Worlds collided Friday in the rotunda of the Tampa Convention Center, the second day of the annual anime convention Metrocon.
Hundreds of cosplayers — people dressed up as video game bosses and manga heroes, Disney princesses and Doctors Who — milled around, catching up with friends, buying art and souvenirs and, above all, taking photos.
Maddie Cracolici, a college sophomore, stood next to the product booths, talking to a group of Spider-Man characters. Today, she explained, she was Princess Bubblegum from the TV show Adventure Time.
She stopped to pose so a guy dressed as a whoopee cushion could take her picture.
It took her five days to make Bubblegum's pink dress. She's been cosplaying for years. She once dressed up as Kenny from South Park.
Many made their own costumes, which can get elaborate. Michael Mertz of St. Petersburg spent eight months putting together Draven, the "Glorious Executioner" from the game League of Legends.
He couldn't talk long — too many people wanted to take photos with him and his scythe.
Vinny Suffredini of New Port Richey dressed as Stephen Stills from Scott Pilgrim vs the World. All that required was a flannel shirt and a guitar with a piece of paper reading "Stephen Stills — The Talent — 22 Years Old" attached to it.
Suffredini, who actually does play guitar, has come to Metrocon since 2010 and watched it grow into a four-day extravaganza with more than 12,000 attendees. This year, he said he has a friend dressed up as Todd Ingram from the same comic.
"I've wanted to do (Stephen Stills) for five years, but never had anyone to go with me before," he said.
Brittany Graham and Elisabeth Shields went as the Yip Yips from Sesame Street, and their costume-making strategy was simple. "You just sew the sheets of fabric together and hope for the best," Graham said.
Their characters are from Mars, but Graham and Shields are from Tampa and Jacksonville, respectively. They planned to stay at the convention until it ends on Sunday, but go to downtown Tampa later Friday— not in their costumes.
The most interesting thing they'd seen at Metrocon so far? "I can't see that well, so …" Shields said through her black mouth hole.
Really, they could take their pick. The horde of Guy Fawkes masks. The young girl in a TARDIS dress. The 8-foot-tall metallic tabletop-game character clomping around the booths. A guy dressed as a TV. Baymax from the comic and film Big Hero 6, and the 11-year-old dressed as Dipper from the cartoon Gravity Falls,* who ran up to give Baymax a signature fist-bump.
Danica Hoffman and Sierra Keene dressed as characters from Tokyo Ghoul, a manga that was adapted into a TV series. They've been cosplaying for a couple of years and were headed off to a photo shoot with other Tokyo Ghoul cosplayers. That's the coolest part of Metrocon, Hoffman said.
"People come from all different walks of life," she said. "You'll be talking to people and then, 'Oh, I'm a nurse' or 'I'm an engineer.' But we all have one thing in common: We're all broke because of cosplay."
Contact Emily McConville at email@example.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @emmcconville.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the Gravity Falls cartoon.