Cosplay Feature: Marian Rowan's Legendary Outlaw - STAR-LORD

 Fellow Galaxians! I bring to you one of the most awesome posts I've ever done. This is to be the first of, I hope, many more cosplay features to come to GTG. I'm honored and excited to introduce you to Marian Rowan, an amazingly talented cosplayer who has tackled one our favorite characters and brought him to wonderful and vibrant life. Hit the break below to see more of her cosplay and a great Q&A.

Tell us a little bit about you! How long have you been doing this? What got you started? What's your origin story??

I'm Marian of Dragon Slipper Tailoring, and I'm a 27-year-old literature graduate with an intense love for pop culture, working by day doing web marketing for car dealerships. (It may not be as cool as freelance photographs of Spider-Man, but we can't all be Peter Parker.) I was raised in a very geek-friendly household, so the idea of costuming hasn't ever been too far-fetched. It started when I was pretty young, making my own Halloween costumes, usually because what I wanted to dress as wasn't produced commercially. This evolved into midnight showings of films, which only started being a socially acceptable activity in my hometown in the early 2000s. My first full-fledged attempt at a top-to-bottom costume was the Jedi robes I threw together out of my grandmother's scrap fabrics that I used for my high school senior year final-party at the local Revenge of the Sith premiere. From that experience, coming together with a whole group of people and finally experiencing the community for the first time sent my inspiration for the hobby spiraling out of control. So officially, since about 2005.

How many people are involved with bringing together one of your cosplays, or do you do it all alone?
When I first started, I didn't have the same access to the cosplay community that I've experienced within the last two years, so when I started out, I generally worked and cosplayed alone. A bummer experience, but I still really enjoyed the convention scene, so I stuck with it. Honestly, if I hadn't decided to travel out of state for college, I probably would have jumped into the community a lot later (if seriously at all). When I finally moved out to Seattle after graduation, that's when the drive to start taking the hobby seriously really kicked into gear. Now, a good majority of my friends are cosplayers (even if they didn't start out that way), and I'm part of a very wonderful, close-knit community of crafters, creators, actors, photographers, and all of these really talented people are incredibly helpful. It feels now far more like a group effort or activity than it ever really had two years ago, because we all want to help each other succeed in our own ways, even if everyone still approaches the craft a little differently. I see absolutely no shame in borrowing props, giving or taking crafting advice, or even still buying pieces of costumes (whether commissioned or not). It's really all about feeling comfortable with yourself, embracing the fandom you're a part of, and having fun with it.

 How many cosplays do you have altogether?

Twenty-one at the moment, if we count closet cosplay attempts that were immediately retired afterward. With 2-3 on the way for this year's PAX Prime.

You do an amazing Star-Lord; what made you decide on that character over the other Guardians? What do you look for when deciding on a character, or is it as simple as "That's cool, I'm doing it"?
The characters I gravitate toward tend to largely be loud-mouthed braggarts and Big Damn Heroes (some exist outside of these tropes, but this tends to be my strongest character type). But the design does feed into the decisions just as much as the love of the character does. I can love a character and still feel nonplussed about their actual design. I've never actually cosplayed a character simply because the design is neat (though I might not know too much about them), though that is still a completely valid deciding factor for other cosplayers. For me, the character and their design work in tandem. 

That said, you open a movie trailer with a character that's basically a combination of Indiana Jones and Han Solo, give them a very 80s-era Thriller-esque leather jacket, it's a difficult temptation to overcome.

Is there a character/type of you won't do?
Aside from characters or fandoms that I don't really connect with on any level, there are designs that do compromise my comfort zone to a degree. I fully believe that cosplay is about tailoring the design to fit you, and not the other way around, but there is still definitely a degree of whether or not I would feel comfortable with myself (not necessarily general comfort, that's often sacrificed for the sake of getting the construction to come together just right) and my own body in it. It's the only type of body policing I'll stand for in cosplay: whether or not it makes you feel good about YOU. Because, at the end of the day, that's really the most important part. Cosplay, even for some of the darker aspects, elitism, and marginal bullying, has ultimately made me feel better about my own body image, and as a result the sorts of costumes I'm comfortable with doing has widened over the last nine years.

On a totally different note, props have been one of my greatest fears and biggest hurdles in construction over the years. At first, I didn't feel they were terribly important, and at best, they were something that got in the way at conventions. While they still can definitely do the latter, I've grown to definitely appreciate a good prop, but my talent sits far more firmly in tailoring than it ever had previously in the various crafting techniques that props really embody the result of. It's still definitely a learning process, which cosplay is going to be for anyone (even the professionals are still learning new things).

One of the things I love most about your Star-Lord cosplay (and others I've noticed) is that, as a female cosplayer, you're not changing the character any. You're not playing "female-Peter/Peter-retta or Peter-Sue" or "sexy-bikini-Star-Lord", you're just doing Star-Lord and I think that's really kick-ass. Was there ever a discussion or thought to do a female version of the character like that?

Truth told, binding doesn't work terribly well with my body type and never has. I've done it a few times in the past, but it never quite turns out how I think it will, so as of late, I just haven't bothered. I've also become a lot more comfortable with actually embracing my gender, and on top of all of that, my overarching character type is not terribly common in female characters (they do exist, I'm sure, but they're pretty rare, or they're designed in  a way that would generally make me uncomfortable wearing the costume). With Rule 63 cosplay, I don't see an immediate need to really alter the costume in any way. I love these characters as they are, and a female design doesn't have to change the character in any way (and often rails against more stereotypes than it perpetuates when kept exactly the same). These are, of course, cosplayers who will use Rule 63 as license to alter the design, and honestly, if they feel comfortable doing so, more power to them. But that shouldn't necessarily have to be the rule. I find all too often that we have to put this "fem-" prefix on our costumes so that we don't get grief for a clear deviation from screen accuracy. But honestly, the character is still the character to me, whether or not I'm conforming to their defaulted gender. Again: it's about tailoring the costume to fit you and your comfort level, not always about tailoring yourself to fit the costume.

How many times do you plan to see the Guardians of the Galaxy movie in August?
I have plans to see it about three times opening weekend alone. Beyond that, it depends on which of my friends still need to see it.

Do you watch Heroes of Cosplay? If so, what do you think of the show? Is that an accurate representation of the life of a cosplayer and the community? 

I do, but not religiously. I don't tune in every week right at airtime (or right after when streaming is available); there's really no ritual attached to it. My opinion of the show is really up and down. There is a lot of orchestrated drama by the producers, especially with the first half of this first season, and it did definitely dampen the experience for me. That said, I don't have a lot of experience on the competition end of cosplay, so whether it's a terribly accurate representation of how that portion of the community works, I couldn't say. (Though it doesn't really give me much inclination to compete on that end either). I will say that I definitely think it has improved, with a heightened focus on construction and the actual cosplay community end of the experience, and I find that to be more accurate than anything. Cosplay does have its darker side, and some people can be really judgmental and awful. But the community is also one of the most vibrant, talented, helpful, and supportive ones I've ever been a part of too. And the exhilaration and the fun aspects are the parts we should focus on, not the needless competition and unsolicited judgment. Cosplay isn't a competition unless you're in one. All-told, it's really just another aspect of fanart, and the differences in interpretation shouldn't shame us, they should be there to foster growth and inspire.

Finally, but most importantly, can I wear your Star-Lord mask? I promise to only drool a little.

Sure, it's plastic, a little drool won't hurt! But I can even do you one better. I did a write-up on the mask's construction with instructions on how to make your own (!
I want to thank Marian for sharing her amazing cosplay with us and taking the time to answer my questions. I've definitely become a fan of her cosplay and her incredible attitude, sense of humor and outlook on the subculture. Below are a list of links and credits and I highly suggest you click on them all - be sure to check out Dragon Slipper Tailoring and Marian's other sites to see more of her work. Every character she does just blows me away. Very cool stuff.

Galaxians! Comment in the links below, show Marian lots of love and let her know how kick-ASS her Star-Lord is. If you want to see more features like this, more cosplays of Guardians characters, be sure to make lots of noise and let me know you want more!


  1. Great article, fun interview! And thanks for sharing your talent, Marian. Appreciated. I got to read this article in preview and I totally forgot to come leave my feedback when it actually posted.

    1. I'm glad it was fun, it was definitely fun to do!


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