Time for another cosplay post! This time, our subject is everyone’s favorite salivating symbiotic scoundrel: Venom, debuted at Animazement 2016. It was a very different process from my previous endeavor with Cubone, but the unique challenges were fun nonetheless. It involved a lot of hot glue and the stench of liquid latex, but I’m quite pleased with the result.
I’ve always been a fan of Venom, ever since first seeing him in Spider-Man: The Animated Series and always choosing him at my local pizza joint’s Marvel vs. Capcom cabinet. I never considered him as a possible cosplay until fairly recently. To celebrate reaching a fitness goal (completing Les Mills Combat), I wanted to buy a Spider-Man suit. Not wanting to cosplay the regular old red and blue webhead, I chose my personal favorite of his many suits: the black symbiote suit. While researching different suits, I came across Grifter Customs, a prop and suit maker based in Florida. Among his impressive portfolio was a black Spider-Man suit, complete with this fierce photo edit:
I instantly fell in love with the idea. I wanted to buy a pair of white contacts right then and there, but it was October and most websites that sold color contacts were cleaned out by the Halloween rush. So, unfortunately, the idea was put on hold. That is, until the white eye contacts were restocked several months later.
Canines and Cataracts
The idea for this costume never left my mind, and around April…HoneyColor finally restocked their Zombie White Screen Contacts and I immediately jumped. With Animazement coming the next month, I decided to prioritize Venom over my other project (Blue Beetle III) and set out to work. When I first had the idea in October, I was able to find a set of prosthetic fangs for a very cheap price (unfortunately don’t remember the name and brand) that used meltable silicon to custom-fit the teeth to your jaw. Put the two together, and you get something rather nightmarish.
As nice as the contacts looked, wearing them was a completely different story. I have worn colored contacts before with little issue (other than limitations to peripheral vision), but because of the mesh covering the pupils, I received a personal lesson in what people with cataracts experience. By the end of the day when I wore it at Animazement, I had a splitting headache. But I suppose it was worth it for those creepy eyes.
A Claw-ful Experience
Just as fearsome as Venom’s fangs, tongues, and bountiful saliva are his sharp claws. The style varies by continuity. In the comics, his claws are the same color as the rest of the symbiote costume, but in Spider-Man 3 the claws more resemble animal claws. I chose symbiote-colored claws because of wanting to keep a unified color scheme. Using a modified version of this tutorial by Tiff Nguyen, I began with tracing a design for the claws onto my dear friend EVA foam…
..then cutting out the pieces and gluing them together.
To get the right texture and color (so the claws wouldn’t look like, well, craft foam), I sprayed them down with black Performix plastidip. It created a leathery, hardened texture. The length of the claws may have made them look more like Carnage than Venom, but the length of the OG symbiote’s claws seems to vary by artist.
The Goop Suit
I came across quite a few bodysuits in the Venom/black Spider-Man design, but most were made of spandex/lycra. While spandex is exactly what one needs for cos-ing Spidey, I wanted to emulate the goopy texture of the symbiote. I researched how to create a DIY latex bodysuit, with the intention of adding additional liquid latex to it to create the perfect texture. I came across this tutorial from LiquidLatex.com, which involves painting liquid latex onto a lycra/spandex bodysuit. I ordered black-colored Liquid Latex Fashions bodypaint (needed two 32 oz bottles) and a black bodysuit with detachable hands and feet from ZentaiZone (whom I also purchased a very nice Civil War Spider-Man costume from). Once all of the ‘ingredients’ had arrived, it was time for the real fun to begin.
The tutorial for creating the custom liquid latex suit was simple: wear the bodysuit, stand still, and have a friend (preferably two or more) paint layers of bodypaint onto the suit with foam brushes. To start off, I had to shave my body of all hair (except on my head, of course).
Then when it was time to paint, I had to stand outside on a summer day, holding one arm up with a coat rack and pressing the other against a wall, because standing still while holding your arms up can get awfully painful awfully fast. My dear friend Viper Allan helped apply the first coat, and Something Different Cosplay later helped me with a second coat.
One more thing about this technique: it’s advised to apply baby powder to your body before putting on the suit and painting it, to prevent too much liquid latex from sticking to you. Otherwise you get fun happenings like this:
The next step, of course, was adding Venom’s famous white spider emblem. Whether or not Venom has the white spider on both his chest and back varies by artist and continuity, but because of timing issues (as in, the night before the con), the spider was only painted on the front side. The spider was also painted on with liquid latex (white Liquid Latex Fashions bodypaint) to preserve the texture. My best friend Theditor graciously painted a rather wicked spider on my chest.
We Are Venom
Come Saturday of Animazement, it was time to put it all together. I donned the latex suit, the claws, fangs, and contacts to transform myself into the savage symbiote. For an amazing extra touch, Theditor used some of the remaining black bodypaint to paint symbiotic goop crawling up my neck and face. The following photos are also taken by Theditor.
All in all, I’m happy with how it turned out. I received a lot of praise and many wanted to take a picture of me at the convention. I think I would like to remake the suit (paint on a bodysuit without detachable feet and gloves, as well as paint the white spider on both my back and chest) and be less afraid to take the bodypaint on my face straight to the hairline. As it stands though, I’m still proud of my work and am very thankful to all people who either helped out with the costume or praised me for it.
What do you think of the costume? Would you have done something differently? Do you have any suggestions for making changes to it moving forward? Let me know by leaving a comment!