COSPLAYER IN FOCUS – AN INTERVIEW WITH DEBBIE SERRANO

Wonder Woman (DC Comics).

It was during my childhood, at the second half of the 1970’s, that I first saw Wonder Woman in her television series. Since then when it comes to the world of comic books she has always been one of my favorite female characters. When I started reading comics in Spanish I found her again in the pages of Justice League of America, but that was a brief encounter. It was not until 1987 with the publication of a new #1 issue of the Wonder Woman comic that I truly immersed myself in the mythology of this super-heroine thanks to the major revision of its comic book continuity made by the writer/artist George Pérez. It was from that moment that I became a true fan of the Princess of Themyscira.

Early during the first decade of the 21st century with the proliferation of Comic Book Conventions and related events in Puerto Rico, I began to see more of the girls cosplaying Wonder Woman. It was the same trend that I noticed during my most recent trip to the USA. All those costumes were very good and with their own merit.

However, it was not until I met Professor Deborah Serrano Padilla at the Halloween ComicFest event (held on October 31, 2012 at Metro Comics) that by accident I came across a person who is the quintessence of the Wonder Woman cosplayer. Let’s pause to explain something. All cosplayers stand out because each one of them has some special characteristic that when they put on their cosplay it gives an identity of its own to it. But only a select group of people are born with a specific set of features that makes it seem like they were born to be the representative on earth of a particular character.

Debbie Serrano is one of those people. She was born to be Wonder Woman. She has a face that is the spitting image of the Diana Prince version that Adam Hughes draws in comic books. Her body from head to toe has the perfect balance of sensuality and athleticism that characterizes both the Princess Diana of Themyscira and the classic artistic conceptions of Greek goddesses. Her body language, gestures, gaze, posture, etc., are all suitable for this particular character. Ok, so she doesn’t have the 6 feet, 3 inches of height in accordance with the statistics of the fictional character, but the fact of the matter is that we are not recruiting for a basketball team.

So as far as I’m concerned Debbie Serrano is Wonder Woman on Earth.

And that’s just describing her physique. Now I present to you my dear readers of this blog with an interview with Debbie Serrano conducted online where you can appreciate the human being quality of exemplary young lady.

Princess Diana of Themyscira. Photo by Javier Ernesto.

 

INTERVIEW WITH DEBBIE SERRANO
1. When did you discover the hobby of cosplay?

I discovered the cosplay hobby just six months ago (summer 2012), through friends who were already practicing this pastime representing superheroes of “The Justice League”. “The League”, as it is commonly called the group, had supported me in different activities that I perform for children in my regular job, so with the passage of time and common interests, they made the invitation to join the group and represent Wonder Woman.

2. What was it that motivated you to practice this hobby?

One of the things that motivated me to practice this hobby, is “to disconnect” or “to liberate” some of the daily agenda by giving life to a character and transport me to other “possible or imaginary worlds” that are spoken of in popular culture. In my particular case representing Wonder Woman, there are many reasons that inspire me to do so, including its significance as a feminist character that is in turn female, and is recognized as the most popular female hero of all time. Other reasons are to represent their characteristics as her beauty, super strength, courage, speed, ability to fight, among others. So this leads me set them as part of my personal life in order for me to be more courageous and firm towards life and not give in to the challenges and especially doing things with courage to achieve my goals.

3. Why do you do it?

I do it because I consider it is a hobby that is suitable for different scenarios and purposes; either for entertainment, charitable causes, bringing joy to children, visiting hospitals or schools, to symbolize a social message, for capturing creative photos, to enjoy the use of cosplay to meet and socialize with others who share your interest in the same environment and ending up being part of a family.

4. Are you a fan of any particular area of entertainment (comics, anime, video games)?

Yes, I have appreciation for comics, not only do I like to talk about the comics in general, but about everything that can be expressed through a comic. The comic has been the oldest way to tell a story, and what better than a graphic narrative text or without text (in some cases), to discuss social issues, crime stories, love, eroticism, gender, superheroes, adventures, and other issues as we move universe.

5. Do you build your own costumes alone or with help?

I do not do any sewing work. I go to a professional seamstress in my town Arecibo, her name is Blanca Figueroa who has dedicated her life together with her family to do this kind of work either in wedding dresses, reigns, sweet-fifteen, prom dress, all kinds of elaborated and complex works related to high fashion.

6. How did you feel the first time that you put on your Wonder Woman cosplay?

The first time I put on Wonder Woman I felt that I wasn’t of this time or this society, ha ha. It was like putting on a garment that you would not use to go to the supermarket or to the pharmacy, but to cheer others and transport them to another time and place. My Wonder Woman costume is inspired by the classic style of the 70s, particularly the simulation of golden eagle bustier that is very different from other eagles that serve as armor, in addition, I use platinum bracelets with 6 stars red in each of them, red star screens, and cutting “A ” golden tiara, all of them like the ones used in the TV series of 1977-1979.

Due to these features the first time I represented Wonder Woman in public, I was approached by some “baby boomers” who were very excited and animated to take individual and group photos with me. In the case of the children, it is a different generation, current, and not yet directly linked to Wonder Woman, anyway they received input from mom and dad, who talked to their children about the comic book character, and that encouraged them to lose their fear, approach me, look closely at my accessories and finally talk to me and share some quality time.

7. When did you make your first appearance in cosplay? Was it a private activity (birthday party) or an official event (the Free Comic Book Day or a convention)?

My first appearance was in October 2012, in an activity for students of Home Schooling in Bayamón; there I was accompanied by Superman, Batman and Red Arrow.

8. Have you’ve made appearances at Comic Book Conventions? If so, which ones?

I’ve only participated in Assemble Comix Convention at Barceloneta in December 2012. The remaining activities have been to Happy Homeschooling, the Marquesa de Guaynabo Park and the Halloween Comic Fest in San Patricio Plaza.

9. Do you use the services of professional photographers?

Yes, I use professional photography service, so far in the area of Arecibo with “Leslie Smith”.

10. Do you have any experience participating in professional photo-shoot sessions?

Yes. At this time I only have had experience in a photographic studio, but I’m contemplating making an outdoor session representing the Princess Diana of Themyscira’s Greek mythological ancient city.

11. What has been the response of the public towards your Wonder Woman cosplay?

They have been very positive. When I share comments with the public I have heard out loud, compliments about my costume, but everyone is attracted to different things or issues. Some are curious about the red boots, others are left waiting to see the blue eyes of Lynda Carter, ha, ha, many are curious about the lasso of truth, and so on, but eventually, many end up with the same question: ” Is that costume is bought or did you have it tailor made for you? “

12. Have you been subjected to criticism, ridicule or discrimination for being a cosplayer?

Not so far, but I know that at any time it can happen. First of all we who represent any character are likely to be criticized by others, either because they are unaware or do not understand what we do, or they do not sponsor the world of creative fantasy, or simply because they are insecure and self-conscious people who cannot recognize this aspect of the popular culture. On the other hand, every woman representing Wonder Woman is vulnerable to being criticized by the aesthetic requirements associated with this character. In the case of the looks of male characters it’s different because the public tends to be more flexible, but when it comes to a female hero as famous and almost perfect as Wonder Woman, the audience requires women to be beautiful, sexy, sweet yet tough, bold, etc.

13. Do you feel that your life has changed, that you’ve changed since you started doing cosplay?

Yes, my life has changed for the better since I started doing this cosplay, as I have related with new people, people who live in a very visual era, people who have spent years in this type of hobby and you’ll hear them speak and learn from them, but mostly very positive because it gives you a chance to bring a smile and joy to both young and old. The impact it has had on a personal level is to be seen by children and families that commits me to be more careful in what I say and act as they watch us as figures and role models.

Debbie Serrano has its own page on Facebook. Those interested in becoming fans of this exemplary young Puerto Rican can click here.

Wonder Woman (DC Comics).
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