By Lisa Stapel
The sixth annual Grand Rapids Comic Con wrapped up its second day of festivities with its popular costume contest.
Comic Con is an annual event celebrating not just comic books and superheroes but also the culture of science fiction, anime, movies, authors, artists, video games and YouTube stars. Many in attendance choose to display their fandom by arriving in elaborate and sometimes expensive costumes and on Saturday the contest’s cash prizes offered them a chance to make a little money back on their investment.
A panel of judges sat on the main stage, and unlike competitions in previous years there was no “pre-judging” where an attention to detail on a costume might be more noticeable. This year, the few seconds the contestants had in front of the audience and chatting at the judges’ table were their only chances to impress. The participants did their best to pay homage to their favorite TV shows, animes, movies, and literary characters as they tumbled, lunged or fought their way across the stage. Some reenacted famous death scenes; others grabbed the mic to excite the crowd with their character’s famous movie lines or catchphrases.
John Bogardus, 26, of Grand Rapids, was dressed as Hunter from the videogame Bloodborne and was enjoying his first visit to the convention.
“It’s been better than I thought it was gonna be, far bigger,” Bogardus said. “I’ve been a geek since I was really young, never had the chance to come to Comic Con until this year.”
The costume contest, which on Saturday was for participants aged 13 and older, was hosted by a panel of three experienced judges.
Michael Wilson, also known as “Knightmage,” is an influential cosplayer from Youngstown, Ohio. Wilson uses his costuming skills to raise money for charity and in 2014 was given the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for his work.
Mia Bronston, who cosplays as “Envy the Green Fairy,” was also on hand to judge. Often found around Grand Rapids cosplaying as Wonder Woman for charitable events, Envy has also served as a judge at several midwestern comic conventions.
Jennifer Dunahee was a new addition to the panel. Dunahee is part of a Grand Rapids cosplaying family that call themselves “House of 1000 Glue Sticks.” She was offered a role as a judge this year after taking first place in the costume contest for the third year in a row in 2017.
Many attendees traveled several hours in the inclement November weather to attend the three-day gathering. Cody Taylor, 23, came to the convention from Ohio and was dressed as Deadpool. It is his first year at Comic Con.
“I’m really enjoying it,” Taylor said. “My favorite part is seeing all the costumes, all the creativity… You feel gratified when people ask to take pictures. (It) makes it all worth it.”
Taylor Carlson took “Best of Show” at the costume contest for her cosplay as Samus from the Nintendo game “Metroid.” Comic Con continues at DeVos Place through Sunday, Nov. 11. A full schedule of events can be found here.
Collegiate Assistant News Editor Lillian Linscott contributed to this report.