ComicCon 2013 encourages participants to geek out in Tampa

08/26/13 Samuel Johnson
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“People watching on steroids” could have been the motto of the 13th annual Tampa Bay ComicCon held at the Tampa Convention Center last weekend. The three day event pre-sold more than 20,000 tickets. A report from Florida’s largest Comic convention.

It was like an amusement park and street fair combined. People costumed as superhero’s and villains mingled with “civilians”. George Trinnings drove his family up from Fort Lauderdale for their first ComicCon. He, like many other visitors, enjoys geeking out. That’s the insider’s term for an almost obsessive preoccupation with something you like.

“I really geek out on a lot of anime, manga...Game of Thrones...a lot of fantasy; all that good stuff. I mean; everything. If it's good content you give it to me, I'll read it; I'll watch it. It's good.”

Comic books are still at the core attraction. Greg LaRocque is a comic book artist who is best known for his renditions of Spider-man and The Avengers. He’s been attending comic book conventions for 3 decades. He said comics turned huge when Hollywood started putting out blockbusters featuring comic book superhero’s.

“That's when Stan Lee headed out west to Hollywood. And for 20 years we were listening to Stan out there making movies. We never saw a movie. Spiderman One hit and all of the sudden now every movie that's at the top 10 list is a superhero movie. So there's been a real big change in the culture and the acceptance of comic books since I've been working in the books.”

Troma is a independent film company which has been making B-movies for almost 40 years. Jimmy Wright, sales rep for Troma, said the company’s upcoming releases will connect with a wide range of ComicCon visitors.

“We have 'The Return to Class of Nuke'em High'. It's a remake of the original Nuke'em High only this time it's a lesbian couple instead of the teenage couple from the first Nuke'em High. And we've got a 7 foot tall gerbil. We've got all kinds of fun stuff happening. We've got a Bollywood dance scene. You know; a little something for everybody.”

Some comics may be developed with the intention of turning them into a movie. But, Justin Peterson, a graphic novelist, said that was never his motivation.

“I've always wanted to do comics. If anything came out of it, like movies or a t.v. deal or anything like that. I mean, that would be be icing on the cake. But that is definitely not the rabbit I'm chasing down the hole; for sure.”

There were as many reasons for coming to ComicCon as there were visitors. An art teacher at The Art Institute of Tampa, Jim Reinman, said creative people can often find creative jobs at ComicCon.

“Oh I think it's great. There's so many people here with creative minds that want to know, like what kind of outlets there are for it. And I think it's just good for us to just be able to show that, hey, we're here in Tampa. And we've had a pretty good track record with getting some of our students employed. So, you know, it's a nice way to show that people can survive making art.”

One of the convention attendees, E.J. Ford, dressed up as red shirted original series Star Trek henchman. Others traded comics, bought memorabilia or met one of the celebrities on hand. Ford said most people were there because it’s fun.

“And of course, all the comic book related stuff is a lot of fun. You know, (in) the fandom community there's a lot of bleed between gaming and science fiction and fantasy movies and comic books and stuff. So, there's all kinds of cool stuff around here.”

One of the next ComicCons will be held this September 14 and 15 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Seems like a really great event. I missed it this year, but I can't wait for the next time around. There are also some other great geek cons like Metro and Necronomicon.

Seems like a really great event. I missed it this year, but I can't wait for the next time around. There are also some other great geek cons like Metro and Necronomicon.