Throngs of superheroes and comic-book characters will wander downtown Seattle when Emerald City Comic Con opens next week. But before that happens, we go behind the masks to introduce you to some of the Seattle area's most ardent cosplayers.

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Sketched March 2 and 4, 2019

Thousands of pop-culture fans are about to descend on Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con, which runs March 14-17 at the Washington State Convention Center. Are you dressing up as your favorite superhero this year?

These sketches are the result of two full days of life-drawing sessions with a random group of cosplayers who answered my invitation to model in their real-life outfits and in costume. The group turned out to be as varied as the fictional characters they are choosing to impersonate. Justin Wilhite is a self-described shy jokester who served in the U.S. Air Force and works as a mail carrier. He will fashion a bard from the “Critical Role” web series. Bethy Winkopp is a proud female gamer who works in the tech industry and plans to channel a cool female version of Marvel’s Loki.

[Related | It’s no longer a man’s world: In recent years, women have flocked to Emerald City Comic Con]

From the creative challenge of building your own costume to posing for photographs at the event, everyone raved about the joy of cosplaying and the feeling of acceptance they experience at Comic Con.

“Cosplay is the most inclusive community I know,” Winkopp told me before transforming from geek girl into comic-book villain. “Everyone is welcome.”

C’loni Bailey, 36

Seattle
In real life: administrative assistant
In cosplay: Domino, from “Deadpool 2”
“I love the challenge of seeing a costume in a video or movie and figuring out how to make it myself.”

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Justin Wilhite, 30

Edmonds
In real life: letter carrier
In cosplay: Scanlan from “Critical Role”
“I cruise around Goodwill and Value Village to try to find pieces for my costume.”

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Sarah Silverman, 36

Seattle
In real life: cider-tasting-room manager
In cosplay: Imperial AT-ST driver from “Star Wars”
“I feel so badass in my ‘Star Wars’ costume, like I can boss people around.”

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Bethy Winkopp, 32

Kirkland
In real life: senior program manager
In cosplay: Lady Loki, a female version of Marvel’s Loki
“It’s really fun to run into someone cosplaying Thor. Thor and Loki are siblings so I’m always greeted with excitement.”

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Kiara Boggs, 29

Seattle
In real life: clinical-informatics specialist
In cosplay: Captain Marvel
“My costume is made out of vinyl, pleather and plenty of elbow grease!”

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William James, 41

Renton
In real life: self-employed costume and prop maker
In cosplay: Sirius Black, from “Harry Potter”
“I wore my first costume to a convention almost 30 years ago. It was Commander Riker from ‘Star Trek.’”

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Susan McAlexander, 56, and Kristen McAlexander, 22

Gig Harbor
In real life: finance supervisor in health care, college student
In cosplay: anime characters Violet Evergarden, a child-soldier ghostwriter (Kristen) and the postal worker who mails her letters (Susan)
“Cosplaying with my daughter is different than being a soccer mom,” said Susan. “This is something we can do together and be creative together.”

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