Is it Metropolis or Gotham City or even Bikini Bottom? No, it’s Mount Airy on the Saturday after July 4th when ComicCon comes to town.
Tiny Batmen, Supermen, Captains America, Barbies, Celtic Warriors, Little Ponies and a myriad of other superheroes and comic book characters wandered Main Street all day Saturday for Mount Airy’s fifth-annual ComicCon.
At noon, a costume contest brought all attention to Carlos Jones Blue Ridge Park where celebrity judges John Wayne, Batman, Alf and comic author Terry Collins judged the contest, with event organizer Rose Ayers keeping the assemblage of superheroes under control until all the prizes were given out.
“There was no rain and no wind. I don’t think it could have been any better,” said Ginny Collins, photographer for the costume contest and wife of author Terry Collins. “Every year it gets a little bigger and better.”
“I’ve begun to get the bugs worked out,” said Ayers. “We’re going to be the first Saturday after the Fourth of July from now on. That’s set in stone. Unless there’s going to be thunderstorms, and then …” her voice trailed off as she went to put out another organizational fire.
Vendors of comic books and comic related merchandise dotted the street and writers and publishers greeted their fans.
Roosevelt Pitt, Jr. is the publisher of “Purge,” a comic which, according to Pitt, features the only North Carolina superhero. The series is set in a futuristic, high-tech version of Winston-Salem known as “New Salem.”
Terry Collins was on hand with a sampling of his work. Collins, a former Mount Airy news staffer who once produced a comic strip for the paper, now spends his time writing lots of comics as well as other children’s books and coloring books.
“It’s been a career goal since I started collecting comics when I was four years old,” said Collins, who started out writing and drawing comics. “But my writing skills were improving by leaps and bounds, and my art skills were not.” That’s when Collins began to focus on writing, and collaborating with other artists for the illustrations.
Collins says he has worked with many artists. On some of the licensed work, he never meets the artist. First, Collins writes a script, like a movie screenplay. Then, the artist takes that script and interprets the material, bringing their own artistic flair to it.
Sometimes, it’s more collaborative than others, said Collins.
John Withers IV was across the street with his interactive fantasy book series, “Goblin’s Gift.” Withers has completed four works of what he plans to be a six-book series, with the fifth novel coming out before the end of the year.
“The books are interactive in that at various points in the story, the reader decides what direction he or she wants the narrative to go. The books are aimed at high school students who, Withers said, remember fondly the ‘choose your own adventure’ books from their younger days.
“So they can be a geeky high school student by day, and a barbarian by night,” says Withers.
He says the books also appeal to adults, and kids as young as seven or eight like them. But book five is going to be a little more mature.
“They gotta grow up,” he says of his characters.
Withers, who lives in Lincolnton and teaches English at Gaston College, sells his books on Amazon and at a handful of shows in the summer when he’s not teaching.
“I teach essay writing all day, and write about goblins all night,” he laughs.
Flippy and Zombie the dachshunds, made a personal appearance at ComicCon to promote their comic coloring book “Flippy the Dachshund,” which Flippy’s accompanying human said is for children of all ages.
“I’ve been collecting comics all my life,” said Ronnie Brady. “I never bought any cigarettes. I never bought any alcohol. That’s all I bought,” he says, indicating the multiple tables in his booth covered with cases filled with comic books. “It’s worked out good for me.”
Brady said he has 40,000 comics in his collection, and the stock he has brought to ComicCon to sell are all duplicates.
“I would never sell my collection,” he says.
When asked whether he does more buying or selling these days, Brady said, “It’s according to where I’m at.”
“At a large show, like the one in Charlotte, I can spend two grand,” he said with a smile. “I’m in my happy place when I walk out. There’s a smile on my face.”
Brady said the happy place is what comics are about.
“Comic books put you in a happy place. I get in the world of comics, it makes me feel better. You forget your worries for as long as your stack of comics holds out.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.