can always improve.” The rest of the outfit was much easier to create, sewing and gluing fabric, and using molding foam for the gloves and boots. Overall he says he’s very comfortable in the cosplay, he’s added personal touches and feels he identifies with the character. “It’s part of me now, I feel very comfortable in the costume. It hurts, but it’s comfortable being Hiro Hamada.”

image-kristina-manente-cosplay-article-alston-stephanus-hiro-hamada-2

How the cosplay came about is simply a tale of being in the right place at the right time. “Initially I had never thought about cosplaying as him. I like the movie, but it never hit me that I should dress as him. I was talking to my friend Tank, who runs a nerd circus, and she had a Baymax costume, and they needed a Hiro. So I started making the costume.”

Alston discovered there was a lot more reaction to the cosplay at Indonesia Comic Con than anywhere else, though he mentions that once Baymax was with him and they found two other cosplayers from the film at New York Comic Con, they became swarmed with attention.

image-kristina-manente-cosplay-article-alston-stephanus-hiro-hamada-group

“Two straight hours taking photos on the floor, it was really intense. People were shoving and pushing to get photos.” The four didn’t even get a chance to speak until after things had settled down. “That was a great thing about the con, we just met them randomly and took photos and were stuck with one another. It’s great how things like this just happen.”

Having gone straight from Indonesia Comic Con to the behemoth that is New York Comic Con, Alston couldn’t help but notice major differences between the two. ICC is still new, only in its second year, and so it’s nowhere near the scale that NYCC has become, yet. He’s also not a massive fan of the Javits Center (to be honest, is anybody?) “It was very hectic… not strategic or organized. It’s like a hamster cage,” says Alston. He makes the comparison to San Diego, stating that even though SDCC is ginormous, he feels that youd o know where everything is and it’s laid out a bit more naturally.

He says that both big and small conventions have their own perks. Bigger cons have more stars, more stages, artists alleys, and a wider range of people coming. These are things smaller conventions don’t have, but they do have a lot more love. However, he says, “I like all cons.”

image-kristina-manente-cosplay-article-alston-stephanus-harley-quinn-1

New York also saw the debut of his genderbent Harley Quinn cosplay, which Alston renamed to Mr. Harley Q. This cosplay also came along with a concept video that was shown as his panel at Indonesian Comic Con.

“My favorite cosplayer, Chris Villain, did a genderbent Harley Quinn, so I wanted to as well, but was afraid people would think I was copying him. I wanted to do Katana instead, but I didn’t have time to do the mask, so I decided to just do Harley. I played around with makeup and colors. I wasn’t gonna be the hunky guy version of Harley, cause I’m not that, so I wanted to be the cute anime boy. And did it work? I think so, ha-ha!”

image-kristina-manente-cosplay-article-alston-stephanus-harley-quinn-2

The creation of this cosplay was a bit more DIY. Alston used a human hair wig and dyed it himself and ended up bleaching and dyeing the jeans on his own, and then having to re-alter them because the dye changed the fabric consistency. The one he ordered hadn’t come in time and so a friend offered her kid’s bat as a replacement, which he transformed using stencils, spray paint, and a makeup blending brush. “I didn’t have any sponges and we had to film.” The gloves were leftover from his punk rock loving high school days, and the gun was a 3D printed model from the film itself.

And speaking of film, Alston and a friend spent twenty six hours from brainstorming to shooting to editing on his first concept based cosplay film. It tells the story of his version of Harley Quinn: it’s about the transformation of an individual. “Putting on a wig to become someone else. Embrace this character, this other part [of their self.]” Most of the other videos that adorn his Instagram page are behind the scenes pics of creating cosplays or of photoshoots. This was the first film they produced that told a linear story.

Alston’s cosplays range from ADVENTURE TIME, to anime, to genderbent fusions. At a time where social change is happening rapidly, but also perhaps not fast enough, Alston takes pride in helping breaking down barriers back home, where life is still relatively conservative.

“I think it’s wonderful that people are doing genderbend characters. It is actually breaking down the gender wall, which is great. Even in Indonesia there are a lot of genderbent characters, which is wonderful. We’re still new at this. I think it’s great for that wall to break down. Conventions are a safe place for people. Gender shouldn’t be an issue for anything. This is the first step to move forward.”

image-kristina-manente-cosplay-article-alston-stephanus-mononoke-2

The world of geeks and nerd is generally speaking a place of inclusion and allowing people to explore themselves through various means. Cosplay is one of those means and Alston says he feels very safe do that.

Cosplay has become a constant part of Alston’s life, but he says he still has a lot to learn and has a number of cosplayers whom he idolizes, one of whom is the afore-mentioned Chris Villain. Alston is a huge fan of Chris’ work, appreciating the detail and thought he puts into his projects. “Chris […] really inspires me. He seems like a very genuine person.”

And, of course, Alston mentions ubiquitous cosplay celebrity Yaya Han, who he really respects not only as another POC in the scene, but as a business woman and for showing the process of making her outfits. “She wants people to learn. She’s just wonderful.” They were able to meet briefly at NYCC and he hopes they’ll be able to meet again.
image-kristina-manente-cosplay-article-alston-stephanus-pokemongo

Other favorites are Liui – “…all his photos are amazing. His face is amazing, I don’t know how he does it.” – and Stella Chu, who he has been following ever since he started to cosplay.

What’s next for Alston’s cosplay adventure? Who knows. But surely, whatever it will be, shall be wonderful!


Find out more about Alston’s work at the links below:

Alston on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alstonstephanus/
Accessories Company: http://alstonstephanus.com/

Genderbent Princess Mononoke: https://www.instagram.com/p/BITT9zLhXXN
Genderbent Harley Quinn: https://www.instagram.com/p/BK-8ttEBtnV
Hiro Hamada: https://www.instagram.com/p/BIFnN44hD8W/
Steampunk Victorian Crocodile from Peter Pan (because why the hell not?):
https://www.instagram.com/p/BIYX0CchcLr/

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: