In Character

| July 20, 2011
Costumed guests gathered for a group shot.

Costumed guests gathered for a group shot.

One week shy of the famous four-day international San Diego Comic-Con, Louisville welcomed thousands of fans to the Kentucky International Convention Center to celebrate the comic book culture. The inaugural Derby City Comic Con, held Saturday, July 16, came at a time when comic books are hotter than ever – in stores, film and TV.

With the surge of Hollywood blockbusters based off comic book characters – including Iron Man, the Green Lantern and Captain America – comic books are no longer limited to kids, nerds and the young at heart. The books have transformed into a mainstream art form, bringing in millions of dollars worldwide each year in addition to the millions garnered by TV and movie spinoffs.

A crowd gathered behind an artists booth.

A crowd gathered behind an artists booth.

Throughout the years, Louisville has shown support for the industry through its steady sale of comic books at various local shops, such as Comic Book World and The Zone Comic Shop. Several stores sold books and memorabilia at the convention, including The Great Escape, which is located in the Highlands.

“So many people walked in (to the convention) when the doors opened,” said Sonya Linser of the Great Escape. “I think comic books are holding their own for sure. There are some younger kids who are getting into it. So hopefully they’ll find out how cool comics are.”

The Derby City Comic Con featured local and regional creators, artists and comic book vendors. Visitors, many of whom came dressed as their favorite fictional characters, came out to shop for vintage comics and figurines or speak to their favorite artists and creators.

"The Walking Dead" artist Tony Moore.

"The Walking Dead" artist Tony Moore.

Special guests at Comic Con included Louisville’s own Tony Moore, creator of the comic book turned AMC television show, “Walking Dead,” and Steve Bird, an inker with DC Comics for more than 11 years. Moore sold one of his prints at the auction held later in the day, which included bidding on collectibles donated by sponsors and original artwork from several of the creators in attendance.

The auction, hosted by Dawne Gee of WAVE 3, raised more than $1,400 for the Louisville Library Foundation as well as Jamie D. – the co-host of “Comic Geek Speak,” a comics podcast – who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

The convention also included an area for kids to learn how to draw their own characters and write stories. Thomas Jones brought his 8-year-old daughter, Sara, to the convention to see the comic book artwork.

“I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a kid,” Thomas Jones said. “I’ve been to the Chicago convention every year except this year. (Sara’s) an artist. She has quite a bit of talent herself, and I brought her so she can visit with the other artists and see what they do.”

Jena Beach, John Irby and Matt Stiles.

Jena Beach, John Irby and Matt Stiles.

Several families came to the convention hoping to inspire their children to read comics and learn about the culture. A group of kids from a library group in Lebanon, Ky., even drove to the convention on a field trip, arriving at Comic Con fully dressed in costume.


While there were some overly-devoted comic book enthusiasts in attendance, the convention also brought in several casual fans looking to relive their childhood.

“I’m not so much an avid collector,” David Sims said. “I had a lot as a kid. I was just more interested who was going to show up for this. I would put myself as a casual fan, but I am interested. The stories have gotten so much better the last 10 years. There was a time when it was just for kids, but today some of the things you see and some of the stories you read are just epic.”

Fans young and old, diehard and casual, left the convention with a smile on their face and a renewed appreciation for the creators, artists and characters they love.

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photos by Chris Humphreys | Voice-Tribune

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Ashley Anderson

Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).

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