I grew up in the personal computer revolution of the 1980s. In the summer when I was 15, I took a week-long computer camp wherein we learned BASIC on Apple ][ computers. We used "hi-res" graphics and learned math routines to draw awesome pictures and graphical effects. I was hooked, and in the next years I wore out a Commodore VIC-20 and two Commodore 64 computers creating programs in the digital universe.
Disney's 1982 movie TRON was magic. It effused the connection that we "Users" have with our computers and the "Programs" we write. We Users spent endless hours fantasizing about living in the machine. The smell of the circuit boards. The countless silicon junctions gathered together in black, rectangular cities called microchips. This entire world, with its unbounded possibilities, nestled gorgeously within an elegant beige case. I wanted in there. We all wanted in there. And TRON took us in there.
Thirty-five years later, the story of TRON only grows more relevant. With the threat to end Net Neutrality, and the growing power of Internet monopolies, have we lost touch with the promise of the computer revolution to bring us an open and equalizing digital frontier? In light of this sense of loss, I desire to recall the magic of that promise, by relishing in the creative energy that so many Users and Programs channeled in creating TRON for us.
Many cycles went into creating this replica prop costume of Jeff Bridges' character Kevin Flynn. I was able to see it through only because of the inspiration given to me by so many TRON fans and even some of the creators of the film.
First, to my Dawn Baldwin, thank you so very deeply for all your love, encouragement, and support as I struggled to complete this project over the past year. Perhaps only I know the ways in which it is far from perfect, just as you know of me. Yet you love me in all ways, and your creative mind gives me the positive feedback loop to be able to see things through. So here's to you, my angel. Only solutions! I love you!
And to my daughter Madalaine, thank you so much for putting up with my obsession, and for talking with me time and time again about what stage I was at, what was left to do, and for being the light of my mind as we traveled to San Diego and enjoyed Comic-Con together. I love you my babybearz!
I never expected I would get to talk with some of the creators of TRON, so when I reached out to Oscar-nominated TRON costume designer Rosanna Norton, I was so excited when she responded! Rosanna gave me encouragement and guidance on how to approach printing of the unitard, verification of the shoulder pad materials, and more. Thank you deeply Rosanna for what you have given us all through your work on TRON!
As I neared completion of the helmet, I beamed when Richard Taylor reached out to me on Facebook to cheer me on! Richard was the computer and visual effects supervisor for TRON, and among other things designed the graphics of Flynn's helmet. There is so much density of lines and information on that helmet, and once Richard noticed what I was doing, I knew I had to see it through! Thank you Richard, it is an honor to know you!
I met Cindy Morgan (TRON's Lora and Yori) at SDCC 2016 when I wore a prototype of my Kevin Flynn costume. Cindy was so kind and regaled me with stories of shooting the film. Cindy, my next replica prop costume will be of Yori. Yori lives!
When TRON screenwriter Bonnie MacBird said on Facebook that my costume was "fabulous", I melted! Thank you Bonnie, and thanks to you and Steven Lisberger for the screenplay! Very radical to meet you!
I never got to meet my late first cousin and screenwriter Blake Snyder, author of the Save the Cat! series of books on screenwriting. But I wish to thank him for his encouraging words: "You must find a life within the confines of ‘It is what it is.’ This is where your skills as a bullhead will save both you and your sanity." Thank you Blake, I wish you could know how helpful your words are for me.
To fellow TRON cosplayer and friend, Rachel Ly aka "Lady Rae Gun Cosplay", your energy and enthusiasm has been a source to draw from throughout - thank you so much, and it's never really End Of Line!
And as throughout this process, thank you to the many TRON fans who have encouraged me on social media. As each of you have attested - and our Flynn once said - "On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy." It is through each of you that TRON lives, and it cannot be overstated how much you appreciate all that the creators and actors of TRON have given us.
From day one, it has been my desire to honor the work of the designers and creators of TRON. I hope this cosplay has succeeded in this regard. We love, and still need, their work and vision - perhaps more so today than ever. Lastly, I hope this cosplay has given hope to all TRON fans out there that more TRON is yet to come.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of 1982's classic sci-fi adventure movie TRON! In celebration of this occasion, over the past year I reconstructed the costume worn by Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn. The goal was to faithfully reproduce the original prop costume, in its black and white format as worn during filming, for cosplaying at the 2017 San Diego International Comic-Con.
The complete prop costume is comprised of 10 pieces. The base consists of a screen-printed full body footed unitard and boots. This foundation is then outfitted with shoulder pads/upper arm guards, and topped with a one-shoulder tunic. A wide screen-printed belt is next. Gloves, a left wrist cuff, and a right forearm gauntlet are next. Finally, there is the helmet and identity disc — forget this and you'll be subject to immediate deresolution!
Some of the costume's pieces are based on actual sporting goods available at the time. The helmet is a modified Cooper SK 2000 S hockey helmet. The shoulder pads/upper arm guards are comprised of pieces from two different Jofa motocross chest protectors. Identifying and acquiring these items was difficult and fun, and working with these items is a dream come true.
The story of TRON honors a time when computers meant anything was possible; this cosplay project reaffirms that anything still is. Follow the links below to travel the circuits with me as I research, design and reconstruct this one-of-a-kind costume. Like the man says — there are no problems, only solutions!
Below is a breakdown of my design and construction process by component. At each link, you'll find photos and commentary on that particular aspect of the costume:
I completed the costume on July 18, 2017 - the day before Comic-Con! I had been working on it since September of 2016; i.e. about 11 months. Here is a preview of the finished costume before heading to San Diego. Photos by Dawn Baldwin.
Maddy and I had a great time at the 2017 San Diego International Comic-Con! Here are some pics from the experience:
Hey Green Bank, we made the San Diego Union-Tribune! "David Fleming, from Green Bank, West Virginia, who is dressed in a costume portraying Kevin Flynn in the movie TRON, stands with other convention goers as they wait in line for the start of Comic-Con International's Preview Night."
Thank you Suzanne Stewart from our local paper The Pocahontas Times for talking with me about TRON and our trip to San Diego Comic-Con 2017!