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The obsession of cosplay

William Wong is a Sydney fitness instructor by day but lives out his obsession with Japanese anime in his spare time by dressing up in extremely high-end home-made costumes in a bid to be Australia's best cosplayer.

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Supanova is touted as the place to let "your inner geek" hang out this weekend with another 50,000 people, many disguised as superheros, anime characters, Teletubbies, Mr Spock and Dr Who.

Candice McLaughlin stood out as Atomic Wonder Woman. At 190 centimetres, she towered over the crowds waiting to get into the three-day show at the Sydney Showground. 

Wielding a weapon with a seemingly concrete base and a chainsaw on the top, Ms McLaughlin thinks the pop-culture convention is more about expressing her creativity. Although she adds:  "Geeks and superheros are pretty much the same thing."

William Wong is a Sydney fitness instructor by day, but cosplayer in his spare time. Cosplay is born out of an obsession with Japanese anime and sees avid fans dressing up in extremely high-end home-made costumes. Click for more photos

Supanova

William Wong is a Sydney fitness instructor by day, but cosplayer in his spare time. Cosplay is born out of an obsession with Japanese anime and sees avid fans dressing up in extremely high-end home-made costumes. Photo: Peter Rae

  • William Wong is a Sydney fitness instructor by day, but cosplayer in his spare time. Cosplay is born out of an obsession with Japanese anime and sees avid fans dressing up in extremely high-end home-made costumes.
  • Harry Mofatt 25 from Doonside as Jet from B Bop.
  • Vernon family from Caves Beach.
  • Mathew Melville 21 from Penrith as Magic Man.
  • Jacklyn Edgar 19, Sagan Long 20 and Samantha McLaughlin 22 all from QLD.
  • Billy Dy 21 from Canlyvale.
  • Ellen Henderson with her daughter Amelie, from Rouse Hill.
  • Supanova Festival at Homebush Bay.
  • Kristian Schutz 25 and Saralisa Loftis 22 from Melbourne as Poison Ivys.
  • Sky Yoshida 25yo from Wollstonecraft as Aquaman and Matt Lukies 26yo from Logan in QLD as Mr Fantastic.
  • David Whitton 25yo from St Clair.
  • Anthony Tonna 8yo from Ingleburn.
  • Candice McLaughlin aka Jet Shepard dress as Atomic Wonder Woman at the Supanova Festival at Olympic Park.

Like many of the pop culture fans attending Supanova, the inspiration for Ms McLaughlin's cosplay (costume role play) comes from every cranny of pop culture. It ranges from comic books, animation, cartoons, science-fiction, movies, toys, console gaming, trading cards, fantasy, entertainment technology, books, internet sites and fan clubs.

Over the three-day festival of all things popular, which opened on Friday, the aspiring filmmaker from Picnic Point will embody three popular culture characters. On Friday, Ms McLaughlin wore gauntlets, wielded a shield she had made from thermoplastics, and carried a two-metre weapon (not deadly) to role play the post-apocalyptic Atomic Wonder Woman, the star of the multiplayer online game Infinite Crisis. Over the weekend, she will also dress as the Batman villain Poison Ivy, and as Silk Spectre, from the Watchmen graphic novel.

Over the weekend, Ms McLaughlin - who usually is known by her cosplay pseudonym, Jet Shepard - will slip into something more traditional, the role of Poison Ivy, Batman's arch nemesis.

It took her eight months to make this weekend's three costumes, which also include Silk Spectre, the name shared by a mother and daughter in a DC comic book series, The Watchmen and a graphic novel.  

By day, Sydney resident William Wong is a fitness instructor. In his spare time though, he’s breaking the “gym junkie” stereotype by living out his Japanese anime and video game fantasies through cosplay.

His home-made costume, based on the character Ovan from video game .hack//GU, earned him the title of Melbourne’s cosplayer of the year, and a spot in the Australian finals in Brisbane in November.

The costume took four months to build. In addition to sporting the character's signature blue hair and yellow glasses, he also constructed an armoured jacket out of leather belts, a heavy arm cannister out of toilet rolls, shoe socks and a wooden sword.

“I get to draw, I get to make really cool things and then I get to show them off by wearing it and it's a really geeky thing and I love it,” Mr Wong, 25, said.

Ms McLaughlin's characters, like many others, pay homage to the golden days of comic books and the man who created many of them, 91-year-old Stan Lee, arrived at the expo on Friday. Supanova's event director Daniel Zachariou said Lee transformed the industry by humanising villains and superheros.  

“Before he [Lee] started writing comics in 1961, they were all very straight up and down. They never had flaws. Suddenly the Fantastic Four; they’re a family of superheroes, they have infighting, they have issues, they nearly get evicted for not paying the rent."

To Ms McLaughlin, Lee was a supernova of popular culture.

"He's like the father of us. He's the biggest thing ever," she said.