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They're real.

At least, the troops of zombies, villains and heroes who will be stumbling and strutting around Salt Lake City this weekend do exist. But don't barricade yourself in the basement just yet. These citygoers have no special powers beyond attention to detail, and their thirst is for geek culture, not blood.

Downtown will play host to the Cosplay Games on Saturday and the sixth annual SLC Zombie Walk on Sunday, with both events sponsored by Salt Lake Comic Con. Comic Con founder Dan Farr also revealed to The Tribune on Friday that Peter Mayhew, who portrayed Chewbacca in four "Star Wars" movies, will be attending the inaugural Sept. 5-7 convention at the Salt Palace.

The Cosplay Games is a three-part affair that begins with a scavenger hunt/photo contest on Saturday afternoon, proceeds to a free party at the Fear Factory haunted house and ends with an after party for paying adults at The Hotel & Club Elevate.

For the uninitiated, cosplay stands for "costume play" and involves dressing up like a character from a comic book, video game, sci-fi series or, really, whatever you like. Authenticity and thoroughness is rewarded by the subculture's critics. (Provided validation from cosplay subculture critics is something you value highly; otherwise, by all means break out your Dollar Store lightsaber and brown fleece blanket-cloak, Obi-Wan.)

Sunday's Zombie Walk announced Friday that in lieu of a cover charge, it will accept donations to the Utah Food Bank. It begins at 7 p.m. and organizers estimate that it will draw between 5,000 and 10,000 zombies and spectators. The walk starts at Pioneer Park.

"We're not here to eat brains or be killed by crossbows," said SLC "Zombie Queen" Elizabeth Hansen in a news release. "We just have a lot of fun and now we get to work with a great charity."

Participants of both events can win a variety of prizes by posting their photos on Salt Lake Comic Con's Facebook page.

Mayhew is the latest in a string of recent acquisitions for Salt Lake Comic Con, buoyed by promising early ticket sales. He will join fellow "Star Wars" actors Ray Park (Darth Maul) and David Prowse (original trilogy Darth Vader) in the show's lineup.

Twitter: @matthew_piper

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