I am Ryan Wells from Portland OR, and I have been doing props and sets for various theater and haunt productions throughout the years. Only recently, in September of 2013, I started cosplaying.
Pictured above: Ryan Wells. Photo by Jason DeSomer.
I never was into comics, anime or video games growing up, but I’ve always been a huge movie buff. I grew up with lots of favorites, but BACK TO THE FUTURE was always a front runner. After collecting books and toys based on the DeLorean time machine most of my life, I finally decided to build a screen-accurate time machine of my own. I spent about a year and a half making the props necessary to convert an actual classic DeLorean into Doc’s iconic vehicle. I heard that the actor Christopher Lloyd, who played Doc in the film, would be attending a comic con, so I decided to go in order get him to sign one of my car parts. It was there at the comic con that I fell in love with the convention scene and cosplay.
THE FIRST COSPLAY – 9 AND 5 FROM THE FILM 9
I didn’t know anyone that went to comic conventions at the time so I “conned” a friend into going with me. I built the characters 9 and 5 from the 2009 Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov film, 9. I had been inspired by the art from the film and thought the burlap outfits would be an easy and forgiving design. I also wanted something easily recognizable and yet very rarely made.
Pictured above: Ryan Wells and Erik Nelson as 9 and 5 from the film 9 at the Rose City Comic Con 2013.
I began the builds with the eyes. I knew that I needed to get those right or I wouldn’t be able to sell the characters.
Pictured above: Ryan’s cosplay of the character 9 from the movie 9 was featured in Cosplay in America v2.
The costume won first place in the costume contest among 300 other contestants and was featured in Ejen Chuang‘s book, the Cosplay in America v2. After that first cosplay, I was hooked. Having a passion for movies, I tend to stick to that genre for my inspiration.
Pictured above: The car from CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG as a Transformer, a cosplay by Ryan Wells. Photo by Jeff Hinds.
Pictured above: Cosplay of Falcor from THE NEVERENDING STORY by Ryan Wells. Photo by Michael Devin Greenman.
FAVORITE COSTUME – CHAMBERLAIN THE SKEKSIS
I try to learn with each build and develop my crafting skills. Therefore I tend to like each costume more than the last. But there was one (my third cosplay) that is always the most fun to wear: my Chamberlain the Skeksis from THE DARK CRYSTAL.
Pictured above: Chamberlain from THE DARK CRYSTAL cosplay by Ryan Wells. Photo by Jeff Hinds.
I remember as a small child watching the “behind the scenes” feature after the film and seeing the technicians from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop inside of these amazing characters, puppeteering them through tiny TV monitors underneath. I knew at that moment, I wanted to be a part of that world. As soon as I got comfortable with costuming I had to tackle a Skeksis build myself. The reactions he gets when I’m suited up remind me of how excited, creeped-out, and intrigued I was when I first saw THE DARK CRYSTAL as a kid. Getting to share my art with people and having that emotional connection is one of my favorite aspects of cosplay.
Pictured above: Ryan Wells as Chamberlain meeting a Jareth from LABYRINTH at Wizard World Comic Con Portland in January 2014.
Pictured above: Ryan also took part in the Magic Wheelchair project. Ryan built the boat part for Jade’s SpongeBob’s Boatmobile.
MOST AMBITIOUS COSTUME – ARACHNID WARRIOR BUG
The Arachnid Warrior Bug from STARSHIP TROOPERS was certainly one of my larger builds. It was 11.5′ x 4′ and extremely hard to navigate (even with a team of friends helping) but it was one of the more fun ones to build.
Pictured above: The Arachnid Warrior Bug from STARSHIP TROOPERS, a cosplay by Ryan Wells. Photo by Jeff Hinds.
I always try to outdo my previous efforts, trying to add new skills and push my ingenuity with each build. Though the list of materials was small, for the Arachnid Warrior Bug, engineering him was certainly no small feat.
Pictured above: In progress photo of the Arachnid Warrior Bug made from EVA foam and covered with a Worbla shell.
Pictured above: Three different claws for the Starship Troopers Bug to test the Worbla and texturing techniques.
I used floor mat material to build the core of the costume. The ‘shell’ was made by a thermoplastic called Worbla. I used clay sculpting tools to manipulate the material to create the different textures throughout the creature.
Pictured above: Two legs are attached to the waist.
Pictured above: For the lower leg joints, Ryan used a built-in PVC pipe sleeve to slide on the mid-sections.
Pictured above: The first parts come out of paint.
Pictured above: The ready-to-wear Arachnid Warrior Bug. Some assembly required.
The biggest challenge with my project was getting it to fit over me, while still being able to puppeteer it all by myself from within, and then to be able to break down the entire costume to fit in a car for travel.
Pictured above: Ryan Wells wears his Arachnid Warrior Bug costume with a Federation Marine Corps escort. Photo by David Ngo.
– by Ryan Wells
If you would like to learn more about Ryan and his cosplays and projects, click HERE: Cosplay of Ryan Wells