CosPlay Profile: Dave DeVenter AKA NJ BatDave
Welcome to our February 2018 CosPlay Profile featuring Dave DeVenter AKA BatDave! I had the honor of sitting down with him this morning and reminiscing about his many years doing this. He’s involved in the cosplay community as well as his own community where he brings hope & smiles to people whenever he can. I hope this interview helps you get to know the man behind the mask a little bit better. As well as his love for the heroes and pop culture icons he portrays.
OG: How long have you been cosplaying now?
Dave: Officially “cosplaying” since 2009 although I have been making my own Halloween costumes since I was a little kid. I always preferred “costumer” but it seems the other term has gained wider notoriety with the general public.
OG: What was that first cosplay you did in 2009?
Dave: I am a HUGE Batman fan regardless of what decade or artist or movie. As a little kid of the 1970’s, I was more of a Burt Ward fan than Adam West because Adam was so darn big and I could relate to The Boy Wonder more. So at the age of ten, I made my own ROBIN costume in the style of the 1960’s Batman TV show. Fast forward to 2009 and just as a joke, I convinced my girlfriend and her gorgeous pals to do a Batman Family tribute for a local Halloween costume contest. This way I could have an excuse to create my own Batman costume. We won 2nd place, but looking back, that first Batman costume I put together was horrible.
OG: Yeah I think I wore a Ben Cooper Batman costume from the 60s 10 years in a row.
Dave: Lucky you!! My brother and I didn’t even have that as an option. We always had t make our own Halloween costumes which in retrospect, really forced me to be more creative than my classmates who were just going to our local Woolworths or McCrory’s for theirs.
OG: How many different characters would you say you’ve done over the years now?
Dave: That’s a tough one because I am constantly creating new ones and I never kept track except through photos or videos of our projects. I would guestimate at least 40, almost 50?
OG: Wow that’s a lot could you pick out a few favorites from those? Batman of course…
Dave: Batman, yes– I have created at least 8 or nine different versions of him… Classic Batman, Wild West Batman, Retro Batman, Italian Batman as well as my original BATDAVE costume which is a low budget tribute to artist Alex Ross’s stunning artwork of the character. But my faves? Hmmm, Folks seem to prefer my lighthearted celebrity tributes more than when I try to play it seriously, and that’s fine. I love bringing old school Nick Fury and The Punisher to life. I play a very non-Asian Kato when I am teaming up with Tom Mitchell’s Green Hornet and his Black Beauty vehicle and we have a blast. But the silly stuff is what people always remember. When I met actress Dawn Wells dressed as Gilligan when I met Lee Majors dressed as The Bionic Man doll when I met Get Smart’s Bernie Kopell dressed as the evil Siegfried of KAOS or meeting Paul Michael Glaser dressed as Starsky– those are the ones that everybody seems to love the most.
Dave: Make sure I mention Denny or he will never let me forget it. LOL
OG: Who could forget Spider-Denny…there 2 mentions. LOL
OG: Well that would put me right into the next question of what your favorite celebrity that you met and what your favorite comic book character creator you met?
Dave: Meeting Burt Ward dressed as Robin The Man Wonder at New York Comic Con alongside the 1966 Batmobile was a thrill. That was a lifetime in the making. Adam was always fun to meet as well, but I was the Robin kid as you will recall.Marvel Comics’ legendary SHIELD artist Jim Steranko LOVES my various Nick Fury tributes. He can be less than accommodating at times but he nearly pulled my arm out of its socket one time trying to shake my hand. He actually calls me “Nick” now when I see him at a convention.
OG: I remember seeing one of your videos of you dressed as Nick meeting Jim Steranko is pretty awesome.
Dave: Meeting William Shatner and the surviving members of the original Star Trek while I was dressed as Captain Kirk is nothing groundbreaking– It’s been done a billion times before but it was still a magical moment I will always treasure. Yes, our earliest videos used to feature creative dynamo Neal Adams as well but these shows have gotten too large to keep up that intensity. It can wear these artists down after a while. In regards to all-time fave celebs, there’s one more I must mention. Folks know me mostly as “that crazy Batman guy” from all our projects, especially the classic BATDAVE & BUSTER fan films with our late great dachshund. BUT I am actually a bigger childhood fan of the old Get Smart series than of Batman, so getting to meet and film with actress Barbara Feldon (Agent 99) a few years ago in NYC was a day I will never forget. Such a lovely woman!whew! so many great memories while having the time of my life.
OG: What shows do you try to attend every year and out of those shows which show is your favorite to go to?
Dave: I would attend every show on the east coast if I could but my girlfriend would shoot me. When I was making public appearances as the ‘Adam West Batman’ with my ’66 Batmobile buddies, Lisa was our 1967 Yvonne Craig Batgirl for over 5 years. She did a great job entertaining the crowds but has since retired from the scene. Here are the shows we enjoy: New York Comic Con, Wizard World Philly, Big Apple Con, Garden State Comic Fest, Chiller Theatre, Monster Mania, Baltimore Comic-Con, Walker Stalker and NJ Horror Con are always a good time. We also have had memorable moments at Heroes & Villains, NJ Comic Expo, East Cast Comic-Con, Great Philly, RetroCon and Amazicon as well. One of the most beautiful Batman celebrity memories for me, as a fan and a human being, occurred at Amazicon which is now held in Wilmington, Delaware. I was dressed as the Caped Crusader alongside my pal’s 1966 Batmobile doing an outdoor photo shoot with the lovely Lee Meriwether (Catwoman/’66 movie) when the photographer said: “take her in your arms.” We were there staring into each other’s eyes and she just broke down crying. It was magical. So don’t ever let people tell you that these folks don’t appreciate their fans after all these years.
OG: Have you ever been involved in any charity work in costume?
Dave: Yes although not as much as I would like to be because scheduling is always a problem when you are also dealing with a full-time job that does not involve running around in tights. I have been a part of several hospital visits to lift the spirits of children battling cancer and other serious illnesses. And I have appeared as The Caped Crusader at countless DARE, anti-drug and anti-gang community events. It’s always an honor to be a part of something that is helping others. And let’s not forget that before I “became Batman” I was merely the guy on the other side of the camera capturing all this superheroic stuff for our county news. I never had any true intention of becoming “BATDAVE” way back then. It just sort of happened.
OG: It’s always its own reward bringing smiles to the kids.
Dave: Yes- When I started all this bat stuff, I had FIVE friends who all owned 1966 Batmobile replicas, mostly built by John Brown at Gotham Supercars. We were at a local DARE event one day and my buddy turned to me and said, “Dave, I put on too much weight recently and can’t fit in my 1966 Batman unitard costume. Can you be our Caped Crusader for the kids today?” I initially declined because I was scared and nervous of what others might think- but by the end of that day, I was hooked!
OG: Thus a New Jersey legend was born!
Dave: Ha!! In my own mind maybe… Buster The Dog Wonder was the true legend! I can honestly tell you the happiest days of my crimefighting career were with that little 20-lb. dachshund. I wish folks out there could only realize how much joy that little guy brought to a youngster during our many public appearances at schools, parades, and car shows. Anyone who ever met him will tell you he was an amazing creature. Brilliant and handsome, he loved every moment of all that attention he deserved.
OG: Very true, Buster was loved by all that met him or like myself for years of that Lil guy bringing a smile to my face in the many videos we miss you, Buster.
Dave: Lots of folks wanted Lisa and I to replace him but we just couldn’t. How do you replace Elvis or Babe Ruth? You can’t. That little guy was one of a kind. He passed away in 2016 a week shy of his 16th birthday so he had a full life. The day he died it damn near broke the internet. I had never felt or read such an outpouring of grief from individuals I had not ever even met before. Buster meant a lot to many and that’s a beautiful legacy for anyone to have human or animal.
Dave: I should probably mention our never-ending projects over at NJ BatSquad Studios?? LOL
OG: You keep beating me to the punch … I mean our next question LOL You guys do everything from your fan film’s to commercials for local comic shops tell us how that started and what you might have in the works.
Dave: Dennis Pellicano is the not so secret weapon to pretty much everything we churn out at our NJ BatSquad Studios. In addition to his editing and directorial abilities, Dennis (alias Spider-Denny) and I were co-workers cooped up in the same small room for over 12 years at our local county news building. So despite our real-life friendship, any time you see Denny and me quarreling, it’s NOT an act. And yet, we work together great. It’s a bizarre chemistry we share but it has made for some interesting stories over the years. The only time I have ever seen Denny actually be happy for me is when the late great Rowdy Roddy Piper put me in a Sleeper hold at Monster Mania in Cherry Hill, NJ. The rest of the time we are arguing over something stupid. Good times! Our YouTube channel is called njbatsquad (all one word) and we are currently up to 84 “official” fan films although there are over 100 more that we released as raw content on Facebook just save us time and money with tedious post-production. The earliest fan films were all Batman-related until Denny finally spoke up and said enough is enough. Now we focus on all things pop culture which has brought us even more viewers. So he’s usually right but please don’t tell him I said that.
OG: I too had the honor of meeting the Rowdy one, have you seen the last movie he made before his untimely passing?
Dave: No I did not.
OG: The movies called The Chair and it’s based on a mini-series written by Peter Simeti from Alterna comics.
Dave: Wow, I will check that out later. Denny and I have met hundreds of our childhood heroes while doing this stuff and not all have been sweethearts. But Roddy is on both of our Top 5 lists– he was incredibly gracious with every single fan. He died less than a year after we met him and we had no idea he was ill. As far as what we have planned for 2018, I am thinking more of the same. We have been doing this for so long that there comes a point where you don’t have to force it. We just keep our antennas up and see what is going on in the world of pop culture. The Black Panther movie premiere is almost here and I have something I would like to film locally. Plus we will be returning to Atlantic City in April to film our all-new ‘Garden State Comic Fest’ documentary. And our goofy commercials for the Amazing Heroes Comic Bookshop in my hometown of Union, NJ will certainly continue. The owner is an old high school classmate of mine. Ironically, despite my love of Batman and my obsession with anything batty, our two most watched, most liked and most shared fan films are our two trips to Coney Island in Brooklyn capturing “The Warriors” movie cast reunions. Those were fun days that people seem to just enjoy reliving. Plus actor Michael Beck is just an awesome dude.
OG: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today it has been a please reflecting back on your cosplay history.
Dave: I had a great time- Usually it is ME asking all the questions. It was nice to have the opportunity to reflect back upon all that fun stuff we have accomplished. And it’s like I always tell people…”Life is too damn short NOT to have fun.” BatDave out!
If you just can’t get enough of NJ BatDave here’s a couple of links you can follow him on [email protected] https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=david%20deventer
let us not forget a group the old farts of [email protected] https://www.facebook.com/groups/oldfartsofcosplay/