Illustrators, cosplayers return to Durham in N.C. Comicon
N.C. Comicon returns this weekend for its second year to the Durham Convention Center, with 38 guest panelists and the addition of ComiQuest, a festival of films based on the stories and characters in comic books.
The annual convention of artists, comic book publishers and cosplayers begins today with a pre-party at the Durham Armory, and some screenings from the film festival. The full convention, including panel discussions and a costume contest, officially begins Saturday and continues Sunday.
About 4,500 people attended last year, said Alan Gill, president of N.C. Comicon. This year, he hopes for higher attendance. “We’ve more than tripled our space,” Gill said. Last year, because of a wedding, Comicon had access to only half of the Durham Convention Center space, but this year the event has the full space, and the Carolina Theatre, Gill said.
Jim Carl, senior director of the Carolina Theatre, curated ComiQuest with help from Comicon organizers. At last year’s Comicon, Carl – who produces the theater’s Retrofantasma, Nevermore and Escapism film festivals -- gave a panel discussion on producing film festivals. At Nevermore this year, Comicon organizers Gill, Eric Hoover and Tommy Edwards approached him about including films in conjunction with Comicon. The arrangement is a natural fit, he said. Hoover and Edwards are both regulars during Carl’s festivals. “I think we started to see that our audience for Retrofantasma was the same as for Comicon … so there was some synchronicity there,” Carl said.
Films to be screened at ComiQuest are “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1990), “Batman: The Movie” (1966), “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993), “Superman II” (1981), “The Crow” (1994), “Dick Tracy” (1990), and “MegaForce” (1982).
Bob Keen, a director and make-up artist, will be at the screening of the 1992 film “Hardware” and will take questions from the audience after the film. Bob Burden, who created the “Mystery Men” comics series, will be at the screening of “Mystery Men” (1999), based on his stories.
Viewers also will get to see a 35 mm screening of “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” the 1978 film that inspired the television series, and a screening of Italian filmmaker Mario Bava’s 1968 film “Danger: Diabolik.”
This latter film was a find for Carl, an admirer of Bava’s films. Bava was a revered creator of the Italian horror genre. “As much of a film nerd as I am,” Carl said he had never heard of this title. The Comicon organizers told him it was “a great underground film with such a great following.” He saw a version of the film “and I loved it,” he said. Since he added the film to the festival lineup, fans have emerged and expressed their gratitude for the scheduled screening, he said.
“We specifically tailored this year’s program to have some big budget commercial block busters and some lower budget, more obscure titles” so the audiences have variety, Carl said. If ComiQuest proves popular, Carl would like to make it a permanent partner to Comicon.
Artist Alley returns this year, where emerging comic book artists and illustrators will be showing their work, seeking exposure to someday draw professionally, Gill said.
Among the invited panelists this weekend are Josh Adams (“Doctor Who”), Bernard Chang (“Super Girl,” “Demon Knights”), Sanford Greene (“1000,” “Rotten Apple”), and Gail Simone (“Red Sonja,” “Birds of Prey”).
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: N.C. Comicon
WHEN: Events begin today and continue through Sunday
WHERE: The Durham Convention Center and the Carolina Theatre
ADMISSION: Comicon tickets are available at nccomicon.com or at the Carolina Theatre box office, 919-560-3030. Tickets for the ComiQuest Film Festival (available separately) also are available by calling 919-560-3030.