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The Great Philadelphia Comic Con attracts nerds of all ages — many dressed in elaborate costumes

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STORY WRITTEN BY DUTCH GODSHALK
dgodshalk@21st-centurymedia.com
@dutchgodshalk on Twitter

OAKS >> For a moment in time, there was peace in the universe. Batman and Superman stopped fighting each other. Klingons and humans set their differences aside. Power Rangers took selfies. The Joker bought his girlfriend a soft pretzel.

image1The Great Philadelphia Comic Con returned to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center on Friday, and with it came scores of heroes and villains. But none of them did battle. They mostly high-fived each other.

The event, which runs through April 24, is an annual nerd haven, home to writers and illustrators, artists, collectors, and more than a few celebrities. Not to mention all the attendees interested in spending a few hours walking around in the shoes of their idols. Literally.

Conventions like GPCC attract lots of cosplayers, people who dress up like fictional characters from television, film and literature.

For many of those people — like David Murphy, of Norristown — cosplay is not just a hobby but a labor of love, one that takes hours of careful consideration and no small amount of tailoring.

Dressed as Kylo Ren, the helmeted villain from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Murphy said he first started attending conventions in costume back in 1999.

“My first costume was a Boba Fett suit [also from ‘Star Wars’],” he said. “It was awful. But I’ve been improving my Fett suit ever since. I’m wearing it tomorrow.”

Drenched in sweat beneath layers of black robes and headgear — “There’s no air in this helmet” — Murphy said he’s attended hundreds of conventions over the years, from California to Arizona, and is now joined at the events by his wife, Amanda.

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DUTCH GODSHALK – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA David Murphy as Kylo Ren from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” at the Great Philadelphia Comic Con April 22.

“I always loved ‘Star Wars,’” Amanda said, “and then I met [David], and he was the biggest ‘Star Wars’ nerd I ever met. He got me doing these events with him.”

For the Murphys, there is something romantic in dressing up and strutting around a convention. It’s a way for husband and wife to spend some quality time together.

And this seems to be a normal occurrence at comic cons. Husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, even siblings, attend the events in complementary costumes. Sometimes entire families dress up.

Take the Russial family for instance. Jim, Olga, and their 5-year-old daughter, Sophia, all came dressed to the convention as “Star Wars” characters, something that Jim and Olga said they had never done before. “I want her to look up to me,” Jim, who was dressed as Darth Vader, said of his daughter. “I don’t want to be boring.”

Sophia, who was at first bashful from all the attention she was getting, exploded with elation when asked who she was dressed as. “REY,” she exclaimed. “And my mom is Princess Leia! And I have hairspray in my hair!”

For some, cosplay is a way to let kids be kids. For others, it’s a way to be kids again, if only for a short while.

“I just love the ‘Ghostbusters,’” said Joe Roddy, outfitted in a tan jumpsuit with a bulky, ghost-sucking pack on his back. “They were a big influence on my childhood. Not just the movies but the cartoon, the toys. It’s one of the forever classic films.”

“I do this as many times a year as I can,” he added, and then lumbered off onto the convention floor, pausing occasionally for a photo.

For more information on the Great Philadelphia Comic Con, visit Philadelphiacomiccon.com.

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