There are times I really love my job! Especially when I get to meet AMAZING Cosplayers and fellow Geeks.
Without a doubt, once I found out that GI Joe Eternal and her friends raise money for Veterans, and that they do it while in G. I. Joe Cosplay; I HAD TO INTERVIEW THEM!!!!!!!
I grew up with the the voices of Larry Hama (Voice of Flint, and writer and architect of 1980s-era G.I. Joe) and Michael Bell (Duke) in my ears. Every time I read a Joe Comic, that is how I heard the characters.
Joe is hands down a very singular lady. With dedication to the craft that is seldom seen, she approaches each costume with tenacity and passion.
IMP- How did you get into cosplay?
Joe Colton- My boyfriend and I went to a big Halloween party back in 2009, and we spent a lot of time putting together a couple of G.I. Joe costumes. The creative process was so much fun. We spent a lot of time making sure that every little detail on our gear looked correct, and after that night, I had this urge to do it all over again, and right away. A few weeks later, we found out that Larry Hama (writer and architect of 1980s-era G.I. Joe) was scheduled to appear at a small convention nearby. We packed up our costumes and went to meet Larry. That was our first fan convention, and we had such a great time. I was so hooked after that!
I love being creative, and in my mind, costuming is the ultimate outlet for creativity. A person can literally do anything! You can create an outfit out of fabrics, you can build things out of industrial materials, metal, or thermoplastics. You can create things out of nothing that you've only seen in movies or in your imagination. I became hooked to the artistic side of costuming early on, Sharing that creativity with people and seeing how it brings smiles to people's faces is a great feeling. There’s no way to describe it unless you’ve done it! It's addicting, and once you do it, it’s easy to see why it’s addicting.
IMP- How long have you been doing cosplay?
Joe Colton- Officially, since 2009.
IMP- What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to cosplay?
Joe Colton- Picking the right materials, fabrics, etc., to achieve the effect I’m looking for. Over the years, I've drifted closer and closer to screen-accuracy with many of my costumes, so now I’m obsessed with replicating props and costumes from TV and film as accurately as possible. With comic book characters, I am just as detailed. I like the challenge but it can also be stressful. I also like a challenge, so picking more complex costumes each time has been great but also made me more stressed. The end result always seems to make everything worth it!
IMP- What is your favorite cosplay?
Joe Colton- Oh that's tough! Scarlett (from G.I. Joe) has a very special place in my heart. She is such a great example of a strong female character, and she was never really portrayed as the “damsel in distress.” She could always hold her own with the boys, and she was never treated like anything but just another team member in the comics.
My other favorite is Wonder Woman. She is such an iconic character. She's one of the most influential characters in the history of pop culture. When I started pulling together my Wonder Woman costume, I was a little nervous because there are so many great Wonder Woman costumers out there, and I wasn’t sure that I was really bringing anything new. Once it was all together though, it immediately became one of my very favorites.
I tend to gravitate toward strong women characters. Or ninjas! I'm obsessed with ninjas!
IMP- Tell me about the charity work that you do?
Joe Colton- I’m currently the Commanding Officer of “The Finest: A G.I. Joe Costume Club.” We have hundreds of members worldwide, and charity projects are a big part of what we do. Each year, we produce the Girls of the Finest Charity Calendar. Given the military-nature of G.I. Joe, we always select a charity or organization that benefits men and women in uniform, veterans, and their families.
In the last two years, I’m proud to say that The Finest has raised nearly $20,000, with all proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project and the USO. Year after year, it’s always humbling to see the G.I. Joe fan community come together and support these great causes! Many Finest members are active duty military and veterans, and many of our members and their families have directly benefited from these causes over the years. These campaigns are really close to our hearts, and it’s amazing to be part of a costume organization that can use our passion for G.I. Joe to help benefit active military and veterans.
IMP- How many cons do you do a year?
Joe Colton- Plenty. I usually do 15-20 shows per year. I did say I am addicted, right? Some are appearances to host panels and judge contests, some are related to the Finest’s charity projects, and some are just to shop and have fun!
IMP- What is your favorite con?
Joe Colton- Dragon Con.
Everyone complains about the crowds these days, but I think it’s awesome that DragonCon has grown to become this epic cultural event. The artistic expression on display, the creative energy, and just that vibe of of energy that you have to experience to fully understand. There is no other place like it (maybe Mardi Gras), and people don’t really understand that until they get to Atlanta for their first DragonCon. You get to see all the creativity come together. It’s like a family reunion of the most creative minds- artists, seamstresses, builders, crafters, actors, directors. The entire industry comes together and just is amazing to see everyone and what they’ve spent all year, sometimes years, building.
IMP- Do you do other events beside cons? If so, what are they?
Joe Colton- Yep. Charity events, lots of film projects, some theatre events, and a few birthdays for kids, etc.
IMP- What advice would you give to someone just starting to cosplay?
Joe Colton- Take your time. Everyone starts not knowing everything. Don't rush, and make sure you are always having fun! Also don't be shy; this hobby will introduce you to so many great people and new techniques.
IMP- What other aspects of geekdom do you enjoy?
Joe Colton- I’m a huge Trekkie and Whovian, and I still read my share of comics. I'm more into independent comics nowadays, so I don't read a lot from the “Big 2.” Don't get me wrong, I’ll always love X-Men, Defenders, Guardians, Secret Six, Birds of Prey, etc., but I’m really into the Variant and Image stuff lately.
I also am part of “New Release Wednesday” and “Not Safe for Work” webisodes, which are always a blast! We get to discuss our favorite comics, current trends, current topics, geek culture - you name it we talk about it! I’m also now the fourth chair on the G.I Joe podcast, “What’s on Joe Mind?“ I was honored to be asked, and the guys and I have such a fun time with that.
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