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The Clock Is Ticking; the Cosplay of Comicpalooza Is Just Around the Corner

Houston, we've got a problem. With so many sci-fi and comic-inspired big-screen releases already under our belt, and more coming down the chute, how's an über-fan to know which persona to embody when Comicpalooza dominates H-Town for Father's Day weekend?

Safe (and apropos) bets include anything Aliens-inspired, especially with scheduled autograph experience bookings by Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), Bill Paxton (Private Hudson), Paul Reiser (Burke) and William Hope (Lieutenant Gorman); also making an appearance are Michael Biehn (Corporal Hicks), Jenette Goldstein (Private Vasquez), Mark Rolston (Private Drake) and Ricco Ross (Private Frost).

We also expect a good showing of Lycans and Vampires this year, especially with celebrity headliner Kate Beckinsale (Selene) booked for a Saturday-only appearance, whetting our appetites for all things undead with this fall's Underworld: Blood Wars.

Bex Rathbun, Comicpalooza's cosplay coordinator, says that this year's blockbusters are definitely an indicator. “If you're looking at comic book cosplayers, Marvel and DC are putting out their movies. There's also the movie side of comic book characters. I think that Captain America and Bucky Barnes are going to be some popular ones,” says Rathbun, who also mentions X-Men: Apocalypse and, from the Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn.

“If you're looking at anime, [Japanese webcomic] Hetalia is going to be seeing a little bit of a resurgence, because they put out a new season for the series.” She says another one in the anime category, though it's really more of a computer video game, is Undertale. “That's really popular right now; it's sort of replaced another web comic by the same creator, Homestuck; that was popular four years ago. The fans have continued and keep the spirit alive.”

It's a rich pool from which to draw, with inspiration from movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Deadpool, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Independence Day Resurgence, Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond and Doctor Strange.

The good news is that Comicpalooza has planned four separate events for strutting your stuff, beginning with a Crossplay Drag Contest on Friday, June 17 at 8:30 p.m. “It's a pretty common thing in cosplay, especially since there's going to be more popular male characters than female characters,” says Rathbun. “It's a nice way to [showcase] our local drag talent here in Houston.” This event tends to draw the core community, and is generally more performance-based, rather than craftsmanship-based.

Cosplayers will be running amok throughout the June 17-19 event, and we hope to see a return of faves like Lady Deadpool, Wolverine, Chun-Li, gender-bending Thor, Mystique, anything from Doctor Who, Mileena and those always-hungry, gerbil-talking Minions. It's all leading up to the big reveal on Saturday night with the Cosplay Contest.

For those aware of some of the grumbling over last year's competition, rest assured, there's a new sheriff in town. Rathbun has addressed any residual complaints and assures us that those issues “are no longer present” and that “everything will be taken care of” this year. Which is a good thing. The Cosplay Contest is one of our favorite events, and there are always a few surprises with the 40-seconds-in-the-spotlight walk-on competition, with categories for beginner, intermediate and advanced.

“Every now and then there is a beginner — they will come out, they have everything: They've modified the shoes, even made the shoes; they do special effects, makeup, lights, moving parts,” says Rathbun. “It happens. You get a wild card every now and then.” She says that, if a beginner meets the craftsmanship percentage (participants must have made 80 percent or more of their costume) and, even if the person has never entered a costume contest before and never won a big award, he or she could still win Best in Show. Sure, there's the glory and adoration of the fans, which is awesome, but it also comes with a $1,000 cash prize.

Interestingly enough, Rathbun says that the skit component is more popular overseas, whereas the trend here is for the walk-on and craftsmanship elements. For the skits, which range from one and a half to three and a half minutes long, contestants can do a parody or a comedy act or can sing, as long as it's family-friendly. “Let's say they wanted to do something from Robin Hood: Men in Tights. There's one scene where men are all dancing, doing a jig. If they wanted to do that as Avengers, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, they can do a parody,” says Rathbun. She even remembers one instance where somebody did a re-enactment from The Lion King. Props are welcomed, but no spraying water or glitter bombs. For those interested in either the walk-on or skit competition, there are many rules in place and, upon advice of counsel, we recommend that you read them all beforehand to avoid being eliminated. Forty-five spots will be released on Friday, with the remainder of the spots becoming available on Saturday.

For informal cosplayers, Sunday morning offers another opportunity. "If there are people that don't necessarily want to compete, there will be what's called a Cosplay Procession on Sunday morning," says Rathbun. "If they just want to show up, we'll be doing a mini-parade through the first floor at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

For the pajamas-and-cereal crowd, a Children's Cosplay Contest is planned for Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. in the children's area.

Comicpalooza is scheduled to run noon to 8 p.m. Friday, June 17; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 18; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 19 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, comicpalooza.com. $10 to $250, plus additional fees for autographs and photo opportunities.

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