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Davis Journal

Kazul Cosplay, making the fantastical come to life

May 31, 2024 08:48AM ● By Shania Emmett
Kazul cosplay as Hogger from World of WarCraft on the Blizz Con Cosplay Contest Stage. Photo courtesy of Kazul Cosplay

Kazul cosplay as Hogger from World of WarCraft on the Blizz Con Cosplay Contest Stage. Photo courtesy of Kazul Cosplay

Cosplay, or costume play. It has been gaining popularity since the early 2000s and continues to grow yearly. From the Marvel universe to video games to even anime, conventions are filled with all kinds of fans who are eager to dress up and embody their favorite characters. Some, if they are lucky, are even able to make their love for cosplay into an actual job. Layton resident, Laura Mercer or Kazul Cosplay has done exactly that. 

“Halloween was my favorite holiday by far, but I didn’t know there were people who dressed up outside that holiday for a very long time,” said Mercer of Kazul Cosplay. “I would say my first cosplay was Trinity from the Matrix, it was for a Halloween-themed Sadie Hawkins dance around 2006. I was able to put it together with some clothes found at D.I. I felt so cool dressing up as my favorite Bad-A woman from my favorite movie. But I still wasn’t really connected to a community of people who enjoyed the same thing I did.” 

Mercer said being a poor college student she couldn’t do much to build anything. “I started dating my now husband and he introduced me to Blizzcon, a fan convention put on by the company of my favorite video games. He showed me videos of the Cosplay contests held there and I knew I had to compete.”

In 2013, Mercer said she got the chance and was instantly hooked. “I loved meeting other passionate gamers and crafters who poured their souls into beautiful costumes. I loved showing off my skills and set it as a goal right away to try and win that contest. My husband has been my biggest support since! He loves to wear what I build for him and participate in the contest with me.” 

Mercer has been cosplaying for more than 10 years and has been building various kinds of creatures from many different video games. Her favorite so far, is an elite mob boss enemy from the video game World of WarCraft. A Gnoll named Hogger. It was her favorite but also the one with the most challenge for her seeing she had to deal with a few personal issues at the time along with wanting to get the character’s design as close to canon as possible. 

“I wanted my cosplay to convey the silliness and filth of Gnolls, basically, I wanted him to look like he was a crazed killer that looked like he smelt like a wet dog – actually smelling bad is convention etiquette I had a lot of fun building him because I wasn't worried about symmetry or neatness,” Mercer said. “I had a lot of fun just letting my creative juices flow. He is also my favorite because that is the cosplay that I actually won the Cosplay contest with in 2017. It was such an unforgettable journey getting there and the overwhelming support I got from everyone congratulating me was so meaningful.” 

Mercer’s World of WarCraft cosplays have even been recognized by Blizzard themselves. They asked her to come with one of her cosplays to be one of the select few cosplayers to walk the red carpet for the World of War movie premiere.

“They wanted some cosplayers for props along the red carpet premiere of the World of Warcraft movie,” she said. “It was a really fun trip down to Hollywood, and I got a photo with one of my favorite celebrities, Felicia Day!” 

Though, just as anyone would, Mercer has had some struggles along the way such as being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease Ankylosing Spondylitis. “I could barely function and finally started to look for help,” said Mercer. “After starting treatment I feel like I have my life back, I can’t work as fast or juggle as much as I once did, but I am so happy to be able to create freely once again. I have so much sympathy for anyone who has chronic pain and/or autoimmune conditions, but I believe we can find joy and have very fulfilling lives despite our hardships.”

Through a mix of hardships and a lot of hard work, Mercer has been able to culminate the name she has today and hopes to continue building and furthering, not only a hobby but the job she loves. When asked if she had any advice for up-and-coming cosplayers, she had this to say,

“Jump on in, the water’s great! Seriously, if you just have the slightest interest, please try this hobby out! There are so many resources out there like patterns and tutorials and it’s so easy to find your fandom these days. I strongly believe creativity is a huge part of human nature and what better way than to use that creativity to celebrate something you love?”