Some of the best costumes on display this weekend in the vast fantasy landscape of Wizard World Comic Con in Cleveland will come from a basement in Norton.

The ad-hoc headquarters of Rubber City Cosplay is the basement of a house shared by roommates Ryan Dyke and Cody Stanley. Instead of man cave accoutrements, their cozy lower level is packed with tools, tubes, tape, thread, wigs, wiring, masks, markers and an array of plastic weaponry suitable for any intergalactic showdown.

Whatever one might need to create a costume for a character from Marvel, DC, Disney, “Dr. Who,” “Star Wars,” anime or Nintendo games is within easy reach.

A side room holds a collection of finished costumes from the past. Hanging bags on several racks are marked “Robin-Batman,” “Indiana Jones,” “Nightwing,” “Deadshot,” “Claire and Owen” (from “Jurassic World”), “Daryl” (from “The Walking Dead”) and “Cogsworth-Lumière” (from “Beauty and the Beast”).

They used to be piled in a heap, explains Dyke. “We realized we needed to be adults about it, so we finally got organized.”

Dyke and Stanley founded Rubber City Cosplay about seven years ago to help promote the Akron Comiccon. Members of their group have appeared at multiple geek gatherings, including the Rubber City Pop Culture Fest, Steel City Con and Oddmalls.

They are also regulars at Wizard World, which runs this weekend at Cleveland’s Huntington Convention Center. The massive comics, sci-fi and fantasy gathering draws thousands of fans and features a mix of movie and TV celebrities, VIP access to which, for photographs, signatures and such, can cost hundreds of dollars. The big draw this year is Jason Momoa (aka Aquaman).

Rubber City Cosplay, which has 12 members, runs a booth at Wizard World. Posing for pictures with them is free.

Dyke was joined in the basement last Saturday by his sister Sydney, a University of Akron student studying early childhood education, and their friend, Brigit LeClerc, a dispatcher with RAB Communications. Stanley, who works for the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corp. and serves on the PorchRokr Festival committee, had to work on Saturday, as did several of the other members. Unfortunately, cosplay doesn’t pay.

Pets and play

As they applied colors to some wigs and weapons, the trio was joined by a friendly dog, Ivy, a husky-shepherd mix named for Poison Ivy from the Batman realm, and two cats: Harley (in honor of Harley Quinn) and Harvey (for Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face). There is also a mini BB-8 (the droid from “Star Wars”) sitting next to a larger, in-progress BB-8 that Ryan is building (they need a more durable one).

“I really like cosplay because I get to express myself, and I like that it shows kids that this is cool,” said Sydney. “It’s not something that they will grow up and be criticized for. There’s no limit. You can be whoever you want to be and no one’s going to judge you for it.”

Her favorite character to play?

“My favorite is Rey [from “Star Wars”]. I get to use the staff and BB-8 and the little kids love to see BB-8 running around.”

Brigit’s cosplay leanings started young.

“Growing up I was always a huge Halloween fan,” she said. “I remember being 6 or 7 and my aunt helped me make Jessie from 'Toy Story.' I think that was the start of it. I’ve always loved art and creating things. My favorite cosplay right now is Mount Lady from ‘My Hero Academia.’ She’s this really cool, really empowering female character.”

For Ryan, who works at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank when he isn’t embracing his hobby, cosplay is about "expressing myself artistically.” He is also every movie studio's dream target audience. “I saw ‘The Force Awakens’ seven times in theaters.”

The RCC folks are deft at scouring dusty shelves of hardware stores and scavenging items around the house for odds and ends for costume-making supplies. If all else fails, they go where we all go: online. "Amazon Prime is our best friend," said Ryan.

That's where they found the neon-yellow boots for Sydney's Batgirl costume. A hat for an elaborate Cogsworth costume in 2017 was much more do-it-yourself: two coat hangers, duct tape, rolled-up paper, fabric, glitter, glue, craft foam and a Sharpie (to draw the clock numbers).

For Wizard World, Sydney has a three-day plan: On Friday she will be Batgirl. Saturday she will dress as Post-Apocalyptic Daisy from the Mario games. Sunday, it’s Poison Ivy.

Daisy is the most elaborate, and will require about an hour of preparation to get the makeup right.

Ryan will be Robin on Friday, Waluigi on Saturday (from “Super Smash Bros.” and other games) and Newt Scamander on Sunday (from J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts”).

Brigit will be at Wizard World for two days. On Sunday, she will be Miraculous Ladybug, from the animated series "Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir." But first, her Friday get-up will be quite timely: Captain Marvel, just as the girl-power superhero movie starring Brie Larson hits theaters nationwide.

“I love her,” said Brigit. “The second I saw the trailer, I was like, ‘I have to cosplay her!’ I thought, 'Finally, Marvel has a female lead.' And she has a cat!”

For more: See our Wizard World preview on pages 15 and 16, and our "Captain Marvel" review on page 19.

Clint O’Connor covers pop culture. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 or coconnor@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClintOMovies.