Comic book fans find their sanctuary at Buffalo ComiCon
?A celebration of artists, goofballs, nerds and friendly people?
Attendees at the Queen City Bookstore?s 15th annual Buffalo ComiCon at the Buffalo Niagara Marriott on Sunday had plenty to do, including costume competitions, buying and selling comic books or watching artists at work. See a photo gallery at BuffaloNews.com. Photos by Charles Lewis/Buffalo News
By Samantha Christmann | News Staff Reporter | @DiscountDivaSam | email: [email protected]
on October 5, 2014 - 9:14 PM, updated October 6, 2014 at 12:29 AM
In real life, 26-year-old Amanda Brown is a graduate student of anthropology at the University at Buffalo.
But Sunday, she was a Cthulhu cultist, draped in lime green from crown to toes and living out her fantasy as a pulp magazine character by horror author H.P. Lovecraft.
Joining her were Spider-Man, Supergirl and all manner of zombie, villain and superhero, descending on Queen City Bookstore?s 15th annual Buffalo ComiCon at the Buffalo Niagara Marriott in Amherst.
?It?s a celebration of artists, goofballs, nerds and friendly people,? said Emil Novak Sr., owner of Queen City Bookstore.
?It?s a place where everyone loves the same things, they can say, ?I?m a nerd, he?s a nerd, too,? and everyone accepts each other.?
It?s a refuge for people like Andrew Napierski, 21, of Buffalo, who came dressed as Ash Williams from ?The Evil Dead? film series.
?We?re the people who get made fun of all day ? everywhere except here,? he said. ?Instead of putting up with that, we get to relate to people who think it?s cool and have conversations other people would think are stupid.?
Not only are comic book fans accepted at the convention, some are treated like royalty.
Josh Daly, dressed as Marvel anti-hero Ghost Rider, paused to pose for pictures with a flurry of fans.
?It?s like being the center of attention without being the center of attention,? said Daly, his face obscured by a skeletal mask framed in artificial flames. ?I?m usually a shy guy.?
That?s part of the appeal for Steve Wilson of Lancaster. He?s a Star Wars fan, sure, but his love for cosplay ? dressing up in costume ? comes from somewhere else.
?You feel like a rock star,? said Wilson, disguised as a Star Wars imperial gunner. ?It?s almost like you?re a hero to these kids. They all want their picture taken with you.?
But some kids were drawing audiences of their own; kids like 11-year-old Skylar Drawdy, decked out as Batman villain Harley Quinn.
?I feel like I fit in here,? she said.
The outside world has become more accepting, too.
Superhero movies have spawned a new generation of comic book fans. Three of the top five all-time highest grossing films have comic book tie-ins ? ?The Avengers,? ?The Dark Knight,? and ?Star Wars: Episode I ? The Phantom Menace.?
A representative of Mayor Byron W. Brown?s office was on hand to declare Oct. 5 Queen City Bookstore Day in the City of Buffalo. Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, a longtime Queen City Bookstore customer, combed the boxes of comic books. And legions of ComiCon first-timers filled the aisles.
As comics have gone mainstream, Buffalo ComiCon has continued to grow. Sunday?s crowd of 3,000 more than tripled its first-year attendance. Next year it will expand to a two-day event.
Most fans love that comics, science fiction and fantasy are gaining a broader audience.
?I think it?s fantastic,? said Brown, the Cthulhu Cultist. ?Now people say, ?Oh, that costume is awesome,? instead of ?What?s that weird lady dressed like?? ?
Though the costumed characters get all the attention, the core group of visitors remains comic book devotees who come to shop and sell.
There are the artists, like Nigel Carrington, a Rochester electrician by day and comic illustrator by night. Ben Grisanti from the Town of Tonawanda has a day job in health insurance, but his real love is his self-published comic ?Insurance,? put out with friend Mike Alvarez from Niagara Falls.
Buyers, most of them wearing regular clothing, dig for treasure in box after box of plastic-sleeved comic books.
Terry Payne, 63, of Ontario, Calif., came in search of the 11th book published by Amalgam Comics.
Though he has been collecting comics since the days when they cost 12 cents, he is willing to pay much more to fill the gap in his collection.
Tom Marshall just recently jumped the fence from buyer to seller ? not exactly by choice. His wife decided his 15,000 comic books took up too much space in their Wheatfield basement.
He arrived with a third of his own private collection, about 5,000 ?virgin? comic books that haven?t seen the light of day in 40 years.
?I had to stop buying them about a year ago,? he said. ?I would spend about $50 a week. It was an addiction.?
His biggest sale so far was an early issue of Spider-Man that sold for $1,500.
One attendee after another described Buffalo ComiCon as a day to celebrate their shared passion, which is itself a welcome escape from reality.
?The society we live in is full of problems. A lot of kids are sad or depressed. Comics take the edge off,? Novak said. ?We need a freaking break.?