Dressed to thrill at Comic Gong Festival | PHOTOS

"You're the coolest person here!" shouts someone to the young supervillain on stage.

He is Mr Freeze, outfitted in armour of moulded foam, with neon blue tubes coming out of his gut and a futuristic "freeze gun" in his hand.

His head is encased in what looks like a cryogenic box - a brilliant touch complete with icey blue internal lights, but a problem when the microphone is brought to his mouth, as no-one can hear what he says.

"You're ice cold!" yells his supporter.

The buzzing Comic Gong festival, on Saturday, brought fans of science fiction, comic books, computer games and fantasy together in Wollongong's city centre.

Inside the Town Hall, teen girls wore cutesy anime costumes and a remote controlled inflatable robot butted into passers-by, driven by Wollongong library IT worker Andrew Main.

"I'm having a second childhood," said Mr Main, who wore the uniform of the Starship Enterprise, and the unmistakable ears of Spock.

"Live long and prosper."

The event - which included comic-making workshops and other activities at Wollongong City Library and the art gallery - is part of Wollongong City Council's efforts to engage with young people.

Hosting the day's cosplay contests, 20-year-old Oak Flats glamour Eve Beauregard came dressed as a USO girl from the Captain America comics.

Beauregard, a global cosplay star and one of a handful of Australian women to make a living out of dressing up as comic book heroes and video game characters, has noticed crowds at festivals like Comic Gong increasing.

"People have realised that there's nothing wrong with being geeky - it's just about being passionate," she said.

On stage at the Town Hall, the male-over-13 cosplay contest drew about 10 entrants.

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder: Doctor Who, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, the Green Arrow.

Sebastian J. Smith, 20, of Dapto, was the Dark Magician from the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards and lay claim to the day's bulkiest costume. He blinked through milky blue contact lenses and sweated under a pastel pink wig and layers of spraypainted foam.

His mum, Sandra Abarcia, was there to help him manoeuvre through the crowds.

"He lives cosplay, breathes it, sleeps it," she said. "My house looks like a bomb hit it."

Back on stage, Mr Freeze was announced runner-up.

First prize goes to Justin Costello, a 41-year-old security officer from Penrith, who came dressed as Deathstroke from the Batman franchise.

He made his costume himself using hundreds of dollars worth of foam and worbla - a plastic that is moulded using a heat gun.

On closer inspection, the costume is incredibly detailed - there are random lines pressed into the foam and made to look aged - chinks in battle-worn armour

"It's about the detail," Mr Costello said.

"Even if you can't see it, it just does something to the costume."

ILLAWARRA MERCURY CARTOON COMP: Produce your own cartoon or caricature that reflects a popular news topic or personality from an Illawarra Mercury news story during May and you could be walking away with some awesome prizes! More details here.


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