By Angelina Martin
For most, the month of October and dressing up in other-worldly costumes go hand in hand. But, if you’re a cosplayer in the 209, every day is Halloween.
Cosplay, a combination of the words costume and play, is a hobby that has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Participants, known as cosplayers, painstakingly recreate the costumes of their favorite pop culture characters in order to resemble them, and oftentimes, the results are frighteningly accurate.
Cosplayers show off their costume-creating skills at Comic Cons all over the nation, and chances are, you’ve seen Avery Klemm, Stephanie Maynard, Ron Mullins or Julie Guerrero dressed up as some of your favorite characters at conventions around the 209, where the local cosplayers are treated like the celebrities and characters they’re portraying.
Avery Klemm aka “Rick Grimes” @grimes209
“I had nothing in my life making me go out and do things, other than going to work, so this changed my world.”
Avery Klemm claims he never thought he “looked like the dude” – the dude being “Rick Grimes” of “The Walking Dead” fame – but after some encouragement from his friends, he gave cosplaying as his zombie-shooting lookalike a try. Since then, he’s been featured on AMC’s “The Talking Dead” for his shocking resemblance to the character, and the hobby has enriched his life.
“I had nothing in my life making me go out and do things, other than going to work, so this changed my world,” said Klemm. “I’m an extrovert now. I do things now, I go place, I meet people. It’s completely different.”
Stephanie Maynard aka “Gwenom,” “Ariel,” “Jedi Sailor Moon,” “Aela the Huntress,” “Poison Ivy” and “Queen Serenity” @jedi.moon
“I’m almost always working on a new costume or planning for the next event.”
Stephanie Maynard’s first cosplay experience was in 2014 at StocktonCon, where she hesitantly donned a “Black Widow” costume on the weekend of her birthday. Since then, she has become a self-proclaimed “con-hopper,” traveling to at least one convention a month – sometimes, two or three.
“It’s a constant part of my life,” said Maynard. “I’m almost always working on a new costume or planning for the next event.”
Ron Mullins aka “Luke Skywalker,” “Albus Dumbledore,” “Gandalf” and “Maester” @maester_jedi_wizard
“If they’re fans of ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Harry Potter,’ they get very excited, sometimes even nervous.”
There are lookalikes, then there are “Luke-alikes,” as cosplayer Ron Mullins likes to call it. His resemblance to the bearded heroes of pop culture like “Luke Skywalker” and “Albus Dumbledore” has earned him a star status at conventions throughout the 209, which he tries to attend monthly. This summer alone, Mullins awakened the force for guests at 10 cosplay events.
“If they’re fans of ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Harry Potter,’ they get very excited, sometimes even nervous,” said Mullins. “I like to make jokes with the fans as Luke. I tell the photographer to capture my ‘light side’ and say, ‘Hashtag that Luke-alike!’”
Julie Seymour aka “Wonder Woman” @raygunnz
“I grew up reading about these magnificent heroes and wanting to be like them. It shows that it’s okay to have a sense of wonder.”
Measuring in at six feet tall, being called ‘Amazon’ was a constant for Julie Guerrero when she was young. Now, she takes conventions by storm as the world’s most famous Amazonian hero: Wonder Woman. She feels like her true self when cosplaying as Diana Prince, she said.
“I know it sounds silly, but it makes me feel strong,” said Guerrero. “I grew up reading about these magnificent heroes and wanting to be like them. It shows that it’s okay to have a sense of wonder.”