New York Comic Con is, hands down, my favorite weekend of the year. As a photographer whose work can otherwise be intensely isolating and emotionally draining, NYCC is a fantasy dreamscape come to life: multiple realities crashing together in an insane-looking building, being acted out by thousands of people who want to be photographed. It's fun, challenging, and very extreme. My legs are sore for days afterward because I spend the whole time running around chasing things I can't believe I'm seeing.
Because I'm not trying to "document" this visual chaos so much as synthesize it into pictures about fantasy, commerce, obsession, and community, there's always a bit of a disconnect between myself and what's going on around me. I'm not only a fan of a lot of the cultural references being cosplayed, I also have a deep love for the depths of this kind of fandom. NYCC-goers have built a community that's inclusive while also being wild and unique. Yes, there are a lot of Rick and Morty costumes. But in each one you see someone using a collective cultural touchstone to fulfill their own fantasies—and everyone who sees it loves it. It's incredibly inspiring, and it's why I go back every year to run around like a maniac.
Michael Marcelle is a New York–based photographer. You can follow his work here.