Lola and Jab are basically the dictionary definition of #couplegoals. In addition to cosplaying as Agent Starbucks and Long John Fury with the McVengers, the husband-wife duo uses their visibility to advocate for inclusivity in the cosplay community. The Instagram profile for the Dynamic Dyad (@dynamic_dyad) states, “We celebrate that cosplay is for everyone regardless of race, age, size, gender or skill.”
“We believe it's important because CosBullying is still a problem that prevents people from wanting to participate in this hobby/art,” they explained. “As a cosplay couple, we feel we embody most of the criteria that defines inclusivity (including age), so we hope our example will inspire others not to let anything or anyone keep them from cosplaying if they want to try it.”
While the cosplay community is generally supportive, Lola has been the victim of ageism from cosplayers on Instagram who criticized her decision to cosplay as Aloy from the video game Horizon Zero Dawn. It's to the community's credit that for every negative comment, there were dozens of fellow cosplayers complimenting Lola's hard work and extraordinarily detailed costume but that doesn't change the fact that the comments shouldn't have been made in the first place.
Jab and Lola have noticed that the community of cosplayers over the age of 40 is growing and they want to do their part to ensure that different generations of cosplayers feel welcomed and encouraged. “You're never too old or too young for cosplay,” they said.
The duo started cosplaying about five years ago after watching the Syfy channel reality show Heroes of Cosplay. They draw inspiration from their favorite fandoms. For Jab, those fandoms include Dragon Ball Z; Marvel and especially Spider-Man and Luke Cage; DC Comics including Batman and Superman; ‘80s cartoon franchises including Transformers, Voltron, ThunderCats and Young Justice. Lola loves Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland, DC Comics including Wonder Woman and Batman, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Steven Universe and Young Justice. Given that they both work full-time and enjoy gaming, comics, anime and traveling in their spare time, they easily have a lifetime of inspiration and endless costume possibilities.
They started out, as many cosplayers do, with what they call “closet cosplays”—costumes mostly assembled from clothes they already owned. But every year they added to their shared skillset, learning sewing, EVA foamsmithing, leather crafting, working with Worbla products and LED lighting. Next on the agenda of skills to acquire is 3D printing experience.
“Although we still do closet cosplay from time to time, we really enjoy the art of learning how to craft some of them ourselves. It's very therapeutic,” the couple said.
Thus far, Jab's favorite costume was his Tiger Jackson ensemble, in part because Tekken is one of his favorite video games and in part because he loves the ‘70s aesthetic that the disco-styled capoeira fighter rocks. Lola's favorite costume is her Seventh Sister from Star Wars Rebels both because she's a huge Star Wars fan and because it was her first time playing a villain. “Sometimes it's just fun being the bad guy for a change,” she said.
But a cosplayer's work is never finished. Jab's dream cosplay is Black Bolt from Marvel Comics' Inhumans while Lola wants to take on Pirate King Elizabeth from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
The Sacramento-based couple showcases their costumes at conventions, festivals and local events, attending an average of four to five conventions per year. Their favorite convention so far is New York Comic Con and while they often attend as individual cosplayers, the duo also participates in themed groups. It was while they were cosplaying with a Young Justice group last year (Jab as Icon and Lola as Rocket) that they met Brandon Isaacson, the founder of the McVengers, better known as McThor.
“The dynamic of the Young Justice group was so successful that many of the members just eventually morphed into McVengers in order to support Brandon's amazing vision. His idea combined with the people involved was just way too fun of an opportunity to pass up,” they explained.
The collaboration would be Jab's first mashup, although Lola had already participated in a The Walking Dead/Disney princess mashup with a cosplay group. With the hindsight of experience, they now say they both enjoying mashups because “they really allow us to let our creative juices flow, especially when you are someone who doesn't take yourself too seriously.”
A considerable amount of thought, and creativity, went into their McVengers mashups. The fact that they regularly cosplay as Nick Fury and Agent Carter who were both extension characters for the Avengers franchise made for an excellent starting point.
“We came up with Long John Fury based on the fact that Nick Fury's trademark look is based on his eyepatch and black trench coat,” they explained. “And it just so happens that the original Long John Silver's mascot is a pirate who also wears an eyepatch and a long black jacket. I mean, you just can't get a better fir than that! Not to mention that Jab is also a big fan of seafood. Basically, the whole mashup was just kismet.”
Agent Starbucks is a mashup of Agent Peggy Carter and the Starbucks Siren mascot. Lola decided to have some fun with Agent Carter's identity as a tea drinking British agent/spy by turning her into a coffee drinker, citing Agent Carter's move to the United States in the show.
“Other than McDonald's, what's more American than Starbucks coffee?” they explained.
It didn't hurt that Peggy Carter's signature 1940s style fedora and business suit translated beautifully into the idea of an average corporate employee beginning their day with a trip to Starbucks. Lola even incorporated the mermaid aspect of the Starbucks Siren's appearance into her costume design by hand painting a mermaid scale pattern onto the suit using a stencil. Lola hand sewed the entire suit. She painted her shoes with a green leather paint and embellished the heels with Starbucks patches and coffee beans attached using hot glue and Modge Podge. The Frapparetta is a water gun melded together with a Starbucks Frappuccino cup.
Long John Fury's costume mostly consisted of clothing pulled from Jab's closet and embellished with fish-themed details. The peg leg is detachable, although Jab did admit that photographers sometimes get impatient waiting for him to put the leg on. Lola made Jab's shrimp guns using a combination of wire hangers, nylon stockings and pillow stuffing coated with papier-mâché, stucco and paint.
“The difficult part was figuring out what resources to use to make the shrimp shapes and the fried batter texture. It took a couple of attempts to get it right, but eventually it all came together,” they said.
Agent Starbucks and Long John Fury made their McVengers debut at WonderCon in March and since then the McVengers have continued to grow, as does interest in the fast food-Avengers mashup group.
“Regardless of what happens going forward, we are just proud to be a part of something that is obviously bringing joy and laughter to people when they see us,” they concluded.
Jab & Lola's Cosplay Dictionary
CosBullying: The bullying of a cosplayer and/or the disrespectful criticism of their cosplay either in person or over social media.
Jab & Lola's Advice to First-Time Cosplayers
Always remember that there is no right or wrong way to cosplay, so don't get caught up in the idea that your cosplay has to be handmade or perfect to the character. In the end, it doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you get there.
Stay hydrated and remember to take breaks. Sometimes people get so excited when they see our cosplays that it's hard to turn them down for photos in order to take a moment to rest.