Published on April 2nd, 2013 | by John Fuller1
Beneath the Costume: Taking Names with Kevin “Cobheran” Walker
“So the handle is basically an amalgam of ‘Coby Ran,’ spelled Cob-He-Ran, and pronounced ‘Ko-ber-ann,’” explains Kevin Walker, also known as Cobheran to some in the cosplay world. “It really makes no sense now and I don’t really use it in person because nobody can pronounce it because of that stupid h I put in there.”
Walker came up the Cobheran handle for playing Starcraft when he was still in middle school. Video games have been a big part of Walker’s life, and many of his cosplays have been inspired by video game characters. He’s made some great costumes from favorites such as Final Fantasy VI, Soul Caliber 3, Suikoden 2, Chrono Cross, Odin Sphere, and even Mega Man.
Walker’s cosplays aren’t limited to just video games, though, and he runs the full gamut of geek culture favorites. He’s done cosplays for anime, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Game of Thrones.
“I thought PVC pipe and hot glue were the end-all be all”
While all of his cosplays have been awesome, Walker has recently amazed the cosplay world with his epic Gantz cosplays. In addition to his great costume, Walker has also done some incredible prop work, to include his own personally made X-Gun model GX-001.
Walker is a bit humble when it comes to discussing his progress as a prop artist. “Personally I feel that my prop craftsmanship overall hasn’t improved that much over the years,” he says, “but my workshop tools, how to use them, and experience with paints has all grown significantly since the time I was making things with a pearing knife and a dremel.”
Those early days of prop work were good experience for Walker. “When I started making props I thought PVC pipe and hot glue were the end-all be all,” he remembers. “I was half right, and it’s definitely not a natural talent. It took lots of hard work, practice, research, and (ooph) money. I focused on props early on in lieu of sewing because I felt that so many people had already mastered sewing but few people had done props well.”
Sewing was still a skill Walker had to learn once he had discovered cosplay. “When I started sewing in 2004 I didn’t know a thing about sewing, but because I was hell bent on making a Roy Mustang costume and that kind of outfit would not be possible without being sewn, I set out to teach myself how to make it happen.”
While the Roy Mustang costume was the first Walker made himself, his first cosplay experience was three years earlier. “After I discovered that conventions were a regular thing in 2001 and saw people dressing up I thought it looked like a ton of fun,” he says. “So I went to an anime Halloween event that was being thrown and cobbled together an Iichan costume from Angelic Layer. It was complete Goodwill and closet cosplay goodness, also it was quite terrible. I had a lot of fun in the costume, but I didn’t really give it another honest attempt until 2004.”
Since 2004, Walker has been making a name for himself in the cosplay world, even if he has been a bit oblivious to his own success. “It’s really odd but no matter what convention I’ve gone to people I have never met know who I am. I don’t really understand it or why I’m well known, but I think it may be one of those great mysteries that aren’t meant to be solved!”
”MY kids will have the best treehouse and costumes on the block”
Walker has also seen the Cobheran Cosplay Facebook fan page almost double in followers recently. “I’m humbled and flattered,” he says. “I’ve never really done much to put myself ‘out there’ as it were because I mostly cosplay for myself and don’t really have any intention of turning it into a money making business at all.”
Walker is looking for a more standard plan for making money, and he’s hoping for “an actual career style job in the marketing (not sales) industry.” He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration for marketing, in addition to an AS in nursing. “Up until this week I worked in the corporate offices at a network of hospitals, but cutbacks and all that jazz landed me back home for the week. In the meantime I’m keeping myself busy working clinical shifts on weekends while starting doing retail store resets,” he says. “In addition to that I’m still a landlord and manage tenants.”
Getting a steady job in his field of interest is a step along Walker’s grand plans for a happy life. When asked what his dream is, he paints a pretty picture of the American dream. “Married, couple of kids, stable career,” he lists off. “Standards suburban life I suppose. But MY kids will have the best treehouse and costumes on the block, and [the other kids] down the street can suck it.”
Until the time comes to build the treehouse and raise little ones, Walker plans on doing as many of his favorite costumes as possible. “This year I’ve started taking on my dream costumes and it’s been an incredible experience finally making costumes that I’ve been wanting to make for years but never thought I had the skill to do,” he says.
Improving and showcasing his skills in one of the things Walker enjoys most about cosplay. “Above all else I want to take something two dimensional and bring it to life as though it had been here all along,” he says. “When I make a costume, before anything else I ask myself “How would this look in real life?” My goal is to try to make that happen.”
Making things happen and getting results is something Walker excels at, whether it is finishing a costume, putting his skill set and education to work finding a job in a rough market, or just finding time in a day to accomplish everything he needs to get done. Being able to push through and overcome adversity are qualities he also really admires in other people, as well as the heroes he loves from his video games, manga, and sci-fi shows. “I’m more attracted to archetypes…such as the everyperson who is forced to go through extraordinary circumstances and become extraordinary themselves,” he says. “It’s something relatable that gives people hope and shows us that no matter how bad things can be, you always have the power to change it.”
With his awesome props and unique costumes, there isn’t a whole lot that Kevin Walker needs to change about his cosplay. However, would he consider changing the Cobheran handle to something that people might actually pronounce properly? “I tend to use my real name for any personal interaction,” he admits. “I’m terrible at naming things.”
lead photo by Kapalaka