Comic Con in Warner Robins melds fantasy with reality

mstucka@macon.comSeptember 29, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- “Oh, zombies!” a startled man exclaimed as he walked out of a hotel. The man in the Batman shirt quickly reconsidered his trip, saying aloud to himself, “I didn’t bring my cigarettes.”

And so went what an organizer said was Middle Georgia’s second comic book convention in perhaps a decade, where fantasy and reality often clashed in unexpected ways Sunday at the Courtyard by Marriott.

Reality even complicated the lives of the undead. The “Walking Dead” star who portrayed inmate Big Tiny -- before he was turned into a zombie, anyway -- was out sick.

The Pope family of Warner Robins arrived in varying degrees of costumes. Megan Pope was fully dressed -- with colored hair, a white-painted face and black eyes, and a full costume -- as a DC Comics villain named Harley Quinn. She likes the character enough she named her daughter after it.

But the tastes of the real Harley, 5, haven’t yet caught up with her mother. Harley Quinn Pope came dressed as Flash.

“I like ‘My Little Pony,’ ” said the younger Pope, who also enjoys the Justice League cartoons.

Her father, Glenn, came “pseudo-costumed” as the 13th Doctor, from “Doctor Who.” He said he’d always been more interested in science fiction, such as “The Terminator” and “Aliens.”

Actor Michael Koske of Warner Robins said he hadn’t been expecting to stay in one fictional world so much. He said he’d portrayed 42 zombies, mostly in “The Walking Dead” television show but also in an independent movie, “Level 7.” He’s OK with being typecast as a zombie.

“There are scenes where I’ve been killed, and then I get killed again” in the next scene, he said. “My daughter loves to tell people I get killed weekly.”

Two tables away was another veteran of “The Walking Dead.” Madison Lintz, 14, of Alpharetta, portrayed Sophia, around whom much of the show’s Season 2 revolved. It all started with auditions.

“I really didn’t know what ‘The Walking Dead’ was,” she said, as simulated zombies and superheroes walked by in the hotel conference room. “I didn’t expect this.”

While getting her education, she’s pursuing other roles -- not as a zombie, noted father Marc Lintz.

Next to her was her 16-year-old sister, Mackenzie, who had a big role in the movie “The Hunger Games” and now stars in a television show, “Under The Dome.”

“People are starting to know who I am,” she said.

She wants people to know the TV show is based on a Stephen King novel rather than “The Simpsons Movie,” which had a similar premise. That film doesn’t have many fans on the TV show set.

“Oh, we hate it,” she quipped.

Other people at the Warner Robins Comic Con struggled to juggle commitments. A group of Ghostbusters made an early appearance, then broke away to grill hamburgers.

Nearby sat a reproduction of the Batmobile from a Tim Burton “Batman” movie. Jack Orrell, who used to maintain jet engines for the U.S. Air Force, built out the vehicle on top of a 1975 Chevrolet Impala frame. The machine guns raise and lower. He’d driven the Batmobile from their home in Bonaire, said Karen Orrell. She points out it’s street legal. Her husband’s other vehicles include the taxi used in the film “Captain America.”

She excused herself to get something from her own vehicle, a mass-produced Hyundai.

“I drive the little Santa Fe,” she said. “Which he wants to turn into a ‘Jurassic Park’ car.”

Moments later, she was turning to help their son, 7-year-old Thomas, sheathe the swords he uses to portray Marvel Comics character Deadpool.

Inside the convention center, Clay Henns of Atlanta was inking his self-published rock ’n’ roll comic, “H-Boyz.” Much of his time was spent scrutinizing pen caps, trying to find just the right-sized tool to draw the comic.

Henns works with his brother Blake on the comic, which is about two degenerate punk rockers who aren’t necessarily representative of the Henns brothers. In his day job, he does drawings for lottery tickets, so the comics are a major change from that.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

The convention was organized by Mario Russo, who closed his Henry County comic shop to run the conventions. He said he’d often heard from people who wanted conventions in the middle of the state, which went about 10 years without such an event.

This was Warner Robins’ second this year, and he expects to return with another convention next February.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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