Our May Costume of the Month is the intriguing Steampunk Ash done by Clifton. We were very excited to hear from him.
Tell us why you picked Ash as a costume – and why the Steampunk twist?
I picked Ash Williams as a costume because I love the character – he is such an imperfect and unlikely hero. Unlike most modern protagonists, Ash doesn’t have mutant powers, insane martial arts skills, or magic weapons. Instead, Ash starts the series as a laid-back everyman who is constantly suffering from the Murphy’s law adage that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” I think at one point or another, everyone has had a time in their life where it felt like something was out to get them. So I think you can’t help but empathize with Ash and relate to the choices he makes when faced with terrifying, undead adversity. Even when he is a relatively incompetent and ill-tempered jerk, you can’t help but love him because he’s been through it all, survived, and grown into a self-assured, badass demon slayer with a chainsaw-hand and fist full of boomstick. To some degree or another, I think we all secretly envision ourselves that way—I certainly do. As it turned out, sauntering around a convention with a chainsaw hand, an uplifted eyebrow, and a penchant for telling random women to “Give me some sugar, Baby” was a delightful way to bring one of my favorite characters to life.
As far as the steampunk adaptation on the character, I first encountered that genre of costuming at DragonCon 2008. I don’t know if it was growing up reading classic sci-fi like Jules Verne, the romantic Victorian flair, or my previous career as an engineer, but I found that the steampunk style innately appealed to me. At the time, I was wearing a movie version costume of Ash from Army of Darkness and it occurred to me that the Evil Dead trilogy had a lot of Steampunk characteristics. So the idea of an alternate-era Ash with a ridiculous steam powered chainsaw became the top choice for my next DragonCon costume. I think my favorite thing about the steampunk style of costuming is the freedom of creative expression it allows. Unlike most character-based costumes where you slavishly try to reproduce every detail of a character’s ensemble, steampunk allows you to add whatever unique style you can imagine.
How’d you put it all together? We love a guy that’s good with his tools. Characteristics, equipment, and abilities.
Once I came up with the concept of creating a Steampunk Ash costume, I knew that I wanted to incorporate the hallmarks of the character, e.g. boomstick, red chainsaw, and leather harness, as well as the overall color scheme, but I also wanted to include original design elements. I envisioned the steampunk Ash character design incorporating a more vibrant, colorful, and adventurous aesthetic, as opposed to the traditional worn, soot-covered, steampunk motif. So, I went online and scoured the internet for Steampunk costumes for inspiration in adapting the character design. I finally found a great reference, which turned out to be a costume designed by fellow Atlanta cosplayer Matt Silva of Penny Dreadful Productions.
Being relatively new to cosplay and having almost no experience with sewing, I knew that the most difficult aspect of creating my steampunk costume would not be its design, but its construction. Fortunately, my girlfriend taught me the basics of using a sewing machine and reading patterns, and with her help, I created the vest and ascot, and modified the pants and shirt. I was also fairly inexperienced with prop making, but with a lot of time, effort, and only minor injuries, I was able to create the props the way I envisioned them. The base of the chainsaw is an actual Homerunner XL chainsaw (as used in the movie) that I purchased from eBay. I gutted the casing, took apart the engine, and then heavily modified the shell and blade with actual copper tubing, spare parts from a bike shop, and a variety of parts I found while thrifting.
As for costume and prop making advice, I would recommend you choose a costume or character you really like— that will help keep you motivated to put the time and effort into sticking with it until the end. Don’t worry about your costume being 100% accurate, and don’t worry about not knowing how to sew. If you are learning and having fun, you are doing it right. Also, if you don’t know how to do something, there is a huge wealth of amazing tutorials online. Keep in mind that challenging projects make for the best opportunities to level up your costuming skills.
What do you think is the most important thing to have if someone is costuming Ash? The boomstick? The chainsaw? Or the swagger?
As far as the costume goes, I think that the chainsaw hand is definitely the most recognizable aspect of an Ash costume, but if you truly plan to pull off character, a mighty chin, and the ol’ Bruce Campbell swagger is definitely key to rocking an Ash costume.
What got you into the horror genre? Favorite movie?
My favorite horror movies are, unsurprisingly, the Evil Dead Trilogy. Although compared to the current craze of torture porn flicks (a trend I really can’t get behind due to the overall weakness in plot and suspense), they almost seem like they belong in the comedy genre rather than horror.
Anyhow, I love the in-your-face style of cinematography, the soundtrack, and the over-the-top, hilarious, kano syrup-soaked blood scenes. I think it is amazing that the series still draws new fans nearly 30 years after its release. Not many movies of any genre can achieve that. Of course, essential to the cult sensation of the series is Bruce Campbell’s physical comedy and charismatic portrayal of Ash-and the hilarious, corny one-liners are definitely a plus.
If you know a horror costume that’s beyond horrific and deserves some scare-time, send a submission including character name, costumer’s preferred moniker, a photo, and contact information to the MurderHers.