The first Romanian advertiser to judge at Comic Con: Max Amza, on how he combines his profession with his passion
What more can an advertiser do at EasternEuropeanComicCon, more than implement for young audiences? Well, Max Amza, DTP and 3D artist at Minio, has managed to break the barrier of classic interaction with the Romanian pop-culture audience: this year he is part of the jury of Romania’s biggest profile convention.
We invite you to read the interview with Max where you will discover more about geek culture in Romania, but also the unique way he integrates professionalism with passion.
Let’s start at the beginning: what is Cosplay? Does it have anything to do with mathematics?
Cosplay comes from the joining of 2 words: COS – costume and PLAY – to play, meaning to play in costume. That’s what cosplay is all about, playing and bringing joy to others. As for the math part, you’re not far off. You need some math, plane and spatial geometry for certain parts of the costumes you have to create. To see everything as a 3D piece that you can then transfer to 2d material and thus make it.
What is Comic Con? Can you tell us more about the convention?
East European Comic Con is probably the biggest and most important gaming, comics, anime, manga, boardgaming, technology and, of course, cosplay event in Romania. I hope I’m not wrong, but I think its first appearance was around 2013 and since then it has been growing year by year.
The presence of an advertiser on the jury is impressive. And yet, can you tell us more about it, including which section you are judging and its specifics?
The jury, in general, is made up of internationally known cosplayers, including a high-profile representative from our country. This year, the universe has decided that I will be the one. When judging a participant or a group of participants, certain techniques are studied such as tailoring, overlock, sewing, material combinations, gluing and finishing techniques, painting and weathering, electronics and even light programming or robotics. I, as a propmaker, have been focusing for some time on building armour and props (rifles, pistols, blasters, swords) out of eva-foam. This is a rubbery material of various densities, similar to the familiar yoga mats. So, during the judging, I will study the parts of the armour or props, their construction, their functionality, the details found on them by comparing them with references from the game, movie or cartoon, brought by the participant.
How did you manage to be part of the jury? What was the process? Did they notice you online or from conventions?
Probably because since 2017, year after year I’ve been in the cosplay zone with the so-called “repair corner”. I mean, a folding table with 2-3 big boxes containing all kinds of adhesives, wooden or plastic rods, curing strips, super glue or epoxy, gripper mice, glue gun or other goodies. All to help those attendees who have problems with their costume or a part of it that has broken or come off and can make the repair so they can enjoy Comic Con further. That’s probably what got their attention. Possibly also the fact that I’m pretty involved in our cosplay community. I like to help out at the various events with organization or technical support. Add to that I’m also quite active on Instagram, where I post every step of the work I do and try to help those who are just starting out with tips and technical details to get through the stress of their first costume work.
Are you the first advertiser to judge a cosplay competition? Are there others?
Honestly, I don’t know how to respond here because I have no idea if there have been other advertisers colleagues on the jury or at least in our large cosplay group. I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone else in the industry. But that doesn’t rule it out. It’s somewhere still undiscovered, probably. 😊
What does the pop-culture/geek scene in Romania look like? How is it different from Austria, where you live?
First of all, there are many, many events during a year. Of all of them I had time to visit a few: Aninite, Hanamicon, Yunicon and of course the icing on the cake VIECC (Vienna Comic Con). The difference is huge, from the multitude of exhibitors, products and all sorts of promotions and actions that happen at an event, to the support of this phenomenon called Cosplay. Cosplayers are helped and promoted, they are offered areas where they can improvise a booth and display their work and even sell posters, stickers or even calendars with them in their costumes. We’re a bit behind here, but we’re trying to catch up (I say, I hope).
But let’s also talk about Romania, I say. We have the main event which is Comic Con. It usually has a summer session (May-June) and a fall session (August-early September). On top of that, there would be Asia Fest, which has started to grow every year and promises a lot. Besides these two events, let’s call them basic, there’s not much else to mention. Sometimes we have a small event, even organized by us in the cosplay community with the help of sponsors, and that’s through a park or a gaming or boarding venue that has a yard and we can run. So few events on the cosplay side. I hope more and more of these events happen, because we have talented people in the community and I think that way, by having the chance to participate in a creative event, we can get the younger generation off their computers and phones and get them creating cool things.
Tell us a bit about the culture and people in the community. What are they like? What motivates them? What brings them together?
I left a little scared by some comments that the Austrians are cold like the Germans. At least for me it was not so. I was welcomed with open arms and introduced to the Star Wars Austria club, as soon as I announced that I was a fan and that I came from Romania, where I was a member of such a club.
The motivation, I believe, is in what they do and the fact that they can exhibit and appear in so many festivals, that they are supported, and companies are always looking for collaboration with different cosplayers to help launch products, toys, games or even movies. There is a big new group created last year that brings together the vast majority of cosplayers in Austria. It is called, obviously, CosGuild Austria.
And yes, I’m part of this group and I also bring my input to the events we go to. We have T-shirts with the club logo, we hand out stickers with our logo and promote the group that way.
Do you manage to integrate this passion into what you do? How does it help you? What about in the past (learning 3d?)
Sure! 😊 They combine and even complement each other very well.
I work with stamps here too, only they are called “templates” or blue prints. I model the parts I need in 3ds Max and print them on the printer I have.
In Illustrator I build the parts I need or those that have a lot of detail that I can’t replicate free by hand and prepare them for cutting or laser engraving. So clearly it helps what I know and vice versa. What I learn new in cosplay often helps me with projects at work.
What do you think brands are doing wrong in communicating with this type of consumers? What could they do better? How should they talk to them?
I think things are starting to move here too. I’ve seen various posts appear on our groups recently where people were asking for game launches or, more recently, for the launch of the latest series of The Mandalorian, they were looking for people who had costumes from that film and could attend the event. So the interest is there and I hope more and more of these requests and events will come up where we can contribute.
I am also part of the 501st Romanian Outpost group, which is part of the big 501st family under the Star Wars logo, of course. It represents everything including Imperial Officer costumes, Sith, Darth Vader, bounty hunters, stormtroopers (those men in white armor who never hit anything when firing laser blasters) and many other bad characters 😊 But, because it’s also a gift, it’s all for charity hence the slogan “Bad guys doing good!”
There are many gaming releases coming soon, the laptop – PC gaming side, components and here I mean video cards. This is where companies can easily call on the expertise of cosplay people to make cool and memorable launches. Very cool things can be made and this way we support and develop this art in Romania.
Any final thoughts?
I’m a little sorry that I discovered this hobby rather late, but I’m glad I have it, because then I wouldn’t be bringing joy to those around me at conventions, I wouldn’t know so many people and even international makers, I wouldn’t be able to help my friends with costume and piece creation and more. Without cosplay and the prop making part, I would be much poorer and probably, in fact for sure, without it the child in me would surely die swallowed up by everyday worries.