Each July, some 130,000 fans from around the world descend on the San Diego Convention Center for four days of vendor exhibitions, celebrity appearances, sneak previews of new movies, cosplay, and just general all-around geeking out. Founded in 1970, Comic-Comic International has grown into one of the world’s largest such festivals—a must-attend event for lovers of superheroes, science fiction, and fantasy.
For photographer Angie Smith, attending Comic-Con for the first time, the spectacle felt overwhelming, yet welcoming. “There’s a real community energy—you feel like you can walk up and talk to anyone,” she says. “People were there for a lot of different reasons, but the main one was to meet other people, network with other people. Everyone talked about the connections they’d made in previous years, people they keep in touch with and see every year when they come back.”
Then there were the costumes. Although cosplay isn’t a requirement at Comic-Con, many people participate, and they take it extremely seriously. “I was impressed with the creativity, and the amount of time they put into their costumes,” Smith says. “Some people work on their costume all year. They pretty much start on a new one as soon as the last Comic-Con ends.”
Smith says the most popular costume this year seemed to be Wonder Woman. But the photographer was most intrigued by people with off-beat costumes, like the man dressed as Tyrone Biggums, Dave Chappelle’s crack addict character from Chappelle’s Show.
Many of the attendees told Smith that they take inspiration from their fantasy alter-egos. “People talked a lot about how they try to incorporate aspects of their characters into their ordinary lives,” she says. For instance, a woman dressed as Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones “talked about Cersei having confidence and decisiveness and an extreme focus on what she wants in her life.”
But point out that Cersei is a power-hungry murderer and Smith laughs.
“In the picture, she’s posing with a wine glass in her hand,” she says. “Because Cersei also really likes wine.”
More Great WIRED Stories
- Meet the digital sleuth exposing fake news
- One young boy’s magnificent obsession with fans
- How the US government sold “spy phones” to suspects
- Microsoft’s big bet on a tiny-computer future
- The false tale of Amazon, the industry conquerer
- Looking for more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest stories