Zap! Pow! Heroes descend on Macon

jgaines@macon.comMarch 16, 2014 

Legends and stars trod the floor of the Wilson Convention Center this weekend in Macon, as the venue played host to the Middle Georgia Comic Convention, sponsored by Heroes & Villains Comics in Warner Robins.

Despite a cold, driving rain outside, the ballrooms and arena held a respectable crowd even in the convention’s final hours Sunday. Those in attendance, mostly young, bent intently over rows of game tables or wandered the aisles of vendors, who offered art, comics, games, glassware, books, movies and T-shirts.

In other rooms, panelists discussed artistry and writing, and business-related aspects of various genres: heroes, horror, science fiction and fantasy.

A fair number of attendees donned costumes from their favorite works. Munching cookies near the gaming tables sat Rainbow Slash, Pinkamena Pie and Koko, with plastic wings and ears on their rainbow-colored outfits.

Those are fan-fiction horror derivatives of “My Little Pony” cartoon characters; outside of the convention, they would revert to being Taylor Zimmerman, Lauren McAlister and Karissa Lee, all 14 and residents of Warner Robins.

“We love to cosplay a lot, and meet new people,” McAlister said.

“So we kind of looked up cons to go to,” Zimmerman said.

Lee said her parents were working a vendor’s booth, owned by a friend, while the three girls enjoyed the con. They’d just come up for the day, and spent it strolling around, looking at merchandise, talking to other fans and occasionally posing for pictures, they said.

“I really hope we can come back next year,” Zimmerman said.

Though the con was fun on its own, McAlister said they encourage more people to dress up. And it makes a big difference to create your own costume rather than buying one ready-made, Zimmerman said. It’s worth the effort to have that work appreciated by other fans, she said.

Brandy Yentzer said she and Mike McDaniel, her partner in Heroes & Villains Comics, had long wanted to hold a convention for local fans, saving them hours-long drives to events elsewhere.

“We just wanted to share the love of comics with the people of Middle Georgia, really,” Yentzer said.

They held a smaller event last year in conjunction with Atlanta South Comic Con, but this year struck out on their own -- and made it bigger, she said.

Attendance hadn’t been calculated by early afternoon Sunday, but it’s clear the convention was a success, Yentzer said.

“We’ve had a pretty good turnout,” she said. “We’ve had good feedback from the fans, and from the actual guests that were invited.”

The program lists nearly 60 artists, with panel discussions running for seven hours Saturday and four hours Sunday. That’s in addition to a drawing contest, costume contest, laser tag and “zombie shoot.”

The lineup offered a variety of events and personalities that smaller cons don’t usually have, Yentzer said. And they’re already planning for 2015: a “bigger and better” convention with a larger costume contest and perhaps events on Friday night as well. Yentzer said they hope to return to the convention center, and are aiming for the last weekend in February.

“We love this venue. They were absolutely amazing,” she said.

Wesley Lee, of Warner Robins, said he came to the smaller 2013 event and liked it, plus he’s a regular customer at Heroes & Villains, so he wasn’t going to miss Sunday at the convention, even with the rain. The rest of the crowd seemed to be having a good time, too, he said.

Lee said he’s a fan of gaming and comic art, and has a huge toy collection, so he fit right in at the convention. He hopes it will indeed be larger next year, he said. “Mike (McDaniel), way to go. You did good,” Lee said.

From his poster- and comic-packed booth amid the vendors, Wes Tillander, of LaGrange agreed that the convention went off well.

“The fans seem happy. That’s the main thing,” he said.

Tillander runs the Atlanta Comic Convention, a one-day event four times a year. Yentzer and McDaniel helped his most recent convention success, so he was happy to come to theirs, he said.

The organizers had a great lineup of comic artists on hand from within a short driving radius, Tillander said.

“Almost everybody here is local,” he said.

Tillander said he was glad to see the family friendly atmosphere draw so many younger fans, and see their tastes -- which often lean toward anime rather than older-style comics -- catered to. Those fans are “the next generation,” needed to keep conventions going, he said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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