South Florida fans of video games, comic books, science-fiction and anime will have the opportunity to meet - and dress as - their idols this weekend.
Florida Supercon, an event bringing together some of the biggest names in the diverse world of fantasy-inspired media, is holding its eighth annual convention through Sunday at the Miami Airport Convention Center.
The event aims to bring the larger-than-life characters of the screen or page right to the fans who love them the most.
Angie Caruso’s jaw dropped when she saw the woman who served as the reference model for her favorite Disney character, Tinkerbell from Peter Pan.
Margaret Kerry, who, in the 1950s, acted all of Tinkerbell’s scenes to give the animators a basis for their drawings, was just as excited to meet such a passionate devotee, even if she was dressed as Mary Jane from Spiderman and not a pixie in a green tunic.
“We come here to meet people we look up to, we’re inspired by,” explained her boyfriend, John Cosby. He was dressed as the time-traveling Doctor from the British sci-fi classic Dr. Who, and was off to meet George Takei of Star Trek.
Kerry was joined by scores of other actors, artists, and writers, with bottles of hand sanitizer and lotion at the ready.
“I didn’t imagine 20 years later people would have that same fervor,” said former Power Ranger Walter Jones, who was also one of the first live-action African-American superheroes on television.
Just as impressive as the celebrities who brought these characters to life were fans’ own approximations of their favorite fictional heroes, heroines and villains. Costume play, or “cos-play,” is as much a part of the convention as autographs.
A group was dressed in impeccable detail as Jedi Knights and Sith Lords from Star Wars. There was a painted Joker (the Heath Ledger version) and many Batmans. And there was Daenerys of House Targaryen, Khaleesi of the Dothraki and the true heir to the Iron Throne of Westeros.
Some came alone, some as couples, families or groups of friends, and most were from South Florida.
But Sammi Crosson had arrived yesterday evening from Kentucky to meet, for the first time, her best friend of five years.
Crosson had become virtually acquainted with Yui Melendez of Orlando while playing an online role-playing game in 2008. They stayed up all night talking and making their costumes.
Not everyone was a complete adherent to the lifestyle. Ximena Morales, along with her husband and son, were coming by more as a family outing than because they felt particularly committed to a particular comic book or game - although they did enjoy meeting the actors from Walking Dead.
“It’s like a different reality,” said Nicole Perez, a volunteer at Supercon. “You have one thing in common with everyone: Your nerdiness, your love for your ‘fandom,’ whatever particular thing you’re into.”