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Friday, February 26, 2016

Cosplay male pin-up: Nightwing

Nightwing was cosplayed by Brian Milne (aka Test Subject B Labs) and photographed by David Ngo (aka DTJAAAAM) at FanimeCon 2013.
We couldn't just post the above photo without adding the next photo to compliment it. Also taken at FanimeCon 2013, but this time by Emilia Mccabe (aka iizel). This photo has Brian Milne posing with Skip cosplaying as Robin.

The New Teen Titans ongoing series (which debuted in 1980) saw Dick Grayson evolve from Batman's teen-aged sidekick to a competent young adult who would lead the Teen Titans (and arguably be known as one of the greatest leaders in the DC Universe). Actually, the whole series is about these former sidekicks and young adults 'coming into their own' which is what made the New Teen Titans so appealing to fans - kind of like those 1980s teenage 'coming-of-age' films John Hughes was so well known for.

Of all the different iterations of Nightwing out there, THIS is my favorite costume. This is the costume Dick Grayson wore when he debuted his NEW Nightwing persona back in Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (1984). I honestly can't visualize the 1980s Teen Titans without Nightwing in the group pic. (Maybe it's the garish blue costume? I don't know.)

The big "reveal" from Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (1984)

Regardless, this particular costume is affectionately known as the "Disco Nightwing" costume thanks to the body-hugging properties of the outfit, the flamboyant patterns, the HUGE pointed popped collar and the open neckline that starts at the chest (designed as a nod to Grayson's circus roots, I'm sure), but the similarities to the 70s Disco suit are undeniable.

The Disco Nightwing is a difficult cosplay to pull off correctly, and what I like the most about these pics is that this is exactly how I would've imagined Dick Grayson to look if he were a real person and existed throughout the 1980s. How old was Dick when he first donned the Nightwing costume? Well, it's kind of tough to say - series creator Marv Wolfman places Grayson somewhere between the ages of 16 and 18 years old when he first began leading the New Teen Titans as Robin, so I'd be guessing Grayson becomes Nightwing sometime in his early 20s (the whole Crisis On Infinite Earths thing makes it difficult to gauge an actual age).

For anyone who didn't catch it, David Ngo's photo is a clever jab at all those 'posterior shots' Nightwing is so famous for - Nightwing has consistently been voted as having one of the nicest backsides in comics and is frequently being positioned in panels to exploit that. David Ngo takes a lot of fantastic cosplay photos and we plan on showcasing more of his work in the future.

Emilia Mccabe's photo is brilliant because a) it features Nightwing with Jason Todd Robin*, b) they are both in a fighting stance and kind of look how I'd imagine if Dick Grayson and Jason Todd were about to throw down against you, c) Skip (cosplaying Robin) looks exactly how I'd imagine a 12 to 14 year old Robin would look in juxtaposition to a twenty-something year old Nightwing, and d) the color filter on the photo makes it looks like it was taken from sometime in the 80s. Absolutely smashing.

We managed to track down Brian Milne and ask him about this very kick-ass tribute to Dick Grayson and his love of the Teen Titans.

"I chose that Nightwing because I grew up loving the original Teen Titans. When I was putting that costume together I was originally working on the 90s Knightfall-era costume but I decided to switch it up", Brian told us.

Born in the late 80s, Brian grew up with a brother who was ten years his senior who was already well-experienced with comicdom, and thus he was raised on 80s and 90s comics along with old sci-fi and horror movies (which are basically the best things to be raised on).

When asked about his favorite Teen Titans story line and if he's still reading the title: "Favorite story line is a tricky one [laughs]. I always loved the entire Judas Contract story line, that was one of my faves. I haven't been reading the newer stuff due to always being busy." Brian is a HUGE Teen Titans fan and even went so far as to show us a photo of his comic book collection.

And then we asked him when he thought the series peaked? [I volunteered that I thought it was just before the early 90s when baby Wildebeest joined the team. -J] Brian replied "For me it was around the same time. I did like the reboot series featuring the new team led by teen Atom. The one right after Zero Hour."

Brian's favorite Robin (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, or Tim Drake)? "When I started Drake had just become Robin and Dick was already Nightwing, so Tim had a bit more of an edge there. Along with the new costume made by Neal Adams."

And finally: "The Classic Nightwing suit took me about a week to make from beginning to end. The toughest part was laying out the little black elastice into place for the chest details - that took a day on it's own."

We were also lucky enough to also get a hold of Skip and ask her about her cosplay choice. Skip is a MAJOR BatFamily fan and told us "I chose Dick Grayson/Robin because I love the character and I think the costume is really funny (like all costumes from the 80s). I'm a huge fan of the BatFamily and Batman comics. I've been following the comics since I was very young and it would almost be easier to say which comics I haven't read! My favorite comics would probably have to be Nightwing: Year One and the Impulse series from the 90s. I also really enjoyed Batman: No Man’s Land and Dick’s run as Batman with Damian as his Robin before the reboot. Like I mentioned, it’s almost easier to say what I haven’t read and it’s really hard to pick a favorite!" wrote a really in-depth history of Dick Grayson (with images) that we couldn't help feel inadequate if we didn't include:

*Skip later told us that she was actually cosplaying Dick Grayson Robin in that photo. I'm choosing to overlook that. Dick Grayson and Jason Todd being photographed together is more comic accurate, and why crush our fanboy dreams of having Nightwing posing with the angriest pre-teen ever in a vintage photograph?

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