San Diego Comic-Con did not host the usual panel discussions on upcoming films and series as the writers and actors’ strikes continue.
However, that didn’t stop many fans from continuing the time-honored tradition of dressing up as their favorite characters.
De Los sent photographer John Gastaldo to capture the joy of POC cosplaying.
Marquez has been cosplaying for ten years and has “been lurking outside of Comic-Con for eight years.”
This was his first year of admission to Congress.
“[Chainsaw Man] was much easier than my other two. Day one I was a Warlock from Destiny, day two I was Issac Clarke from Dead Space,” Marquez said.
“I’ve always cosplayed characters that weren’t my skin color, like I cosplayed Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, and that character is Japanese… It’s just out of love for the characters that you’re cosplaying as.” I don’t really think about race when I’m impersonating these characters, it’s just for fun, it’s just out of love for the characters or the franchise too.”
Deku from My Hero Academia
Meneses has been a cosplayer for four years.
“I love being a superhero and how [Deku] learns everything…he learns to manage his own power and fails and gets up and fails and gets up. I really like how he becomes a superhero over time,” Meneses said.
The Great Saiyaman from Dragon Ball Z
Robles attended his first Comic-Con in 2010 when he started cosplaying. This year he chose a classic anime character.
“My character is one of the main characters that we see on the show. What I like about him is that he has a kind of effervescent fun, like an old-school superhero character. When I’m here at Comic-Con, it’s fun to see everyone react and pose with them because everyone’s really enjoying the character,” Robles said.
Maurice Cardoza and Jasmine Rodelas
Power Ranger and Fennec Shand
For Rodelas, this was her first Comic-Con, while Cardoza was at the convention for the second time.
“I play the role of the white Power Ranger. “I chose this character because actor Jason David Frank recently passed away. So it’s kind of an honor for him, and it’s also the 30th anniversary of the franchise,” Cardoza said.
“I’m disguised as Fennec Shan; She’s from The Mandalorian. “I like her because she’s one of the few Asian characters in the Star Wars universe,” said Rodelas. “I’ve always wanted to [cosplay]but then again, he’s my only nerd friend, and since he’s been going I’m comfortable going with him and not alone.”
“Cosplaying is important for people of color because we live in a time where representation matters. So I think we can inspire younger generations to cosplay as well,” said Cardoza.
“There are a lot of predominantly white characters in the media. Knowing that there are characters I can come up as, and you don’t necessarily have to, but there are characters that look like you,” Rodelas said.
Obi Wan Kenobi
Cruz has been attending Comic-Con for 15 years. This year he brought his daughter along, and they portrayed two of her favorite Star Wars characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Rey.
“I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I have five different Star Wars cosplays at home, but being able to live in that genre, in that movie, and just slip into it and pretend you’re living in Star Wars is what really drives it,” Cruz said.
“[Cosplay] goes beyond color and race… Anyone can dress up and be a character in their favorite movie. There is no judgement.”
The Williams family
Super Mario Bros.
Kevon and Marissa Wiliams took their kids Xyah and Duece to Comic-Con this year, and the family looking to emulate it was an easy choice.
“My son is a big fan of it [Super Mario Bros.] movie, my daughter too. It spans generations. They loved the film so it’s a family affair,” Kevon said.
McConnell says he started cosplaying in 2014 and has been at Comic-Con since 2018.
“There’s a community of people that’s like a next-level game, and I want to see what I can learn and experience from that and be a part of that,” McConnell said.
“I’m an artist and my stage name is ‘Spartan Artist’. I compete in Spartan races and things like that and then do cosplays for the characters I draw. They are usually warrior and hero types.”
“Cosplay is good for self-expression,” McConnell said. “Dressing up like an idiot and going about the things you love takes a lot of courage, and if you can have that courage as an artist, then there are a lot of things that fear doesn’t hold you back.”
“I think that’s something that everyone should embrace, and there are a lot of African Americans who are afraid to step into that light for fear of judgment. I think it’s worth it, even if it’s just for a short time, to try and get the experience and then see the confidence that comes from it, because in cosplay you’re also stepping out of yourself and just being the version of yourself that you want to be. It is a beautiful experience for everyone.”