Comic Fans Invade Cuyahoga Falls for Akron Comicon
Bart Sullivan, 11-14-2019

Ryan Dyke from Rubber City Cosplay raises his wand as he cosplays as Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Alex Hall
Since the 1950s, comic conventions have been popping up around the world, bringing millions of fans of the medium to convention centers around the country and worldwide. Over the last few decades, however, these “comic cons” have focused more on the entertainment blockbusters and products based on superhero comics than on the actual comic books themselves—enter this year’s Akron Comicon, at which comics were the central focus.

The convention’s founders, Bob Jenkins and Michael Savene, handed organization of the 2019 Akron Comicon to local artists and comic creators Dan Gorman and Jason Miller of Altered Realm Productions, who have have continued to curate a comic-focused convention. For its seventh year, the show moved from Akron to the Emidio & Sons Expo Center on Bath Road in Cuyahoga Falls. While bigger than the show’s previous location in a smaller section of the John S. Knight Center, the space made little difference, as attendance increased throughout the weekend. “My favorite thing about comicons is just being able to share a love and enthusiasm for comics and pop culture with other like-minded people,” Gorman explains. “I love seeing the smiles on the fans’ faces when they meet their heroes live and in person, and it’s fun to see the creators who work tirelessly to create the products we all love get to interact with their fans.”

In addition to plenty of comic and toy vendors, the show featured new celebrity guests for 2019, the most buzzworthy being Cleveland television celebrity Marty Sullivan, also known as Superhost. Sullivan served as general manager at WUAB in Parma and filled in as newscaster, though he would be most well known for his role as the Saturday afternoon movie host, starting the afternoon with Three Stooges and Laurel & Hardy shorts as well as parody skits.

Along with Sullivan, Sean Kenney, who portrayed Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek series, was available to sign autographs and take photos with fans. Other guest appearances included such comic artists as Tom Batiuk, creator of Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean, Jason Moore, inker for House by the Cemetery, and indie artist Hannah Arthur, who draws popular cartoon characters in her own style. “This show is a celebration of the NE Ohio area's love of Pop Culture and comics and we wanted the marketing and promotions to reflect that,” Gorman explains. “We wanted to remain a comics-first show while also introducing some new faces and injecting some new enthusiasm into the show.”

A new event for this year’s show was a screening of the indie horror film Rottentail, complete with a meet and greet with the film’s actors and writers, held concurrently at the Highland Theatre in Akron. The film, based on a graphic novel by Corin Nemec, Dominique Swain, and Tank Jones, tells the story of a scientist who is bitten by a mutant rabbit and becomes a half-man/half-bunny that goes on a killing spree.

Along with Akron Comicon, Gorman and Miller have run 4 other similar shows, including Dark X-Mas, which will happen again at the Holiday Inn in Mentor November 22nd-24th and feature Ann Robinson from War of the Worlds, Marc Price from Trick Or Treat, and Lisa Wilcox from Nightmare on Elm Street. The duo can also be heard on their Internet radio show, “The Altered Realm,” every other Saturday night at 8pm on krmaradio.com.

As a classic event with a new home, there is no question about whether Akron Comicon will grow next year. This convention has gained more attendees each year, and even with such changes as a new location—a first for Cuyahoga Falls—new show runners, and first-time guests, nothing will keep fans away. “The accessibility of parking alone I believe increased attendance by 20% at least,” says Gorman. Next year’s show has already been planned and will return to Emidio’s on November 7th-8th, 2020.


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