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Fans get their cosplay on for MetroCon

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Bradenton tattoo artist Maria Kervin as comic book character Deadpool. (Provided by Maria Kervin)

Bradenton tattoo artist Maria Kervin as comic book character Deadpool. (Provided by Maria Kervin)

By DAHLIA GHABOUR

If you’re driving in downtown Tampa this weekend, don’t be alarmed if you see a few thousand people on the sidewalks in brightly colored wigs and strange clothes, heading toward the Tampa Bay Convention Center.

As they have for the last 11 years, thousands of anime, movie and videogame fans are gathering there to attend MetroCon — Florida’s largest anime convention — today through Sunday. And just as before, many of them will be in cosplay.

“Cosplay,” or “costume roleplay,” is a common way to display fandom at conventions such as MetroCon. Cosplayers often spend months hand-crafting costumes, props, armor and more to become their favorite characters for the weekend.

“The best thing is getting to be another person,” said Bradenton cosplayer Samantha Meggison, 29. “It’s a lot of fun, especially when you get someone coming up to you all excited because you’re their favorite character.”

This year, MetroCon is hosting 206 unique vendors, 104 artists and 175 panels, with attendance likely to exceed last year’s nearly 10,000 guests. Special guests include actors and voice-over artists such as Dante Basco (Zuko, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”), Hynden Walch (Princess Bubblegum, “Adventure Time”), Troy Baker (Booker DeWitt, “BioShock: Infinite”) and Nolan North (Desmond Miles, “Assassin’s Creed”).

Much of the expanded cosplay community is self-taught. Costumers share techniques and learn from other cosplayers online. Each artist or prop maker has his or her own specialty. And most are willing to travel many, many miles to participate in conventions.

Cosplay styles and skills can vary widely. Meggison specializes in anime cosplays, specifically from “Sailor Moon.” Bradenton cosplayer Joey Logan, 22, likes to create comic book characters. His favorite is his Wolverine cosplay, complete with individually crafted claws of wood.

“I’ve always made crazy things,” he said. “I’m an idea person. I watched a video on how to make claws, said, ‘That’s lame’ and made it different. They rest between your fingers, you don’t even have to hold them.”

Logan is also the founder of iNerdia Entertainment, a company that functions like an actor’s guild for nerd culture and specializes in connecting people for the best experiences in anime, movies, conventions and more. Logan said iNerdia is selling a BriteLite temporary hair dye product that works even for brightly colored anime shades.

More than anything, conventions bring people together.

“A guy I met on Instagram from Venezuela came to SuperCon to hang out with me,” said comic-loving Bradenton tattoo artist Maria Kervin, 29. “He does Deadpool too, and we were just Deadpool-ing together. It was super cool.”

“It’s a whirlwind,” Meggison said. “You get to the con and you see as many people as you can — your friends, the guests, all the panels and events. You try to do it all at once and not forget to eat and sleep, and by the end of the con you’re like, ‘Oh it’s over? Drat. Now I have to go back to real life.’ ”

METROCON
Friday-Sunday; Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa; $35 for a day pass, $60 for weekend pass; metroconventions.com
Last modified: July 18, 2014
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