Tonawanda News — NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — A few years ago, Shannon Neprily was just a Canadian dark fantasy author who had a love affair with Japanese anime, comic book conventions and dressing up with her friends as a character she’d seen on television or in movies.
Together with a group of friends, they’d visit local conventions in full cosplay – short for costume play – mode.
But then it all changed, as the St. Catherine’s resident learned she, in fact, had breast cancer. It was during last year’s rendition of Niagara Falls Comic Con she told her friends-in-cosplay. It was an emotional reveal, she said.
“Last year was rough,” she said. “They had to carry me out of here.”
But out of that pain and her struggle to regain her health, her cosplay group created a novel idea to raise money for research while reveling in what they’d done together for years. “Cosplay For A Cure” was born.
Saturday’s rendition at Niagara Falls Comic Con featured Neprily as a character from the anime series Gundam Seed and her friend Rebecca Everitt, of Welland, Ont., as a character from the anime series Black Butler, posing with convention goers all for the sake of helping the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to help find a cure so women – and some men – don’t have to worry about the deadly condition in the future.
For various dollar amounts, the group of girls, which also included a pair of Riddler cosplayers from the Batman comic books Saturday, posed for pictures with or without the donor. Neprily, who said she’s finished treatment but is dealing with some nasty aftereffects, also sells copies of her book, “The Forger,” with proceeds also going towards the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
“(Neprily) was the inspiration for this,” Everitt said. “We love doing this. It’s so much fun.”
It’s all an effort to turn some tough news to swallow into a great thing.
Of course, comic book conventions like Niagara Falls Comic Con in Ontario this weekend are about more than just those passionate fans who dress like their favorite characters.
A number of celebrities were present Saturday, including actor Corey Feldman, Adam West (Batman), Lou Ferrigno (the Incredible Hulk), David Prowse (Star Wars), Jeremy Bulloch (Star Wars), Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager), Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon), Lee Meriwether (Catwoman), Mick Foley (WWE Hall of Famer), the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (WWE Hall of Famer), Tom Savini, Larry Thomas, (Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi), Jason David Frank (Green Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), and Madison Lintz (The Walking Dead).
This weekend’s gathering is also about art. And the Niagara Falls version had plenty of artists on display from those who enjoy fantasy to those who showcase their talents in horror.
For fans not exhibiting or trying to sell their own creations, conventions like Niagara Falls Comic Con, which continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the ScotiaBank Convention Centre, 6815 Stanley Ave., Niagara Falls, Ont., are about experience. And these people continue to make conventions worthwhile to attend for the exhibition artists and playful cosplayers who simply want to leave their mark on the world.Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.