One of Asia's biggest animation and comic fairs opened in Hong Kong, attracting thousands of fans and bringing some fun back into super heroes after the Batman movie shootings in Colorado.
Thor, Spiderman, Captain America and Optimus Prime were just some of the costumes that enthusiasts sported on the opening day of the Ani-Com & Games fair, now in its 14th year in the southern Chinese city.
Paul Ho, 38, wore a home-made Iron Man costume as he strode around the harbourside exhibition centre with a group of friends dressed as other characters of comic-book legend.
"From spraying the paint to modifying it with fiberglass, it took five months to make this suit," the professional costume maker and event organiser told AFP, as blue LED lights glowed in his helmet and chest plate.
"I want to say to Hong Kong people, I hope you all work hard and play hard."
Popular animators and cartoonists were on hand to chat with visitors to the fair, which this year attracted more than 170 local and international exhibitors showing off the latest comics, video games and accessories.
Autographed comics and limited edition action figures were among the hottest items, and fans were seen running through the crowd to make orders while stocks lasted.
Wong Sun Sing, a 27-year-old photographer, started lining up for the expo on Thursday night to pick up three limited edition figures he ordered online at the beginning of the month.
The life-like figures of Batman, Captain America and Jack Sparrow sold for HK$1300 ($168) each, he said.
"I had to line up outside. Luckily there was some shelter that prevented us from getting wet," he said after sitting through a rainy night outside the convention centre.
The fair opens a week after a gunman opened fire on a packed cinema showing the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in the the US state of Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 58.
The alleged 24-year-old shooter's motives remain unknown but he apparently told police he was the Joker -- an evil character in the Batman series -- leading some to speculate that he was living out a role-playing fantasy.
"Sometimes people that have watched these movies may try to pretend to be the evil characters," Ho said.
Warner Brothers cancelled red carpet events for the film in France, Japan and Mexico -- and in a separate move scrambled to pull a trailer for another new film, including a scene in which mobsters shoot at theatre audiences.
Batman actor Christian Bale paid a low-key visit to victims of the shooting on Tuesday.
Despite the shooting, "The Dark Knight Rises" had the third largest opening weekend ever in terms of ticket sales, according to box office revenue-tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Underscoring the huge and enduring popularity of animated characters and super heroes, the last chapter in the Batman trilogy earned $160.9 million in its first three days.
That comes behind opening weekend grosses for "The Avengers" ($207.4 million) and the final Harry Potter movie, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" ($169.2 million).