With her bat mask, bracers, and utility belt on, Nichole Saunders, also known as Batwoman, was ready for the East Coast Comic Expo in Moncton, N.B., a costume she made herself.
“It was with the cosplay,” she said. “So, I made my own batarangs. I do jewelry. I can do armour.”
Saunders has learned metalworking, leather-working and sewing. Since March she has been digging out her pencils and Stained by Sharpie markers, applying that love to creating and selling unique pairs of shoes.
She has red hair, blue eyes, a piercing on the right side above her lip, wears bright pink lipstick and a matching cardigan over a black shirt. She takes her shoes from her bag on lays them on the table.
The first pair of shoes she made was Batwoman. Since then, she has drawn Dr. Who, Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman and DC villain Harley Quinn.
Saunders loves going to conventions. She hopes to go to a big one like Comic-Con. With the number of artists at these conventions, Saunders says it’s a great place to bounce ideas off each other and learn things.
Her fandom extends to anything in the Batman universe. She says Batwoman appealed to her as a woman.
“Batwoman is the most amazing female character on the market right now,” she said. “She’s gay. She’s Jewish. She’s one of the strongest lesbians out there.”
Saunders admitted to spending thousands of dollars on Batman memorabilia. The collection isn’t worth that much. It’s what she spent here and there. She says her living room is full of collectibles.
“It’s almost a problem,” she said. “When it gets to be more money to go fix my obsession with a therapist than it is to buy the stuff, I’ll switch. It’s massive.”
Saunders has hundreds of action figures, Frisbees and even 24-year-old box of cereal from the original Batman movie. Her birthday was a Batman-themed costume party.
“If I can stamp Batman on something, I’m going to do it,” she says.
She’s been to the Hal-Con in Halifax, N.S. and the Animaritime anime convention in Fredericton, but that was her high school interests, she said. She was a student volunteer at Siggraph in Anaheim, California, the largest 3D animation conference in the world where she got a chance to get lectured by Guy Williams who worked on the Batman movies.
A lot of the time you can find her at Pretty Little Freak Boutique. She shops there a lot, so much she was approached by the owners.
“I was in there so much, so I started buying so much of their things that I actually had more dresses than they did,” Saunders said. “They said ‘well, do you just want to work sometimes and we’ll give you gift cards so you don’t have to spend all your money here.’ So, they pay me in dresses.”
In 2010, Saunders graduated from Centre of Arts with a degree in 3D game animation. She got an internship with the Canadian Forces working for the Small Arms Trainer (SAT), a digital simulation allowing soldiers to run battle simulations and practice shooting. It runs like a video game.
She worked with the CF for two years. Through it she got a diploma from NBCC for applied arts, then a certificate in applied arts.
Working eight hours a day with the CF, she got tired of looking at a computer and, as she says, the colour green. She decided to be creative when she would get home, trying her hand at many different art forms.
She says she has four passions in life; the bat universe, Disney, wrestling (Olympic style) and art.
“When I get to put more than one together, I have fun with that,” she said.
Her dream job is to be a 3D set creator for Disney. It’s part of her ten-year plan. Saunders had three interviews with Disney and they all said she needs life drawing, so she’s back at Centre for Arts and Technology taking classes.