Back in 2011, Kit Quinn, the well-known cosplayer, went to San Francisco for WonderCon dressed as Superma'am. That's her genderbent version of Superman, a costume that helped land in L.A. Weekly's People Issue the following year. While at the convention, a photographer tried to take what Quinn calls "a flying leap shot," essentially making her look the comic book version of Superman. They did this repeatedly. Quinn almost fell a few times as her occasional cosplay partner, Tallest Silver, tried to convince her not to do it. It was the last time Quinn tried that stunt. "I now know my graces lay elsewhere," she says.
Amongst the onlookers was Quinn's college pal, playwright Michael Premsrirat. "It was actually a terribly dangerous thing for the photographer to ask her to do," Premsrirat recalls. In the end, though, the incident became more than an anecdote. It inspired the premise of the new web series, Sweethearts of the Galaxy.
In Sweethearts of the Galaxy, Katelyn (played by Quinn) is a cosplayer coaxed by a news team into trying a superheroic jump that goes awry. After falling and hitting her head, Katelyn awakes believing that she actually is fictional character Trinity Infinity. Now, her friends (and foes) must keep up the ruse and help Katelyn live like a comic book hero in the real world.
Premsrirat and Quinn had been toying with the idea of a web series set in the convention world for a while. It was, initially, an inside joke between the two friends. "I always thought it would stay a joke until we met our director Dexter Adriano," says Quinn. Then, one year at San Lee's Comikaze, Premsrirat introduced Quinn to Adriano as the show's director. He handed Quinn a script too. The cosplayer, who studied theater at USC, was surprised, but excited. Her response to the news was "Awesome, I'll get started sewing."
Rounding out the cast are Tallest Silver, Lola Binkerd, Megan Alyse and David Dickerson. Silver and Binkerd both pal around with Quinn at conventions. Alyse and Dickerson were USC students alongside Quinn and Premsrirat.
"[Premsrirat] had to define cosplay for me because I didn't get it," says Alyse, who plays a too-normal real world rival, Morgan, who becomes a comic book world enemy, The Wretched. Alyse got the hang of it pretty quickly though. She showed up at WonderCon this past year dressed as her character. "I'm so excited to get to play the villain because I get to represent people like me who don't really get it, but get to understand it through the show," she says.
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Sweethearts of the Galaxy became a passion project for the creative friends. "To be able to make a show that is really fun and all inclusive and bring everybody into our world is really exciting," says Binkerd, who starting cosplaying two years ago. "That's kind of how my experience was. There was just a bunch of fun people who were like, come play with us."
The team turned to Kickstarter early in 2013 to raise the funds for the 9-episode series. They promoted the show hard. "I remember being with Dexter and Michael passing out business cards like those guys in Vegas," says Dickerson. That worked to their advantage. The campaign brought in $36,071 in pledges and the project ended up coming in under budget by just a few cents.
With three episodes available on YouTube, Sweethearts of the Galaxy is already proving that it's more than a show about cosplay. It's a funny, sometimes even moving, story about relationships and the sometimes ridiculous lengths to which friends will go to help help each other. Cosplay might be a selling point for the show, but it's not everything. "I'm hoping audiences will feel sympathetic toward this remembering their own childhood Halloween experiences, even if they know nothing about cosplay," says Premsrirat, "and they will have a surprise waiting for them if they stick with us through all the episodes."