Luke Hungerford is a senior in the Studio Art department here at NVU. Hungerford has been cosplaying – or dressing as a fictional character – as Spiderman since high school.
How did Spiderman get you into Comicon?
I’d been to them before, and I had started out doing really low budget cosplays. Once I did a Daredevil cosplay, which was just an all-black suit with a black piece of fabric tied around his head…So, I did that, where I bought just one black square, tied it around my head, put on a black compression shirt and some black pants and boots. Some people recognized me, some people didn’t. But then, I bought the [Spiderman] suit because I really wanted to cosplay [professionally.] It gains you more attention at ‘cons, and it’s nice to have validation—I’m constantly craving validation and positive attention. So I’m like, look at me, look at this costume! Look at what I just shoved my body into!
What got you into becoming Spiderman?
Well, as a little kid – like most little kids – I just loved superheroes, and Spiderman was like the main one. And then, that just never changed. I just always stuck with that and growing up I wanted a nice, quality suit, but I never knew how to get one. Then I found a way, so I bought one. It was really expensive. So I said, “Damn, I really need to justify this somehow,” so I thought , “Oh, I could do birthday parties I guess.” I just put myself out there…then people started emailing me, messaging me, asking me to do it.
How did Spiderman translate into your background in parkour?
Parkour and free running came first. My best friend and I in seventh or eight grade started to get into doing that. We watched a lot of parkour videos on YouTube, until eventually we thought, “We could do that!” so we took his trampoline and found some ratty old mattresses from this barn and put them on the ground, and we would just jump off the trampoline and do flips. We just taught ourselves and went further and further with it. Every day after school, all through high school. And then, around sophomore or junior year of high school, we did cheer. Cheer forced us to hone in our gymnastics…I won [number one tumbler in the state] junior year, and came in second senior year. I still have stuff left over from those high school days that translate well into what I do now, and it really kind of sells the whole image. A lot of little kids would be like, “you’re not the real one!” and then I’ll do a back-flip they’re like, “hmmm, maybe he is the real one?”
What’s your best trait, worst trait, and most annoying trait?
My worst trait is that I procrastinate a lot. My most annoying trait is that I fidget too much. I move around too much, my hands are always doing something. If my hands aren’t, my feet are. For my best trait, I guess I have a pretty good sense of humor.
What’s an embarrassing story you have?
I was working a kid’s birthday party. I showed up, and the mother was like, “I don’t know how you deal, but I have a house full of crazy kids,” and I thought, oh, I’ve dealt with crazy kids before, I’ll be fine. I got inside, and they were out of their minds. There was maybe 10 or 13 kids around the ages of seven to nine. The birthday kid – he was super sweet, really nice. He was really appreciative that I was there and he enjoyed playing the games that I had. But the kids were losing it. As soon as I walked in I had one kid come up to me, hiss in my face, and then run off. I was like oh, no. So, I said, “All right, let’s go play tag!” I don’t usually play tag with kids, just because it gets too much and I can’t see very well. But, I got out there and this one little kid was “it.” He was coming at me. I crouch down to get on his level, and I said, “you can’t tag me, I’m too fast!” He had this big, cute smile on his face, which turned to immediate rage as he punched me in the face as hard as he could. Side of the hand, perfect contact, it was awesome.
What’s the best thing that’s ever been said to you?
I got a really nice letter from a little boy that was in the hospital. He’d been run over by a lawn mower, and had gone through eight surgeries, lost his big toe. When I was there, no one really said anything, and the little boy wasn’t really saying anything because he was shy and too excited to know what to do. At first I didn’t feel like I had made a real connection with him until he was being wheeled out to his newest surgery and as he was being wheeled down the hall by the nurses, he just turned around and screams, “Spiderman!” He really wanted me to go with him. My heart just shattered. When he left, I took my mask off and turned around and everyone was just bawling.
Do you cosplay other characters?
I just got another costume that’s based off the Spiderman PlayStation game that’s coming out on Friday. I just got a new Captain America suit, and I’m planning on making an Iron Man suit, and I’m planning a couple others. It’s the costumes that get you into the ‘con. ‘Cons are fun, even if you’re not in costume, but they’re more fun when people pay attention to you and take pictures of you.
What are some of your major influences in art?
A lot of them are comic book artists. That’s what makes a lot of these art classes difficult, because a lot of the other art students have, like, very well-known artistic inspirations and big, famous painters. There are some of the greats, so there’s Jack Kirby, one of the original Marvel artists back in the day. There’s Steve Ditko, who designed Spiderman in the 60s. And then there’s Jim Lee who was from the 90s, who has a really cool quick style…in ten seconds, he’ll have this perfect Batman profile.
What would you have written on your Tombstone?
There’s a fly in here.
What did you think about Infinity War? (Spoilers)
Oh, I loved it so much. I still tear up towards the end and I’ve watched it four or five times now. Like I said before, you have such a strong connection with these characters, and just seeing what happens is brutal. Obviously you know everything’s going to work out, but just watching it happen initially is heart shattering. Great movie though; really cool, really well done. I remember Marvel was talking about how this was more of a celebration of the past ten years and how it’s really a gift for all the people that have stuck with it from the beginning. I remember going to see Iron Man with my dad in 2008… it’s more like this is what you get for being on board this long. It’s like, ‘hey, you’ve been with us the whole time? Let’s kill all your favorite characters.
What’s your fantasy job?
It would be to just make my living doing cosplay and traveling around to different conventions and being known for that sort of thing – having a real name in that community. It’s kind of that one, unobtainable goal.
Who was your favorite Spiderman?
My favorite Spiderman is probably Tom Holland. He’s the perfect mixture of the other two of them, easily. Toby [McGuire] was a good Spiderman, Andrew Garfield was a good Peter Parker, Tom Holland was a good mixture of the two. I always felt like Toby McGuire had a good look, the suit was awesome, but his Peter Parker was pretty flat, pretty bland. And he wasn’t as nerdy as you’d like to see from the comics. It didn’t show him being a genius. He was just a regular kind of guy.. he’s supposed to be a super genius…But Andrew Garfield is shown to be more intelligent than everybody else, but his Spiderman kind of falls flat. His suit is really cool. But then Tom Holland is this perfect balance of fun, and intelligence, and responsibility. You can tell that he’s just a kid who’s trying his best, and you can relate to that a lot. There was this one scene in “Homecoming,” where this one guy goes, ‘hey Spiderman, do a flip,” and that exact phrase has been said to me so many times. And he does all his own stunts, he did parkour in high school. I feel like we’d be friends. So, Tom Holland, if you’re reading…
What’s a strange or funny experience you’ve had at a Comicon?
I was in Montreal Comicon a couple months ago and were these two little girls who were like seven, and they were running around the convention by themselves. They came up to me, and they were both like, ‘high five,’ and so I went to high five them, and they both just…dabbed on me. They didn’t even high five me. They were like, ‘too slow,’ and then ran off. I was devastated.
Have you met any famous cosplayers?
Yes, actually. There’s a guy on Instagram named @cosplaynay, and he’s a big name Spiderman cosplayer. And when we went on an art trip to New York City last semester with Mary [Martin]’s class, I messaged him on Instagram – and he’s got a lot of followers, so he probably won’t respond – and said, “I’m going to be in New York, would you be down to do a photoshoot, and he responded. He was like, ‘yeah, man that’d be awesome!’ We met up right in front of the Natural History Museum. He was putting his suit on, and… I just needed to find a little store to get changed. He goes, ‘Why don’t you just change here? Just go behind that statue?’… I went up and there was hundreds of people around, and so I was like, ‘I’ll take my pants down real fast?’ And so you just have to rip your pants off and you try to get into the suit, there’s hundreds of people and children around…But it was fun to shoot. We shot in Central Park for a while and then we went to Times Square.