The scene NYCC 2011, Shallow Graves Magazine sent in their best man to represent, and it was none other than Mr. T (Macdaniel Macleod) A cosplayer with who knows the ins and outs of the convention circuit. Let us tell you this man did not disappoint! He covered the convention and then some. Enjoy!!!
My voice is raw and hoarse and raspy. Over the past 4 days I lost 15-20lbs, and every inch of my body feels like went 15 rounds with the Heavyweight Champion of the world or 5 rounds with a UFC top contender. During the last 3 days of attending NYCC 2011, I went from being an everyman cosplayer whose only expectation was that of a spectator to something altogether different, something altogether more epic. This is what happens when a cosplayer goes as spectator, and becomes a participant or the “Man in the Arena.”
My name is Macdaniel Macleod, and I’m known for cosplaying as Mr.T, B.A. Baracus, Clubber Lang, and Night Elf Mohawk. It had been months since I attended my last Comic Con or Anime Con as the man with the gold who pities fools. So when the offer came up to represent the NYCC experience from a cosplayer’s perspective and report for Yvette Kelley the Editor and founder of Shallow Graves Magazine, I took it. NYCC had become my “Holy Grail” so to speak. Knowing that I would be representing the magazine and cosplayers around the world became my motivation and inspiration for getting into what a friend of mine, Bob Mask, calls “Cape Shape.” Going to the gym, building props (a 5ft long Golden Bazooka and a replica shield of a Cereal Box Cover) and making adequate pairs of feather earrings, all with the A-Team theme and “The Eye of the Tiger” as a soundtrack, consumed most of my waking hours. GGGRR…
In the weeks leading up to NYCC, I originally planned on going just on Saturday which is usually always the most exciting and busiest days to attend a convention. Many of the cosplayer Elite showcase their best costumes and exhibitors host their most exciting panels. Then, plans changed and an opportunity opened up to attend all 4 days. At the last moment plans for a place to stay fell through. Luckily, I was able to find room with my cosplay compatriots at Cosplay Nation (Joshua Adams and Uke Li II, who are doing a nationwide documentary on Cosplayers). Just as things were starting to come together, there were reports that my friend who was going to drive us up there was having serious transportation issues. It was up for debate as to if would make it to the Holy Mecca of NYCC. But, at the last moment, everything came together.
The night we arrived to New York City we went out to eat in our civilian clothes which, for me, meant wearing a business suit. This would be the last few hours of having any type of anonymity, roaming maskless through the big city. It must feel like when the Superfriends go out and socialize under their mortal guises. Upon leaving the diner one of the patrons screamed out “I pity the fool!” My friends witnessed the ripple effect that comes with my having a 24/7 mohawk even decked out in business suit. It still triggers a memory of 80s icon Mr.T and a feeling of nostalgia. But, the big question was would anyone recognize or know who I was cosplaying as or attempting to portray? Would their only references of a 6’2 black guy in army fatigues be Cleveland from the Family Guy, MMA fighter Kimbo Slice, Barrett from Final Fantasy 7, or Chef from South Park with a Mohawk? Time would tell.
I made my way down to the Jacob Javits Center while decked out in full Mr. T regalia.
Mohawk trimmed, feather earrings, 50lbs of chains dripping off of my neck, Converse Classic All Star high tops on my feet and my 5ft long gold bazooka. The response I received was immediate and cars slowed to a crawl and pedestrians gawked in awe as they were transported back to the 80’s. People were stopping in mid-traffic, getting out of their vehicles, requesting pictures and running down from their balcony apartments to take pictures and giving thumbs up and saying, again, “I pity the fool!”
The closer we got the Convention Center the more I started to think that this could be interestingand the more Cosplayers there were. Finally, I reach Mecca. I was amongst my people; Cosplayers, geeks and nerds who, like myself, weren’t afraid to let their geek or freak flag fly.
My mission the weekend was to either go big or go home, and this weekend I chose to be homeless. So, that only left the alternative of going big. And, big was the only word one
could use for the 5ft long 2ft wide gold bazooka I was bringing along in case there were fools who needed pitying! The one thing I didn’t and couldn’t imagine was the attention that my cosplay or the golden bazooka were going to get. Within the first 5 minutes people were pulling out their cameras to request a photo, but the crowd started to grow and with every attempt to take a step there was one more request.
I couldn’t help but wonder if this was what it was like to be famous. But being raised by my mother like Mr. T, I was taught to stay in school, drink my milk, be good to my mother and to always be humble and grateful. In the words of Stan Lee, “With great power comes great responsibility.” They weren’t there to take a picture with Macdaniel; they were there to get a picture of Mr. T. I wondered, “WMMTD? What would Mr. T do?” So, that’s what I was going to give them. Though there were panels and exhibitions I looked forward to seeing, it was more important to present and offer a lasting memory and experience, a reward for those who shared in the 80s love and nostalgia. Hopefully, that’s what they got: The Mr.T Experience.
In between getting swarmed by fans of the “Baracan One” for pictures, below is a list the some of the random adventures that occurred while at NYCC:
Friday October 15th:
• Was invited on stage to participate in a Just Dance 3 demonstration while
holding a the gold bazooka! GGRR!
• Met guitarist Tom Morrello (a.k.a. The Nightwatchman) from Rage Against the
Machine and Audio Slave
• Met Kevin ‘Dot Com’ Brown from “30 Rock”
• Met Lloyd Kaufman, founder of Troma Entertainment, creators of The Toxic
Avenger, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, and Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD
• Got Pictures with a Marty MacFly Look Alike posing next to the Back to the Future Dolorean as well as the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles
Saturday October 16th:
• Met Chuck Zito, actor/stuntman on HBO’s “OZ” and former president of the New
York chapter of the Hell’s Angels. He’s also famous for knocking out 80s
martial artist and star Jean Claude Van Damme in a bar room fight.
• Was asked to do an onstage promo for the videogame Prototype 2 because as
everyone knows B.A. Baracus hates to fly!
• Met Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill, A Cinderella Story, Freaky Friday and
House of Wax). He was promoting his Graphic Novel Everlast published by
Archaia Entertainment. We met after he
was finishing a photoshoot for MTV. Hey
Brother, do you know why they call your show One Tree Hill? Because Mr.T was once your neighbor and chopped the rest of them down.
• Was interviewed by Jason Mewes of Jay and Silent Bob fame who was covering
the Convention for G4 TV’s “Attack of the Show.” Of course, I picked him up with one arm and said, “I pitied the fool.”
• Did a Short Promo for MYX TV for their segment on NYCC.
Sunday October 17th:
• Met TV talk show host Steve Wilkos from the “Steve Wilkos Show”
• Met comic book creator and Image Comics cofounder Rob Liefleld
• Met Brian O’ Halloran from Clerks
• Met Fake Henrik Zetterberg who was promoting his upcoming Webseries “Fake
• Met Oscar the Grouch to see who was grouchier
• Met Models from PROPWORX who were modeling screen worn Ironettes sostumes
from Iron Man 2
• Met Caleb Steinmeyer star of Boy Wonder
As the Con concluded flashbulbs were still flashing. I was humbled by and grateful to all of those who share my love for the 80s, Mr. T, A-Team, Wrestlemania 1, and Rocky 3. For one weekend, I had the honor of trying to live up to the awesomeness of the real Mr. T and become a superhero for a few days. As a comic book, anime, sci-fi, fantasy or cosplay geek, NYCC didn’t just live up to my expectations but exceeded them as being one of the most epic cons that you can attend, particularly if you live or are up to traveling out to the East Coast.
A special thank you to Yvette Kelley and Shallow Graves Magazine, whom I look forward to working with in the future.
Photos by: Mark Mathews