According to Salt Lake Comic Con's cosplay director, Ro Malaga, dressing up in original costumes of characters from books and movies is quickly "becoming a subculture" in Utah.
Through cosplay events, like Salt Lake Comic Con FanX which will be in town March 17-18 at the Salt Palace Convention Center, participants are able to meet new friends, express themselves creatively and even give back to the community.
But those aren't the only reasons people become interested in cosplay. They do it for the comradery and shared interest with the people they meet.
Many participants say cosplay events like Comic Con FanX give them a chance to enjoy themselves, learn new things, while promoting positive body image and self esteem.
“It’s been great to have friends in this community that can help you when you’re stuck on a project," cosplayer Ryan Bielik from Layton told the Deseret News. "They’re super helpful to workshop costume ideas with, and fun to travel to conventions with. We have fostered some great relationships with people we may not have found otherwise."
Who are these people that are a part of one of Utah's fastest growing communities? Deseret News journalists talked to people dressed up for Comic Con FanX on the streets of Salt Lake City.
Here are their stories.
We found Waldo, better known as Connor Flinders, 23, of Salt Lake City, who was searching for autographs from authors Brandon Mull, who wrote "Fablehaven" and "The Beyonders," and Gary Whitta, who wrote "Rogue One."
Danielle DeGriselle made her cosplay debut as Princess Fiona, The Warrior, going green in honor of St. Patrick's Day.
"Why would you want to be a princess when you can be a strong woman?" DeGriselle said.
Her armor is made out of foam, and her battle axe from PVC pipe and interlocking floorboards.
"My friend made the clothes. I'm handy at crafts, but not at clothing," she said.
Jacky Nghiem, 17, of Midvale created her own original costume for Comic Con Fan X.
"Mine is a cross over between an anime show and then a cat because I love both things, so I'm just like smashed together," Nghiem said of her costume.
Robert Stefanik (left), 25, from Salt Lake City is dressed as a cowboy assassin. Jordan Dumpert (center), 25, from West Point, is dressed as a wizard. Cayna Storey (right), 34, from Rangeland Colorado, is dressed as a musketeer.
Janessa Estrada, from Salt Lake City, came dressed as Gandalf to see John Rhys-Davies in Lord of the Rings attire.
"It's always known that girls take a costume and make it sexy, so I took Gandalf and made him sexy," Estrada said.
Cady Lancaster (left) and Kirsten Meek (right), from Salt Lake City, dressed as Cheryl Carol Tunt and a female version of Dr. Algernop Krieger from the television series "Archer."
"I think all of us is a little bit of Cheryl in our life," said Lancaster, when asked about her costume choice.
Meek said that she is a bit of a mad scientist and thinks the show is funny, so she was excited to represent it in her costume.
Lynn Taylor, 46, of Hooper poses as a Star Wars bounty hunter on his day off. This is the third year he has been to a Comic Con event in Salt Lake. He came as a part of a Star Wars charity group.
"Just one idea snowballed off of another," Taylor said. "We decided to be Star Wars characters on their day off."
Brooke Toller (left), 21, from Provo, is dressed as Belle. Kaitlyn Prows (center), 24, from Lehi, is dressed as Anna. Erika Luke (right), 24, from Logan, is dressed as Elsa.
Brian Gates of West Valley City came dressed to impress as Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the band Queen.
"I'm a big fan of Freddie, and I usually wear it to the fall Comic Con because it is closer to September 5, Freddie's birthday. But I wore it today because I can meet Sam Jones, the Flash Gordon, and see his reaction to me dressed as Freddie Mercury," Gates said.
Mckenzie Perry (left) from Logan is dressed as Levi from "Attack on Titan," a Japanese manga series. Rosie Kondel (right) from Logan is dressed as Sasha from "Attack on Titan."
Dusty and Corbin Anderson, a father-son pair from Salt Lake City, dress as Thor and Odin, complete with EVA foam and PVC pipe and a lightning storm coming from a hidden speaker.
"Because Thor is Odin's son," said Corbin when asked why they picked this costume.
Tucker Banz (left), 19, and Mercedes Kinney (right), 19, of Syracuse pose together as the Joker and Harley Quinn. Banz made his cane and Harley Quinn's mallet by hand.
Maddie Smith (left), 21, from Stansbury Park, is dressed as Winter Soldier/Elsa. Sarah Thomas (right), 22, from Stansbury Park, is dressed as Captain America/Anna.
Meet Jackie, Ragdoll Sam, the gender-swapped version of Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas" duo, created by Tristen and Eric Molina.
The Molinas said they were huge fans of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and even had a "Nightmare Before Christmas" wedding.
"We just fell in love with the characters and the culture behind Burton's films," said Tristen.
Jessi Flygare of West Valley came dressed as Ashe from the video game "League of Legends."
"I love playing the game, and Ashe is my main champion," Flygare said. Since Salt Lake Comic Con began, Flygare said she has only missed one convention.
Kidd Wolfe, West Valley City resident, was disguised as the Grim Reaper, and made everything in his costume but the mask. The scythe is made from insulation foam.
Emily Martin from the Upside-Down, aka Murray, as Eleven from "Stranger Things."
"I really like Eleven, and I'm excited to see other people cosplaying as Stranger Things characters," said Martin, barely able to contain her excitement.
Lisa O'Kelley (left), 47, and Robert Aswin (right), 45, of West Jordan stand guard as commanders of S.T.A.R.S., the Special Tactics and Rescue Service, from video game "Resident Evil." Both are former law enforcement officers and use their experience with cosplay to help military veterans suffering from PTSD in an organization called Canines With A Cause.
"The costumes and the group came first. We all kind of have a love for it, and once we got going and we started building up, then we picked our charity. And we do this for our charity now," O'Kelley said.
Keaton Beazer (left), 24, of Kaysville and Shelby Avila (right), 24, of Orange County, California both dressed as Captain America debate which superhero is the best.
Ian Herdegen, 16, of Riverton poses as the sixth doctor from "Doctor Who."
"It's fun, a very colorful costume to dress up in," he said. His grandmother made the coat for him from a variety of different fabrics.
Lygia Alves, 22, of Rupert, Idaho stars as Gamora from "Guardians of the Galaxy."
"If I'm going to go as Gamora, I'm not going to look like Shrek in a costume," she said. Alves, which bought VIP passes for both her and her boyfriend, had been putting on body paint since 3 a.m.
Eric Harrison, 21, of Springville poses as a German.
"I had lederhosen, and they're super comfy, and it's an excuse to wear them," Harrison said. He got his lederhosen from Germany where he served a mission.
Noah Schmitz, 20, and his two brothers, Jonah, 18, and Micah, 13, dress as Jawas from "Star Wars."
Katharine Mansfield (left), 16, and Nicole Nolting (right), 16, from Sheradan, Wyoming star as Judge and Zachary of the computer game "OFF."
"It's really creepy, but not in like a horror way. It's something you don't want to play in the middle of night, but it's still really good," the girls said of their favorite computer game.
Destinee Montoya, 17, of Sandy dresses as Bee from "Bee and PuppyCat," an animated web series. She said she chose to dress as Bee because she feels as though she can relate to the character.
"Sometimes she can be outgoing, but a lot of times she is a really shy kind of character," Montoya said. "She likes to be adventurous ... She doesn't like to give up too much."
Jordan Nelson, 23, of Magna is a member of S.T.A.R.S. from video game "Resident Evil." His call sign is "Rook."
Ninian Martin, 18, of Riverton poses as Wirt from "Over the Garden Wall," a TV miniseries on the Cartoon Network.
"I really liked his clothes, so I wanted to wear them," she said of her costume choice.
Becky Evans, 42, from West Wendover, is dressed as an orc.
Charles Luce, 20, from Idaho Falls, is dressed as the Mad Hatter.
Braxton Bodine from Sandy is dressed as Link.
Deseret News writer Herb Scribner asked some of the humans of Comic Con "Who would win a tournament of superheroes?" Here's what they had to say: