Certain things happen when we least expect it, aligning the stars to put us on a path we would never have taken otherwise, and no matter what you believe in, whether Kismet, Fate or a greater force, we can all agree that some things happen by design in the most unexpected way. Talking to Mikel Allen solidified this belief for me because there's an undeniable sense of Kismet in his story of how he became a cosplayer.
Mikel Allen, aka Venture Bros, got his cosplay name from the Cartoon Network show of the same name. Originally Venture Bros was started as a page for him and his younger brother to cosplay together, but when it was time to get started, his brother had to focus on grad school. So he had to go solo, but he kept the name beside the solo adventure because of the significance, and there could always be that potential to cosplay together.
The story of how Mikel started cosplaying is quite different from most cosplayers because it was something that happened purely by chance. Mikel is a military officer and was on a 30-day R and R from his last deployment in 2016. He was staying at the Marriot Hotel in Atlanta, where he invited his friends and brother to come to see him, wholly unaware of the comic con happening during that time. "My brother, some friends and I were headed out of one of the days at the hotel, and we stepped onto the elevator and met some people in full cosplay, which was interesting cause I'd never seen people dress up in cosplay", he said. "They immediately invited us to Dragon Con and to have drinks with them, which we did, and we immediately hit it off; it was such a welcoming experience", he explained. This interaction changed his experience in those few days and his life. For some, that's a colossal nerd; he never realized that things like this went on and that interaction changed his perspective and path and turned him to cosplay, which he does now.
Mikel Started cosplaying in 2017 and has gone to Dragon Con every year to pay homage to the start of his cosplay career. When he began cosplaying, he created most of his costumes, but now he doesn't do so often. "When I first started cosplaying, I was a lot larger, so I didn't have many options for costumes besides making them myself, but now I've lost mass; if I see something that's well made and fits, I'm happy to buy it, it's my way of helping other cosplayers who make costumes".
When asked, Mikel stated that the best part of cosplaying to him is dressing up in small groups where everyone is immersed in the same world and shares that kinship and fondness for characters. "Growing up on the south side of Chicago, everyone watched Dragon Ball Z, but not many people watched other animes, so it wasn't really something we immersed ourselves in and talked about, so cosplaying in small groups helps bring that childhood fantasy and immersion of characters that makes me love cosplaying so much," he said. When he first started cosplaying, Mikel didn't tell anyone besides his younger brother, who was cosplaying with him at the time. They bonded over it, Mikel was featured in a newspaper, and his mother found out about his cosplay adventure. She's been his biggest supporter ever since, "When I started, I didn't tell anyone all of a sudden, I got a call from my mother asking about it. She has seen me in a newspaper article and a calendar since then; she's been my biggest supporter. She has every article and calendar I've been in saved, which was quite surprising to me," he explained. His mother has always been supportive of his ventures regarding working and school and since cosplaying was more of a fun hobby, he didn't tell her cause he didn't think she'd want to know, which is perfectly understandable.
"You have to love this and not be in it for only the money, 'cause if you are, you will get burnt out. Make sure you're having fun," Mikel said when I asked what he's learnt so far cosplaying; he also reiterated that he could never have imagined making money doing something like this and that he'd still do it even if he were making no money from it.
The 32-year-old Powerlifting champion stated that he loves that he can express a creative side to himself that he hasn't been able to in years, and he's honoured how well received it has been since he started. Mikel's favourite character to cosplay is Mario because it has been a big part of his life even before he began cosplaying, and he's happy to see his work by so many other people. When asked about cosplayers he loves, he mentioned Cutiepie Sensei gushing about how versatile her cosplay is and how truly inspiring she is as a cosplayer.
There's so much more coming up for Venture Bros, and he's one to add to your list of favourite cosplayers with his versatile cosplaying style. Even if you don't believe in fate or Kismet, you can agree that this is a match made in Cosplay heaven.