Sci-fi, comics bridge interests and generations

mstucka@macon.comFebruary 17, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Obsession was on display Sunday at the Warner Robins Comic Con at the Warner Robins Conference Center, where enthusiasm about comics, science fiction and related topics bridged generational divides.

That was the case for Eric Dees, of Warner Robins.

“I’ve always been a fan of Batman, since I was 2 years old. That was my birthday cake,” he said. Beside him was his daughter, Aurora, 2, a Dr. Who fan who sat in a stroller leafing through a “My Little Pony” comic book.

Dees was at the booth of Don Hillsman II, an Atlanta comic book illustrator whose black ink was bringing Godzilla to live. Hillsman, 48, started early. He learned to read from comic books at age 3, and by the age of 8 was reading at the level of a college sophomores. Comic books helped teach him about everything from science to storytelling, and gave him a career in creation.

“Grandma sat me down: ‘I don’t want you to be the best black artist.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘I want you to be the best artist,’’’ Hillsman recounted. Now, “From taking this blank of piece of paper, and a couple hours later, I’ve added on to the world.”

Others plan to have multigenerational experiences. Bonnie Alvord, of Warner Robins, was pushing her sleepy 1-year-old, Derrick, in a stroller as she wore gray ears on top of her red- and purple-streaked hair. She vowed to never quit the world of comic cons and the costume play.

“No, never. I will be cosplaying with my grandchildren some day. This is how it’s going to be,” she vowed.

Not long ago, Derrick’s stroller was festooned with a mobile made of little flaming skulls to go along with a game his mother liked.

Others’ interests were interrupted by a new generation. Dimitri Walker of Atlanta had to quit collecting comic books at age 27, when he realized how fast his first child could turn a treasured favorite into confetti. A 30-year artist and art teacher, he now paints mashups of science fiction such as the T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” nudging the DeLorean from “Back to the Future.” Would he ever walk away from all these worlds? “No, no, no,” he declared. “No way.”

Outside the Courtyard Marriott convention center was “Arme Smash,” a roller derby competitor more commonly known as Armenda Barnes, of Warner Robins. Though looking like she was ready to fight for the War Town Derby Dames, she was selling cupcakes. She picked her jersey number, 1019, from the wavelength of the gamma radiation that turned Bruce Banner into The Hulk.

“I started with ‘Star Wars’ when I was 13. I came to the party late,” she said, then declared she’ll forever be a nerd: “I tried being cool and everything, but it didn’t work out.”

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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