It wasn't easy being a cosplayer at Phoenix Comicon this year, to say the least. Thanks to skin-searing temperatures of 113 degrees or higher, anyone and everyone attending the four-day event in downtown Phoenix this past weekend was uncomfortable in the excessive heat. However, those wearing costumes, particularly ones with multiple layers and stifling fabrics, probably had it worse than others.
Needless to say, anyone who did the cosplay thing at Phoenix Comicon and survived deserves a round of applause.
Since we're on the subject of saluting cosplayers, we'd also like to take the opportunity to laud those costumed attendees who had the best getups at the event in our opinion. That includes the following folks whose costumes grabbed our attention, warmed our hearts, or simply impressed our geek sensibilities.
But first, a few honorable mentions: Costumes that just missed making the list, but deserve to be applauded, include Mr. Poopybutthole from Rick and Morty, the steampunk-like Mermaid Hunter, Ellen Ripley from Alien, and one family who dressed as most of the main characters from The Fifth Element.
Matt the Radar Technician
This one wasn't surprising. After watching that hilarious sketch from Saturday Night Live last year featuring Kylo Ren transforming into "Matt the Radar Technician" for a parody of Undercover Boss, we suspected a few geeks would cosplay the character at Phoenix Comicon. And we were right. We spotted at least three different version of Matt, including one who showed us his lightsaber. Thankfully, he refrained from throwing a tantrum or bragging about Kylo's alleged eight-pack.
Calvin & Hobbes
When we asked Valley resident Stephanie Engel why she and her husband, Nick, wanted to attend Comicon as comic-strip icons Calvin and Hobbes, respectively, she didn't hesitate with her answer. "Because they're the best. And no one else has done Calvin and Hobbes [at Comicon] before," Engel says. "I just love his radical imagination." And we love yours, Stephanie.
Pam Crandall had a constant companion shadowing her every move at Phoenix Comicon, and we aren't referring to her significant other. The Valley resident went to the event as Jurassic World's Claire Dearing, mimicking the thrilling pterosaur attack scene with an inflatable version of the flying dinosaur hanging overhead. "It's been chasing me all of Comicon," Pam says, "but it hasn't caught me yet." Meanwhile, her husband, Ken, cosplayed snarky park technician Lowery Cruthers. "He was my favorite character for the whole movie because he was kind of sarcastic and a comic relief," he says.
Crossplay Cruella de Vil
Justin Dero has always been a fan of Cruella de Vil. So much so that after seeing renowned geek artist Sakimichan's sketches of gender-bent Disney characters, including the 101 Dalmatians villainess, he decided to attend Comicon dressed as a male version of the character. It's a practice known as "crossplay" and something that Dero did in style. "I think she's deliciously evil and truly fabulous and fierce, absolutely fierce, and I'd love to be able to embody some of that," he says.
Zane Savell just had one of the biggest weekends of his young life. That's because the 12-year-old Mesa resident went to Phoenix Comicon as Wakko Warner, one-third of the zany lead characters from Animaniacs, and couldn't have had a better time. Not only did he win third place in the youth category during the Phoenix Comicon masquerade, but Jess Harwell, the actor who voiced the character on the famed Warner Bros. cartoon, autographed the costume and gave Zane a major shout-out during a panel on Sunday afternoon. According to Jason Savell, Zane's proud papa, Harwell "stopped the whole panel" to point out his son. "He told everyone it was the best Wakko costume he'd ever seen and the crowd started cheering," Jason says. "It was awesome."
Greatest American Hero
Chris Child got a many high-five from fellow Comicon attendees when he dressed up as the bumbling caped crusader from the 1980s television show The Greatest American Hero. "I've had so many people recognize it," he says. Not every interaction was completely positive, however, as the costume caused the program's ultra-catchy theme song to be dug up from the depths of their minds, Child says. "One guy actually looked at me and went, 'You jerk, it's stuck in my head again!"
As any cosplayer will tell you, just because you wear a costume out to an event, doesn't necessarily mean it's completely finished. Just ask Jazzmin Wilson of Los Angeles, who has been working on her amazing-looking costume for Spider-Man villain Mysterio for most of the past year. "I premièred it at [Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo] in 2015 and it has been evolving since then," she says.
It was hard to miss Avondale teen Joaquin Hildago when he was strolling around Phoenix Comicon dressed as Gossamer, the enormously sized bright orange monster from the 1946 Looney Tunes animated short Hair-Raising Hare. How come? Probably because the costume was big (measuring 6-foot-5 to be exact) and made from bright orange fur, both of which tend to catch the eye.
Thanks to the vigilance of the Phoenix Comicon staff, you didn't get to see the costumed trio of Mitchell Johnston, Taylor Giesick, and Jacob Damron rolling through the exhibitor hall on their modified bikes that resembled the vehicles from the Nintendo classic Mario Kart. It wasn't for their lack of trying, however. "We tried to go inside and just be like, 'We'll just sit in them, we won't even move," says Damron, who portrayed Luigi. "They went, 'Nope.'" They still got to impress their fellow attendees, however, as they piloted their contraptions around the convention center and got plenty of kudos in the process.
Maybe it's just us, but it seemed like a bevy of Belles were present at this year's Phoenix Comicon. We encountered a couple different remixes of the Beauty and the Beast heroine, including an inspired-looking steampunk version complete with goggles and gloves (natch). The best one, however, was this stunning rendition featuring gorgeous finery that was tailored specifically to France's Rococo period of the early 18th century, roughly the same era in which the late novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve wrote the original Beauty and the Beast story. So impressive was this cosplayer's efforts that she won first place in the master category at Comicon's masquerade costume contest. C'est bien!
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Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Anything having to do with Deadpool was popular at Comicon this year. Period. That even extended to supporting characters, as evidenced by all the attention that cosplayers who went as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, the snarky, social media-obsessed adolescent who was (more or less) one of the highlights of the recent Deadpool film.
A few different women dressed up as the character during the weekend, including local resident Ceslie Schultz, who earned mad props online after her friend and fellow geek Alex Klug, uploaded a picture of her mimicking the mutant character to his Imgur. It's gotten her a ton of attention, which Klug says might just help Schultz nab something more than just Internet fame. "She's been really excited about all the attention she's gotten for her cosplay," he says. "This might be her ticket to meet Brianna Hildebrand, which is something she wants to do."