Comic Con Cosplay: Photos of the Coolest Costumes

Costume + role-play = cosplay

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During New York Comic Con 2016 (Oct. 6 – 9), hundreds of cosplayers — people who dress up as characters from popular culture — descended on the Javits Center.

On the first day of Comic Con (Oct. 6), two dozen cosplayers described to Live Science how their costumes connect them to characters they love, and strengthen community bonds among like-minded fans.

Clowning around

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Name: Ray

Cosplay: Twisty the Clown, "American Horror Story: Freak Show" (FX)

"Me and my wife are big horror fans, and I like the American Horror Story series — and when Twisty came out, I thought he was awesome. Usually I dress like a zombie, but then last time I dressed like this and it was a huge hit — no one cares about the zombie anymore!"

"But you HAVE heard of me."

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Name: Chris Forcenito

Cosplay: Captain Jack Sparrow, "Pirates of the Caribbean" films (Walt Disney Company)

"I always liked Pirates of the Caribbean. First, I bought the regular costume from a costume store, but then I'm like, "This isn't original." I spent hours looking at photos, playing the videos, looking at how he dresses — I've been adding to it for three years now. And I love wearing it. I love coming here, taking pictures with people, showing off. You meet different people, people from all over. It's a good time!"

Gotham villains

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Names: Kaya and Dawn

Cosplay: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, DC Comics

Dawn: We like stopping other people and taking pictures with them. It's just a fun day — you don't have to think about everyday life. We love DC and we love the villains of DC — sometimes it's fun to be bad!


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Name: Elyse

Cosplay: April O'Neil, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation" (Saban Entertainment)

"My cosplay is April O'Neil from the original 1980's-1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon after a very, very rough day with some of the bad guys. There was a cosplayer who was here a couple of years ago who was dressed as the Shredder walking around with the heads of the turtles, and I always thought I wanted to do the opposite of that. I ran into a beauty supply store and found foam heads on sale, and thought, yeah, this is the year I'm going to do that! It took about two weeks to put the whole thing together, [and] most of that was waiting for paint to dry."

Live Science: What's your favorite part of doing cosplay?

"When you're not even in the convention center yet and people are already stopping you and going, 'Wow, that looks phenomenal.' I don't need a picture, I don't need anything else other than someone saying, 'That looks great.'"

Happy times

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Name: Edgar Roldan

Cosplay: Happy, "Fairy Tail" (Del Rey Manga)

"I love Happy. The cosplay makes me happy. So I did it and I saw it made other people happy. That was cool."

Live Science: What's the most satisfying part of cosplay?

"Just being you. Being whatever and whoever you want."

Coming alive

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Name: Mayna

Cosplay: Itachi, "Naruto" (Viz Media)

"I like anime and I really like Naruto, and Itachi is one of my favorite characters."

Live Science: What's the most satisfying part about doing cosplay?

"Just being the character. You're making the character come alive. You see other people dressed like you, and it's just this really good feeling that you're not alone, that they like the same shows."

Live Science: Why do people enjoy doing cosplay?

"Freedom of expression. I would never have known that this many people like the same things I like. Just coming here and seeing that people dress up like this is incredible. People are hidden — they need to come out more."

Gender-bending cosplay

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Names: Tony Ray and Taren Lopez

Cosplay: Garnet and Stevonnie, "Steven Universe" (Cartoon Network)

Tony: I had a panel this morning on gender-bending cosplay — when you choose a female character and make them a male character, or vice versa. I chose Garnet from 'Steven Universe' because I like Garnet as a character, she's really well-developed, really thought-out, and is always thinking of other people. Life is definitely tough, but there are always people around to help make it easier.

Taren: I chose to cosplay as Stevonnie because I love the show 'Steven Universe' and she's one of my favorite characters. The show is really groundbreaking because it shows relationships between gay, lesbian, and transgender characters. And my character happens to be something of a transgender character, so when I discovered her, I thought, 'I need to do this cosplay, this cosplay has to be around.' And I've gotten such a great reaction because of it, you don't see many people dressed as her, and she's a very cool character.

Live Science: What's the most satisfying part of doing cosplay?

Taren: As long as one person recognizes you it's all worth it.

Tony: All you need is one! And all the hard work and dedication that you've put into building your suit paid off.

All in the family

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Names: Sapphire, Zaelya and Saul

Cosplay: Joker Harley, Baby Deadpool, Dashing Deadpool (DC Comics and Marvel Comics)

Live Science: What inspired your cosplay?

Saul: For me, there was a t-shirt that had Deadpool on it in a suit. I loved the concept.

Sapphire: I got him the shirt for Valentine's Day.

Saul: I figured that with the movie coming out that there would be a lot of simple Deadpools, I wanted to do something a bit more dashing.

Sapphire: And she's Baby Deadpool because this is her dad. And I'm Harley because I'm crazy and I love it. And I love Harley, the concept of her and everything. The Joker was killed off in the video game 'Arkham,' so I decide to go as Harley and took a little twist to be with Deadpool, because he's so dashing and charming — and you know how I love those charmers.

Live Science: What's the most satisfying part of doing cosplay?

Saul: The pictures! The pictures are so much fun.

Sapphire: I agree. Having people come up to you and compliment your costume, your artistry and your creativity…

Saul: And to be able to pose and be goofy with them.

Sapphire: You get to escape the everyday adult life. I'm a mom and it's hard work, so I love to be able to incorporate her into the silliness and into this fun activity. And she gets to enjoy it too, because she's looking around and she's seeing all these people in costumes. This is our fourth year going, and we plan on bringing her back every year.

Casual Jedis

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Casual Jedis

Names: Steve Perkins and Tom Rehn

Cosplay: Qui-Gon Jinn and Jedi General Ullr 'Rainmaker' Jo-Enz, "Star Wars" (Lucasfilm)

Tom: I'm walking around doing this because I'm letting people know this is who I am. When there are two of us, people know that we're Jedis together.

Live Science: What's the most satisfying part of doing cosplay?

Steve: When other people on a professional level acknowledge the workmanship that you've done. When they notice the caliber of your work, that's the biggest compliment.

Tom: The best compliment I ever got — I was wearing this or something similar to this — and someone said, 'Oh my god, you look like you just walked off the movie set and you're going to your trailer.'

Live Science: How long have you been doing cosplay?

Steve: My whole life. I started when I was a child, I used to pretend to be one of the members of KISS and try to put on concerts. I can't sing, I can't play instruments, but I tried my best.

Tom: By July 4th of 1977, I was dressing as Luke Skywalker.

Live Science: Have attitudes toward cosplay changed over time?

Steve: We're much more accepted now. For a long time we were the weirdos that dressed up — now we are the cool people that dress up.

"I'm not bedtime story lady"

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Name: Beth Small

Cosplay: Tank Girl, "Tank Girl" (Penguin Books)

"I have been obsessed with Tank Girl since Lori Petty's movie, then I researched it with the comic book. She's an absolutely strong figure, she's amazing.

I've been cosplaying since I was five years old — there's a picture of me as a full Klingon. I love dressing up, I love exhibiting as different characters, I also love doing male roles as women. It's fun!"

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.