Since their debut in 1963, the X-Men have sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them. But you know what? Here at AiPT!, we’ve got nothing but love for Marvel’s mighty mutants! To celebrate the long-awaited return of Uncanny X-Men, AiPT! Brings you UNCANNY X-MONTH: 30 days of original X-Men content. Hope you survive the experience…I first met Katrina Fox this past August at FAN EXPO Boston 2018, where she was working with then-upcoming Uncanny X-Men writer Matthew Rosenberg, who I was interviewing. At the time, I had no idea Fox was an accomplished cosplayer, nor did I have any idea she would become a character in the X-Men universe that same month in Rosenberg’s Astonishing X-Men Annual #1. As it’s Uncanny X-Month, there seemed like no better time to catch up with Fox, learn about her cosplaying and find out a little more about that off-panel appearance in that very special annual.
AiPT!: Let’s start at the beginning. When did you first fall in love with comics and which series appealed to you the most?
Katrina Fox: Well! I have loved comics since I was a little girl. The first thing I ever read was an Archie’s Digest that my grandpa got for me from the grocery store. You know the ones they have along the aisle when you’re trying to checkout? Yeah. One of those. He brought me my first one when I was about 8, if I’m remembering correctly, and from that point on I was hooked. My grandpa definitely only helped my addiction by bringing me a new one every week (some of which I still have!).
When I got a little older, I transitioned to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My first true love when it came to comics, and well… anything, if I’m being honest. I was part of a fan club and everything. Not too long after that I branched out and read pretty much anything I could get my hands on, but I gravitated toward X-Men and Spider-Man. Not much has changed to be honest.
AiPT!: And how did you get into cosplay?
Fox: I have been cosplaying officially since about 2012 or 2013. Professionally since around 2015. I went to the first Wizard World in Portland, Oregon, dressed up as Marceline the Vampire Queen from Adventure Time and not unlike the start of my obsession with comics–I was hooked from the beginning. But my costume design and dressing up started many years before.
My grandmother was a very gifted seamstress and taught me how to sew and do tons of other crafty things since I was about 10. So, I’ve been familiar with the craft for some time. It wasn’t until I met a friend, though, at Wizard World Portland that I realized I could do this all the time, and if I was lucky, I could do it as a job. The appeal of being whoever I wanted and making it with my own hands was so amazing to me that I took on an ambitious build of Ahri from League of Legends.
Though I had to learn a lot of new stuff–including how to use a sewing machine again–I took to the art extremely fast and only got more ambitious with my costumes, though I do like to be lazy sometimes and will do comfortable and easy things as well.
AiPT!: You just touched on this a bit, but what do you love the most about cosplay and the wider cosplay culture?
Fox: My favorite thing about cosplay would have to be when I can look at something I made and be like “Wow! I made this?!” it’s a really great feeling and even when I am feeling really down or like my work isn’t good enough… I just remember that before I touched it, these were just pieces of foam or fabric on a shelf.
As far as the the culture goes, I have found that the support within is almost overwhelming. Everyone is just so excited to be doing this, and the genuine smiles that I get when someone sees that I am cosplaying their favorite character is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced before. It’s honestly incredible. And the excitement I get from seeing someone I love character wise is an indescribable feeling. I’ve met some truly talented people here too, and it’s not only humbling but extremely encouraging.
AiPT!: What is your most complex cosplay and how long did it take to put together?
Fox: Oh, this is tough one… I guess it would go down to either my Commander Shepard from Mass Effect or my Magik from New Mutants: Dead Souls! Commander Shepard I made SUPER fast though… I built the initial costume in five days, but I was NOT happy with how it came out when I wore her to a convention for the first time. That’s what happens when you rush I learned. I did, however, over the following months, make several changes on the armor and styling until it was perfect in my eyes. At this point, it is one of my favorite costumes.
Magik (which has since taken the title of my favorite costume) was one I had been working on since June… it is now November. So that can tell you a little something about my patience and commitment to this costume and what it and the character means to me. I am a pretty quick worker when it comes to armor-making, but I wanted this to be absolutely perfect, so I spent way longer than necessary making sure everything was just that.
AiPT!: In addition to Magik, you’ve cosplayed as Phoenix. What is it about these characters that appeals to you and made you want to suit up as them?
Fox: When I choose something to cosplay I am super attracted to powerful and badass women. Though I do cosplay as boys often as well, I find a deeper connection toward women that I find empowering, or that I look up to. Women with traits I wish I had, or ones that I wish I could be like. Women that don’t need anyone else to get the job done, but aren’t afraid to ask for help when they can’t do it alone. Ones that when they do make mistakes, own up to them and take responsibly for whatever happens because of it.
Both Jean and Illyana are extremely strong and powerful women. They have had the s--t end of the stick at times, but they still come out on top. Not always because of how their story pans out, but because they’re accountable and always adapting.
They don’t let their circumstances determine them and they fight for what is right. They’re both extremely flawed too, which I find very relatable and comforting because those flaws make them so much more likable. Because I am flawed–we all are. But even in all that they’re perfect in their own ways and being able to embody those kinds of females is the kinda thing that makes me proud to be one, and know that I too can make anything happen.
Wow, sorry… that turned into a mini rant, didn’t it?
AiPT!: No way, that’s all great! Also great… in the recent Astonishing X-Men Annual #1, writer Matthew Rosenberg had Beast mention a deceased mutant by the name of Katrina Fox. How does it feel being a part of X-Men canon–and have you and Matthew spoken about what your character’s mutant power was when she was alive?
Fox: I seriously can’t even describe how amazing it is. As a lifelong fan of comics it’s always been a dream of mine to be written into one, and as a fan of the X-Men… well, being a mutant? Even better.
It’s funny ’cause Matthew had told me several months before the release that he had written me into something. He said it so casually too, which is surprising to no one, but I just really needed to know what I was in. His response? He couldn’t remember (also not a surprise). But what he did know was that he was pretty sure he killed me.
The next several months were spent trying to figure out WHO killed me and WHY they did it. I assumed it would be Frank since Matthew was writing The Punisher and Frank is pretty much the only person that flat-out kills people… but boy was it a surprise when I read my name in the annual. I will be honest here and say when I read it I screamed out loud. Literally, I woke my roommate up from a nap I screamed so loud.
I was floored that Matthew actually put me into a comic–let alone an X-Men comic–and texted him a thousand things expressing my confusion and excitement. I can 100% say this is one of the highlights of my entire existence (and I’m sorry to all the friends I have bragged about this to since the release).
As far as my powers go… I actually asked him this several times. Most the time he just flat-out ignored my questions because I think it’s more fun for him that way? Once he responded with “the dead kind” and I’d be lying if I said that one didn’t hurt. But I finally DID get some information from him after about the 10th time I asked. Matthew let me know that he hadn’t fully fleshed out my powers exactly but that it was something that physically manifested or was part of my physical appearance, like maybe I had scales or something. I still haven’t received a straight answer and at this point I probably never will.
AiPT!: I met you while you were working at FAN EXPO Boston 2018. Could you talk a bit about the work you do with ComicSketchArt at conventions around the world? It seems like a dream job for someone into all things geeky.
Fox: I will start by saying what ComicSketchArt does. CSA is a company that essentially manages creators for convention appearances and signings. In addition to handling talent, the company also deals in creating exclusive variants with Marvel and DC as well as facilitating CGC, signings for creators we don’t represent and a bunch of other random stuff involving comics and art.
My job within the company is ever ranging, but my primary position is to manage the talent and make sure they get to and from said conventions and signings with no problems. I make schedules, handle travel, hotels and everything in between! At shows, I assist creators by setting their tables, watching them when they’re away and providing much-needed sarcasm and comic relief when necessary.
I absolutely love my job and am so fortunate to be in the position I am in at this company. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about how lucky I am to have been given the chance to thrive in this industry.
AiPT!: What comics are currently on your pull list?
Fox: Oh god, so many. I obviously read everything by Rosenberg–don’t tell him, but he’s my favorite. Lots of other Marvel stuff like Amazing Spider-Man, Extermination and Venom. I don’t read too much DC but I do read Mister Miracle and Heroes in Crisis as well as Border Town.
I also read a lot of Image stuff, they’re probably my favorite next to Marvel. Saga, Dead Rabbit, Infinite Dark, Paper Girls, Gideon Falls… I love Black Mask a lot too. Big on Survival Fetish, Cemetery Beach, The Wilds.
I honestly have too many books added to my pull list and I feel like every week I am adding more, but there are just so many amazing stories and I need them all!
AiPT!: Finally, what’s next for you? Are there more X-Men or comics cosplays in your future?
Fox: I have so many plans! I have several more Magik costumes that I am preparing to make. I’d love to do her Phoenix Force costume as well as her suit from New Mutants: Dead Souls. I would looove to do Jean’s new costume as well–that thing is gorgeous! One of these days I would be down to try my hand at one of Kitty’s costumes too.
AiPT!: Thanks for taking the time to talk, Katrina! For more from Katrina, visit her Instagram, @KatrinaFox, or her Twitter, @OKatrinaFox. Check out more shots from her Phoenix and Magik photoshoots, by Deluna Photo (@delunaphoto) and Katharina West, respectively, below.