I've loved Halloween for as long as I can remember. Not only is the weather beautiful, a slow-motion glance at the transformation from summer to winter, but the holiday itself is just simply awesome. It's made for kids, and adults who are wise enough to act like kids once in a while. You get to dress up like your favorite ______, go out at night, and they give you candy! For free! Once in a while someone gives you the apple... okay, that part does suck, but my point about the candy still stands.

Anyway, what separates Halloween for me is that creative spark. When I was a kid, I'd start thinking about Halloween in July. I'd draw up impossibly elaborate costume designs, getting way over my head. I still do it today; I started putting together this year's costume in August. So, I decided to take a look back at my previous creative genius and some of the memories that come along with it.

We start in October 1992, when I was all but four years old. My disguise for the night: the Caped Crusader, Batman!

The real Batman begins. My parents are still alive, though.

All I remember about this particular year is two things: one, I was convinced that Batman carried a gun, and was adamant that I have a similar prop. Short story short, Mom said no. Second, I had to wear my jacket when I went trick-or-treating. Has there ever been a bigger buzzkill?

The next year, I guess I got lazy, because once again, I donned the cape and cowl.

I didn't do the costume a third time, once I heard Joel Schumacher's suggestions.

By 1994, age six, I had become entirely enamored with the phenomenon known as the Power Rangers. At first I was the biggest fan of the Blue Ranger, and yeah, I guess the Red Ranger wasn't too bad either. But then came along the guy who bested them all... the GREEN Power Ranger!

Dragonzord and sword/flute thing not included, unfortunately.

This was one of my all-time favorite costumes. Not only was I portraying the best Power Ranger ever, but it was also the start of my love affair for custom costumes. This outfit was made entirely by my grandmother's hand (I had her under Rita's spell) and I still think it looks fantastic; better than anything bought at Target or Wal-Mart or even Party City.

By October 1995, age seven, my Power Ranger fandom had only grown, especially with the release of the previous summer's Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie. In the film adventure, our heroes journey to a faraway planet and discover new ninja powers (and new costumes!). By this time, the Green Ranger had become the not-as-awesome-but-still-cool White Ranger, and the Black Ranger became another favorite of mine. This, I sadly say, was a store-bought costume, but it wasn't too bad. However, for one reason or another, the only picture I could find of me wearing it was from two years later, when I had completely outgrown it.

Even Zordon can't predict puberty.

October 1996 is also missing its photographic records, but it's for a good cause: not only was it another store-bought costume, but it was another black ninja costume... the plain, generic kind. I guess my creativity went down the toilet that year. However, I do have this somewhat-gnarly picture of me as "Spider-Man" (mostly):

After Spidey realized that tight spandex in the crotch can hinder his webbing count, he switched to basketball shorts.

This was another homemade costume from my grandma. The mask was especially awesome, though it was a bit tight around the face. Probably a good thing I didn't go trick-or-treating in this one.

By October 1997, one of my many dreams came true: a Halloween-only store opened in the local mall. Costumes, props and decorations EVERYWHERE. "Halloween Express" indeed. My creative spark returned, and I wanted to put together something entirely my own. So I went around the store and picked out an assortment of things to make this rockin' outfit:

The infamous Cyber Skull bounty hunter guy who wears Dracula's cape.

For added effect, I took my Talk Boy and recorded a bunch of scary noises from movies, like the T-Rex yell at the end of Jurassic Park. I hid it under my cape and played the sounds whenever I approached someone.

In October 1998, I was 10 years old, in fifth grade. This year I wanted to get a more complete, less sporadic costume. This was the year I debuted the Gangster:

You have to the count of tree to hand over dem Snickers, before I pump ya guts full-a lead.

This was the year I found another way to make those custom costumes more authentic: go to your local thrift store. The Tommy gun was the only part of this costume I bought at an actual Halloween store. This was a good year for trick-or-treating as well. We rounded many blocks, filled our pillow cases, and I even remember the juicy tom-ata that was wearing the Girl Gangster outfit. Hoochie mama.

I had made it to middle school by October 1999. For the last year of the millennium, I decided to go as one of the icons of modern horror: Freddy Krueger.

The Boogey Man also boogies down.

This was an interesting year, as it was the first year I did makeup of any kind, much less prosthetics. I had had some experience with facepaint, as earlier in the year I dressed up as Darth Maul for the opening day of Episode I. Both that day and on this Halloween, the makeup started to run after a few hours. We didn't go trick-or-treating for very long that year. Not only was my make-up running, but the winter boots I was wearing were pretty uncomfortable. Also, we wanted to make it back in time to watch The Simpsons Halloween Special.

Halloween 2000 was the first and only year I did a full-out comedy costume. Here I am as the 19th Century British Street Urchin:

My first and only experience with pantaloons.

I watched a lot of Saturday Night Live back then, and this costume was inspired by a skit they did about these characters at Christmas time. I barely remember it now but I thought it was hilarious at the time. Unfortunately, my efforts to find a YouTube link were unsuccessful. Anyway, this was another costume made entirely of thrift-store merchandise, although my mom did have to make the pantaloons.

Sadly, this was the last year I went trick-or-treating. I was 12 years old. I never meant to stop trick-or-treating when I became a teenager, but that's the way it happened. The following year, I wasn't feeling incredibly enthusiastic about doing it again; I hadn't even thought about getting a costume. I think most everybody I knew called it quits that year, too.

However, once that door closed, a window was opened: my friend Jaymes called me, and told me that his mom's friend Mike needed some help scaring up his front yard on Halloween. Mike is a Halloween fanatic, and spends a fortune every year on buying and building decorations that smother his small house. A new fire was lit within me, but it was so late into October that I hadn't time to make a costume. I showed up at Jaymes' house on the 31st wearing a white t-shirt doused in fake blood and my Freddy glove. He hadn't anything better, so when we got to Mike's, we just winged it, following his lead.

It was a blast, to say the least. Getting a scare out of people is such a thrill, and candy is always readily available in the bowl. We did (and still do) have limits as far as the really young kids go, just to reassure any concerned readers.

The next year, in 2002, I was more pumped for Halloween than I'd been in years. By this time, Jaymes and his mom had their own house, with a much bigger yard. We prepared weeks in advance, putting together our costumes. It was while shopping at a Halloween store, putting together various items that I came up with... the Jester.

A new kind of baby-daddy drama.

There were many variations of this costume, as I've done it for several years: 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Every year I paint a new mask, and change up the outfit a bit. This picture is the 2006 version, when I got a new doll, which was much better than the first; it was scarier, matched my outfit, and I could twist its head around like a ventriloquist's dummy. Again, most all parts of the costume were bought dirt cheap: altogether, over the years, it's probably been little more than $50.

I've always had a huge affinity for evil clowns, so I got addicted to this one. Every year, I get some great scares, screams and yelps from visitors, kids and adults. My trick is to sit on the front stoop, like so:

Year 2007, with a Joker-inspired grin.

Once the trick-or-treaters come close enough (usually asking each other if I'm real or not), I simply stand up, or turn the doll's head to look at all of them. I tell you, it is hell sitting still for so long. Each year, it gets a little colder, and we get less and less kids. With the mask and hood, though, my face will be sweating profusely. It's worth it.

2004 was a bum year. At the age of 16, we were starting to have more responsibilities, which for Jaymes included a job. He was made to work on Halloween night, and thus we were robbed of costumed celebration. Still, we got together late in the night and went to the movies to check out a cool new horror flick: Saw. Since then, the ever-continuing film series has become an addition to our yearly festivities.

I guess I could've just worn the Batman costume again.

This year I am finally breaking away from the cool evil clown known as the Jester, to become... the cool evil clown known as the Joker. I have eschewed thrifty savings in favor of an expensive, deluxe custom costume. I bought a purple three-piece suit, orange shirt, green tie, obscenely-expensive Joker card set, and grew my hair out for over a year so as not to deal with a phony wig. Here is my stab at outdoing Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger:

Some men just want... candy. The makeup still needs a couple more practice runs, and I'm waiting until the 31st to completely dye my hair.

Looking through the years has only made me more excited for future Halloween celebrations. Once me or Jaymes has our own house, we vow to completely outdo ourselves, and we'll probably decorate the whole thing, inside and out. And as for more costumes... well, it's a good thing the Joker is popular, because with how damn expensive this costume was, I'm going to be wearing it a lot. Happy Halloween, everybody!