Headless Horseman

Headless Horseman costume at 2013 Comic-Con

Early promo ad for the Sleepy Hollow TV show

While thinking about a new costume for the 2013 Comic-Con, I was watching the promo trailer for the new Sleepy Hollow series. I have a personal connection to the creator of the show, and so I decided to recreate the antagonist: The Headless Horseman. The promo trailer showed a headless revolutionary war soldier (red coat) with an ax and machine gun. How bad ass is that!

So, the challenges were to put together a recreation of a historic red coat soldier's uniform, create the headless illusion (while still being able to see well enough to get around), and create all the weapon props. All trying to be faithful to the upcoming TV show's character (which no one had seen).

First, I created the headless illusion by taking a black dress shirt (which I got at a thrift store), ripping out the arms, installing tall shoulders I made from foam, opening up the arm holes to fit my real arms, and building up a fake chest to match the new height created by the shoulders. My new neck consisted of an EVA foam cylinder capped at the top, all painted black or covered with black craft foam and sporting an attached white cravat, made from white tulle (veil material). This fit over my head like a hat, but came down to the bottom of my nose. I cut out a panel that I can see through and covered that with a couple of layers of black tulle. Also, the white cravat came down over my eyes, so there were 4 layers of tulle, both black and white, covering my face. Pretty effective for hiding my eyes and allowing me to see well enough.

I found a pattern for an 18th century military coat which I bought and then I made my own red wool coat with all the trimmings. I had to modify the pattern in order to make it large enough to fit over my fake shoulders yet still allow my real arms to go into the sleeves. Luckily I had a lot of muslin so I could make and modify pattern pieces in order to come up with an acceptable final pattern. The result came out just fine.

I created a vest facade, altered some gray pants, bought a pair of cheap black shoes, modified a set of pirate boot covers to recreate the leather boots, and made a bunch of fake shotgun shells. I bought a variety of gun accessories (belts, straps, bandoleers) and fake weapons, and I made the ax from wood (after all, I am a woodworker).

And I did all of this without a body form. It was a lot of putting on, marking alterations, taking off, and then modifying. Rinse and repeat, many times. It was a lot of work, but I am happy with the result.

For the same reasons as the Malgus costume, I didn't take many progress shots (no blog plans at the time). In future posts I may elaborate on parts of this build, but this post is meant to be an overview and introduction to the character in order to give some background for future posts.

I got a photo with one of the Fox promotional Headless Horsemen

I inaugurated the costume at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con. I anticipated being the only Headless Horseman there, because the show hadn't premiered yet. What I hadn't anticipated was that Fox would publicize the show by fielding 10 guys in Headless Horseman costumes. So, instead of having a unique costume, I was one of many, and I was the one who didn't have prizes to give out! <sigh>

Another cosplayer who wanted a photo, and I was able to get a copy!

Still the costume was popular and I had a lot of folks come up for photos. I threatened a lot of heads with the ax. Oddly, I also had someone on the convention floor ask for an interview, and after I said "sure" they told me that it was for the Playboy channel. It was an odd interview and I've never seen the video (insert your own "I only look at the videos" joke here). By the way, the above photo is NOT from that interview; she was a fellow cosplayer who wanted a picture.

I did win a costuming prize from the Costumer Designers Guild. This is the professional union for all Hollywood costumer designers. They apparently go to Comic-Con every year and give out awards for any costumes that they deem worthy. They do it right on the spot, and I was pretty surprised and pleased.

So, I guess I now have an award winning costume. Cool.