Superheroes descended to London's Excel Centre today for the second day of Comic Con 2017
The event, Comic Con 2017, drew more than 100,000 fans of anything from classic comic books to TV sci-fi drama, fantasy movies and computer gaming – and these fans take their hobby very seriously.
And nothing, least of all the threat of terrorism in the wake of the Manchester atrocity, was going to keep them away.
The police presence at the hangar-sized building by the side of the Thames was noticeably higher-profile than in previous years – but as one fan joked “maybe they're just role-playing.”
Inch-perfect recreations of superhero and fantasy figures were everywhere as fans turned up in fantastic costumes which had taken hundreds of hours and hundreds of pounds to create.
The event drew more than 100,000 fans dressed in various costumes
Despite the massive scale of the venue there is a clear counter-culture feel to this role play – known to aficionados as cosplay – and the characters they adopt are a big part of their life.
Everyone here is nerdy and unique and creative and it's a good to feel part of that
Friends Kate Morton, Ruth Doulgeris and Scott Hazell – all studying costume design for film at Bournemouth University – spent about 250 hours creating dresses for their witches characters from hit Disney movie Hocus Pocus.
Kate, 21, said the reasons for cosplay were very simple and added: “It's just fun to dress up.”
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The police presence was higher-profile than in previous years
But she said the sense of community for people who might consider themselves outsiders, or at least a little left-field, was an important factor.
She said: “That is definitely part of the attraction – everyone here is nerdy and unique and creative and it's a good to feel part of that.”
She added that the Comic Con phenomenon had initially been solely about comics but the release of the first Star Wars film changed all that.
And Tony Lee, part of the 501st UK garrison of Star Wars Stormtroopers couldn't agree more.
Junket (r) aka Dan, 25, and Roadhog (l) aka Riley, 19
Recreations of superhero and fantasy figures were everywhere
The graphic designer from London, who spends almost every other weekend in Star Wars costume, said the first Star Wars had been a game changer and helped create the cosplay phenomenon. He added: “Almost every country in the world now has a garrison of Stormtroopers like ours.
“There are three main reasons for doing it – it's fun, the love of the films and the fact we attend charity events.”
And again, these costumes are not just thrown together – they are painstakingly assembled with absolute faithfulness to the film version before being sent to the USA for official verification and cross-checking before finally receiving official approval, stamped onto the arm of every Stormtrooper which passes muster.
London Comic Con event Sun, May 29, 2016
Stormtroopers, Deadpool and Superman descended on London today as avid comic fans mingled in their favourite character costumes. As many as 35,000 fans, dressed as characters from comics, films, cartoons and computer games, came together at the Excel Centre in east London and 135,000 are expected over the three-day weekend
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Tony, who saw the first Star Wars film 22 times, added: “At the end of the day who doesn't want to be a stormtrooper?”
Dan Gittings, 24, dressed as Batman nemesis the Joker, said cosplay was a way for those who felt alienated from the mainstream to fit in.
He added: “It's a coming together of the weird the wired and the downright dangerous! A lot of these people, myself included, feel out of step with modern life, it's just too prescriptive an boring.
“Comicon gives us all a chance to express our creativity and be whoever we want to be, without judgement. It's brilliant.”