Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Cape Fear Comic-Con 2017 draws more people (some in costume) to downtown Wilmington

A Stormtrooper and Thor ready for battle. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
A Stormtrooper and Thor ready for battle. (Port City Daily photo / CORY MANNION)

WILMINGTON — The Port City is home to many things; from festivals to concerts, the city has a lot to offer. But one thing has been missing: a celebration of all things nerdy, a real comic-con.

But that’s changing. Over the past three years, the Cape Fear Comic-Con has been bringing out the best of the culture, from vendors to cosplayers and everything in between, and it has steadily grown in size each summer.

Saturday, the event saw its biggest turnout to date. According to founder John Stamey, well over 1,600 people turned out to to the convention, exceeding all expectations he and the organizers had, providing a “fun” filled day for participants from across the Carolina’s.

Photos: Star Wars, superheroes, and wild animals invade the Cape Fear Comic-Con

Artist Cody Hanes with Carolina Caricatures gave demonstrations throughout the day. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
Artist Cody Hanes with Carolina Caricatures gave demonstrations throughout the day. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)

The con ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from the line waiting to get in to the final walk-like-a-zombie lessons, foot traffic never slowed.

“This was all day, it just never stopped,” Stamey said with a laugh. “Next year we’ll have the whole convention center. We’re definitely doing it again next year.”

According to comic artist Ernie Suggs, who traveled to the event from Florence, South Carolina, it’s crucial for conventions like this to take place, especially in a day and age where nerd culture has gone mainstream.

Suggs has been part of the Wilmington convention since day one, and said the biggest change by far this year. was the volume of people who came out to have fun.

“I love helping create a rad show, Stamey is doing the Lord’s work bringing this to this area,” Suggs said. “Especially for the kids, this is something that 10 years ago you could be picked on for being into. Now, people are really open to comics, animation, and doing these costume contests, and we can help be an inspiration to the next generation.”

The Cape Fear Comic-Con played host to many events Saturday, with live demonstrations from Suggs, as well as other artists like Gregbo Watson, Carolina Caricatures, and others.

Artist Ernie Suggs worked throughout the day, drawing up new creations for participants during the con. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
Artist Ernie Suggs worked throughout the day, drawing up new creations for participants during the con. (Port City Daily photo / CORY MANNION)

“Next year he’s going to need a bigger venue!” – ‘Handsome’ Jimmy Valiant

The convention saw the likes of pro wrestlers Papa Stro Maestro and the “legendary” “Handsome” Jimmy “Boogie Woogie Man” Valiant, who not only held Q&A events, but became embroiled in a classic wrestling throw down mid-con.

“This was just a wonderful event, brother,” Valiant said. “We were here for the first one, and every year it just gets bigger and bigger. I’m so proud of John for putting this together. Next year he’s going to need a bigger venue!”

In addition to the wrestlers, actors like Greg Crews from “The Walking Dead,” and the cast and crew of Wilmington-based sitcom “Vaughan,” which streams this fall, were in attendance as well.

Papa Stro Maestro says hello to baby Yoda. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
Papa Stro Maestro says hello to baby Yoda. (Port City Daily photo / CORY MANNION)

Cosplayers unite

A truly mad, Mad Hatter. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
A truly mad Mad Hatter. (Port City Daily photo / CORY MANNION)

Arguably the main draw for the event was the cosplay, and it’s something founder John Stamey took notice of. He said, in the year between this con and the next, he’d like to hold a special event, catering to the Port City’s dress-up enthusiasts.

Hundreds of people turned out dressed as their favorite characters from movies, TV shows, and comic books, with a few even dressed as characters of their own design. These cosplayers attempt to truly embody their character, changing their voices and body language to sell the illusion that they are in fact the character they’re playing.

There were even professionals like the 501st Carolina Garrison, a N.C. based charity organization, which specializes in recreating movie-quality “Star Wars” costumes.

In addition to the 501st, professional make-up artist Will Stein was turning people into real life zombies, and Robert Kelly of Dark Seed Creations was on site selling props and masks that he creates for the horror industry.

Darth Revan from "Star Wars" strikes a pose. (Port City Daily photos / CORY MANION)
Darth Revan, from “Star Wars,” strikes a pose. (Port City Daily photos / CORY MANION)

Characters ranged from the likes of superheroes Thor and Captain America, to Pokemon, as well as zombies and a whole host of super villains.

At the end of the day, a contest was held to judge the best of the cosplayers, with prizes ranging from free T-shirts to one-of-a-kind artist prints. As the judges deliberated, the energy built, with the MC interviewing the excited participants as they came down the hall.

After handing out a slew of prizes to the likes of baby Yoda, “Pokemon’s” Charizard, and SheeRa from “He Man,” it was time to announce a winner. The contest came down to two nearly identical characters, both dressed as the sorceress Raven from the DC Comics universe. But, there could only be one, with Raven “Destiny” taking home first prize.

Raven from the DC comic universe took home first prize in the cosplay contest. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
Raven from the DC Comics universe took home first prize in the cosplay contest. (Port City Daily photo / CORY MANNION)

For more information on the Cape Fear Comic-Con, visit the website at capefearcomiccon.com. Follow the convention on Facebook for the latest happenings and announcements.

For more from Saturday’s event, including all the photos and video from the floor of the convention, visit the Port City Daily Facebook and Twitter pages.


Get in touch with Reporter Cory Mannion: follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or send an email at cory@localvoicemedia.com.

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