This past weekend marked my trip to the Jekyll Island Comic-con (http://www.jekyllislandcomicon.com) in sunny Georgia. Artists, gamers, and nerds united to pay homage to a plethora of different genres and talents at this small town comic convention. Even being a low-scale two-day event, there was plenty to look at and keep you occupied throughout the day.
Jekyll Island is a small, protected island of GA’s east coast. The Comic-con was held inside their town convention center. A ranch style building with rooms surrounding a large, central area, the convention center offered ample space for the gathering of people from all walks of nerddom. Vendor/Artists booths were set inside market-style with various well-known names and semi-celebrities surrounding the outside. The atmosphere was comfortable and clean; people mingled with strangers, local guests would talk openly to anyone who wanted to chat, and in general everyone was just plain friendly. As a person who rarely gets a chance to visit comic-cons, I typically feel out of place and overwhelmed with the sheer volume of people attending, but there was a quaint feel to a small town event that made it much easier to smile and chat with everyone around.
Most the vendors carried your standard comic book collections, Pop figures, or standard collectibles, but a few of them impressed with more unique items, like stuffed animals with horrific teeth, or custom engraved glasses for nearly any slice of nerd life you could think up. Galactic Comic & Games (http://galacticcg.com/) from Statesboro, GA was about the only true representation of a board game shop at the entire comic-con. Thank you! On top of a great collection, they also held some of the friendliest staff members I met that day. One toy vendor, Crazy Geeks and Co (no website, read on), turned out to be a guy who collects geek toys and, when his garage fills up, goes to comic-cons to try and empty some space out for more. He had everything from the common to the obscure with toys dating back 30+ years!
Famous faces at a low-key convention aren’t extremely common, but that didn’t mean there was no one of interest. Some of the celebrities of the Jekyll Island Comic-con included Mike and Ming of Comic Book Men, Arthur Suydam (the artists responsible for a large portion of The Walking Dead and Marvel Zombies), and Ken Scott (The original Raphael). I splurged a little and grabbed a Marvel Zombies print for my son to get it signed by Arthur Suydam, and even though I would have preferred Ash from Evil Dead– C’est La Vie, he was happy. I promised a special shoutout to one specific artist, Bryan Collins (http://www.UseEveryColor.com), a game culture artist who sells his paintings under a bridge in Charleston over the weekends. He is the main reason I knew about Jekyll Comic-con, and in general I think his art is really top notch… Many more popular voice actors and artists attended, but the ones mentioned were specifically those I was interested in seeing. See the complete list of attendees here.
I did save one celebrity mention for last. The number one person I looked forward to seeing at the Con was William Tokarsky. Don’t recognize the name? You will recognize the face. Don’t recognize the face? Then you are missing out on one of the best 11 minutes of 2016 and MUST CLICK HERE!
Comic-Cons aren’t all about the vendors, though; there should be panels, attractions, and things to participate in. At this specific comic-con, there was a Jedi Academy for children (or adult children) to learn the basics of being a Jedi and how to handle their Lightsabers, Lemmy the Luggabeast, and both board game and video game tournaments. There were also cosplay contests for all ages throughout the weekend, not to mention people dressing up for the fun of it. Here are a few candids of the action:
Something I’d like to give honorable mention is the presentation a local college was giving of the current Oculus Rift. I had a chance to use the Oculus with a sensor that was programmed to recognize hand and arm movement, and, while playing with an interactive graphing calculator, it was hard not to notice the near flawless reproduction of my movements it was able to create. Minus the textiles of real life, I was able to grab, flick, and manipulate objects with my fingers with almost no noticeable lag or glitches. It was my first experience with motion sensors on virtual reality, and I was more than impressed.
I mentioned board/video game tourneys, so don’t think I wasn’t involved. A local gaming group known as the Waycross Gaming Community (https://www.facebook.com/groups/wayxgamingcomm/) supplied the games for people to freely come and play, as well as the games for quick sit and play tournaments.
Throughout the day I tried to stop by here and there to say hello and jump in on a game of Mice and Mystics or King of Tokyo. There always seemed to be multiple groups of people playing different board games around the room, and on several occasions, I witnessed the teaching of new board games to all kinds of demographics, which is something that I greatly appreciated.
The video game tournaments they had included Halo 2, Mario Kart 64, and Super Smash Bros Melee. To end of the weekend I decided to enter the Halo 2 tournament with my son for the last tourney. We ended up taking third place and were treated to a set of t-shirts and exclusive prints to commemorate the weekend.
All in all, it’s fair to say that you don’t need a major city to enjoy a good time with some strangers at a celebration of geekdom, and if you’re willing to look around, you might find a comic-con happening just about anywhere.
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