Cosplayers at Humber Comic Expo compete for glory and prizes

humber-comic-expo-2014 The final group of cosplayers on stage before the crowd determines who will be the semi-finalists in the cosplay competition. Photo by Kate Richards

Kate Richards
A&E Reporter

Dark Spider-Man, Jean Grey, a couple of Catwomen, and a few Ghostbusters all made appearances at Humber’s North campus Thursday.

It was the second and final day of the Humber Students’ Federation’s first-ever Comic Expo, inspired by events like ComiCon and Fan Expo. The event was held at Lakeshore campus on Wednesday.

The expo featured a Q & A session and autograph signing by H. Jon Benjamin who voices Bob Belcher in FOX network’s Bob’s Burgers and Sterling Archer in the hit FX animated series Archer.

While hundreds of students lined up for Benjamin’s autograph, individuals costumed as a variety of characters from the comics and fantasy worlds hit the stage to show off their digs as part of the cosplay competition.

“Cosplay is when you take on the persona of a comic book, video game, or anime character,” said Thomas Fantin, 24, a first year Broadcast Television student.

Fantin entered the cosplay contest as Dark Spider-Man, the familiar character but outfitted in primarily black rather than primarily red. “It’s a way to be somebody else for a couple hours and to have people appreciate the work you’ve put into your cosplay,” he said.

But cosplay isn’t always all fun and superheroes.

“So often at conventions it’s all about buying stuff. It’s all about the money,” said Brily Lepine, executive of Ontario Ghostbusters, a non-profit group.

Lepine entered the cosplay competition as, well, himself. His homemade Ghostbusters uniform, including “full working proton pack” read “Lepine” on the nametag.

Ricky Lima writes Black Hole Hunter’s Club, a comic he co-created and describes as “a sci-fi romp through space, like Star Wars meets Lethal Weapon.”

Some vendors at comic conventions may think cosplayers detract from comics because they come mainly to cosplay, not to buy products, Lima said.

But Lima doesn’t think cosplayers detract from sales at “cons.”

“I think that cosplayers create a nice environment that people can come into and peruse comics… for vendors it almost sets a mood,” he said.

The cosplay competition certainly triggered spectator response at the expo as the crowd cheered for their favourite costumes.

Ewa Makarewicz (who goes by Vivi), 18, a first year Visual and Digital Arts student, won the competition and took home an Xbox One.

She dressed as Chihiro Fujisaki, a cross-dressing “Ultimate Programmer”, originally from an anime-style murder mystery video game called Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.

Makarewicz said cosplay is important to her.

“When I cosplay… I sort of escape reality, take on a new personality. I (become) a new person and it makes me forget all the bad. It just feels great to dress up and have fun with your friends,” she said.

“I think cosplay would be a great experience for anyone,” she added. “You embrace a different side of yourself.”