Phoenix Comicon, the place where you don’t have to be yourself

PHOENIX – At Phoenix Comicon, people can mask who they are by wearing an actual mask, makeup or costume. Maybe someone pays tribute to a fictional hero or villain. Or someone is inspired to meld science fiction and imagination to create a new, artistic character.

Phoenix resident Ben Randall, video gamer in his day job, worked on his costume for six years. He estimated he spent 150 to 200 hours to render a steampunk creation, complete with cybersteam goggles, red claws and a bronze gun embedded as his right arm. Good luck getting a handshake from this one.

phoenix comicon cosplayer

Ben Randall before changing into his Comiccon outfit. (Photo by Isabel Menzel/Cronkite News)

Randall has been dressing up for Comicon for seven years. He began coming when he started working with the company that produces Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator, a collaborative computer game based on the original Star Trek series.

“If you think about the bridges from the Star Trek ship, we’ve re-built those in a simulation style game and we have stations in each of the rooms,” Randall said. “Each station can only do a certain thing for each ship, so you need people to work together to be able to do anything.”

More than 85,000 people attended Comicon at the Phoenix Convention Center over the weekend, according to organizers.

Next up: Comic Con in Las Vegas later this month and Comic-Con International in San Diego in July. And the Comicon Fan Fest, a smaller version of the summer event, will be at the Phoenix Convention Center in October.

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Video by Eddie Keller.