When it comes to showing passion for a movie, TV show or comic book, there is no higher honor than creating an exact replica of your favorite character and participating in Cosplay at a convention.
In a world of “go big or go home,” Green Bank resident David Fleming knew there was only one place to share his passion and dedication to Cosplay and that was at the biggest gathering of fans – the San Diego Comic-Con.
It wasn’t hard for Fleming to choose a character to portray. Fueled by his love of computers and his love of the 1982 movie “Tron,” Fleming created a replica costume of the character Kevin Flynn, portrayed by Jeff Bridges.
“I thought if I could Cosplay as one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite films, that would be fun,” Fleming said. “Little did I know how hard that would be.”
It was definitely hard, especially when you consider the intricate detail of circuitry on the main character’s costume and Fleming’s dedication to make it perfect.
“I wanted to celebrate this year, being the thirty-fifth anniversary of Tron,” he said. “I thought why not champion that occasion as Kevin Flynn, the character portrayed by Jeff Bridges? So, I created all ten pieces of the costume over the past year, and it was a wonderful and very tiring experience.”
Fleming researched the film and found every piece of information online as possible about the costume.
The helmet was made with a Cooper SK2000 hockey helmet with slight modifications and motocross chest armor was used for the shoulder and arm armor, just like in the film.
As he was working on the project, Fleming reached out to the original crew members who worked on the film’s costumes and design.
“I never expected to talk to any of the creators of the original film, but I did,” he said. “I reached out to Rosanna Norton, who is the Oscar nominated costume designer, and asked her if she could give me some pointers on how to do the unitard graphics. She replied and gave me a lot of help on that. That was awesome.”
As he made progress with the costume, Fleming posted photos on his Facebook page and was surprised to get a response from another member of the crew – electronic conceptual designer Richard Taylor.
“[He] contacted me and said, ‘you’re doing a great job. As a designer of the original graphics, bravo,'” Fleming said. “I looked at it and I was like, ‘who’s Richard Taylor?’ He was the computer and special effects supervisor for ‘Tron.’ He contacted me a couple of times throughout the process and just gave me a lot of encouragement and a lot of praise.”
Taylor was so impressed, he told Fleming to send a few action shots of himself in the costume, and Taylor would superimpose Fleming into a still ?? like those he designed for the film.
Unlike most Cosplay of the Tron characters, Fleming did not use a neon blue accent to replicate the blue glow from the movie. Instead, he stuck with black accents because that is what was worn by the actors.
“Every Tron Cosplay I’ve seen – and there have been many – have gone for the sort of blue light effect and have ignored, essentially, the idea of what the actual costume looked like for real,” he said. “Also, I haven’t seen a costume, until mine, that attempted to recreate all the line art on every piece to the pixel. That was a real challenge.”
When Fleming began the process of making the costume, he had no idea how much effort it would take to complete it.
“I thought this would take a few months,” he said. “Even after doing last year’s prototype, I thought, ‘I’m ahead of the game this time. A few months, I’ll have it done.’ I started roughly in October, so ten months of work and I worked right up to the day before we left. I pulled an all-nighter to finish the details.”
The time and effort put into the costume paid off for Fleming. Once he and his daughter, Maddie, arrived at Comic-Con, he was a hit.
At a convention that attracts 150,000 fans of shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Vikings and Supernatural; movies like The Justice League, The Avengers and Star Wars; and comic books from the DC and Marvel franchises, there is no shortage of Cosplayers showing off their hard work and love for their fandom.
Dressed as a character from a 1982 movie, Fleming still managed to turn heads and despite the fact that the film came out 35 years ago, he was immediately recognized as Flynn from Tron.
“I got so many comments from people saying ‘this is the best Tron costume I’ve ever seen,'” he said. “That felt really good. I’ve never personally run into anyone else Cosplaying Tron 1982. To be recognized as one of the best Cosplay by E! Online and Huffington Post was really cool.”
Although he didn’t see any other Flynn Cosplay, there were several characters from Tron and the 2010 sequel Tron: Legacy.
“I wanted to see more Tron people,” Fleming admitted. “I saw a few. Mostly people these days Cosplay Tron: Legacy which was the sequel. The costumes – they are a whole different design. They’re black with minimal glowing line circuitry.
“My favorite Tron Cosplayer was a friend I met from last year – she does Cosplay as a sort of profession,” he continued. “Her name is Rachel Lee, aka Lady Raygun Cosplay and she did Gem, one of the sirens from Tron: Legacy. We took a few pictures together and that was a lot of fun.”
Fleming also met a couple of Cosplayers donning Encom security guard costumes. As the “bad guys” from the film, Fleming enjoyed being “arrested” by them in a photo-op.
Along with spending time with other Cosplayers, Fleming and Maddie attended several panels, including The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Vikings.
At a panel, the cast and some crew members of the shows or movies hold a Q&A session with fans and share some secrets from behind-the-scenes.
Fleming said they both enjoyed the Vikings panel because it was in a smaller room and they were closer to the actors. They also witnessed a traditional Viking funeral which went through the streets of San Diego and down to a boat.
“They had a Viking funeral take place throughout the whole day that the panel was going on,” Fleming said. “They walked a comrade Viking through downtown San Diego in this funeral and took him to a ship, and had a funeral with the ship burning. It was awesome.”
Maddie didn’t join her dad in Cosplay, but Fleming said he hopes she might try it, some day.
“She’s thought about Cosplaying, and I hope I’ve inspired her to do a Cosplay sometime,” he said. “I’ve probably scared her.”
Whether or not Maddie joins in, Fleming said he has some lofty goals for future Cosplay – all from Tron, of course.
“I would love it if we could go back next year and my long-term goal – this is crazy – but my long-term goal is to create a cast Cosplay for Tron,” he said. “I would like to build costumes for all the characters. The remaining major characters would be Yori, Bruce Boxleitner’s Tron, of course, the title characters. There’s also Dan Shor’s character Ram and there’s Crom, who Flynn reluctantly defeated in the ring game.
“Barnard Hughes, who played the oldest character in the film,” he continued. “His character Dumont, has a wonderful costume with a wonderful robe. I’d love to do that one. But, my next costume, if I do another one, it will be Yori’s costume. I’ll have to find someone to wear that one, of course.”
Now that he has debuted his costume and received praise for his efforts, Fleming said he has accomplished what he set out to do and is ready to leap into more Cosplay in the future.
“My goal was to honor the costume designers and creators of Tron,” he said. “To have been in touch with a few of them through the process was really good. It felt like I accomplished that goal. It definitely fires you up to do more Cosplay.”
To see photos of the costume creation process and photos from San Diego Comic-Con, visit flemingcomputer/tron online.