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Fans Embody Favorite Characters At Comic-Con

Reported by Kristoffer Arciaga

San Diego native Jamie Lee Cortez explains what it’s like to walk around Comic-Con dressed up as a popular character.

What do Khaleesi, Deadpool and Pikachu have in common? You can spot them all at Comic-Con.

Cosplayers (short for costume players) from around the world are ready to come out and play at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Hundreds of die-hard fans will dress up at the convention to bring everyone’s favorite fictional heroes to life.

San Diego native Jamie Lee Cortez has been cosplaying at Comic-Con for nearly a decade. Every year, she dreams up the perfect costume. She buys the fabric months before the convention and gets to work on her sewing machine. Cortez says for her, attending Comic-Con is more important than celebrating her birthday.

“Because it’s near my birthday almost every time, I don’t care about planning my birthday,” she said. “I care about what am I doing for Comic-Con.”

Cortez is one among thousands of cosplayers who travel to Comic-Con every summer. They often get stopped for photographs and become momentary celebrities at the convention.

“Bringing people joy and like running into them in conventions (and) bringing their favorite characters to life, I get joy out of doing it,” she said.

Cortez says not everyone can do it. She says it takes her hours of arduous handwork and sometimes costly materials. Cosplayers endure sweltering summer heat under cumbersome costumes and thick makeup. Cortez says more than once she has had to divert unwanted attention from “creepy people.” A man once groped her while taking a picture with her.

“He slowly started moving his hand to places where I didn’t want him to be and he took the picture and he was like, 'By the way, who are you?' I was like, 'Wow, you took the picture with me and didn’t know who I was and tried to make your way down,'” she recalls. “You know, like you do get the creepy people.”

Her room is filled with "Star Wars" artwork. Tiny "Sailor Moon" toys rest on her desk. She works on her "Street Fighter" costume, which she says will most likely be completed on the first day of the convention.

Cortez is turning 30 years old this month. As she gets older, she rejects the notion that there may come a year when she's too old to cosplay. She says she loves feeling like a little kid.

“I don’t know if it’s like a midlife crisis or anything, but I’ve sat and thought like, when will I stop,” she said. “And I’ve seen women, even men, who still cosplay when they are 50 and stuff, and they look awesome. They look amazing. I would like to look that amazing when I’m 50 years old and still do it, because it’s fun.”

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