A welcome escape from reality at Wizard World Comic Con in Philadelphia

The Garcia and Alives families say they put their Spider-Man and Pikachu costumes together at the last minute, but they blend right in. Like most who came to Wizard World Comic Con, now underway in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, they are here to escape from politics and the responsibilities of the real world.

Area super fans are dressed as popular characters from the Marvel and DC comic book universes, Japanese anime, and Star Wars. They are here to meet celebrities, participate in cosplay training, and shop for pop culture treasures.

“It’s fun to see a bunch of other nerds,” says Chuck Winterborne, one of many Spider-Men swinging through the convention center.

Steph Hazelwood, visiting from London dressed as Mystique, and Jim O’Callaghan, a British Navy captain living in Baltimore, as Magneto, are here for their first convention. Hazelwood says it’s a welcome respite from the world, and it’s nice to spend time not overthinking. O’Callaghan jokes that he’s actually there as a harsh reminder of what could happen.

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Budding artists and seasoned comic book pros exhibit their work to a primed audience. Chris Williams, from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, is the author of a comic book series called “Summons.” His characters have demonic powers and exist in a battle between heaven and hell. He’s inspired by ’90s-era comics, a huge fan of “Spawn” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Williams says his experiences at Wizard World have been encouraging, and the positive feedback he receives from fans, validating.

Another emerging man in the field, Alan Hebert, owner of HBComics, was inspired by his family to create “Team Synergy,” in which five young cousins are superheroes. “I have nieces out the wazoo,” said Hebert. He wanted to create something he felt comfortable giving to an 8-year-old girl. Most of HBComics sales occur at comic conventions.

Corin King, dressed as Iron Fist, a Marvel hero with mystical martial arts powers, dances to the Beatle’s cover band British Mania. Passers-by pull out their phones to record him. He traveled to Philadelphia in costume from Berlin, New Jersey. How did other riders react to his superhero costume? “They love it,” he says.

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