FGCU alum supes up custom costumes

Gallagher adds unique spins to classic characters, such as a pin-up-styled Ariel.
Gallagher adds unique spins to classic characters, such as a pin-up-styled Ariel.

Melissa Gallagher is better known in the world of comic book and gaming conventions as “Mad Mel Madigan.” A former FGCU student, Gallagher spends a lot of weekends in the spotlight as a well- respected cosplayer. However, she spends many more days and nights hard at work to plan, acquire and sew new gear and apparel for her ever-expanding repetoire of styles.

Eagle News: OK, I guess I’ll start by asking what is cosplay/work, and why does someone get involved with it?

“Mad” Mel Gallagher: Cosplay literally stands for costumed play. It’s where people go to conventions dressed as their favorite comic book/video game/anime characters and share their love for their fandom with others. It’s a great experience because not only do you get to meet fellow fans, but you get to show off your costumes to the creators of said characters, which is just such a cool experience.

EN: So you’ve started to do this as a profession, correct? How do you make the leap from megafan to paid model?

MMG: I’m still a megafan, and I will never say that I do this as a profession. I still do this for the love of cosplay. I have met artists, companies and photographers who like working with me and having me promote their work. I also have the privilege of having some fellow fans enjoy my work, which helps me get tables at conventions where I sell prints from various photoshoots I’ve done. But ultimately, I do it for the joy of bringing characters to life and seeing the joy and excitement on others faces when I do it right.

EN: And you studied theater at FGCU, right? Did that love of performance have a lot to do with going into cosplay?

MMG: Yes it did! Most people ask me how I got started with cosplaying, and I always say it was my combined love of the theater, nerd culture and costumes. A LOT of the skills I learned in my theatre courses help me with my costumes from the costume make up, prosthetics, physical theatre and facial expressions. Also, my acting background has gotten me parts in a few fan films, which I was so happy to get.

EN: So do you have any characters that are old standbys? You seem to be really fond of the Bat-villains and X-Women. And then also, what do you have in the pipeline for new costume ideas/concepts?

MMG: Those are my favorite to do. I am a Marvel girl at heart, but also have a special love for the Batman universe. But I love cosplaying all the Spidey ladies, X-Ladies, and I’ve gotten started with the Avengers too. I’ve started working on Black Widow and Catwoman. And I’ve got a couple secret ones planned for Dragoncon of this year

EN: And Dragoncon is sort of a big deal when it comes to cosplay, where all the stops get pulled out?

MMG: Yes. Dragoncon has the best cosplay out of any con I’ve seen. It’s by far my favorite convention to attend, not only for the cosplay, but for the experience and friends I get to see as well

EN: OK, so to wrap this up, where do you see yourself going from here, and where do you think cosplay as a whole might go?

MMG: I’m trying to follow my original dream of acting, so I’m working toward that. I will still be involved with cosplay modeling and fan films as well, as much as I possibly can. As far as where cosplay is going, I hope people keep in mind why they started doing it and what the true point behind cosplay is — for the love of the characters, the fandom and the shared experience you get with other fans. Way too many people are getting into this for attention and money, and that’s just not what this is about. I love seeing cosplayers getting into charity and making kids lives happier for a moment.