In the fantastical world of cosplay, the wheelchair variety can be some of the most innovative. Surely, you’ve seen chairs transposed to Batmobiles online, and mini Supermen–their chairs armed with the illusion that the adorable, seated boys are “flying,” with the aid of faux legs behind them. I know I’ve caught myself swooning! But this holiday season, wheelchair cosplay’s gone dark. So gather ’round the fire, kiddies, and I’ll tell you the tale of how I met the man–or beast?–who boldly deems himself “The Krippled Krampus.” Don’t mind the scent of seared coal.
‘Twas early December 2016, and Spooky Empire‘s make-up event was swiftly approaching. The first go-around of the Orlando, Florida horror convention was damned to the fate of postponement by October’s Hurricane Matthew, so some cosplayers scrambled to reinvent their costumes into something more fit for the holiday spirit. Poison Ivy added poincianas to her leafy ensemble; Twisty the clown donned a Santa hat. Some considered all new, last-minute cosplays altogether–my wheelchair-cosplayer boyfriend included. “We’ll make you a Krampus,” I suggested. “Make your chair into a throne.” But with only one prior con, and one Halloween worth of experience in modifying his chair–and mere weeks with which to work–we opted to stay with the cosplays we’d already prepared for October. We would leave that epic concept for the pros.
Ahem. Speak of the devil…
Enter Jarrad Walker.
Our nightmarish dream had been realized. He manifested before us, both in flesh and in fur, and we fan-girled. Ohhh, did we fan-girl. Up and down–like, way down. Enough to descend to a pit of fire, brimstone, and melted candy canes.
Wheelchair Cosplay GOALS.
Jarrad has a congenital spinal defect called Spina Bifida, and resides in Tampa, Florida. The thirty-four year old “Best Exhibition” winner in Spooky Empire’s costume contest–to whom, by the way, it was an honor to lose–has only been in the game for three years, but seems to have become an instant hit in Spooky’s con circuit. And rightfully so! In past years, he’s come in body-bags, coffins, hospital gurneys, and in fenced-in, unearthed graves. He’s often joined by Krampus‘ little helper: his mother and cosplay partner, Cheryl A. Thayer-Blackford. She is responsible for crafting the awe-inspiring throne that toted the whimsical beast. This year, Cheryl attended alongside him in the guise of a zombified elf.
Perhaps we’ll bump into His Unholy Highness at Spooky Empire‘s April show–where, personally, as a former mall Easter Bunny and avid Donnie Darko fan, I am avidly hoping he’ll shape-shift into a rabid giant bunny. In the meantime, take heed, mein kinder. Earn a spot on the nice list, or the cosplay Krampus will strike!