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Steam Punk Cop

Mike Madriaga

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Colonel Malcolm Weatherby, a fictional character from 1890, roams our campus.

The term “Steampunk” was coined in 1987 when an author, K.W. Jeter, combined the two words to describe his books, “Morlock Night” and “Infernal Devices.” His books were written to have occurred in the 19th century. The manner that the future was portrayed or envisioned in the “Victorian Era,” combined with the attire of the period is what steampunk embodies.

Richard Ferrell, 39, a San Diego Community College District Police Officer, attended the Gaslight Gathering over the weekend — in full steampunk fashion.

In the world of costuming or cosplaying there are a variety of styles such as: Super Heroes, Monsters, Anime and Steampunk.

“Cosplay is broken down into a few categories,” Ferrell said, “Makers, Actors and Models, in my opinion.”

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At the Gaslight Gathering, people from all over the U.S. converged at the Town and Country Hotel & Resort to meet one another and “focus on the steampunk and Victorian aesthetic, art, costume, gadgets, and history.” This was their 6th year.

“People make costumes to express their creative talents and bring characters from pop culture alive through costume,” Ferrell said. “The number one thing to understand is that people do it for different reasons, but all bring life into fiction.”

Ferrell said that he has been cosplaying since 2002. Back then he was asked to play Jack Sparrow for a community Haunted House, www.gr8pumpkin.com and he learned to make the costume and play the part.

“Some are excellent actors that make any costume come alive with the mannerisms of the character,” Farrell said, “and some just simply wear a costume either purchased commercially or made by professionals.”

“Colonel Weatherby” is Ferrell’s latest creation. He displayed his ensemble at the San Diego Comic Con a few months ago and since then has slightly changed it up for the Gaslight Gathering. “I changed the color scheme from red, black and white to mostly brown and tan,” Ferrell said.

He conceived the character when he initially purchased a pith helmet at a previous steampunk gathering, and then he researched how they were used in the year 1890.

“I learned about British soldiers and uniforms of the time period,” Ferrell said. “I fashioned the costume after an 1890 British officer from the Boer War.”

Ferrell said that he invested about $500 into the fabric and materials to create his costume. The shoes and his hat were purchased commercially.

Some costumes with prosthetics and makeup are known to take hours to put together, but Ferrell’s takes “about 15 minutes.”

“I have been the winner of some small Halloween party contests, but I stay away from big competitions, mainly because that’s not who I am,” Ferrell said. “I use my steampunk characters as a way to promote my artwork, Colonel Malcolm Weatherby’s Steampunk Arsenal.”

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Ofc. Richard Ferrell cosplaying Colonel Malcolm Weatherby

Custom handmade pieces can fetch upwards of a few hundred dollars. Popular items sold at shows are goggles, hats, vests, sunglasses, costumes and faux weapons.

When Ferrell isn’t working on his creative endeavors or protecting our campuses (he covers both City and Mesa), he might be instructing college staff how to protect and defend themselves in a real life crisis.

Last year, Ferrell graced the cover of City Times. The story was regarding an ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate) program in which he and others from his team, the EMRT (Emergency Management Resource Team), taught the City College staff how to prepare for an active shooter on campus.

Ferrell has been working with the SDCCD Police Department since 2000, and as an EMRT, he said that he still teaches that class every month.

Ferrell was also a previous student of City College. He said that he took classes in Media Communications and Russian.

When asked if the two worlds of law enforcement and cosplay ever crossed over, his response: “Once I was asked to put together a scenario similar to the Beslan (Russia) school attack. I was dressed as a Chechen Rebel.”

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Steam Punk Cop