2016 Lexington Comic and Toy Con

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 Flying the Geek Flag:

The 2016 Lexington Comic and Toy Convention

By Eric Brooks


Over the last several years, St. Patrick's Day weekend has become a busy time in Lexington. There is always the Irish Pride Parade, Road Race, and Festival which attract thousands of revelers. For several years, a Christian Rock festival took place all day Saturday at Rupp Arena. There have also been a gun show and several talent/dance shows for girls. The weekend has also become synonymous with the Lexington Comic and Toy Comic Con, the area's premier extravaganza of popular culture and superhero fandom. This event has grown steadily over its half decade of existence to become a truly phenomenal display of Geek fandom.


This year's Comic Con featured a very impressive array of celebrities and artists. Among the headliners were James Marsters and Eliza Dushku of the Buffyverse, Brent Spiner and Denise Crosby of Star Trek: the Next Generation Fame, three Doctors Who and a fourth Doctor's female sidekick, Greg Grunberg of Star Wars and Heroes, Henry "the Fonz" Winkler, and Walton Goggins of Justified fame. Comic Artists included Neil Adams, who defined the modern Batman among many others and they were joined by the Comic Book Men of Kevin Smith's store and AMC TV show. Lexington Toy and Comic Con has a third major component that was well represented as always: the Power Ranger contingent. This year, there were nearly as many rangers, villains, and aliens as other celebrities combined. Add to this 501st Legion and their Rancor Roxie, the Mandalorian Guard, Batman and his Batmobile, Sam and Dean Winchester's 1967 Chevy Impala with complete trunk arsenal, and you have quite a show with something for everyone!


The vendor halls are of course the heart of the show and what most folks come for and in this area Lexington Comic and Toy Con does not disappoint. The show has grown to have two halls featuring over 100 vendors of every stripe and sort. As would be expected, there are a plethora of comic dealers and one can find just about any title from any era imaginable. There are also toys of every sort from any TV show, film, or comic adaption imaginable. This year there were also a number of very unique and unusual offerings as well. One such artisan was Robert Wierzbinski of Pens & more who makes incredible handcrafted writing intruments and sells inks, seals, and wax. His wares are true masterpieces of their kind and include forms based on gun designs, with fantasy elements like dragons, and more historical pieces. Another artisan whose products truly captured the eye was Alisha Martin of The Bad Button who makes bespoke corsets and other fantasy and steampunk accoutrements. Her wares are true wearable artwork. Another remarkable craftsperson was Jennifer Noran of JennyKat Productions. Her work included painting, drawings, jewelry, and found art.


Of course, no convention is complete without panels, q&a sessions, and other such presentations. One that proved an unexpected pleasure was Comics Under a Microscope: Science in Comic Books. This session included two comic books authors and a teacher who all espoused the idea that comic books could be informative and interesting regarding science. The panelists had no issue with comics that ignore or flat out violate scientific principles. They enjoy the exploits of men who fly, women with laser vision and the dead who aren’t as much as anyone but they also see a place for projects that embrace science in the vein of authors like Michael Crichton or Robin Cook. Think Tank by panelist Matt Hawkins is one such technothriller that does not disappoint. While panels like the one on science in comics are informative and thought provoking, celebrity q&a sessions really draw the fans. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer panel with James Marsters and Eliza Dushku was one really outstanding example. Marsters was genuine, funny, and engaging and Dushku added some amusing anecdotes including the time she was playing a voice on the phone with Robert De Niro and delivered the wrong line to which he responded “Hey, you a f#@%&*# idiot?!”


Overall the Lexington Comic and Toy Con was an excellent event that really hit its marks. They do amazing job of logistics and everyone seemed happy and to be enjoying themselves. The results of the efforts of the show runners are evident in the huge crowds that turned out for the event. The attendance this year was estimated to be 25,000 people, up about 4,000 or almost 20% from last year. While this growth is incredible and certainly bodes well for the future of the event, it also presents some major challenges. This year, lines for some panels were so long it was difficult to find the end. Because of crowd size and seating demands the show runners had to implement a policy that each hall had to be cleared after each panel which meant that for panels that ran back to back such as the Dr. Who and Buffy panels, attendees had to choose which they wanted to attend in order to get a place in line. The fact is, this event attendance is also reaching a level that raises the question of the capacity of the venue (The Lexington Civic Center) and how much more growth can be accommodated. The event currently uses every available space except Rupp Arena. Some shows do use Rupp so maybe it could be booked for the Comic-con and used in some way to facilitate the crowd growth. One benefit of booking Rupp would be that it would insure that no other event is going on which will take up parking, etc. Whatever the case, It is far better to have the problem of crowds so large as to strain the space than to have such small crowds as to make sustaining the event questionable. Clearly, the Lexington Comic and Toy Con organizers have hit upon a formula for success and the future looks bright for it!

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