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The Comic Expo Down by the River

Little Rock’s Big Expo down by the river.

When you hear Arkansas, admit it, comic books are not the first thing you think of.  You think Bill Clinton and “Deliverance”. Well, 11 & 12 June, comic book professionals and fans alike took over the Statehouse Convention center for a whirlwind weekend of panels and cosplay contests. In it’s fifth year and not nearly the scale of San Diego Comic Con or Wizard World, River City Comic Expo (RCCE) did not disappoint local fans.

Artists in attendance were not mere no names but local talent on big name books like John Lucas (Deadpool, Star Trek, Grindhouse). He currently resides in Searcy, Arkansas and once you move to Arkansas they claim you as thier own whether you want them to or not. (I would know, it has happened to me despite my best efforts.) A complete list of talent, vendors and sponsors can be found here. Another important name that would be one of the reasons to attend, the legendary James O’ Barr.

Santiago Cirilo (The Walking Dead) chatted with me about his Veterans project “A Veteran’s Homecoming”. All proceeds from everything he sells at conventions go to fund this project. He’s funding this with his own money folks. He’s not asking for investors but he is seeking vets to tell their stories and as work as crew. (Which if you’re reading this and you’re a vet in the industry or looking to get in the industry vftla.org is where you need to go. Not now, finish reading the article and then go; the link isn’t going anywhere!) He was a real pleasure to talk to, I got a hug (by the way, those are free of charge) and a couple of kisses on the cheek and we exchanged “thank yous”. Why? Because that’s what vets do. We know. I saw him walking from a panel he had participated in on my way to the Nichelle Nichols panel and we had a chat, more hugs and a promise to read my script. But, hey, I know he’s a busy guy. More hugs before he had to get back to his table. He really is a pleasant guy and I do accept free hugs, within reason. (Just don’t think you can walk up to me and give me one. Ask first. Thanks, much appreciated.)

There were panels from Pulp Ark, sponsored by Pro Se Productions, as well as RCCE’s artist and guest panels and new this year, the Little Rock Picture Show, Little Rock’s premiere sci-fi, fantasy, and horror film festival. Sad to say, I did not get to any panels from the other events! Not enough hours in the day. I did attend the Nichelle Nichols Q & A, Larry Hama, Mike Norton & Tom Feister’s G.I. Joe panel (Larry Hama created the comic series based on the toy line from Hasbro, FYI), Create your Own Comic with John Lucas, Mike Norton and Dusty Higgins (another local artist, you should check out his series Pinocchio Vampire Slayer) and of course the CW fall preview.

Create your Own Comic was great! I have added more knowledge to my comic book module from my M.F.A. coursework. I’ll keep everyone posted on the idea and the project I have in mind for a comic book!

Oh, and Cosplayers! I would be remiss if I left any of them out, especially the couple in our feature photo! She was a first time cosplayer and aren’t their costumes great? There were several Ghostbusters around, so I definitely felt safe from any poltergeist that may have attempted to raise a ruckus. We had Captain America, a Winter Soldier or two and a couple of Black Widows. They had a kid’s costume contest and an adorable little girl dressed as Goku got 3rd, Rey got 2nd and Nightcrawler got 1st. It was pretty epic. They were all girls. Nightcrawler’s mom was next to me watching the contest dressed as a Starfleet command officer (The Next Generation) and couldn’t have been prouder of her daughter.

I met Alexa Heart of Heart & Soul Cosplay (please stop by and visit her Facebook page) and attended two of the three panels she conducted, one on thermoplastic (yay Worbla!) and When Geeks Collide (or Geeks vs. Geeks). I’ve never used Worbla before and that panel answered a lot of basic questions. Now, I feel comfortable enough that I will attempt to work with it for my daughter’s sake as she keeps asking for stuff you can’t buy! The When Geeks Collide panel… we discussed sexy cosplay, when is it appropriate and cosplay is not consent. As mom to a geek girl this is an important topic! When is it appropriate to be “sexy”? Unfortunately, I was the only parent in the room as well as the oldest female. (I’m as old as dirt y’all.) If you cosplay, we here at PCU would love for you to weigh in on the subject by reading this brilliant article by Doug T. and commenting.

This was my first comic convention. I’d been to Anime-Con Arkansas the year before and several renaissance faires (which I have been assured can also count) and RCCE exceeded expectations. I had no idea what I was going to do for the whole weekend! But between panels, artists and cosplayers I had a grand time and look forward to going next year. Who knows? Maybe next time you’ll see my mini-me and me in a group cosplay. I think I’d be a killer Sailor Moon.

Overall, if you’re in Little Rock, Arkansas next June, plan accordingly and attend the River City Comic Expo because it’s a fun time and we can’t wait to see y’all next year ya hear?

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