By Stefanie Jackson – Next Saturday, April 20, the Eastern Shore will kick off its first-ever comic book convention, better known as a “comic-con,” in Cheriton, home of the “small town, big heart.”
But the Eastern Shore Comicon isn’t just about comic books – it’s a celebration of everything pop culture – an affordable, family-friendly event with something for everyone.
It’s the brainchild of Cheriton citizen Nancy Brauer, who describes herself as a web developer and a “jill of all trades who has yet to decide what she wants to be when she grows up.”
Brauer has participated in comic-cons both as a vendor and an attendee. Her favorite costume is of Dr. Horrible – a character played by Neil Patrick Harris in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” – complete with freeze ray.
Costume wearing, aka “cosplay,” is common at comic-cons, and adults, teens, and kids alike are welcome to attend the Eastern Shore Comicon dressed up as their favorite characters from comic books, video games, anime (Japanese animation), or sci-fi.
Comic-cons are hubs of creativity, and Brauer encourages cosplayers to make their own costumes rather than buying them off the rack.
There will be a fashion show and costume contest for teens and kids under age 18 at 3 p.m. on the Eastern Shore Comicon’s very own red carpet, organized by the Salty Stitchers, the Hampton Roads chapter of the American Sewing Guild.
Prizes will be given to the winners, with a new sewing machine for first place.
Although the contest is reserved for youth, adults are welcome to walk the red carpet, too.
Eastern Shore Comicon cosplay isn’t just for humans. The SPCA is bringing adoptable dogs wearing costumes made by kids who have been taking after-school sewing lessons from the Salty Stitchers. The dogs will visit from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cosplayer Shadava will be a featured guest at the event. She has cosplayed as many characters, including Storm from “X-men,” Gamora from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and Harley Quinn from “Batman.”
A cosplay group, Sienar Fleet Squad, the Southeastern Virginia branch of the 501st Garrison Tyranus, will represent the Star Wars universe with up to 15 participants as Darth Vader, storm troopers, and scout troopers. The nonprofit group will be available for “photo ops galore.”
Stand-up comedian and star of the YouTube series, “DadSews,” Christian Lee, will host the live game show, “My Game Show Party,” at 10:30 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.
Two comic book artists with Eastern Shore ties will be featured at the event: Glen Paul, originally from Cheriton, who created titles such as “Sgt. Sasquatch: The Bigfoot of Liberty,” and Stevon Sample, of Exmore, who started an indie comic label, Victory Comics. He also draws portraits and illustrations.
Nearly all vendor tables are sold out for the event. Vendors will sell a variety of items including jewelry, candles, soap, hemp lotions and balms, Harry Potter-inspired, wood-turned bowls and goblets, steampunk-styled gifts, vintage and antique costume accessories, and, of course, comic books.
The ECPI University Rams eSports Team will also be represented at the vendor tables.
For kids, Bag a Book Pets pairs stuffed animals with storybooks about the animals.
Concessions will be sold by the Cheriton Volunteer Fire Company.
Brauer is excited that the Eastern Shore Comicon will give local youth an outlet for their creativity and something new to do other than typical Shore activities like “hunting and fishing,” she said.
She had special thanks for longtime friend and artist Glen Paul and Salty Stitchers organizer Audrey Gardner for helping pull the event together, and for everyone who helped get the word out on social media.
She also gave kudos to Cheriton’s volunteer firefighters for being so easy to work with, and she is pleased to be able to “help them help the entire region” in their service to the community, with proceeds benefiting the Cheriton Volunteer Fire Company.
The Eastern Shore Comicon, at the Cheriton Volunteer Fire Company, is April 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 per adult or child age 13 and up. Admission is free for kids age 12 and under. Tickets are available at www.esc.eventbrite.com or at the door the day of the event.