Pop culture fans say San Diego Comic-Con was “missed a lot” as the convention returned in person for the first time in two years, after being forced to go online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many arrived for the first day of the convention on Thursday dressed in elaborate costumes they had taken “many hours and a lot of sweat” to create
Thousands of people lined up for hours in the sun for the event which saw strict protocols enforced, including Covid wristbands, vaccine checks and mandatory masks.
Bryn Tarr, a costume designer from San Diego, dressed up as a gunsmith from Disney’s Mandalorian series and was joined by a Baby Yoda model in a transport unit – made from a converted Euro-stroller.
“The suits take us around four to six months, but we wouldn’t want it any other way,” she told the PA news agency.
“We like to be in formal wear for conventions.”
Ms Tarr added: “It’s great to be back, we’ve missed it so much and we’re so glad to see our fellow cosplayers and fans of the Star Wars and Mandalorian series saying hello and wanting to pose with us.”
Brian Cicco, 55, who dressed up as super-villain Mysterio from the Spider-Man franchise, said the return of the in-person event was “definitely what fans needed”.
Mr. Cicco is a human resources manager for an entertainment company in Philadelphia and had traveled across the country to attend the convention with his two sons.
“Comic-Con has definitely been missed, so it seems like the perfect time to come back and definitely what the fans needed,” he told PA.
“This costume took four or five months to come together and seems to be getting a great response.
“This helmet is actually a garden globe. I sawed off the bottom, 3D printed the collar and its LED lights inside – it’s one of the easiest parts to make.
Jose Cuadros, 30, a hospitality worker from Escondido, Calif., said he’s always dreamed of playing DC hero Aquaman.
“I’m having a lot of fun today (and) I’m actually planning to buy some seafood later, if you get the joke,” he told PA.
“I chose to be Aquaman today because it was one of my dreams to be Aquaman. I’ve seen a lot of great cosplays and I’m glad this one is crossed off my list.
Mr Cuardros said he bought parts of his costume, including the famous yellow and green costume and the large trident at Comic-Con years ago.
“The only thing I didn’t buy was my beard, I grew it myself,” he joked.
Asked what it was like to be back at the convention among other fans, he added: “It’s great, the only thing I wish is that we don’t have to wear masks , but I think it’s a good idea.”
Jordan Riley, 28, of San Diego was dressed in the bold purple of Marvel’s Hawkeye, played by actor Jeremy Renner, said the pandemic gave him time to work on his various costumes.
“Lockdown happened and I had more time to upgrade my cosplay, so here it is, upgraded,” he said.
“A lot of time, a lot of hours, a lot of sweat and sewing… so a lot of needle marks on my hands.”
Asked about the return of the convention, Mr. Riley, who has attended more than a dozen Comic-Cons, said: “It’s finally home, I’m so excited to continue playing different characters.”
In addition to representing their favorite superheroes and fantasy characters, some fans have chosen more sentimental characters to dress up.
Alice Irvan, 38, from Washington DC, was dressed as Grace from the 2019 comedy horror film Ready Or Not, which was her late father’s favorite film.
“It was my dad’s favorite movie, and I bought all the gear for this costume in January 2020 before the pandemic started and that was the last time I saw it in person,” a- she told PA.
“The world stopped and this costume sat unfinished in the closet and then my dad passed away very unexpectedly in December 2020.
“So now we’re back in San Diego, so it’s like ‘let’s finish this’… It’s incredibly personal and people have responded well to it. I didn’t know if anyone would recognize him.
“It was just nice to be back and have people’s hugs knowing my dad is here in the spirit of Comic-Con.”
Some of the celebrities to make an appearance on the first day of the event for panel discussions included Ben Stiller, Hugh Grant, Adam Scott, William Shatner, Chris Pine and Bridgeton’s Rege-Jean Page.