New Carlisle cosplay group aiming to bring comic characters to life
One of the worst things about being a Storm Trooper is ‘Trooper’s pinch’. Your skin can get pinched between joints in the plastic ‘armour’. And the outfit isn’t rain-proof either. But they are the minor downsides of appearing as one of the most iconic figures in movie history.
The best part about wearing a Storm Trooper’s outfit is seeing the reaction on people’s faces when you appear.
Martyn Shorland remembers the first time he wore his suit.
“I was trooping at Hamleys in Glasgow. We all had our kits on and I remember this little boy looking up at me and his face was just ecstatic. I gave him a high five. He made my day and I walked away and thought it was worth buying the suit just for that moment.
“I love to see people interact and the age range can go from little guys right up to older people.”
He paid more than £1,000 for his outfit four years ago.
It was custom-made for him by a movie props firm that has the licence to make the suits.
He has worn it hundreds of times since but says that first reaction from the young boy was worth the payment in one go.
“It is made from high quality, non-yellowing plastic and providing I look after it, it will last me a lifetime,” says Martyn.
“I don’t do anything by halves. People think I have OCD but there are two ways of doing something, the right way and the wrong way.”
His latest creation is the DC comic character Deathstroke, the greatest assassin of all and the alter-ego of super-soldier Slade Wilson.
Wearing the outfits makes a difference to how he feels.
An “immense” difference.
“I go into Storm Trooper mode,” says Martyn. “I try and think what a Storm Trooper would do, what they would say, how they act. You are aware that who is inside. I’ve worn it for up to seven or eight hours. It can be hot, cold and wet, depending on the weather.”
He appeared at the recent Comicon event in Carlisle dressed as Deathstroke.
“I enjoyed the competition but it is not the reason why I do it,” he says. “I have always had an interest in the comics since I was schoolboy, Spider-Man and Batman are probably two of my favourite characters.
“I have always liked the guys such as Storm Troopers and Iron Man who wear armour. I find science fiction very enjoyable because it has no bearing on real life, it is escapism.”
He clearly recalls the first time he saw his first Storm Trooper – the first time he saw Star Wars. He explains: “I remember my dad coming into the house with this box and inside this box was a machine that you plugged into the back of the television and there were these cassettes that you fitted into this box.
“We had Star Wars and Moonraker and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. We did not watch them once or twice, we watched them every day. They were on all the time.
“The scene from the first Star Wars movie is very iconic, the door explodes, lasers blast through and storm troopers come in. That is just etched on my brain. I thought ‘these guys are so cool’ I wanted to be one then. I was seven or eight.
“I remember talking about that scene with a friend and he said ‘you could be a storm trooper too’.
“I try to take it seriously, but not to the point where I stop enjoying it.”
Martyn was a member of the UK Garrison of the 501st Legion, a group of Star Wars fans who dress up in ‘movie accurate’ costumes at events to fundraise for charity.
Now he has formed his own group of cosplay fans – the Carlisle and Cumbria DC cosplay group.
“The idea behind this group is that we all get together and make our own live-action comic with photographs,” he explains. “There are 26 members and they have all got their own costumes.
“We want to do this properly, we are due to meet to discuss locations and costumes and a basic story, then we will write up a storyboard and script and then look at where we can do the scenes.”
By day, the 44-year-old, who lives in Carlisle, is a barber, working at WH Walkers Gents hairdresser on Lowther Street, Carlisle.
But his spare time is spent making and wearing the costumes.
Martyn Shorland as Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke
“One of the reasons I make the kit is because I like doing it as much as I like wearing it,” he says. “I don’t watch TV at all. I love to come home, pick my Dremel up and make something.
“I constantly look at costumes and think ‘that would be a nice one to do’ but I can’t afford every costume I like. My long-term aim is to get a 3D printer and a vacuum former and produce outfits for other people.”
He says that those dressing up can get abuse. Martyn is a naturally shy person and admits he prefers to wear a mask or helmet as part of a costume.
“With Deathstroke, I was worried. I can wear that with my helmet or with just the eyepatch, scar and flat-top as Slade Wilson.
“I want to get other cosplayers together. There are judgemental people in the world but we can move forward from that. The more cosplayers there are, the more people will realise that it is okay to do that.”
His 16-year-old daughter Megan has developed his love for the comics and he has made her a Storm Trooper outfit from foam but she has not appeared alongside her dad yet.