Supervillains, stormtroopers and Pokémon meet in Dover

 

DOVER — Despite humidity that made it feel like 100 degrees, thousands of people turned out Saturday for the third annual Dover Comic Con.

The event has grown precipitously since its inception: organizers expected around 500 attendees in 2014 and instead got 2,500.

Last year’s event, which expanded from the Dover Public Library to the entire Legislative Mall complex, drew 7,100. Saturday, planners were hoping to bring in 10,000 people.

“So far, so good. I’m pretty pleased with the turnout. I think we have more people than last year,” library assistant Nicholas Coll said around 1:30.

Dressed as superheroes and Jedi, video game stars and anime characters, people wandered through downtown Dover, browsing booths selling comics, action figures, posters and more while chatting with others.

With portions of several streets shut down, attendees had free run of the Legislative Mall and Loockerman Plaza areas.

There was something for just about everyone.

“I love it,” Delaware Ghostbusters member Phil Parke said. “This is great. I mean, I never knew Delaware ever had a convention like this, and it’s pretty amazing.”

The Ghostbusters brought Ecto-1, a replica of the car driven by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the bustin’ crew in the 1984 hit film.

That wasn’t the only famous car in the city: The Batmobile from the 1960s “Batman” TV series sat near Ecto-1, with people lining up to get their pictures taken alongside the vehicles near City Hall.

Over by the Old State House, people stood next to the TARDIS, a time-traveling police box (telephone booth) from “Doctor Who,” and on The Green, a small group of swordfighters engaged in live action role-playing.

Inside the library, panels on cosplay, paranormal writing and comic book-creating gave fans a chance to learn more throughout the day. There was even a costume contest.

Most of the action was concentrated along Federal Street and Loockerman Way, where dozens of booths lined the streets and zombies crossed paths with stormtroopers.

Few costumes turned heads like Luis Valdez’s. Wearing a life-size Sonic the Hedgehog suit he had commissioned by a friend two years ago, Mr. Valdez was frequently stopped by passersby requesting pictures.

A regular visitor to conventions, Mr. Valdez first attended Dover’s event last year.

“Beautiful,” the Milford resident said. “Just how I pictured it. Everyone having fun, having a great time.”

Superhero costumes seemed to be especially popular, especially those of the Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn, who appears in the new DC film “Suicide Squad.”

While Harley Quinns were numerous, perhaps no one had a more authentic look than Alyssa McMinn, who was dressed after the character’s movie look, complete with red, white and blue hair, ripped fishnet stockings and a “Daddy’s Lil Monster” shirt.

Alyssa, who bought the outfit online, said she normally attends anime conventions, which are generally held indoors and have the benefit of air conditioning.

Dressed as a Jedi, Justin Hitchens was also battling the heat.

“Hey, at least I’m not in black. … I was thinking about being a Sith, I was like, ‘Nah,’” he said.

But the heat didn’t stop the attendees, from fans dressed as the Sith Lord Darth Vader to the Marvel hero Deadpool to the video-game legend Link.

The convention was mixed with the 2016 Delaware Pride Festival, the state’s largest LGBT gathering, which was held on Legislative Mall through a partnership with Comic Con organizers. Food trucks lined Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and vendors sold their wares on the Mall.

A mix of age groups took part in Saturday’s festivities, with young children, teenagers and adults all cosplaying in various outfits, and even many people who were not dressed up wore shirts referencing a sci-fi, fantasy or comic franchise.

Based on the crowd Saturday, Dover’s third comic convention was a hit — raising the question of how the library will top itself again in 2017. But after the success of the first three events, it looks like the Force is with Dover.

 

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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