LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Storybooks came to life as comic book heroes -- and villains -- crowded the hallways of the Lake Charles Civic Center for this year's CyPhaCon.
The convention, held from Friday, April 19 to Sunday, April 21, focused on various anime, science fiction and gaming characters, programs and fan clubs.
Artists and vendors were also at the event, selling prints, handmade crafts and licensed gear. For a slideshow of pictures from the event, click HERE.
Among the featured guests at the convention was voice actor and Lake Charles native Kyle Hebert, who is best known for his work in the Dragon Ball-Z, Bleach and Naruto anime series.
"I consider my first foray into voice acting, the first big thing I did, was Dragon Ball-Z. I got that job, because I auditioned and I heard about it through my radio job. They were working on promotions for Radio Disney, and we wanted to give away merchandise for whatever was hot on Cartoon Network at the time, and Dragon Ball-Z was number one," Hebert said.
"I just love the career. I love being able to play different characters and make somewhat of a living out of it. The icing on the cake is that I get to travel the country and meet the fans face-to-face, and that's a huge perk," Hebert said.
Also at the convention were Captains Brian and Angela Landry with the U.S.S. Corsair, a Baton Rouge Chapter of the Starfleet International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc. The Landrys said they were there in support of U.S.S. Lafitte, the Lake Charles chapter of the organization.
Numerous attendees of the convention dressed up as different characters, including Bane from the Batman series by D.C. Comics, Darth Vader from the Star Wars series by George Lucas, Loki from the Thor series by Marvel, and Miku Hatsune, a popular vocaloid singer. Convention attendees also dressed up as characters from various anime, science fiction and gaming series including Predator, Naruto, Pokemon, Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Butler.
"The first thing you want to do (when dressing up or 'cosplaying') is to find something you like, and then half of the things you find aren't going to be possible. So, then, after you find all of the things that you like, you have to find something that's feasible, and then once you do that, basically, you actually have to put in the effort. A lot of people handmake their costumes," said Steffan Saunders, floor manager at CyPhaCon.
"I've actually gone in and stitched together my own outfit, gone out, bought, fabric and sat at sewing machine. Yes, I am 23 years old, and I'm a guy, and I've sat at a sewing machine for months... It's totally worth it," Saunders said.
Attendees of the convention were also able to participate in Live Action Role Playing, or "larp." In this activity, participants dress up as different classes from role playing games, such as knight, bard or assassin, and hold live battles with foam weapons and homemade costumes.
Organizers say the event was a "great success," and they anticipate that the convention will continue to grow every year. The convention has expanded from previous years to encompass much of the first floor of the Lake Charles Civic Center. Organizers say that next year they plan for the convention to be held on both floors of the center.
Garrett Manuel, head of guest relations at CyPhaCon, said that planning each convention takes about 10 months and that each year the convention tries to bring new featured guests and artists while enticing previous ones to return.
"We're still small right now, but we're growing year after year," Manuel said.
"We have people coming from Mississippi; Houston, Texas; Oklahoma City; Arkansas; Arizona and Florida," Saunders said.
A portion of the proceeds from the convention as well as all of the proceeds from the charity auction held during the convention will go toward the Southwest Louisiana Chapter of the Autism Society. Last year, proceeds benefited the charity organization Heroes for Holden.
Next year's CyPhaCon convention has been tentatively set for April 4-6, 2014.
For more information on the event, visit http://www.cyphacon.org/.