Abilene's first Comic Con swoops into Abilene Convention Center – ReporterNews.com

From weapon-wielding teenage turtles to a chance to hobnob with anime superstars, there’s something for every geek, nerd and otaku at Abilene’s first Comic Con.
The event is Saturday and Sunday at the Abilene Convention Center
The goal? To defeat the most powerful enemy of all.
Boredom.
Attendees will mingle with actors and voiceover artists from some of their favorite shows, movies and anime productions, and they’ll have plenty of chances to part with some hard-earned loot for autographs, photos, artwork and more.
This is first event in Abilene.
There had been hope of bringing it here sooner, but COVID-19 shut down those plans, said Myrisa Rutter, public relations coordinator for convention company ConLive.
Now that it is here, the goal, she said, is to “bring it back for years to come.”
“We love taking part, we love bringing a community of other people together who have the same interests as us,” Rutter said.
McClain McGuire, among those putting up booths, said he works in the comic book industry, doing lettering and design for more than 30 titles.
“Abilene is, in my opinion, an untapped market,” said McGuire, who is also an artist. “So as soon as I got asked to come to this show, I jumped on it right away.”
What he enjoys the most is getting to interact with fans, he said.
“That’s where my reward comes in,” McGuire said.
Throughout both days, celebrity guests will have panels, with opportunities for Q&A.
On the schedule are:
► Kaiji Tang, the voice of Satoru Gojo, and Anne Yatco, the voice of Nobara Kugisak, from the popular anime “Jujustu Kaisen.”
► Brittney Karbowski, who plays Black Star in “Soul Eater” and Wendy Marvel in “Fairy Tail.”
► Jason Douglas, who plays Tobias in the hugely popular AMC show “The Walking Dead,” and is the voice actor for the character Beerus in the equally-popular “Dragon Ball” anime universe.
► Kenn Scott, the in-suit performer of sai-spinning hero Raphael in 1991’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.”
► Karan Ashley, who played the Yellow Ranger on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Other activities include K-Pop Dancing lessons from Key City Dance Company, a cosplay contest judged by guests Alecta Arcana and Katie Blake, and even a full-on pizza party and photo opportunities with the “Odessa Ninja Turtles,” a group that suits up to portray the martial arts-trained reptiles.
Dozens of artist and exhibitor booths will be on hand.
“We actually had to make more room for the vendors,” Rutter said.
Artist Brian Clegg, who bills himself as the “Master of Villains,” specializes in elaborate, finely-detailed drawings of comic book and movie foes. 
Clegg has a 9-5 job, but also has a passion for drawing powerfully-posed character portraits of characters including  Dracula, a goatee-clad “mirror” version of “Star Trek’s” Mr. Spock and the multi-mouthed Xenomorph from the “Alien” series.
Clegg said his selected subjects help him stand out among other artists.
In a sea of traditional four-color heroes, and only a select number of villains, part of the fun is “doing characters you wouldn’t typically see other artists do,” he said.
Whether a scene from “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” or a portrait of Spider-Man nemesis Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Dr. Octopus, it brings customers to his booth, he said.
Helping family to bring in what looked to be a full toy store’s worth of plastic and vinyl figures, Ed Trevino of Leonor Collectibles said he turned his own hobby into a profession.
“I started collecting when I was younger, and then, I decided to just go ahead and open up a business,” he said. “… “We’ve got some modern stuff and we’ve got some vintage stuff in our inventory. It’s horror, it’s anime, everything pop culture. “
With figures ranging from pro wrestlers to anime heroes to horror icons such as killer doll Chucky, Trevino said interacting with fans and answering questions was what made coming to conventions fun.
There will be a present-wrapping service available at the show for those looking for holiday gifts, as well as a chance to meet a jolly old elf of the non-Tolkienesque variety, Santa Claus.
Snagging guests for an event like the one in Abilene requires networking, Rutter said.
“We do like to lean a little bit on the nostalgia aspects,” she said.
But anime, a big part of the two days of offerings, has had a “huge surge,” she said, becoming even more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those in lockdown or stuck largely at home had plenty of time to catch up on or find new favorite shows, Rutter said.
“That’s why a couple of our guests … are from ‘Jujutsu Kaisen,’ which has actually blown up over just the last year,” she said.
The anime, based on a popular Japanese Manga series, follows the story of Yuji Itadori, a first-year jujutsu sorcerer at Tokyo Jujutsu High. 
With classmates Megumi Fushiguro and Nobara Kugisaki by his side, he exorcises demonic “curses” while trying to honor his grandfather’s legacy.
The show was awarded “Anime of the Year” at the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards.
Rutter said the more support and interest this first event receives, the more future incarnations can look at attracting specific guests — including bigger names. 
“We tell people if you want to request somebody to just message (via Facebook),” she said.
The more people who request a particular guest, “the more likely we’re able to bring that person” to a future convention, Rutter said.
Brian Bethel covers city and county government and general news for the Abilene Reporter-News.  If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com
What: Abilene Comic Con
When: 
► Saturday, VIP access 9:30 a.m. Doors open 10 a.m. Vendor hall closes 6 p.m.
►Sunday, VIP access 10:30 a.m. Doors open 11 a.m. Vendor hall closes 4 p.m., show closes 5 p.m.
Where: Abilene Convention Center, 1100 North Sixth St.
Cost: Tickets online, www.abilenecomiccon.com, or at the door for an additional price. Starts at $20 for Saturday pass, $15 for a Sunday pass. $30 for weekend pass. $85 for VIP pass.

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