Comic Con to dress up Dover

At last year’s Dover Comic Con, Harry Simon, center, of Camden, came dressed as Doctor Who and Haley Gerardi, of Felton, as a Weeping Angel from same TV series, while the character’s future incarnation The 12th Doctor, aka Alex Smith, left, of Camden, watched over the scene on Loockerman Street in Dover. Last year’s event drew 7,100 participants with 10,000 expected this year. (Delaware State News file photos)

At last year’s Dover Comic Con, Harry Simon, center, of Camden, came dressed as Doctor Who and Haley Gerardi, of Felton, as a Weeping Angel from same TV series, while the character’s future incarnation The 12th Doctor, aka Alex Smith, left, of Camden, watched over the scene on Loockerman Street in Dover. Last year’s event drew 7,100 participants with 10,000 expected this year. (Delaware State News file photos)

DOVER – As the third annual Dover Comic Con brings thousands to the streets of downtown Dover starting tonight and all day Saturday, it will be clear that costumes aren’t only for kids.

“Even though compared to other conventions — we are small — the level and quality of cosplay (or costume play) here is amazing,” said co-organizer Kerri Hollyday, of the Dover Public Library. “It’s become pretty normal for people to come to conventions in cosplay, whether someone is wearing a geeky ‘Star Wars’ T-shirt or they’re dressed to the nines, everyone loves it.”

The organizers have seen almost everything the past few years from well-known characters like “Cinderella” to lesser-known ones like a Weeping Angel from “Dr. Who.” They expect to see a lot of new costumes from recent pop culture trends this year like “Deadpool,” “Suicide Squad,” Pokémon and “Ghostbusters.”

Digging into the technical aspects of cosplay, a panel from University of Delaware will give a talk at the Dover Public Library about various materials for cosplay, the science and chemical engineering behind them.

Attendees of the panel will even get to try their hand at making a small item with Worbla –– a thermoplastic

Super heroes — including Batman Nelson Vasquez of Dover and his daughter Mia Vasquez, 4. — came in all sizes at Dover’s second Comic Con. last year.

Super heroes — including Batman Nelson Vasquez of Dover and his daughter Mia Vasquez, 4. — came in all sizes at Dover’s second Comic Con. last year.

modeling material perfect for creating cosplay armor.

“Cosplay isn’t just putting together a costume,” Ms. Hollyday said. “There’s an art behind it and with these materials, people are able to make replicas of even movie characters that look as good if not better than what you see on screen.”

Seating for the “Learning Engineering Through Cosplay” is limited to 20 so those interested in learning about and trying their hand at Worbla should arrive to the 3 p.m. panel early.

For tips on more feminine cosplay design, cosplay experts Jessica Woods and Austin Vestal will give a talk on corset construction at 1:45 p.m. in library’s Multi-Purpose Room A.

Those who come to Comic Con donning their best outfits are welcome to participate in a costume and cosplay contest to be held at the intersection of Loockerman and Bradford streets.

Four categories will be judged by a panel including cosplay expert Luis Andres Valdez, also known as the Brown Ranger –– kids from 5 and under, kids 6 to 12 and cosplayers 13 to 19 and 20 and up.

Registration for the kids is from 10 to 11 a.m. with a contest at 11 a.m. and adult registration is from 10 a.m. to noon with the contest for ages 13 to 19 at 1 p.m. and 20 and up at 2 p.m. All winners will be announced immediately after their category’s contest.

Whether you come prepared for cosplay or street clothes, the Delaware Anime Society will host Iron Cosplay at 3:15 p.m. –– a timed cosplay competition where teams are given a box of everyday items to turn into an amazing costumes.

“The spirit of the event is to be resourceful with materials you can get from a school supplies section or dollar store. Duct tape, paper plates, construction paper, cups and plastic tablecloths are typical materials,” said Anime Society President Mattie Madden. “With enough ingenuity, creativity, teamwork and quick thinking, the results are usually amazing.”

Iron Cosplay debuted at Dover Comic Con in 2015 based on the concept of popular Food Channel shows like “Chopped” and “Iron Chef” and as in the show, the materials and theme are not revealed to the competitors until the contest begins.

After an hour and a half, the teams are judged by a three-person panel of experienced cosplayers based on adherence to the theme, use of materials and overall quality of the costume.

Star Trek superfans Heather Garritson of Milford and Devon Stover of Dover beamed down to Legislative Mall last year.

Star Trek superfans Heather Garritson of Milford and Devon Stover of Dover beamed down to Legislative Mall last year.

Registration will be from 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the library’s third-floor Teen Loft, better known as the Otake Overlook during Comic Con. Participants should be 15 or older and in teams of four or five members. The actual competition will take place in the library’s Multi-purpose Room A.

“The cosplay community is a place where you can find your people,” Ms. Hollyday said. “Whether it’s a cartoon, a book a movie or a graphic novel, a comic strip, everyone has that one thing they love and it’s really cool to meet and see people who are into it too.”

Comic Con cosplayers will receive discounts at local businesses like the Grey Fox Grille and Public House on State Street and Tiffanee & Co. Bakery on Governors Avenue.

The write stuff

Cosplay is only a small portion of Comic Con, which also features activities from comic-related crafts for kids to illustration and writing seminars for aspiring comic authors.

“We have a lot of kids who come into the library and are into writing, drawing and illustrating so it’s inspiring for them to see these people who are succeeding in the field of comics,” Ms. Hollyday said.

“They see you don’t have to live in a big city like L.A. or New York to pursue a hobby or even career in comics. It’s something you can do right here.”

Poking around

If comic books aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options like taking advantage of Pokémon Go opportunities.

Due to the popularity of the app, Poké lures will be placed around downtown to keep enthusiasts of the game busy looking for Pokémon characters.

“We know that so many people are into Pokémon Go right now that we made sure this is a Pokémon Go-friendly event,” said co-organizer Katy Goff, also of the Dover Public Library.

Many of Comic Con’s partners like First State Heritage Park are PokéStops or Pokémon gyms and organizers are

Dressed as DC Comics superhero Wonder Woman, Gabby Sarduy, 19, of Milton was one of hundreds of costumed characters roaming the streets of Dover.

Dressed as DC Comics superhero Wonder Woman, Gabby Sarduy, 19, of Milton was one of hundreds of costumed characters roaming the streets of Dover.

trying to get the word out that players are welcome to come into the museums and historical buildings to catch Pokémon.

“There are a lot of people walking around downtown with their phones out, playing, but when they see an employee they kind of scatter. But we want everyone to know it’s OK to explore downtown playing Pokémon and it’s encouraged to check out the historical sites,” Ms. Hollyday said.

Comic Con goers and Pokémon players will see more than 100 merchants and exhibitors lining Loockerman Street and Legislative Mall doing anything from selling comic books to advertising fan clubs.

When it comes time for lunch, 16 different food trucks and vendors will park along Legislative Mall, all selling a different variety of food.

Getting physical

To work off the calories or just to have some physical fun during the day-long Con, The Green will host bump and play soccer –– a sport where players wear large plastic bubbles, allowing the game to be more physical but safer than ever.

The other half of The Green will be the site for larping –– live action role playing where participants act as their character, pursuing a goal given by the organizer.

“It’s a great event and it’s grown every year,” Ms. Hollyday said.

“The people who started with us have come back every year. More merchants, panelists and participants hear about it each year, mostly by word of mouth and I think Comic Con has turned into something we never thought it would. Even local organizations are getting in on it now.”

Kickoff tonight

Kent County Tourism is a new partner of Comic Con and will be providing fireworks tonight at approximately 8:30. The fireworks will be best viewed on Legislative Mall and will stand as the makeup date for the Dover Days fireworks that were canceled due to rain on May 6.

Fireworks will help usher in Comic Con tonight at 8:30 on Legislative Mall.

Fireworks will help usher in Comic Con tonight at 8:30 on Legislative Mall.

Tonight’s activities will highlighted by a Comic Con-inspired art reception at the Dover Art League on Loockerman Street and a block party from 5:30 to 6:30 downtown featuring the Delaware Ghostbusters.

The library’s monthly In Harmony concert will take place on Loockerman Plaza and will feature Captain Blues Grass Band starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Schwartz Center for the Arts on State Street will also be getting into the act as it shows “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” at 7 p.m.

Tickets, available at the door, are $10 for adults and $8 for those 12 and under.

The Schwartz will also be the site of some Saturday panel discussions.

On Saturday, Comic Con will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last year it attracted 7,100 attendees and organizers anticipate closer to 10,000 this year.

“It’s a great event because you don’t have to travel far and since it’s free. It’s perfect for families because you can have a lot of fun without spending a ton of money just on admission,” Ms. Hollyday said.

“You can buy food or things from vendors but if you don’t want to spend anything, you don’t have to.”

For more information, see the official program on the Delaware State News website by visiting the Special Sections area at DelawareStateNews.net.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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