HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — While cosplay — the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game — has long been a staple of Hot Springs’ Spa-Con comic and pop culture convention, Season 7 of the gathering will showcase cosplayers who have taken the fun to a new level of artistry and craftsmanship.
Cosplayers with national followings will participate in the convention, which will take place September 22 through 24 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
“Spa-Con is beginning to attract not just cosplayers, but also craftsmen,” Visit Hot Springs Special Events Manager Alexis Hampo said. “All of the cosplay guests this year are also true artists and craftsmen, and I think Spa-Con’s cosplay community will be able to take a lot from all of them.”
Hampo said this year’s notable cosplay guests will include Knightmage, Downen Creative, Andi Serpenti and Mochi Bunny Studios.
“These guests have taken cosplay to new levels,” Hampo said, “and Spa-Con fans will see some truly amazing displays of artistry and craftsmanship.”
“Spa-Con is always happy to have Knightmage join us at the convention,” she said. “It will be a blast having him back.”
Knightmage is a decorated deputy sheriff with 24 years of service with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio. He’s been cosplayeing since 2012 and has created more than 350 costumes. He has worked on several Hollywood comic book movie productions and loves to entertain, make a positive impact, and bring smiles. Knightmage will host a Makeup 101 workshop on Sunday, September 24, at 11 a.m. and will be at the Kids Cosplay Showcase Saturday morning, September 23. He also will be a judge at the Cosplay Contest Saturday night.
“Beverly Downen, of Downen Creative Studios, is so incredibly talented,” Hampo said, “she’s even written a book, ‘Cosplayer’s Ultimate Guide to EVA Foam.’” Downen is an author and cosplay educator from the Pacific Northwest who makes elaborate original designs and screen-accurate costumes. Her work can be seen on Marvel.com, Adam Savage’s Tested, Cohaku Magazine and CosplayCentral.com. She will host a Forged with Foam Demo and Panel Saturday, September 23, at 11 a.m., will be at the Kids Cosplay Showcase Saturday morning, September 23, and will be a judge at the Cosplay Contest Saturday night.
Andi Serpenti has been cosplaying since 2015. She aims for extreme detail with all her cosplays and often adds her own little touches to the characters she chooses to portray. She has won awards including: First Place Amateur 2021 at Baltimore Comic Con; best in Show at GeekGal Con 2019, and Best Villain at CosMic Con 2018. She will ill host Cosplay 101 on Saturday, September 23, at 2 p.m. will be at the Kids Cosplay Showcase at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, and will be a judge at the Cosplay Contest.
Mochi Bunny Studios is a collective of four artists — Shox Cosplay, Hannah Victoria Cosplay, Crimson Haze Cosplay and Carlation Studios — from NorthwestArkansas. They specialize in textile work, traditional and digital design, wig sculpture, and Meia Creations. The group won Best in Show at A2F 2022, Joy of Cosplay Award at Holiday Matsuri 2022, and Best Overall at Spa-Con 6.0.
Spa-Con’s Cosplay Contest will take place Saturday, September 23, in the Convention Center’s Horner Hall. Cosplay Contest judging will be from 4 to 6 p.m. The Cosplay Club opens at 7 p.m., and the contest winners will be announced at 8 p.m.
The Season 7 convention begins Friday evening with a concert by Galactic Empire, which calls itself the galaxy’s foremost progressive technical heavy metal Star Wars cosplay John Williams tribute band. Concert tickets are available at www.spa-con.org
Previously announced features for Spa-Con Season 7 include appearances by the 1972 Winnebago RV featured in the fourth season of “Stranger Things” and the sheriff’s 2000 Ford Crown Victoria from “The Walking Dead.”
Also appearing will be Annabeth Gish, known to “X-Files” fans as Special Agent Monica Reyes, comedian, writer, actor, producer Orlando Jones, who has been called “the King of Fandom” by MTV, and Janeshia Adams-Ginyard, who starred in the blockbuster movies “Black Panther” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
VIP passes for Spa-Con Season 7 are on sale now for $150. Weekend passes are $35. Visit the Spa-Con website — www.spa-con.org — for more information.
VIP passholders will receive a VIP T-shirt, a Spa-Con tote bag, a Spa-Con laminate, a Spa-Con notebook and a Spa-Con metal cup. VIP passholders also get access to the VIP lounge, celebrity meet-and-greets and advance access to all panels, workshops and photo ops.
In addition, there will be a VIP party each night of the convention, sponsored by Superior Bathhouse Brewery, The Porterhouse Club and Hotel Hot Springs.
For more information call Alexis Hampo at 501-321-2027.