He’s been known to share costume tips with “Chewbacca.” He’s a Dragon*con Eternal Member. When he walks into the Walk of Fame, celebrities want their picture taken — with HIM. He is… IK, King of the Trolls.
Massive in stature, with a dread locked, horned head and dark, lined eyes, this playfully frightening character is played lovingly by Bryan Thompson, a graphic designer and actor from Atlanta. As trolls are known to hang out under bridges, a storm drain camouflaged to look like a bridge at the Georgia Renaissance Festival sparked Bryan to imagine a troll character. Already working as a generic Scotsman at the Festival, he shared the idea with friends. After much creative brainstorming over dinner, it was decided that he would audition the Troll for the Festival organizers. It was very well received and in the end, he said, “I created a monster.”
He named the character “IK the Troll” and from the moment he debuted at the Renaissance Festival, Bryan went from being a face in the crowd to being a box office draw. “I was referred to as being one of the top three reasons to go.” He retired the character after about 8 years and continued to work at the Festival as other characters. As years passed, guests would want to know when IK would return. His decision to bring IK back was settled after hearing a story from a fellow Festival employee.
“A patron had come from Florida and was asking where the Troll was,” Bryan said. “And she had to tell him that the Troll hadn’t been there for a while and he apparently got very sad — he had brought his son up from Florida to meet the Troll and his son was a disabled child in a wheelchair.” From that moment on, he knew he had to bring IK back.
Like any true cosplayer, Bryan came up with a back story to explain where IK was these last few years. “IK had become King,” he said. “He had to go back and perform his Kingly duties before he could go out and have fun with humans again.” If asked how he became King, he will tell the story that the call was sent out to all of the trolls and since he was the 10th caller, he won! And therefore, he is now “IK the King of the Trolls.”
What Is Cosplay?
Cosplay, Bryan explains, is the use of a costume as focus, without necessarily acting out the character. A true cosplayer creates and/or assembles their own costume, and has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of their character. Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories, Japanese Animation and Video Games are popular sources of character choices. Renting the costume is not advised. “It’s the love [of the character] that makes you build it and then wear it,” he says. Props and weaponry may be made or purchased to accessorize. A pastime that used to involve primarily men, Cosplay is becoming much more popular with women. Events such as Dragon*con and Comic Con are popular places to find cosplayers.
Bryan’s Back Story
Born in Nashville and raised in Atlanta, Bryan is the son of a typographer. Studying advanced Flash and Web Design at Atlanta College of Art, he enjoys logo design and typography. He designs his own IK t-shirts and other promotional material.
He is an advocate of becoming a Dragon*con Lifetime member, as he is, if you plan on attending for years to come. Currently at $2,000, this costly ticket is not for everybody. When he bought his lifetime membership back around 2003, the prices were much lower. One of the perks of this membership, he says, aside from not having to buy tickets at ever-increasing prices, is that your line to pick up your pass is extremely short, and it is the same line that the celebrity guests use to get their passes. “Yes, I was behind Jewel Staite [Firefly, Stargate Atlantis, The L.A. Complex] in line.” Look for him at Dragon*con this year as IK, but don’t be surprised if you see him in other costumes as well, on different days.
How He Stays Cool
One of the things he’s often asked while in costume is “Aren’t you HOT?” His official answer to that question is, “That’s what the ladies say.” But the real answer is YES. Over the years, he has modified his costume to allow for cooling features. He got tips from Peter Mayhew who played “Chewbacca” in Star Wars. “They told me about the system that they used to keep Peter from overheating in essentially what was a body wig, and I started construction on a system that was very much what they were talking about but then I found one online… A system of tubing that you can process ice cold water through in a vest.”
Loved by Children
He’s also been modifying the character itself. “The very first year that I did the character, I came up with the idea that he was terrified of children. The idea behind that being that whenever he saw a child, he became scared instead of the child becoming scared. And that works — kind of. Because when the child finds out that you’re scared of it, the child will not stop and will not let go of the concept that you are afraid of them. And it makes for a lot of running around which isn’t good for keeping yourself cool.”
His story evolves as needed. Now that he’s a “king,” he’s got people to do his scaring for him. He’s the king, he doesn’t need to scare kids. “One of the great aspects is when you have a child that’s terrified, but then through interacting with them, you can turn it around until they’re giggling and laughing, and for the rest of the day, whenever you cross paths with them, they’re waving and smiling and they give you a great big hug before they leave for the day – that right there is part of the paycheck… I like to think maybe if there’s kids who have that monster under the bed, that if they meet IK and see that the monsters aren’t necessarily that bad, maybe it’ll help them alleviate that fear.”
Where Can You Find IK?
IK has made many appearances in the Southeast. He’s been working the Tennessee Renaissance Festival for the last few years, and has appeared at Scarborough Festival in Texas, Zoo Atlanta‘s Boo at the Zoo and Faerie Escape.
If you’re interested in hiring IK the King of the Trolls for your affair, (wouldn’t he look cool at your wedding?), contact him through his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ikthetrollking.
- Liz Bradley / 92.9 dave fm
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