SAN DIEGO, Calif. (AP) — Comic-Con is back in person, and back in character.
The spectacle was everywhere in and around the San Diego Convention Center amid the crowd of tens of thousands of fans at the first full-attendance version of the pop culture phenomenon since 2019.
They came to watch panels and previews from movies like "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves," and from TV shows like on Amazon's "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" and Apple's heavily Emmy-nominated dystopian drama "Severance."
And as they were in years' past, the cosplayers were the self-made stars of the show, drawing gawking from convention-goers and photographers.
While spot-on cinematic authenticity is the goal for some of the costume wearers, others use their characters as a starting point for broader creativity or expressions of identity.
Kaleigh Kailani of Los Angeles dressed as an especially electric Mad Hatter, with long, shimmering green hair, purple top hat, striped tights and a skirt that looked like layered tutus.
In a Marvel meets Marie Antoinette mash-up, Kerri Zehrung added a powdered wig and lampshade skirt to her Iron Man costume, and Jasmine Preston gave the same transformation to Spider-Man.
San Diego locals Lisa Lower and Shawn Richter used almost the entire color spectrum for their outfits, adding rainbow elements of the LGBTQ pride flag to the metal mask of the Mandalorian from the "Star Wars" galaxy, with an umbrella, suspenders and feathers to boot.
One group of cosplayers were done up in giant masks and plastic clothes as Funko Pop dolls of characters including Wonder Woman, Batman, and Ursula the Sea Witch from "The Little Mermaid."
When they weren't acting out their roles, cosplayers led more pedestrian lives. They had to get their fictional weapons tagged as safe by security guards. They sat and looked at their phones. Paul Forest of Toronto, dressed impeccably as the original Mr. Spock from "Star Trek," got a shoeshine from Daniel Golden, who was dressed as his superior officer Captain Kirk.