The fourth annual Cosplacon wraps up today in Jefferson City, concluding a four-day event attracting cosplay enthusiasts from across the state and midwest.
Cosplay, at its simplest form, is costume play, said Erica McClary, Cosplacon administrator. Throughout the event, created by Rodney Hussman, of Jefferson City, cosplayers wore costumes to represent their favorite characters in everything from little-known anime series to cinematic classics. There were Pokemon masters, video game characters, Marvel heroes and more walking around the Capitol Plaza Hotel.
"It's literally adult dress up," McClary said. "You get to be whoever you want for a day. And this is where you do it, and no one judges you. Everyone else is doing the same thing and having fun. It's about expressing your love for a character or a series; it could be comics, movies, television, anything."
Katie Held, of Edwardsville, Illinois, cosplayed as Ruby Rose, a character from the animated series, RWBY (pronounced as Ruby). Along with three friends, they transformed into the four main characters in the series, each representing one part of the title's acronym. Held dressed in a black wig and dress with red accents throughout each.
"A big part of it for me is watching a show and seeing a character who you really see yourself as in terms of the way that they act and the way they interact with other people," she said. "Being able to become that character is really cool and showing that you love the character while expressing it in such a way."
Jackie Akremi, of Jefferson City, who dressed as Blake Belladonna (the "B" of RWBY), said cosplay is costuming that is accessible to anyone and everyone.
"It's like Halloween in the middle of June, and it's great," she said.
Twin sisters Melissa and Jessica Pittman traveled three hours from Liberty for Cosplacon. They were princesses Saturday in dresses they sewed and built themselves, ensuring every detail was spot on.
Jessica Pittman became Sleeping Beauty, the classic Disney princess, dressed in a blue gown with the recognizable sweetheart neckline. Melissa Pittman dressed as Anastacia, wearing a red-haired wig and yellow sparkly gown.
"It's pure joy for me," Melissa Pittman said about wearing her dress. "When I put it on, I was breathless. Sometimes I just feel completely taken aback because I built this."
Costume accuracy is critical to its integrity, said Mikhail Lynn, who dressed as a Ghostbuster. A member of the Greater St. Louis Ghostbusters group, he created his proton pack over five years to come as close as possible to the original. Made out of fiber glass, the original proton pack was wood and then molded into cylicone rubber. It was then created as a cast to make it hollow, allowing space for the electronics.
"By making everything as accurate as possible — even though 99 percent of the (population) doesn't know all the intricate details — subconsciously, they have the image from the movie in their mind," he said. "So, when they see something that's accurate, it instantly clicks in their mind that it's right. They see you, and there's no doubt that those are the Ghostbusters."
He said he enjoys the "wow factor" response from the public.
"They're just stunned that something they've grown up watching is right in front of them," he said. "It's a good feeling; it makes people smile, which is the whole point of the movie."
Cosplacon attracted nearly 1,000 people, who turned out for the cosplay and a variety of sessions, including prop making and cosplay modeling tutorials; round table discussions on "Doctor Who," "Dragon Ball Z," "Game of Thrones," and "Pokemon" speed dating.