Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Comic Con was huge success!
More than 3,000 fans packed the halls of the St. Petersburg College, Seminole campus library and conference center for the inaugural Mid-Pinellas Comic Con and Maker Con on Saturday, 9 August 2014. Planned in just six weeks by Seminole campus librarian Chad Mairn, Greg Plantamura of the TARDIS Riders in Pinellas, Mike Bryan and Jill Storm of the Seminole Community Library with the support of campus provost Dr. James Olliver, this free event brought together fans from the comic, horror, science fiction, maker, and gaming communities in Tampa Bay. The college was on hand to showcase the Digital Arts program at SPC, and the Seminole campus Innovation Lab. Fans loved the big convention events, like panels, costume contests, and a charity gaming tournament in a local convention atmosphere.
On the convention floor, the 501st Legion, a troop of actors who portray star wars characters, brought Imperial Stormtroopers, droids and even Darth Vader himself to campus. The Real Tampa Bay Ghostbusters roved between their booth on the convention floor and the library surprising and entertaining guests. Fans had the opportunity to pose for pictures with their favorite characters. The Gamers on the Edge booth was one of the show’s most popular exhibits where attendees played Injustice: Gods Among Us on the big screen, and took part in a Super Smash Brothers Melee tournament to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. The tournament raised $115, putting Gamers on the Edge at $2,088 of their $2,218 goal for 2014, one dollar for every child that Children’s Miracle Network treats for cancer every day. The winner of the tournament took home a Kirby plush. The fun stretched out into the parking lot with sliding demo from “Shinobi” with the Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream team and, the Downtown Lakeland Zombiefest brought their zombie response vehicle out to protect the food trucks in the library parking lot.
Hungry convention attendees had the opportunity to try pizza from the Engine 53 Pizza truck, a fire truck with a brick oven in the back, or tacos from the St. Pete Taco Lady in her new food truck. Deserts were available from the Enjoi Sweets truck. The samples in the convention green room were delicious.
Back on the convention floor, the campus Innovation Lab, the St. Pete Makers, and Free Fab 3D were demonstrating the latest in high technology at their booths. Free Fab 3D had their latest model Monolith 3D printer on display, and showing off the complex builds that the printer is capable of. The St. Pete Makers, a non-profit dedicated to bringing a makerspace to St. Petersburg, was there to talk about their plans and what happens when creativity and technology meet. The Innovation Lab table, staffed by volunteers Josh, Henry and Derek were demonstrating the lab’s Korg Little Bits synthesizer kit, a Lego Mindstorm robot, and showing off the lab’s Monolith 3D printer.
The gaming community was represented by M & M video games who had classic video games available at their table for convention attendees to play, downtown St. Petersburg’s Serenity Games displayed tabletop games and demonstrated the Warhammer 40k miniatures game. Critical Hit Games was also demoing tabletop games and spreading the word about their new store, Emerald City Comics was taking comics for artists to sign. The convention the costume contest celebrated the craft and creativity of the audience. Among the winners in the age thirteen and up were Ironman, The Shadow, Dr. Who as played by David Tennant and his companion Rose, and the card princess. The winners received gift cards to the Olive Garden. In the childrens contest, the winners included a young Altair from the video game Assassins Creed, a Dr. Who as played by Matt Smith with sonic screwdriver, and an adorable Adipose, one of the most memorable creatures from the television series Dr. Who. The winners of the kids costume contest took home tickets to Legoland Florida. The convention floor was only half the story, in the library program rooms, guests packed the halls to hear from experts on their favorite fandom.
The panels included a behind the scenes look at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream event. The panel showed how they create the event, provided a sneak peek at their upcoming haunted house Deadfall, and held an Instagram contest for free tickets to the event. The TARDIS Riders in Pinellas held a panel on the future of Dr. Who, a panel on why we love to be scared. The Morean Arts Center held a panel on creating a graphic novel which was followed by a panel on costume creation. The day’s panels ended with Faces of the Feminine in Comics, hosted by St. Petersburg College Professor Brandy Stark. The Friends of the Library had a special comic display in front of their store, and costumed characters were available for photos in front of the childrens castle.
At the end of the day the Mid-Pinellas Comic Con was one of the most successful events in Seminole campus history, drawing record crowds and raves from both exhibitors and fans, The Real Tampa Bay Ghostbusters said in a post on Facebook.com, “. . . this has to have been the best local Pinellas county comic convention I have ever been a part of.”
– Written by Chris Demmons, Sandbox News