Fans gather for Marietta Comic Con

MARIETTA – The Man of Steel was a big hit during Sunday’s third annual River City Comic Con at Marietta’s Lafayette Hotel.

Superman, a.k.a. Brad Graham of Mineral Wells, definitely looked the part in his costume, special-ordered to match the outfit worn by actor Henry Cavill in this summer’s blockbuster movie.

“I saw the movie one time – but believe it or not I have friends who have seen it 15 times,” he said.

A youngster wearing a paperboard mask stared up at Graham who leaned down to shake his hand. Another boy’s mother took a photo of her son standing next to the caped superhero.

“I do a lot of parades and other events,” Graham said. “But this is my first time at the Marietta Comic Con. I did attend a recent Superman celebration in Metropolis, Ill., though.”

Jordan Lowe, whose local Asylum Comics shop sponsors the River City Comic Con, said by 1 p.m. nearly 400 people were already in attendance at this year’s event.

“Three years ago there hadn’t been a comic con in this area for at least 15 years,” Lowe said. “But people kept coming into my shop and asking if there would be another one – so I said ‘why not?’ That was our first year.”

Lowe said the comic con has grown into a multi-media event, celebrating not only comic books, but other forms of fantasy and science fiction, including movies.

“This isn’t just about boxes of comics for collectors, it’s become more of a pop culture type of event,” he said. “And there’s something for everyone.”

For example, Shane Farley, Aaron Elliott, Eric Whitley and Tyler Preston, all of Marietta, have produced choreographed “light saber fight” videos locally that are uploaded to YouTube.

“We entered an International Light Saber Choreography Contest and took gold in 2010 and 2012,” Farley said, adding that the video can be seen as Whitley79 on YouTube.

Farley, Elliott and Preston do most of the acting, while Whitley does the camera work, including editing and special effects.

“I’m also into martial arts, which plays well with the choreographed fights,” Whitley said.

The River City Comic Con is advertised as family friendly-suitable for all ages, including 8-year-old Kumika Lacey, of Marietta, who attended Sunday’s event in a Wonder Woman costume. Kumika knew all about the character, too.

“Her real name is Princess Diana, and she flies in an invisible jet plane,” she said.

Kumika’s dad, Scott Lacey, was looking through the files of comic books on display Sunday, and admits he’s passing his love of comics on to his daughter.

“This has become kind of a bonding thing for us,” he said.

Will Stanley, of Enon Valley, Pa., came to Sunday’s comic con dressed as Robin, while buddy Ben Maceno, of New Brighton, Pa., was costumed as Batman.

“We just heard about this comic con and wanted to get some more use out of our costumes, so we came to Marietta,” Stanley explained.

“These events are becoming pretty big across the country,” Maceno added. “My sister just attended one in San Diego, Calif.”

Dan Boyd and Bill Bitner, from Charleston, W.Va., brought their “Chillers” graphic horror novels to Sunday’s event. Boyd explained the difference between graphic novels and comic books.

“A comic book is generally part of a serial that runs every month and is a continuing story of between 22 and 25 pages,” he said. “Graphic novels are about 80 pages long with better binding and contain a single standalone story.”

Boyd and Bitner both write the story lines for the Chillers novels, but the artwork is contracted to graphic artists from all over the globe.

Bitner also writes his own horror novels that are purely prose and contain no artwork.

Artists and friends Amy Meko, of Paden City, W.Va., and Madeline Rogers, of New Martinsville, have just recently begun drawing superheroes and sci-fi characters like those from the Star Wars films.

“I just love science fiction,” Rogers said. “It represents worlds that could not exist here on Earth, and it helps my imagination grow.”

Meko said she’s always enjoyed the Star Wars characters, and is now discovering the world of superheroes.

“I find people are always interested in superheroes,” she said. “I think that’s because everyone is searching for someone they can look up to.”