Welcome to the latest edition of DCN Cosplay Spotlight, where I talk to some very talented people in the wonderful world of cosplay. This week, I had the pleasure of talking with the amazing MissQuinnkins. We discussed her love of Harley Quinn and so much more. Check out our interview below and enjoy!
DC COMICS NEWS: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from originally?
MISS QUINNKINS: My name is Kelsey, I am a single mom of two adorable kids, Tilly and Kael. I was born in Grand Junction, Colorado, but when I was 9 my family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. My dad is a paleontologist and was offered a fantastic job here. Utah has some of the best fossils on the planet, so it was THE place to be.
So, I grew up around tons of adult scientists while going on dinosaur expeditions, and what do nerdy scientists love? Comics. So I got into them at a pretty young age. I am also a podcaster, and I am on a show that talks about competitive movie trivia, which is a blast to be a part of.
DCN: What was your first ever cosplay project?
MQ: Honestly, if you ask my parents they will tell you I have been doing this since kindergarten. I would put together costumes based off of cartoons I loved, super heroes, different careers, animals, and movie characters. My teacher was named Mrs. Beard, and she would always tell my parents “Kelsey is such fun to have in class, we never know who she is going to be everyday.” My mom sewed, so I would design them and tell her what I wanted and she would sew it until I got old enough to be able to sew it myself. The first one I remember in detail the whole process of making was wanting to be Baby Spice from the Spice Girls.
DCN: You’ve done different variations of your Harley Quinn cosplay. What is it about this character, in particular, that made you want to create a cosplay? And do you have a favorite version?
MQ: I have adored the character since I was super little. But the reason I love her has changed over the years, just as she has. Our lives have kind of paralleled in similar ways over the years, and seeing how she made it through the other side kept me going through some pretty hard times. When I was a kid, I loved her because she was super loud and brave and drew attention, and that was always me as a kid. I was a performer, I was a dancer, I was as extroverted as you could get. Then when I was in my early 20s, I got married to a person I was MADLY in love with. And I was so in it, I didn’t see how toxic the relationship was. He was my Mr. J and we were the living meme about the Joker/Harley relationship people shouldn’t want. Then we got divorced a few years ago and I rediscovered myself. I was even more strong on my own and I didn’t need him the way I thought I did. I found a new squad to hang out with and I am the happiest I have ever been. So watching a character that I loved since childhood face similar battles and demons has always felt SUPER relatable to me.
My favorite storyline version of Harley would have to be from the new animated show. I love how not only is that show super funny, but it definitely captured the “I am now alone… what am I going to do with my life” feeling. And seeing Harley as Bisexual on the screen made me SO HAPPY!! For cosplay, though, I want to make an Injustice 2 Harley costume so bad. There are so many fun outfit and weapon upgrades in that game that I could go crazy with it. I love it so much.
DCN: With Harley Quinn being more in the public spotlight recently, especially with her recent break out in film, have you felt any added pressure in the way you portray this character?
MQ: In a way, yes. Back when I started cosplaying as her, she wasn’t in movies yet. She was moderately popular, but you couldn’t run to the store and pick up a decent costume easily. I couldn’t even find a bodysuit pattern at the fabric store, so I had to combine like three patterns together to try and make her classic jester outfit. So the fact that I had a GOOD quality cosplay of her was enough to stand out and do the character justice.
Now you can buy patterns for her at the store, nearly everything she wears you can find a pretty good replica of online. I never call myself an artist really, but I guess I sort of am one. So as an artist, I always want to get better and be better, and because of how easy it is to get a decent cosplay together, it pushes me to find new challenges. I can only get so much better with sewing, so now my focus has moved on to props. I have some knowledge of thermoplastics and foam but I want to invest in a 3D printer and learn how to do that. There are so many FANTASTIC Harley cosplayers out there now and I am honored to be among them and want to work hard so that I earn my spot among them.
DCN: How long does it typically take you to put a cosplay together? Which one took you the longest to complete?
MQ: It really depends on what the cosplay is made of. I am a pretty fast sewer, so if a costume is mostly fabric, I can get it done pretty fast. I think my quickest one was my classic jester Harley. It took me about a day and a half to sew, and then her hammer took maybe another half day. Other cosplays I have been working on for years. Slowly. My goal is to have a complete version of every single one of her movie costumes. So the one taking the longest is probably her Night Club look from Suicide Squad 2016. I have maybe 100 stills from that scene saved on my tablet, from every angle, because I am trying to gather up all her jewelry and get them as screen accurate as possible. I never really consider a costume complete though. I will finish one and then learn a new skill, or find a new fabric to use, and will be like “wow, this is so much better than my other one” and will remake or replace it.
DCN: What is it about cosplay that calls to you?
MQ: Two things really drive me to want to do this. The first is the craft. I grew up in a household where being crafty was a must. Santa brought me a sewing machine while other kids got Barbie Dream Houses or bikes. So a hobby where I get to sew AND dress like a cool character? Sign me up.
The second is the performance. I am a performer. I was a ballerina as a child and was a pretty darn good one, I loved being up in front of a crowd showing them something I worked my butt off for to the sound of applause. I am an actress. As a kid and teen I would do school plays or audition for dinner theater and I just loved getting to be someone I wasn’t for a while. Cosplay gives this to me whenever I want it to. I can go to my closet and throw on a costume and be someone else for a few hours. I can go to a convention and interact with others who are in their own costumes and it is like a real-world play. The combo of the craft and the performance wrapped up with a nice little comic book character bow was MADE for me.
DCN: Do you have a favorite memory or story while cosplaying?
MQ: I am SUPER dedicated to this character to the point that I have dyed my hair platinum blonde with pink and blue ends. So I am kind of in costume at all times. I remember I was walking around Walmart of all places once while in what I like to call “Everyday Harley,” which is when I do my hair up in pigtails, do my makeup like her and then just throw an outfit together I think she would wear. So I was in the produce section when I heard, from behind me, a little girl, maybe 5 or 6, yell “MOM! Look, it’s Harley Quinn!” and so I turned around and said hello to her and I explained that I wasn’t Harley, but that I love her too so I dress like her sometimes because it makes me happy. So she smiled and said “Wow… you can just dress up like that whenever you want? You don’t have to wait for Halloween?” and I said “Nope, whenever you want.” Part of me hopes I helped inspire a future cosplayer that day.
DCN: Outside of cosplay do you have any other interests/hobbies?
MQ: Film has always been a huge love of mine, so I am usually in the theater 2-3 times a week seeing anything that comes out. I also enjoy video games, reading, and dancing. Also, I’m OBSESSED with true crime.
DCN: How do your friends and family feel about you cosplaying? Are they supportive?
MQ: All my friends think it’s cool, but that I am a tad obsessed. My family thinks similarly, but they also worry about how much money I spend on this hobby. Even cosplaying on a budget can get expensive, so they may have a point.
DCN: Do you have a pet peeve when it comes to cosplay?
MQ: Just one that I am sure every single other cosplayer has. You spend all this time on your costume and it is perfect just the way you want it. You arrive at the convention ready to show it off… and it falls apart! It doesn’t fall apart during trial runs or on the way. No, it falls apart on the convention floor. Thank goodness a lot of conventions have repair stations now.
DCN: Do you have any cosplays you will never do and why?
MQ: This is a hard one. Someday this may change but I really have no desire to cosplay as any male characters. Part of what cosplay is to me personally is taking on the persona of the person and bringing them to life. And there are so many other talented cosplayers who can pull off these awesome male characters better than I can so I will leave that to them.
DCN: Why do you think cosplay has become so popular in recent years?
MQ: Partly, I think it is because nerd culture is becoming more accepted in the mainstream. As a young girl who loved what was, at the time, considered “boy stuff,” I got picked on kind of bad and it made me scared sometimes to be more open about my love of things like that. Secondly, the accessibility of so many incredible products to use to make cosplays. There are probably thousands of videos on YouTube teaching you how to craft foam or shape worbla. People who never would have thought they could make things like that are now learning these skills and creating fantastic stuff. It is awesome.
DCN: Which DC character may we see next from you?
MQ: A few people have asked me to do Punchline, and I am considering it. It makes me feel like I am cheating on Harley a bit, but her character design is just so cool. Also, I’ve had plans for a while to do Ivy. Pam is such a cool character and she has been portrayed in so many interesting ways over the years. Not sure which one to start with!
DCN: Thanks so much for your time! Let our fans know where they can find you.
MQ: You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @kelseykins90. I do have a new Instagram I am using just for my cosplays and crafting which is @missquinnkins. You can also find me on YouTube and Twitch on Call to Action Podcast talking all things Movie Trivia Schmoedown.
Once again, I’d like to give a special thank you to MissQuinnkins for taking the time to do this interview. Please be sure to check out her work on social media and support this very talented cosplayer!