Fiction, in its own way, can be transformative. Through the lives of characters on a page or a screen, we are able to find parts of ourselves within the characters’ worlds. Stories can change us, rearrange our thinking and help us to find ourselves in ways that we could have never imagined. Frank Strausser, an Augusta native and lover of fiction, combined his passion for beloved characters and his creative intellect to create a business that brings fiction to life: Props and Heroes, a company specializing in creating custom costumes.
Frank and his business, just like any comic book character, had humble beginnings in his childhood home at the age of 15. He was disheartened by the Halloween costumes for sale in stores. “The quality of normal costumes was just … not great,” he says. So, with the help of online forums, he began creating his own costumes and props. He quickly discovered the wide online market for his work, and his costume business took off, right out of his parents’ laundry room. “I ended up making a $1000 return in just a couple of weeks,” Frank explains. His grandmother helped him hone his craft, teaching him to sew his own material; that was nearly 12 years ago now.
Frank makes all of his costumes from materials that he personally selects. Everything is hand drawn, painted, and researched to be as accurate as possible. Frank is wholly dedicated to his craft, even using Hollywood-grade materials and standards to ensure the costumes are as accurate and high-quality as possible. Frank also likes to help customers make costumes for themselves.
While he does enjoy the business side of things, Frank is also heavily involved with his community and uses his costumes to visit children’s hospitals, raising money for several charity organizations - all for no compensation whatsoever. “Money is great. It’s a power tool, but that’s never been my drive. We absolutely love making kids smile. It’s the best feeling in the world. As cliché as it is, we want to bring smiles to people.”
Frank’s relationship with his charity work comes from his lifelong struggle with muscular dystrophy, which enables him to relate deeply to those he helps with his costumes. “I always knew that I was physically weaker than the other kids,” he explains, “but I didn’t know why until I was 10.” Frank went through years of physical therapy and was in and out of hospitals with his struggles with muscular dystrophy and asthma. “One of my favorite characters when I was a kid was Spider Man, and that’s still kind of true. For Halloween, I would dress up as him because for that little bit, I was Spider Man…I wasn’t weak Frank; I was strong Spiderman.”
With the help of his supportive parents and the strength of characters he grew up admiring, Frank hopes that his business will not only teach others the craft of making costumes, but that they will also finding hope and strength within the fictional characters that they love. “We always hear, years later, that the kids are still talking about our visits. They’ve recovered, and they’re still so ecstatic about it.”
“Heroes in general are very important to us. They mean that it’s going to get better. In the comics, superheroes have as many problems as ordinary people do, and you can still look to them. It’s the same thing here. We get to put on a suit and be a superhero for these kids. There’s just no better feeling.”
To contact Frank Strausser of Props and Heroes, call 706-564-6960, email PropsAndHeroes@gmail.com, or visit PropsAndHeroes.com.