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ThunderCon shines spotlight on cosplayers

Cosplayers were a big hit again at this year's ThunderCon.

THUNDER BAY - Whether you want to bring your very own character to life, embody your favourite movie or comic book character, or just like dressing up, cosplayers in Thunder Bay have found a place of their own at ThunderCon.

ThunderCon, the two-day convention celebrating everything geek wrapped up on Sunday at the Valhalla Inn. Like last year, one of the most popular aspects of the convention was the costumes dedicated fans created to the delight of people of all ages.

Charlie Castle of Castle Cosplay in Toronto was one of this year’s special guests and cosplayer judge and he said the many different genres and characters on display by local cosplayers blew him away.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “There’s such amazing local talent. I’ve never been to Thunder Bay, so I didn’t know what to expect but in the judging, the judging was so hard. The detail that people put into their costumes is just amazing.”

Cosplay refers to costume play and is a staple at comic and fan conventions. According to Castle, cosplay is on the rise because of the growing popularity of superheroes in film and comics.

“I think when the first Iron Man movie came out and all those super hero movies it was such a snowball effect,” he said. “You can find conventions like every other week. It’s become a huge industry.”

At ThunderCon, there was an assortment of characters on display, from elves to stormtroopers to knights in full suits of armor.

Katie Arpin, who was dressed as a blood elf priest, said cosplay is one of her favourite forms of expression.

“I think it gives you another ability to express yourself,” she said. “I’m not a very good drawer or painter, but I like to be able to glue things together and be another character, an alter ego for a day. That’s really cool to me.”

Arpin has been dressing up for the last three years, but this is her first convention experience. While at ThunderCon she was constantly being asked for her photo.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s nice to see everyone dressed up, no matter how extravagant. There’s a lot of good vibes here.”

People of all ages were donning handmade costumes and stepping into the shoes of their favourite superhero or fantasy character. Tonya Muchano, who made ThunderCon a family event last year, was back again this year with a zombie, a stormtrooper, and Morpheus from the Matrix.

“We started going last year when it first stated and we just love it,” she said. “I always love an opportunity to get dressed up. It’s fun for the kids and it’s really exciting to have something like this in Thunder Bay.”

Muchano added that the kids especially like the opportunity to create their own costumes and see all their other favourite characters come to life in front of them in other cosplayers.

“I love that they have this here,” Muchano said. “There’s no where else in a small radius where you can go and get a con like this.”

Arpin agrees that ThunderCon is a great addition to Thunder Bay, and not just for fans of comics or fantasy or sci-fi. For Arpin, the success of conventions like ThunderCon shows that geeky isn’t a bad word anymore.

“I think it’s normal,” she said. “I think they are normalizing cosplay and being geeky. It’s normal for someone to be able to play board games and dress up and go to movie premiers and be first in line. People don’t judge you as much anymore and as time goes on it’s just going to be second nature for everyone, not just for us.”

Castle added that cosplay and conventions are growing right across the country and after his first time at ThunderCon, he thinks it too will continue to grow.

“I loved it,” he said. “I think this is going to get bigger and bigger. For a second year con, it was really successful. I think eventually going to outgrow this venue.”

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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