Scratch below the surface at Comic Con and you might be surprised to find thousands of young women who go because they find it empowering.
It might have a reputation for attracting nerds and geeks, but as one female fan put it: “You feel very accepted, and you get to be whoever you want for a day – it’s really special.”
Here are some of the female voices from this year’s fan convention in London.
Samantha Prosper – as Emily from the film The Corpse Bride
“I love the movie and the character. She’s passionate and kind so I was inspired to be like her.
“I love the atmosphere here – it’s really good for young women because it’s non-judgmental.
“Any person of any shape or colour can come and feel absolutely welcome – it’s so kind and friendly that nobody feels out of place. You can come as anyone you want and be absolutely fine.”
Sophie Skye and Eliza – as Maleficent from the film
Sophie: “I’m playing Maleficent, the Angelina Jolie version. I love cosplay because it gives you the chance to play someone else for a day. It’s escapism, pure fantasy.
“You can be covered or wear the smallest of clothes, it’s a very respectful environment where you can express yourself. There’s a lot of amazing female characters in the comic, anime and film world, so there’s a lot of inspiration.”
Eliza: “I love young Maleficent because her wings are ginormous and she can fly very fast and she’s cool. My dad made my wings and I bought my necklace here.
“I love the different types of costumes here, they’re all related to comics.”
Phoebe and Martha – as Fionna from TV animation Adventure Time and Harley Quinn from the film Suicide Squad
Phoebe: “I love reading comics and watching animations and films. I came as Fionna because she’s really strong and powerful – she once rescued a prince.
“I came here last year as well, and one of the best bits was meeting comic book artists like Jess Bradley.”
Martha: “I saw the movie Suicide Squad and loved Harley Quinn because she’s cool and sassy so I decided to dress like her. I really like seeing so many people dressed up here.”
Grace Ford – as Blue Diamond from TV animation Steven Universe
“I’ve been coming for about six years. I love dressing up – you can escape reality and it’s just a bit of fun really. I fell in love with Blue Diamond’s look and design and thought, ‘Why not go for it?’
“I won’t lie, I was a bit worried about coming here after the Manchester attack but it’s good the police are here. It gives reassurance.”
Comic book artist and illustrator Jess Bradley
“Me and my husband love doing comic conventions because it gets your work out to a wider audience and the atmosphere’s fantastic.
“I’ve been doing it for about 10 years and you get so much positive feedback. It’s just so much fun.
“I draw comic strips and write and illustrate children’s books and colouring books. I tend to focus a lot on self-publishing because you have complete control over what you do.”
Vivian Park – as a character from horror thriller film The Purge
“My costume is inspired by The Purge – there’s something dystopian about it and I’m really inspired by it. I bought my mask from the masquerade in Venice.
“I love Comic Con because everybody comes together and we all have something in common, no matter where we’re from.
“It’s a place where you feel very accepted and you get to be whoever you want for a day – it’s really special.”
Katie Berry and Kelly Peach as Mercy and D.Va from online game Overwatch
Katie: “I’m here because I’m a really big comics fan and you don’t really get this atmosphere anywhere else.
“I made my costume – it took about a month for the breastplate and then about a month for the rest – it’s made of Perspex.”
Kelly: “I’ve been coming for five or six years and it’s always the same people and there’s such a community feeling – everyone’s into the same things, everyone wants to celebrate all these interests that they wouldn’t get to explore in their day-to-day lives. Dressing up is part of the fun.”
Emily Hopkins – as Jillian Holtzmann from the Ghostbusters remake
“I’m here because I love everything about it. My confidence is boosted being around people who are carefree and appreciate the same things.
“It’s helped me feel less worried about the stuff that I like – it’s not nerdy, it’s great! Everyone’s so different, I just love it. I can escape and get creative.
“I came as a Ghostbuster because it’s about time there were more female-centric films and I think the hate the movie got was completely unnecessary, and the majority came from people who couldn’t be be bothered to see it and give it a chance.”
Comic book illustrator Karen Rubins
“I’m here to sell my comics and prints and meet people who like my work.
“I work for a comic called The Phoenix with a strip called The Shivers by Dan Hartwell, and our characters include girl heroes solving mysteries and standing up to supernatural threats.
“In the comic village here at Comic Con there’s at least 50% female artists and it’s a great space to work, it’s really inclusive and there’s loads of different comics you can discover.”
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