For disabled veteran Ronald Seaman, cosplay is better than physical therapy

ronald seaman
Spider as Iron Merman with Jessie Jordan as pirate Pepper Potts (Image courtesy of Ronald Seaman / via aracknoid3 Cosplay Facebook page)

Name: Ronald “Spider” Seaman. “My friends call me ‘Spider.’”

Why ‘Spider’? As a child, Seaman studied Tae Kwon Do and eventually competed. He used his legs more than his hands, and a bested opponent once described him as, “all feet…it’s like I was fighting a spider.” And the nickname stuck.

Age: 55

Location: Spring Hill, Florida

Years Cosplaying: 4

How Spider Got into Cosplay:  After 25 years serving in the Army, he retired and ended up with some health issues that required hospital stays, and, eventually, use of a wheelchair. Even more debilitating was the severe central vertigo he suffers from. “If I’m not busy, it overtakes me, and I have to be put to bed and I can lose my whole day,” he said. His son, a 30-year-old designer, suggested cosplay. “He knew I needed something creative. I blew him off for months,” said Seaman. “I went online, typed in ‘cosplay,’ and I saw people making Iron Man suits. I thought, ‘That would be perfect for me.’” “Perfect” because Seaman was once part of an Army Division known as “The Iron Soldiers.” He’s also been a huge fan of the Iron Man comics since his childhood.

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(Image courtesy of Ronald Seaman / via aracknoid3 Cosplay Facebook page)

Known For:  His cosplay mash-up Iron Merman.  Iron Man was the first costume he constructed, but when he planned to attend his first con (MetroCon in Tampa, Florida), he created the Iron Merman. (His home in Florida is near the Weeki Wachee Springs, home of The Live Mermaids.) He barely got in the front door before he was mobbed by attendees asking about and marveling at his costume. He never did make it to the vendor room that day – he was too popular.

His Process: Seaman doesn’t usually work with a pattern, he likes to free-style his construction. Since it’s therapeutic to keep his hands busy, he will carve every piece of his costume or armor, and occasionally he will inscribe a piece. He works either at a table in his workshop, and or on the floor, where he can sometimes kneel and work on a large piece. He says he will try sketching out some patterns for future cosplays.

Fun Fact: His new wheelchair moves him into a standing position – a very dramatic effect when he’s dressed as Iron Man or The Iron Merman.

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Ronald “Spider” Seaman in ‘Mass Effect’ cosplay with his custom wheelchair that puts him into a standing position. (photo: David Ngo / via aracknoid3 Cosplay Facebook page)

He Went Viral: During an appearance at a M.U.C.H. Foundation event, while cosplaying Iron Merman, he high-fived a little Spider Man, also in a wheelchair. Within 48 hours, a photo of their high five went viral. He then received a call from Zac Hurst of the M.U.C.H. Foundation informing him the Local CBS news wanted an interview.

Why He Loves Cosplay: “It’s something I needed, and it gave me an outlet. I didn’t have an outlet or a reason to get out of bed,” he says. Seaman claims crafting costumes is better than any physical therapy. And he loves the community he’s a part of at Cons. “Cosplay is for everyone,” he says. “If you like it, do it! It does not matter if you’re tall, fat, blind, [handicapped] – do whatever makes you happy. Because that’s what I do, and no one has ever given me grief about anything. Not that I would stand for it anyway.”

His Next Appearance: Spider will be a guest at BlerDCon 2017, June 30 – July 2, in D.C. (see our BlerDCon preview)

ronald spider seman cosplay
(Image courtesy of Ronald Seaman / via aracknoid3 Cosplay Facebook page)

Spider on Social Media: You can follow Spider at his official aracknoid3 Cosplay page on Facebook.

About Mare Swallow

Mare Swallow
Mare Swallow is the Founder of the Chicago Writers Conference and author of 21 Ways to Engage Your Audience. She is a professional speaker, and writes non-fiction. She is working on an in-depth project about subcultures. On most nights you can find her sharing her stories at one of Chicago's many Lit events. She has been named to New City’s (Chicago) Lit 50 list twice. She lives in Chicago and is a complete gin snob.