Playing the Part: Comic Con Brings Out Scholars’ True Character

October 23, 2015


Sadina Tarbox dressed as Ezra Scarlet from the popular anime, “Fairy Tail.” Tarbox said cosplay is something she and her friends do as an alternative to sitting around watching TV or going to the mall.

By Max De Jong

For cosplayers, every stitch, every paint stroke, every piece of fabric and piece of maneuvered clay, has led them to this moment: displaying their final product and participating in costume play – or cosplay —  at one of the various Comic Cons around the world.

Comic Con is a yearly event that brings fans, anime junkies, movie buffs and straight up geeks together, as a gathering where people can share their obsessions, collections, and costumes inspired by various Japanese anime, manga, movies, and T.V. shows.

Cosplay was once considered largely “taboo” and strange, but has slowly become mainstream and popular in American youth culture. Now Comic Con event have developed into an international gathering with booming crowds and fans of all kinds.

Starting tomorrow and going through the weekend, New Mexico will be hosting the 2015 Santa Fe Comic Con, which takes place at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino. Not only does Comic Con provide an event to anime addicts and T.V. junkies, but also allows younger audiences to express their creativity and interests.

“It is something fun to do with your friends, and it’s different,” said senior Alise Leach, who plans to attend this weekend’s Con. “It unites people, it’s a social thing.”


(photo courtesy of Sadina Tarbox).  Gwendolyn Orr, Sadina Tarbox, and Kirsten Morales in cosplay.

(Photo courtesy of Sadina Tarbox)
From left: Gwen Orr cosplaying Jaime from Cardfight Vanguard, Sadina Tarbox as Lucy Heartfilia from Fairy Tail, and Kirsten Morales as Kyoko from Madoka Magicacosplay.


Senior Sadina Tarbox, a friend of Leach’s, has been to many Comic Cons. The last costume she created was a character from the popular anime, Fairy Tail. The character, Erza Scarlet, is a fiery redhead with a short fuse. “I went all out and made knight armor and a sword out of craft foam,” she said, “The end product is always really fun.”

Watching anime, reading comics, and costume play used to be considered “nerdy” or out of the ordinary. It appealed to people who may be introverts  in everyday life, but could come to these events and take on a different persona, having it serve as a real life fantasy for both them and their fans.

Senior Gwendolyn Orr describes herself as a pretty quiet person, who has been obsessed with anime since she was a kid. To her, dressing up and emulating her favorite characters just seemed like a natural progression. Plus, cosplay gives her confidence.

“The costume I just finished is this noble vampire character. When I wear her I feel like I could, for lack of a better of a word, slay,” she said.

She thinks Anime has become popular in mainstream culture for various reasons, but the biggest, she said, is that, “It’s judge free – you can be as weird as you want.”

Going to the events, feeding of the frenzy of the anime fans, or “weaboos,”  and meeting famous voice-over actors and actresses is also part of the thrill of Comic Con.

Alise Leach and Kirsten Morales in cosplay.

ASK scholars Alise Leach and Kirsten Morales in cosplay.


Comic Cons also show how far the world of fandoms and cosplay has evolved as people have learned to embrace cultures from other countries. “When I was in middle school I saw some girl watching Anime, and I thought, ‘What the heck is she watching? That’s weird,’” Leach said. “But now, I am like, I am weird.”

The Santa Fe event this weekend will host various panels, discussions, and boasts an all-age dance club. Tickets to the Santa Fe Comic Con are $15 for Friday, $25 for Saturday, $20 for Sunday, or a 3 day pass for $45.

Go to for more information.

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