Yaudiel Flores (@yaudiel), known to McVengers fans as Burger Loking, began cosplaying in the waning months of 2015.
“I had just finished college and was looking for a new hobby when a coworker asked me if I'd heard about the local comic con that was coming up (Central Valley Con). She told me I should go since I like comics so much,” Flores explained. “So, I decided to get dressed in my old Halloween costume of Indiana Jones. As soon as I walked in, someone from across the hall yelled ‘Indy, can I take a picture with you' and after that I was hooked.”
He started out by purchasing costumes before graduating to making modifications to costumes and accessories to improve their accuracy. In 2017, he built his very first set of armor although his current project—an Oceanmaster cosplay from Warner Bros.' Aquaman movie with a December release date—will be his first costume made entirely by his own hand. In the past three years, Flores has shaped enough foam to become extremely comfortable with the material. He appreciates its versatility and the fact that “with the proper techniques you can replicate almost anything.” At the other end of the spectrum, there's sewing. Flores does not enjoy sewing, calling it his “greatest weakness” but, like so many of the characters he's cosplayed, Flores perseveres.
Flores' first big project was his Blue Beetle costume that dates back to 2016. He posted on Instagram that the DC Comics superhero was his dream cosplay and Christine Knobel, who now cosplays as Wendy's Widow, messaged him inviting him to participate in a Young Justice group.
“I then realized that this wasn't going to be a cheap costume to commission so I did a ton of research and taught myself how to build foam armor,” Flores explained. “Blue Beetle became my first build ever.” In time, that early Blue Beetle costume began to fall apart and Flores applied the new costume-building skills he continually acquired to building a newer, better Blue Beetle cosplay. This time around, Flores incorporated lights and motorized wings and the feedback was so positive that he's already planning upgrades for next year's convention cycle.
As a central California resident, Flores tries to focus on attending conventions in the Central Valley and Bay Area allowing himself one out-of-state convention like Atlanta's Dragon Con or New York Comic Con each year. “The biggest challenge of being a cosplayer is not being able to go to all the conventions due to either funds or the fact that multiple conventions are sometimes on the same day,” he said.
On average, Flores estimates that he builds two to three large cosplays and five to 10 smaller projects each year, proving there's no shortage of inspiration for Flores who cites DC Comics and Star Wars as his favorite fandoms. Build times can range from one week two two months depending on the difficulty level and availability of materials. Living in a rural part of California, Flores acknowledges that obtaining materials isn't always easy and he often finds himself traveling to the Bay Area to shop for materials.
In the last three years, Flores cosplayed plenty of characters from Wolverine to Steve Rogers to Kiba Inuzuka from Naruto but Blue Beetle remains his favorite.
“Blue Beetle is one of the few Latino superheroes out there, and when I was a kid the only one I knew of was El Chapulín Colorado,” he said. “I always wanted to meet him, because it was someone I could relate to. So when a kid comes up to me and says ‘hi' in Spanish and they hear me reply in Spanish too they get so excited and that's just something that I love seeing.”
But for fast food and Marvel-obsessed adults there's another character that has captured the public's imagination and heart: Burger Loking, of the McVengers. Brandon Isaacscon—McThor, the founder of the McVengers to the world—invited Flores to join the group, asking him to join as Burger Loking (The Burger King + Loki). Flores accepted the invitation and decided to take a collaborative approach to the costume, tapping Knobel, a talented seamstress who was at the time working on an M.F.A. in Sustainable Fashion Design, to take over the sewing while Flores built the armor components.
But Sac-Anime was just around the corner, the McVengers would be there and Flores just couldn't wait to join them so while he and Knobel were still working on his Burger Loking costume, Flores threw together a costume for an entirely different McVenger: Bucky Robbins Ice Cream Soldier. Bucky bought Flores enough time to finish Burger Loking in time for 2018 Comic-Con International: San Diego in July. Bucky and Burger Loking were Flores' first mashup cosplays and he enjoyed the experience, saying, “the best part of doing a mashup is all the freedom that comes with creating the character.”
With Burger Loking officially wreaking mischief across the convention circuit, there's just one thing left for Flores to do: get on with the business of making his dream cosplay, Nightmare, chief antagonist and terror from the video game Soulcalibur, a reality.
Yaudiel's Cosplay Dictionary
Con Crunch: The last few days before a convention where you're staying up all night to finish your cosplay on time.
Yaudiel's Advice to First-Time Cosplayers
Just jump in. No costume is too hard; it just takes a little more effort sometimes.