Comic Con characters come to life (story, audio, photos)

Belen Silva and Brandon Gamez

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It was an event that featured thousands of Laredoans, many of whom dressed as their favorite comic book character for a weekend of fun at the TAMIU Student Center.

The South Texas Collector’s Expo was held Jan. 24 and 25.

There were many television and movie actors who were part of this event that seemed to amaze many.

  • Paul Blake (Greedo; Star Wars)
  • Austin St. John (The original Red Power Ranger)
  • Karan Ashley (Yellow Power Ranger)
  • Naomi Grossman (Pepper; American Horror Story)
  • Peter Shinkoda (Falling Skies & Daredevil)
  • Voice actor Mark Dodson

Sam Jones, who plays Flash Gordon in the blockbuster movie, Flash Gordon, attended, along with his costar Melody Anderson, who talked about their collaboration with each other.

“Sam was really a great friend,” Anderson said. “He’s wonderful, and full of energy. I wish I could bottle what he’s on.”

Anderson gave advice to students who want to pursue a career in acting.

“College or technical degree. Get out and join community theaters,” Anderson said.

Naomi Grossman gave the same advice.

“First off, really love it because its not easy. You gotta love the work, not just the idea of being famous,” Grossman said.

She attended Northwestern University, and advised learning liberal arts. Knowing a little bit of everything goes a long way, she said.

“Be persistent…. success did not come easy… put your work out there,”Grossman said.

The Student Center was packed with Laredoans and even some people from out of town, who were there to enjoy what the Collectors Expo had to offer.

Several visitors said the environment itself felt very warm and inviting. Immediately, one can see the participation of the public was very enlightening.

Citizens, young and old, cosplayed their favorite comic book characters and villains.

What caught most people’s attention to these cosplayers was that most of their costumes were homemade. Any ordinary objects from home could make an iron shield, or flashy costume, or weapon.

Professional cosplayers held a panel on Sunday explaining and answering the audience’s questions about the making of their costumes, and what it means to them. The cosplayers, professionally known as Lord Vishus, Leanna Vamp, Nicole Marie-Jean, and Ani Mia, all shared the experiences, tricks and aspirations for the world of cosplaying.

They said that usually a costume takes about two weekends to six months to prepare, all depending on the complexity of it.

Many wonder, why go through all the trouble for just one costume? For these devoted cosplayers,  displaying their art is more than just a simple pasttime, they said.

When Marie-Jean was asked what her favorite part of conventions and opportunities to share their costumes were, she explained, “Enthusiasm that people have for fandoms, that nerds connect, it’s like I’m home now and we’re all into the same stuff. Anyone can be a cosplayer.”

It doesn’t matter about your size, shape, height, age. If people see your passion about your costume they will love it. Find something you love, and make it your own.”

— Cosplayer Lord Vishus

“It doesn’t matter about your size, shape, height, age. If people see your passion about your costume they will love it. Find something you love, and make it your own,” Vishus explained.

“If you’re having fun, your doing it right,” Vamp added. Everyone who wore a costume had the chance to participate in the costume contest.

As if wearing a costume weren’t enough, participants would go on stage and reenact a scene as the character they are representing from a movie, show, or comic book.

There were a variety of booths and merchandise from any type of  anime\comic super heroes and super-villains.

Most of the product’s seemed impressively made and stitched by hand.

Margret Rivera explained the process of making dolls and paintings. She said to make her clay necklaces she uses sculpting clay and has been working with that clay for 8 years. She learned mainly from watching YouTube tutorials.

Many spectators brought their own cameras and were seen taking photos with their favorite “heroes.”