Right around the corner is the Tampa Bay Comic Con and participants are excitedly gearing up to display their best cosplay costumes.
Solange Gorleku, an MBA graduate student, has been a regular attendee of the comic con for the past three years. During this year’s cosplay, she plans on enacting the character X-23, also known as Laura Kinney, from the X-Men pantheon.
“I’ve only been reading X-23’s comics recently,” Gorleku said. “She’s my favorite character to portray and learn about right now from the Marvel Universe.”
As a super hero, X-23 puts forth a sense of female empowerment that Gorleku personally connects with. Depicted as a young girl in X-Men, the character is often underestimated because of her age and gender.
“We have this mutual feeling of being misunderstood and I resonated with that because she’s a girl,” Gorleku said. “Like, that doesn’t mean she’s not strong because she will prove you wrong. X-23 packs a feisty punch and is designed to kill.”
Gorleku expects to keep within a $60 budget. Since X-23 is dressed very simply, Gorleku will improvise her attire to include items from her own closet along with purchasing cosplay clothing.
Gorleku will be wearing her own everyday black tights and calf-length brown boots, as well as a black pleather top with the X-Men insignia and matching X-Men-themed black belt.
Leo Nunez, a senior majoring in computer science, has been a veteran cosplayer in different comic con contests since first attending in 2013.
“I loved the performance aspect, and I also loved anime,” Nunez said. “So my first comic con really inspired my love for cosplay. It’s things you never thought you’d have fun doing but end up having a blast with.”
Nunez said he has a passion for crafting a new outfit every year. In accordance with contest requirements, each component of his cosplay is typically homemade. He only considers his art to be complete once the cosplay does justice to his chosen character. The process usually takes months.
“It’s 100 percent worth all of the late nights, running out to stores five times a day. It’s always a challenging and changing hobby, which is why I like it,” Nunez said.
At this year’s con, Nunez will showcase his cosplay Bell Cranel, from the anime DanMachi.
“It gave me the opportunity to learn new skills,” Nunez said. “I originally tried 3-D printing with certain parts of the costume. I learned about wiring electronics in class, which gave me the idea for the knife.”
Nunez’s costume will include small armor pieces with shoulder pads, chest pieces and a neck guard. There’s a knife he constructed from resin, thermoplastic and an LED light. The costume also includes a white wig, makeup and a little bag that Nunez will sew himself. He has already put $500 into the costume and expects to spend more by the time comic con arrives.
“It’s all about the detail and getting things just right. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun,” Nunez said.
Tampa Bay Comic Con will be held at the Tampa Convention Center July 28-30 with tickets currently available. The event includes an artist gallery and meet-ups with celebrities. Tickets range from $30 for Friday admission to $60 for all three days.