One of the best parts of any New York Comic Con is the walk to the Javits Center, when hundreds of people dressed as superheroes, alternate universe Victorians, and anime characters descend on Midtown Manhattan. For a few days, the blocks around Penn Station come alive with color, playing host to interactions between costumed attendees and the baffled or intrigued locals and tourists who no longer own the streets.

After a while, the lines between cosplayer and civilian start to blur: when enough people are in costume, everyone is. When enough people have thrown off the conventional wisdom dictating that clothing should be merely utilitarian, decorative, or indicative of who you are in real life, it’s easy to start picking it apart to look for a story.