Fans, cosplay enthusiasts and lightsaber fighters gather at Florida Supercon
It took Neil Christopher two years to make his Ironman suit.
Covered head to toe in red and gold Styrofoam, Christopher’s costume restricts both his eyesight and body movement.
But for the 52-year-old, it’s entirely worth it when he’s strutting the halls of Supercon — or lighting up kids’ faces in hospitals.
“I think [cosplay’s] a great hobby and outlet for people,” Christopher said. “I’m happy to see the creativity and the recognition from those who are into this.”
Christopher’s full-body gear was a common sight at the 12th annual Florida Supercon on Saturday, held in the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.
The event moved from its Miami Beach venue of previous years, but the volume of attendees — and their enthusiasm — hasn’t changed.
“I think my favorite reaction is walking by somebody and they look at me really hard, and they go: ‘Oh! It’s Freeze!’ ” said Cody Dickinson, an attendee from West Palm Beach.
Dickinson, at his second Supercon, dedicated three months to his costume, including the fully functioning miniature fogger.
Although most of his time was spent in lines prepping for the costume competition, Dickinson found the convention “an absolute blast.”
The energy-packed day featured tons of events, including cosplay workshops, video game tournaments and, of course, celebrity appearances.
The Herald got to speak with one celebrity artist: Allen Bellman. At age 93, Bellman is one of the oldest people alive to have originally drawn Captain America.
According to Bellman, the people keep him coming back to the convention year after year. He finds their love for their fandoms — and for each other — captivating.
And just like his shield-touting superhero, Bellman displayed a bit of patriotism too.
“I love this country,” he said. “It’s a great country, and we all should pull together for the betterment of our children, our grandchildren, and for the sake of the United States of America.”
Touring the convention, one could see Bellman’s point. The makeup of attendees didn’t fit any one race, gender or age. Rather, everyone was simply a fan.
This inclusivity is a trend Alyssa Nicole Smith, who co-runs a Saber Combat Choreography Group with her husband (and did a performance during the convention), finds encouraging.
“When I first started going, there was a lot of ‘This fandom’s terrible,’ or ‘This kind of person can’t cosplay this kind of character’ ” she said. “[But] over the years, it’s opened up to include more groups of people … and I think that’s really important because everybody deserves to feel welcomed where they are.”
Paul Leveille, native to Fort Lauderdale, felt the same way. Dressed as “Frozone” from “The Incredibles,” the 25-year-old found Supercon “a very friendly environment.”
“Here, you’re just your character, not your skin tone,” he said. “Everyone can come in — no matter what age, shape, size, color — and just be themselves. Show fandom to something that they love.”
For Kathy Poole from Hialeah, demonstrating her love took a creative turn.
Having been physically disabled for 12 years, Poole has sat out on many family trips. But that didn’t stop her at Supercon.
Her costume, a cardboard TARDIS from the show “Doctor Who,” was made to fit over herself and her motorized scooter like a little house.
Signed by “Doctor Who” actors Alex Kingston, Sylvestor McCoy and John Barrowman, the costume was a sight to behold.
Ironically, Poole didn’t think of herself as a convention goer — or much of a sci-fi fan —until she went with her daughter five years ago.
Back then, they stayed for 12 hours, and the appeal stuck with her. “This is something I get to do,” she said.
Even those not dressed up had their share of fun.
It wasn’t the disorienting number of events or the tempting memorabilia that kept 80-year-old Ruth Geldart entertained. It was people watching.
“I’m just fascinated by this,” said Geldart. “I look and think, ‘Oh my goodness, what is that?’ ”
Although Geldart said she isn’t much of a sci-fi fan, she started going because her grandson wanted to, and his mother, Geldart’s daughter, wanted company. This was her fourth convention.
Geldart started watching “Doctor Who” after seeing people dressed up as the Doctor at previous conventions. Owning a doll of the Twelfth Doctor, she now wants a statue of the newest doctor, to be played by Jodie Wittaker.
Geldart added that she was pleased the Doctor would be female for the first time in the show’s history.
“Women can do what men do,” she said.