• 'Ceee J' and 'HeidzDee' as Captain Boomerang and Enchantress from Suicide Squad (Image: Supplied)
Meet the young Aboriginal couple who are enthusiastic about sci-fi films, comic books and cosplay.
Sophie Verass

16 Aug 2016 - 2:07 PM  UPDATED 16 Aug 2016 - 2:13 PM

When comic books boomed in the early 1950s, the craze hit Australia just as hard as it did our U.S neighbours and young blackfellas have been enthusiastically thumbing the pages of graphic novels since before Marvel Studios dominated our cinema screens. 

The covers of preppy Superman-types slowly began to diversify once creators began to realise that the market was not solely occupied by the white middle-class and women, young people and people of colour having been gradually joining the cast of popular series. In the 1980s, even - a very strange Americanised version of - Aboriginal 'mutants' were depicted in the 1980s, with Indigenous teleporter 'Gateway' making his debut in the X-Men series.  

While Gateway's character left much to be desired in terms of racial profiling, his general presence highlighted something that is emerging more in present today - supernatural, cosmic, psychedelic and unexplainable powers can live within Aboriginal people too.    

However, like the youngsters who read the pages of 'The Phantom' by torch-light under their bed covers, this popular trend amongst Indigenous people has been concealed. Instead, sci-fi, fantasy fiction and superhero-dom is traditionally associated with white American males, who have more beard on their necks than their chin. But across Australia, more Aboriginal people are becoming increasingly engaged in this colourful culture. 

Koorie couple, 'Ceee J' and 'HeidzDee' are key 'players' in cosplay; a style of performance art where people dress up in costumes to represent a fictional character. The couple's impressive hand-made costumes (mastered by HeidzDee's sewing skills) and unique character depictions have earned them a large following on social media where they interact with other cosplayers from around the globe.   

Ceee J and HeidzDee admit that they are still a minority in cosplaying community, which Ceee J thinks could be a due to young Indigenous kids falling victim to 'tall poppy syndrome', making it difficult for them to participate in such a boisterous style of theatre.

"I think the modern Aboriginal culture has become one built on the back of shame," he told NITV. "I constantly hear stories of my deadly brothers and sisters being put down because what they want to do is not 'the norm'. It's a very Westernised social structure which portrays a message of, '[you shouldn't] do too good' or 'what?! You think you're deadly now!'" 

Ceee J says that confidence plays major role in cosplaying and he himself became more comfortable about his body, his skin and everyday actions by engaging in the activity. He also believes he's become more passionate as a person, having found something he loves and can share with other people.  

"It [cosplay] has helped me in my job, talking to our younger people as a facilitator and it's helped me to connect with more people, because I find that everyone is a little geeky or nerdy inside."

"I think qualities such as confidence is truly what you need in this world to take it on," he says. "It [cosplay] has helped me in my job, talking to our younger people as a facilitator and it's helped me to connect with more people, because I find that everyone is a little geeky or nerdy inside." 

Now a 25 year old, Ceee J first became interested in cosplay when he was 18, around the same time he started becoming more involved with sci-fi culture and attending a few conventions around his hometown Melbourne.

"... The culture built around it is one that's inclusive and welcoming. Cosplaying is not about degrading someone else's cosplay or putting them down, it's about making everyone feed great about themselves ..."

"What got me interested was the fact that I could cosplay as my favourite character from film, comic or game, but also the culture built around it is one that's inclusive and welcoming," he says. "Cosplaying is not about degrading someone else's cosplay or putting them down, it's about making everyone feel great about themselves and not being ashamed about it. I've gained some great friends in these sorts of groups."

Although HeidzDee feels that there aren't as many opportunities for Indigenous people to engage with this activity, the two have noticed a growing public trend for all things sci-fi, superhero and geeky within contemporary Aboriginal culture. With Indigenous celebrities like Rae Johnston, who dons herself as 'Wiradjuri Wonder Woman' and Hunter Page-Lochard who portrays 2016's breakthrough Aboriginal superhero Koen West, along with his 'hairy' cast, it's evident Indigenous pop culture is looking more and more like Comic-Con.    

"I think Australia is about to see a massive shift in landscape in regards to this new generation who love the sci-fi world, and I think the Aboriginal culture will be able to portray a lot more messages through this stream - like Cleverman has done," Ceee J told NITV. "I'm excited about this change, but think it should come sooner." 


Ceee J and HeidzDee will soon be jetting off to New York where they'll attend their first international Comic-Con convention.  



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