It's time for the best holiday ever invented, and since I've spent the past month before the annual candy binge helping out at my mother's house, I decided to pull some photos from my Halloween archives and share some of the ridiculous lengths I've gone to for a rocking costume. Enjoy! – KP
1984. A Skeleton
I don't know about the rest of you people, but to me, real Halloween costumes are not bought in a store ready to wear. They're made in part or in full by the wearer. Or in the case of my first costume (and a lot of them on this list), they're made by the wearer's mom.
The Skeleton overthrow I'm wearing here was sewed by my mom along with a matching pillow case-style bag that I used every year after that. They were totally boss.
1985. The First Time I Was Batman
I've loved Batman so long I have no memory of not loving Batman, which should be pretty evident by the fact that I was dressing as him at the age of four. I'm not sure if I was routinely crashing my Super Powers Batmobile into everything in our house at every available possibility at this point, but I am pretty sure I'd already taken to watching the old Adam West show and taking it 110% seriously by then. (If you see me sometime, ask me to tell the story about when I met Adam West. It's way too long to post here.)
I don't remember much else from when I was four, but I remember this costume…probably because I kept wearing the mask around the neighborhood for years after that and insisting that my friend Kyle Davis was Robin because he was shorter than me and had black hair.
1986. A Ghost
Everyone should dress up as a traditional "spooky Halloween character" at least once in their life. For me it was as a ghost, and I think the silver-lined costume mom made is still somewhere in our house. Although, both my brother Brian and I got way more mileage out of his Dracula cape and teeth, the latter of which probably gave us more shared colds than we can remember.
1987. A Policeman
When I was a kid, my dad was a police officer in our hometown of Flint, Michigan. His tenure on the force meant that we had both a lot of crazy legendary family police stories (the time my aunt maced herself, the time dad's partner accidentally shot a hole through our bathroom wall) and a lot of old police equipment in our garage, including the real gun belt I'm rocking here. Also, that odd looking helmet comes from my dad's short stint riding with Flint's mounted division (Yes, Flint, Michigan employs police on horseback).
1988. Darth Vader
When you're a little brother, it's a fact of life that most of your clothing comes in the form of things your older brother has grown out of. Sometimes this happens with Halloween costumes too, including this Darth Vader getup. I seriously didn't mind, though, as the costume was super dope. The front piece breathing apparatus my mom made by wrapping a bunch of material around one of those single serving Frosted Flakes boxes with buttons sewn on the front. Pretty slick, mom.
I honestly think the above pic is one of my brother in the costume from the year before, but for reals, how could I not include a picture of FUCKING VAMPIRE SPIDER-MAN?!?!?
1989. The Second Time I Was Batman
When Tim Burton's "Batman" film came out in 1989, I spent the summer collecting every toy, trading card, magazine, glow-in-the-dark Frisbee, mail away bank from a cereal box and Prince "Batdance" cassette single imaginable. Was there any doubt that I'd dress as the black-clad version of the Dark Knight that Halloween? No. But who could have guessed I'd look so bad ass.
In the most telling of our costume pairings, Brian (my real life archnemesis) dressed as the Joker (my fake Halloween archnemesis). We're totally cool now. I think that I wore that Batman costume every day for a week straight…possibly without showering (less gross when you're eight).
1990. Dick Tracy
Unfortunately, I was unable to find any of the pictures of me in the totally awesome Dick Tracy trench coat mom sewed for me out of yellow corduroy which we still have. Fortunately, I was able to find the official Dick Tracy fedora and signal watch I wore to lend authenticity to the ensemble. That watch was fucking awesome because it both told the time and lit up when I decided to call into headquarters Warren Beatty style.
1991. Moon Knight
Unless someone presents evidence to the contrary, I'm going to go ahead an assume that I am the only 4th Grader in the history of America to dress up as Doug Moench, Don Perlin and Bill Sienkiewicz's werewolf-fighting, billionaire, schizophrenic superhero Moon Knight. And you know what? I'm totally cool with that.
In the summer of 1992, my family moved to the suburb town of Grand Blanc, making me change schools for the first time. In retrospect, I probably did myself no favors in terms of fighting the "weird new kid who likes comic books way too much" stereotype by dressing up as Cyclops and answering questions as to who I was by saying, "I'm Cyclops. I used to be in the X-Men, but now I lead X-Factor." But how could I resist dressing up like this sweet Marvel Universe trading card by Ron Lim?
I made the visor myself by cutting out the red lenses from two pair of 3D glasses and affixing them to a felt headband by way of thread and an insane amount of hot glue gun work. I recall walking down the hallway of my new school and having an older kid ask aloud, "Did he seriously make that mask himself?" and thinking, "Uh…yeah! Because I wouldn't really be Cyclops without a ruby quartz visor, you fucking loser!"
1993. Clark Kent
Believe it or not, there was a time pretty recently in America where cheap T-shirts with Superman's S-Shield were not sold at every kiosk in the local mall, so when "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" debuted, combining my twin nerd loves of comic book superheroes and romantic comedies, I had to have my saintly grandmother put together this shirt by giving her a Dan Jurgens comic to use as a model.
1994 – 1997. The Lost Years
Two things happened between the time I was in 6th Grade and my Sophomore year of high school: the Phegley family kind of stopped taking photos of any kind and caring about how cool your Halloween costume was became pretty low on the priority list for my peer group (I think puberty may have something to do with the latter). End result in terms of this essay? I have no photos or really a lot of recollection of costumes from that period. I'm pretty sure I did something comic related most of the time and know that in the 8th Grade I was The Shadow because of that not-so-great Alec Baldwin movie, but beyond that…I got nothing. Luckily, things started looking up in high school when I met a group of friends who got back into the costume game for an annual Halloween party at my friend Lauren's house, leading to…
1998. Jay & Silent Bob
I know this costume choice may be perceived as a point against me for some of you, but you know what? When I was 17, the only movies Kevin Smith had made were "Clerks," "Mallrats," and "Chasing Amy" so Cullen Brown and I pretty much figured he could do no wrong. Plus, it allowed me to swear in front of adults and not get yelled at because I was "in character."
Note Cullen's candy cigarettes and my brown bagged bottle of lemonade (we were good kids) and my Clerks comic book T-shirt by the always link-worthy Jim Mahfood.
James Robinson's Starman comic is still my favorite monthly series of all time, so I had no qualms about going to a party with swim goggles on my head, an ugly Hawaiin shirt (which I actually wore A LOT back then) and a "cosmic rod" I made with half an old hiking stick with a yellow ball from the MacDonald's ball pit glued on the end. What you can't see in this picture of me dancing poorly with my buddy Kegmeister (who apparently went as some sleazy greaseball) is that I had nerd cred on my side that night as my costume included DC's official Starman tin badge that I'd bought at a con that summer. Represent.
2000. Shaggy & Velma
My Freshman year of college, my girlfriend Jami and I had a whole scheme with a bunch of other kids in our dorms to go out for Halloween parties dressed as the gang from Scooby-Doo. Unfortunately, no one else came through, but screw those kids…we looked hot anyway. But you know…without Jami, my costume isn't much of a costume as it consisted of a Phish T-shirt and a pair of hippie pants my brother sewed himself and then gave to me when he joined the army. I would've worn that anyway in college.
2001. Tommy Chong & Josie
Although I couldn't find a photo of it, Sophomore year of college my roommate Justin and I did a costume team-up going as Cheech and Chong. But really, our costumes weren't that great. They were more or less an excuse to walk around campus blitzed all day. Other such excuse days included Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day, Bastille Day, Day After Midterms Day and Tuesdays. On the up swing, Jami and her roommates pulled off a rad Josie & the Pussycats trio inspired by the totally underrated movie by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont.
2002. Green Lantern & Hello Kitty
I know nothing about the costume screams it, but in my mind I was always Kyle Rayner and not Hal Jordan, which is funny as the ring I'm wearing is actually autographed by Alan Scott creator Mart Nodell. If you understand anything about that last sentence, you're a nerd.
Above is a picture of me and a guy dressed like "Piano Man" era Billy Joel.
2003. The Third Time I Was Batman
Jami and I returned to the couples theme Senior year as Batman and Catwoman. I know what you're thinking, and you're right…Batman does not wear glasses under his cowl or have a beard. But you know what? He does wear his underpants outside his regular pants, so you've got to give me some credit there, right?
2004 – Present.
The past few years, my few meager attempts at Halloween costumes have been forgettable and unphotographed, but this year Jami and I are making a dramatic return, and I promise to post a photo or two next week.