Durban’s superhero to become a blood donor
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Durban’s king of cosplay, Justin Walter, 37, said this year’s resolution was to donate blood, while he’s also creating a “bigger and badder” version of the World of Warcraft Lich King for Comic Con Africa 2022.
This week, the SA National Blood Service (SANBS) confirmed blood stocks remained low and urged companies and schools to host a clinic.
A Durban North resident, Walters is well known in the cosplay world for his amazing designs and, with geek culture growing worldwide, Walter said South African cosplay costume designers had already proved their costumes were world class at Comic Con Africa.
Walter was a judge at the Cape Town Comic Con event in October and said winners at the Africa event automatically qualified for overseas events.
In 2019, he won the Masters Division at Comic Con Africa as Prince Arthas Menethil (World of Warcraft), with the 2020 event being cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a judge in last year’s event, which he described as an honour, he was not allowed to compete.
But he has already started creating his costume for this year’s event, scheduled for October in Johannesburg.
“After being at Comic Con in Cape Town, I’ve pretty much got to go bigger and badder. I need to up my game,” he said.
His designs can take months to complete and working full-time for his family’s scaffolding business, Walters said he often woke up in the early hours to work on his hobby.
“In the early morning, I’m more productive and there are no demands. I love the characters and geek culture and I draw on it as a creative outlet. I like to build things and I get major satisfaction when finishing it and the reaction when we go to an event. I also have a competitive spirit and my goal is to go overseas and represent South Africa” he said.
For his materials, he uses EVA foam, but also has to often think out of the box for some of the finishes to costumes.
“It has to be lightweight and cost effective: just the paint can cost quite a lot,” he said.
It’s a passion shared by his wife Angela and 7-year-old daughter, Chloe. Angela is his handler and helps him to put on the costumes, while he has also created many fun characters, such as Pokémon, for his daughter.
“Chloe enjoys the superhero characters,” he said.
Walter is completely self-taught, having learnt from YouTube videos and tutorials, and has built up his skills over the years.
His interest in creative costumes was sparked when he lived in London for a year.
“It was quite big there, with dress-up such as Halloween, and when we came back to Durban, we started going to an annual cosplay event, The Sissy Hankshaw Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster Tour.
“In 2017, Comic Con came to Africa and in 2018 at my first Comic, I was third in the armour division for the character Groot,” he said.
He said going into 2022 he also wants to give back by becoming a blood donor.
“I’ve wanted to give blood for a year or two now, so that’s my resolution for this year ‒ I have enough of it,” he said.
SANBS media spokesperson Khensani Mahlangu said on Wednesday that the organisation was low on blood supplies.
“Since around October, we have been really struggling to get blood stocks, which remain low,” said Mahlangu, adding that scheduled visits to schools and companies remained low in the weeks ahead.
With businesses opening up and the school year starting this week, she urged organisations to schedule a clinic to boost blood stocks.
For more info, or to book a clinic, contact SANBS on 0800 11 90 31.
The Independent on Saturday