Downtown's Kumoricon convention draws a crowd

Fans of Japanese-style comics anime get decked out in elaborate costumes for annual event

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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Kumoricon 2012

It was hard to miss them as they milled around Esther Short Park. Girls with hot pink hair and colorful tutus. A giant fuzzy Pikachu.

There were even Jesus, Beetlejuice and Wonder Woman roaming around, stopping occasionally for pictures.

And there was lots of photo-taking. Those with the most elaborate costumes seemed to enjoy the attention, even as they were buried beneath bulky fabric or hot masks.

“It’s like 15 pounds on my neck,” remarked Laurie Bick of Mulino, Ore., who was dressed as Excalibur from the manga “Soul Eater.” Her all-white costume included a horse-like headpiece. “After a couple more pictures, I’m gonna change.”

The hubbub was part of Kumoricon 2012, a three-day convention that celebrates anime, a Japanese style of animated cartoons, and manga, a similar style of print comics. Kumoricon, in its 10th year, was held in Vancouver in 2007 and 2011 and returned Saturday to Esther Short. Events also took place at the nearby Hilton Vancouver Washington and the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay.

The convention runs through Monday, and organizers expect the turnout to top last year’s 3,956 attendees.

There was lots to do at Kumoricon: Video game tournaments, comic book reading at the manga library, costume contests and “cosplaying,” in which fans of fictional characters dress in costumes and act, put on skits or engage in coordinated dances.

But the most popular activity appeared to be people watching.

Victoria Scerri, 21, of Happy Valley, Ore., drew plenty of attention as a female version of Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” What made her costume, she said, was her prop: the ghost dog, Zero, in the movie. She constructed Zero of white fabric over a skateboard and pulled the ghost dog on a leash.

“That’s amazing,” a passer-by yelled as Scerri walked along the park.

What prompted her costume idea?

“I always loved ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas,’ and I realized I needed a prop,” she said.

Many, such as Scerri, separated from the anime theme to create their own style.

Take Marcus Dodson, who came wearing a white smock, brown sandals and halo. The 18-year-old Eugene, Ore., resident admits that Jesus of Nazareth has nothing to do with anime, but the costume came naturally.

“Everyone always say I look like Jesus,” he said, shrugging.

And then there were the outfits that restricted sight — and breathing — or the costumes that took hours to make. Jared Runyon, 23, of Portland was one of several people who dressed up as “Slender Man,” an Internet meme phenomenon. The costume consisted of a dress suit and a complete white head covering.

“He helps me not bump into people,” Runyon said, gesturing to his friend Tony Miller, dressed in plainclothes.

And there was Hilary Beutler, eye-catching in her getup as the Weeping Angel in the British TV show, “Dr. Who.” She was painted silver from head to toe, had wings and glittery contacts.

It didn’t come easy.

The sparkly costume took “at least 12 hours of painting,” she said.

Laura McVicker: http://twitter.com/col_courts; http://facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.