The Durham Civic Center was safe from alien invasion on Saturday as almost every imaginable superhero and sidekick was in town.
The civic center, which is hosting the Bull City edition of NC Comicon through Sunday, Nov. 12, was filled with a steady stream of old school Spidermen, Han Solos and Captain Americas to go along with such modern comic book heroes as Deadpool and Rick Grimes of “The Walking Dead” fame. There were many more characters from games and anime, too.
In addition to the numerous vendors selling comic books and other assorted memorabilia, panels on numerous topics ranging from diversity in fantasy realms to science in science fiction and creating art and better cosplay (costume play).
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The convention was drawing fans from near and far on its second day Saturday.
Tia Mitchell, who is from Durham and is an N.C. Central University graduate, was dressed as Amy Rose from the “Sonic the Hedgehog” game. She said it was her third time attending.
“Every time I’ve come, it’s gotten better,” Mitchell said. “They do a great job of switching up the vendors so it’s not been the same each time. There are so many great costumes from a lot of new series and anime or TV shows. It’s great to see the creativity in the costumes.”
Langston Harrison, another Durham resident and NCCU graduate student, was dressed as “Carlos” from the “Night Vale” podcast.
“I have a lot of fun walking around and talking to the vendors,” Harrison said. “I like the different comics.”
Harrison said one of the reasons he attended the comicon was to meet the creators of the “Tuskegee Heirs” graphic novel Marcus Williams and Greg Burnham. It is the story of five pilots in their teenage years on their journey to defend the world about 80 years into the future.
LaShaunda Jenkins brought her children from Goldsboro to enjoy the convention.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Jenkins said. “I wanted them to see everything.”
Jenkins said her first comicon experience was in San Diego about 15 years ago. That convention has been one of the largest and most elaborate such gatherings for decades.
“This one is good,” Jenkins said. “There are a lot more normal people here and the costumes are so good. They have a lot more celebrities in San Diego but we’re having just as much fun here.”
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, one of the headliners of the Durham show, took part in multiple discussion panels including one called “Black Heroes Matter: The Remix Volume One.” McDaniels, who published his first comic in 2014, said the panel touched on many of the same ideas that minorities face in real life.
“It was a frank talk,” said McDaniels, who has his own comic series featuring an African-American hero, DMC, who protects his city’s marginalized citizens from super villains. “The more diversity we can have in the world, it makes it a better world. Whether we talk about it here or at New York Comicon, the more we talk about it, the better.”
McDaniels, who was a founding member of the hip hop group Run-DMC, sported a T-shirt bearing Motorhead’s signature gothic logo, during his appearance. As he shuttled between his display table and to his panel responsibilities, McDaniels was quick to interact with fans who recognized him.
Another panel that drew standing-room-only interest featured Tamara Robertson, host of Skeptoid Media’s “The Feeding Tube” and was a finalist on The Science Channel’s “Mythbusters: The Search.” Robertson and her co-panelists discussed science in the superhero world in “Let’s Talk Super Hero Science with Tamara Robertson and Friend.”
Robertson, a graduate of N.C. State University and a North Carolina native, said she’s taken her passion for science and technology from her corporate career to a new path where she is an advocate for recruiting more girls into science. She said she’s been fortunate because of her opportunities in television to follow her passion and be an inspiration.
One of the co-panelists was Matt Brady, who is a teacher in Forsyth County and founder of The Science Of, said he often uses examples found in comic books as a way to teach his high school science classes.
He said he faces many of the same challenges in his classroom that occur is classrooms here in Durham.
“I teach in a school where there is not a high expectation from outsiders,” Brady said. “But we outperform.”
He credits the use of pop culture and comic book examples, especially from his favorite Ironman, for connecting with his students.
“The inspiration comes from comics and investigating the science in them in the classroom,” Brady said.
Other guests at the Bull City con include Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, actor Michael Rowe (who plays Deadshot on “Arrow”) and comics industry stalwart Klaus Janson, whose art credits include “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Daredevil.”
NC Comicon: Bull City
Where: Durham Civic Center, 301 W. Morgan St., Durham, NC
When: Saturday, Nov. 11, Daytime session ends at 6 p.m., Night “Guardians of the Gala” session runs from 8:30 p.m. to midnight.
Sunday, Nov. 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Show); 5-6 p.m. Cosplay Contest.
Tickets: Prices vary by session, visit nccomicon.com/bull-city/tickets online for information. Tickets are available at the door.