Halloween is coming early for Auckland cosplayers, with many waiting in excitement to meet Japanese master of horror Junji Ito at the Overload Comic Manga Convention.
Ito, 56, whose works include popular manga comic series Tomie and Uzumaki, will be making his first New Zealand appearance on Saturday.
Convention organiser Seong Oh, who is expecting a full house for Ito's event, said the horror mangaka will be doing live horror manga drawing and front a session with fans.
Cosplayer Raven Maipi, who described herself as a great fan and an admirer of Ito's work, will be attending the event dressed as one of his spirit characters, Intersection Bishounen.
To fan and cosplayer Muqi Chen, 23, Ito is the "greatest horror artist ever".
"I want to ask Junji how he knows what scares people, because his drawings really affect me in ways that no other comic book artists can," Chen said.
"His drawings capture the true essence of horror and is so detailed, they really bring to life the manga characters."
Chen, who is going to the convention as Yue, a Cardcaptor Sakura, said she found out only after she had designed her costume that Ito was coming.
"I am disappointed that I'm not going as one of his characters, but still very, very excited to finally get to meet him," she said.
Chen, who is pursuing a masters degree at the University of Auckland, has been attending Overload since she came from China four years ago.
The annual convention celebrates Japanese pop culture, which includes anime, manga, food and music, but most popular is cosplay - short for "costume play".
The hobby sees people dress up based on their favourite fictional characters.
"It's where I get to show off my costumes and catch up with fellow fans and friends," she said.
Oh said he expected Ito's attendance to inspire a high number of cosplayers to come dressed in horror costumes.
"Junji Ito is one of the most famous horror manga authors in the world and when we announced his appearance we had the biggest Facebook post engagement ever," he said.
Ito revealed in a fans' meeting at the US convention Crunchyroll Expo earlier this month that he was scared of ghosts as a child.
"Ghosts scared me a lot, and I'd watch it on TV. I would be so scared to go to the toilet ... I couldn't go alone and always had to go with someone," he said.
A former dental technician, Ito said for three years he struggled to balance manga and dentistry.
Oh said fans will be able to see Ito doing his live drawings on two large TV screens.
Overload NZ Comic and Manga Convention 2019
When: Saturday 28 September, 2019. 10am-6pm
Where: The Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auckland CBD.
Tickets: Adults $10, Child $5, Under 5 free.