By Ann Powers
For the TODAY
Ready to get your geek on?
Then unleash your inner nerd and come out of the closet in your favorite “Star Wars,” She-Ra or Richie Rich costume to join hundreds of comic culture nerds and creative types for the First Annual Northwest Comic Con, this weekend in Tillamook.
Doors open from 10 am to 8 pm on Saturday, March 18, and from 10 am to 6 pm on Sunday, March 19, at the Tillamook County Fairgrounds, 4603 East 3rd Street.
Versus Comics is hosting the event, which promises fans of all ages a chance to meet their favorite comic industry characters, celebrities, authors, artists and media creators.
“Timothy Zahn is our premier guest,” said Corveaux Millions, who co-owns Versus Comics with his partner, Luna Millions (both names are pseudonyms). “He is a science fiction writer and has worked on several Star Wars expanded universe adaptations and has his own series. We also have Vincent Ward from season three of ‘The Walking Dead,’ and much more, as our guest celebrity actor. Our company will be debuting it’s first comic book title ‘Rando’ and we will have many other great comic book artists in attendance as well.”
Organizers said activities also include video game tournaments and a cosplay photo booth — where participants can have their picture taken against a green screen, digitally superimposed on one of several sci-fi backgrounds and delivered via email or Facebook.
“It gives the community a chance to come together in a fun, family-friendly way that is fresh and current,” Luna said. “And it gives vendors from different areas a chance to meet the local families who enjoy the culture in a more genre-specific way.”
On Saturday, Dr. Love, billed as the premiere KISS tribute show of the Pacific Northwest, is scheduled to “rock and roll all night” in full makeup and costume, while kicking up seven-inch leather heels on a stage adorned with lasers, fire and fake blood.
Neah-Kah-Nie High School music teacher Michael Simpson plays ‘Space Ace’ — fashioned after KISS lead guitarist and founding band member, Ace Frehley. He admits he wanted to be a cartoonist as a kid, “before the music caught me,” and has a definite appreciation for the creative comic lifestyle.
“I’m really looking forward to playing Comic Con,” Simpson said. “It’s a big deal and it’s about more than comic books. You get a concert out of it and you get to play dress-up and meet all kinds of artists talking about the craft they love.”
And all in a more intimate venue setting than some of the larger conventions nationwide, said Monty Elliott, the convention’s coordinator and Versus Comics’ first customer when it opened its doors last August.
Elliott said organizers focused on bringing community members together for a family-oriented event, while giving area businesses a boost during the tourism shoulder season.
“Nobody else has tried it around here,” he said. “We expect up to 2,000 people and 30-plus vendors staying overnight, who also have to eat here for two or three days. People just need to come out and have a really good time.”
“Many members of the community — a lot of children, but adults as well — have managed to find themselves a safe place here where they are allowed to be themselves,” said Luna, who wears her passion for super heroes on her sleeve, literally. Her arms are covered in tattoos of “X-Men” characters.
“A first-time customer will come in shy and quiet, until they are a third-time customer, and then they are chatty and alive,” she said. “Our video game tournaments have brought kids from all different parts of the community together in our store where they have made friends and have done battle on a different type of competitive playing field.”
Both Luna and Corveaux plan on donning complete comic-culture couture during the convention as characters from Turbo Galaxy 1606 — a comic strip they produce and hope to turn into a web series.
“Look for the gruffy tatted blonde and talking ape sidekick,” Corveaux said.
The 501st Legion will also be on hand in full garb. Nicknamed Vader’s First, the international fan-based organization is dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas of Imperial Stormtrooper armor as well as the outfits of Sith lords, clone troopers, bounty hunters and other villains from the Star Wars universe.
“Everyone is welcome at the Northwest Comic Con,” Luna said. “Whether you’re a superhero fan, or a comic book nerd, or don’t have a clue what any of this is all about — there’s a place for everyone at the NWCC.”
For more information about the First Annual Northwest Comic Con, go to www.facebook.com/northwestcomiccon/ or call 1-888-4COMIC4, ext. 4 (1-888-426-6424 ext. 4).
Admission is $20 per day for adults or $10 for kids; with two-day passes $25 and $15 respectively. Tickets can be purchased the day of the event at the door, or in advance online at www.northwestcomiccon.com.