Comic Con blasting through Dover Saturday

Dover Public Library teen librarian Katy Goff, left, and assistant teen librarian Kerri Hollyday fill bags that will be given away as prizes during the Dover Comic Con Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — It didn’t take long for organizers of the Dover Comic Con to realize they had something special on their hands.

The first event, held inside the Dover Public Library in 2014, drew about 2,500 people, five times what organizers anticipated. The following year, about 6,500 turned up, and last year’s crowd of 10,000 was almost “terrifying,” according to one of the brains behind the convention.

The fourth iteration of the festival will take place Saturday, and organizers are expecting big things again. The event will include staples like costume contests and vendors, as well as some presentations and exhibits by professional artists, authors, voice actors and more.

Comic Con’s growth has “been very organic,” according to library assistant Kerri Hollyday.

“Even though it’s a bigger event each year, it kind of seems easier because it comes together very naturally,” she said.

Dover Public Library head of youth services Catherine Wimberley hangs a poster advertising voice actor Michel Knotz’s appearance at Dover Comic Con on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The event started with Ms. Hollyday and librarian Katy Goff deciding to hold a convention just for teenagers at the conclusion of the summer reading program a few years ago.

“We wanted to give them just a little example of what we see when we go to conventions,” said Ms. Hollyday, who attends large-scale “cons,” as they’re commonly known.

More than 100 teens, many dressed as characters from movies, books, comics and video games, attended, and the interest shown from other age groups led to Ms. Hollyday and Ms. Goff deciding to expand the event.

In 2014, the first Comic Con was held entirely in the library and exceeded all expectations. The event now draws people not just from Kent County but from other states as well.

This year’s Comic Con will be “a little more condensed and contained,” according to Ms. Hollyday, but there’s no shortage of entertainment.

About 120 exhibitors will be present Saturday, offering posters, books, action figures and much more for sale. Attendees can also learn about other conventions and participate in a host of informational sessions.

The Biggs Museum will hold panels like introduction to cosplay and how to make a comic, while the Old State House combines history with science fiction with a presentation imagining what would happen if the Doctor from “Doctor Who” were to meet William Penn.

On Legislative Mall, costume contests for different ages will take place. Children will have the chance to don their costumes at 11 a.m., while teenagers can take part at 1 p.m. and adults can show off their outfits at 2:30.

Video game systems will be set up all day on the mall, giving people a chance to compete against one another for a fee.

Like last year, replicas of the “Ghostbusters” Ecto-1 car and the Batmobile from the 1960s TV show “Batman” will be on display on Loockerman Street. They’ll be joined by a Jeep from “Jurassic Park.”

Fan groups like the Delaware Anime Society, the G.I. Joe Costume Club and the Delaware Ghostbusters will be in attendance, while several organizations of “Star Wars” superfans, including the acclaimed 501st Legion, will have a room to themselves in the library.

“Star Wars” groups are always popular, and visitors will be able to get their pictures taken with Darth Vader, stormtroopers, Jedi Knights and Rebel soldiers in the library’s Multi-Purpose Room A.

“All the costumes that I see it’s unreal, but those especially,” Ms. Hollyday said. “They’re better than movie quality. When you see them, it’s like, ‘Oh, my God.’”

The library’s Capitol Room will be reserved for “Pokemon” all day, with two special guests: voice actors from the animated TV series. Michelle Knotz and James Carter Cathcart, who voice Jessie and James from the villainous Team Rocket, will take part in a question-and-answer panel at 3.

Dover Public Library assistant, Nicholas Coll prepares to hang Comic Con artwork on the library’s second floor for the Dover Comic Con. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Attendees can also battle one another in “Pokemon” video games and take part in contests and games with chances to win prizes.

“I know a lot of our kids play Pokemon, Pokemon Go, so they’re almost vibrating with excitement,” Ms. Hollyday said.

Local author Everett De Morier will detail his experience selling rights to his book to movie producers and will offer tips on how to write a screenplay in the library’s theater at 2, and the R-rated independent film “The Scarecrow’s Curse” will be screened in Multi-Purpose Room B at 2:15.

Organizers did have to reshuffle some things after the Schwartz Center announced its closing in June. The center last year hosted a screening of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” and was set to show a performance of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” over the weekend in honor of Comic Con.

Despite the Schwartz no longer being open, Ms. Hollyday is confident the Dover Comic Con will be a success once more.

It’s practically heaven for fans of nerd culture, and it’s possible to spend pretty much the entire day in downtown

Jessica Woods of Pokomoke, Md. dressed as Sailor Moon last year. (Delaware State News file photo)

Dover. Food trucks set up along the street offer convenient dining, and people who get tired of the convention can swing by The Green, the Johnson Victrola Museum or the Old State House to learn about Dover’s history.

It all kicks off this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. on Loockerman Way Plaza with entertainment, food trucks, activities and more.

The evening also includes a Christ Church Cemetery Lantern Tour with the First State Heritage Park which costs $10. Call 739-9194 to reserve your lantern.

The Dover Art League will also be displaying its Art of the Comic Con exhibit.

Ms. Hollyday said Dover Comic Con has exposed some people to parts of Dover they might never have seen before, such as the library and the historic buildings.

“We started it for the community, for our kids, and it still shocks me that people are coming from (hours away). I think it’s awesome that people get to see our city,” Ms. Hollyday said.

Admission is free, and Saturday’s events will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Dover Public Library is at 35 E. Loockerman St. For more information, see the program under the Special Sections tab at DelawareStateNews.net.

 

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