48,000 converge for Comicpalooza, Houston’s massive pop culture spectacle

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Each summer, one of the biggest events in downtown Houston isn’t a baseball game or a concert, it’s a massive celebration of pop culture.

About 48,000 people planned to crowd the George R. Brown Convention Center this weekend for the Comicpalooza convention. Despite the event’s name, the convention isn’t just about comics – it’s a mix of manga, anime, sci-fi, robots, video games, cars, cosplay on the K-pop and Star Wars theme and activities designed to tickle the fancy of almost any nerd and sense of creativity.

On Saturday, a 2-foot-tall spiky-haired teenager hung out in a blonde wig carrying a boy with a gigantic set of feathered red wings (dressed as the character Keigo Takami from the popular manga “My Hero Academia.”)

A girl dressed as Sailor Moon held the hand of a man on stilts towering over a crowd of people while wearing a ghost costume created after the character called ‘No Face’ from the movie ‘Spirited Away’.

A mother and daughter duo in long black capes posed for a photo with a man dressed as Darth Vader.

Long lines of fans crammed into a maze of black curtains and booths waiting for autographs from their favorite writers, comedians, artists and even celebrities like Terry Crews and Alice Cooper.

Vendors sold posters, artwork, trinkets, keychains, and memorabilia from just about every popular graphic novel imaginable. Crowds sat on bleachers to watch homemade robot cars battle it out in an arena while others rode in a collection of custom hot rod race cars with anime-themed paint jobs .

Comicpalooza is a chance for fans to indulge their interests with like-minded people, creating a sense of community that many have missed during the pandemic.

“There’s something so cool about seeing everyone together. After two years of not being able to attend due to COVID, it’s great to have that sense of community,” said Chrissy Buccola, 25, an illustrator who traveled from Los Angeles to sell her work during the show. event.

Buccola could have attended Comicpalooza last year, but she said she didn’t feel safe until this year. She was not alone. While this is the second year that Comicpalooza has taken place after the 2020 event has been canceledthis year it was expected that there would be about 10,000 more people than there were in 2021. Some said a sense of normalcy was beginning to return to the event as more fans felt comfortable gathering again, most without face masks.

Over the years, several fans have made it a hobby to cross the state to various comic and anime-related conventions, devoting hours to creating elaborate costumes to wear with pride or collect memorabilia. specialized to be signed by actors or artists. of their favorite movies, shows, and graphic novels.

Eric Ara, a 26-year-old Houstonian dressed as Thor from the “God of War” video game, said he made friends by seeing some of the same familiar faces at conventions across the state.

One of his friends attending Saturday’s event was Robert Reed, 46, a Houstonian who spent about six months building a set of intricate electronic octopus arms out of plastic and 3D-printed materials like Doctor Octopus. from the Marvel Comics universe.

His wife, Jennifer, joked that she took care of his materials strewn around the house, but said it was worth seeing his incredible creations come to life as they make the so-called ‘circuit of agreement”.

Other fans used the event as a way to strengthen their bonds with their families, such as Samuel Olivares, 35, who was there with his daughter Syona, 13, and his brother Cody, 30, dressed in a Homemade elaborate Mandarlorian costume. complete with a baby Yoda doll popping out of her bag.

Assembling Syona’s costume became a bonding activity as they sourced parts from Etsy and some craft supply stores to create her Himiko Toga costume from “My Hero Academia” with yellow colored contact lenses .

Another father, PJ Borrego, 33, was there with his 6-year-old boy who was looking over piles of cartoon artwork while wearing a green and black plaid dress resembling Tanjiro Kamado, the main character of the popular manga series “Demon Slayer”..”

“I watched cartoons all through middle school and high school,” Borrego said, adding that it became something to do for him with his son, Maddox.

Alongside them, their friend Santiago Saenz, 37, said going to Comicpalooza and similar events has become a favorite pastime.

“It’s just a fun escape,” Saenz said.

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