Deseret News: Ever dream of being Batman or Catwoman? Try cosplay

(Deseret News) SALT LAKE CITY — For cosplay enthusiasts, the art of dressing up as fictional characters can carry a stigma of being “geeky,” “nerdy” or just “weird.”

But Lindsey Lopez doesn’t buy into that. “Don’t knock it till you try it,” she said. “Cosplay, to me, is just a hobby that is different than yours. … It just happens to carry costumes with it or crazy, colorful characters.”

Lopez, 29, is a resident of Cedar City and a senior studying opera at Southern Utah University. She’s also a serious cosplay artist who recently won Anime Expo’s U.S. preliminaries, which, last month, gave her and partner Megan Tubridy an all-expenses-paid, weeklong trip to Japan representing the U.S. in the World Cosplay Summit (though China took home the title).

Her love for the art form typically involves Japanese anime (animation) and manga (comic books or graphic novels) characters but can be inspired by many kinds of stories. It began about six or seven years ago, when she “just fell in love with this idea of taking a 2D character and turning it into a 3D person where it was a living, breathing character,” she said.

But Lopez isn’t alone in her love of bringing fictional characters to life. With multiple anime or similar conventions in Utah that see thousands of participants each year, cosplay is becoming an increasingly popular way for anime, fantasy and sci-fi enthusiasts to celebrate their favorite stories.

The difference between cosplay and just dressing up, said Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Bryan Brandenburg, is that cosplay involves the entire person, not just the costume.

“If it’s just about the costume, then it’s costuming,” he said. “But cosplay is actually playing in the costume. So you’ll have people dressed up as Jack Sparrow and they’ll delve right into his mannerisms and voice. … They’re acting as well as wearing the costume.”

Brandenburg said cosplay is a huge part of Salt Lake Comic Con, which began in 2013, and in 2015 saw over 125,000 attendees, according to its website. It runs both a cosplay contest and a children’s cosplay parade, and about 10 to 15 percent of its attendees participate in cosplay, Brandenburg said, depending on how cosplay is defined (for instance, some people just add a cape to their regular clothes, which some would not consider true cosplay). Comic Con will be held at the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center Sept. 21-23(…)