Ax-wielding dwarves, Sith Lords and dark knights are suiting up for the return of Tampa Bay Comic Con. From Aug. 1-3, creators and fans alike will gather at the Tampa Convention Center to celebrate and engage in their favorite fandoms.
“We try to bring a little bit of everything for everyone,” Kailee Baylor, a press agent from Action 3 Events and Promotions, said. “A lot of the other conventions like to specify one certain genre, so they’ll stick to anime or they’ll stick to comic books. We like to bring a little bit of everything, so we have comic books, we have anime, we have manga, we have artists, we have actors from all different genres.”
The event will feature celebrity guest panels with comic book creators and actors who bring fan favorite characters to life. This year’s celebrity guests include Richard Madden from “Game of Thrones,” John Rhys-Davies from “Lord of the Rings” and Brighton Sharbino, from “The Walking Dead.”
“Game of Thrones is a huge fandom with our attendees,” Baylor said. “So is Lord of the Rings and The Walking Dead … anything that’s popular around the time. X-Men was recently coming out so we decided to get Daniel (Cudmore) and Evan (Peters) to come, so we just try to accommodate our guests as best as possible.”
Several comic book artists including Jim Steranko, who worked on “X-Men” and “Captain America,” and Marv Wolfman, who worked on “Teen Titans,” will be at the convention to meet fans and share industry secrets. Local artists Bart Sears, who worked on “Justice League Europe,” and Paul Pelletier, who worked on “Incredible Hulk,” will also be at the convention.
Baylor said Tampa Bay Comic Con also gives up-and-coming artists the chance to share their work and make new fans.
“There’s a lot of individual comic book creators that are just starting out and it’s a good way for them to just go show off their artwork,” she said. “People can come and commission art from them right then and there. They can say that they want a specific design done or them drawn as a comic book character and that artist will do it right then and there for them. That’s kind of a unique way for them to get their work out there and for representatives to experience it as it’s being drawn.”
Over the course of the weekend the convention will host several special events. On Aug. 1, representatives from the Guinness World Records will be at the convention as Tampa Bay Comic Con attempts to break the current world record for the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Comic Book Characters, which was achieved in China in 2011 with 1,530 people.
On Aug. 2, those wanting to show off their character costumes can enter the convention’s cosplay contest. There will be two competitions, one for adults and one for children, with multiple prizes for both. More details about the competition will be released closer to start of the convention.
Then on Aug. 3, Marc Summers from “Family Double Dare” will be at the convention to host “The Nerdy Family Double Dare.” The competition’s two grand prizes are a Royal Caribbean Cruise and a trip to Los Angeles to see a live taping of “The Big Bang Theory.”
This year’s event will also include programming on Aug. 1-2 from 6 p.m. — midnight. The programming will include a game room and two dances, one for adults and one for attendees under 18.
“We like to bring different things to the convention in terms of experiences,” Baylor said. “We’ll have the panels that normally happen but then we’ll also have the ‘Nerdy Family Double Dare’, which is something that hasn’t really been done at any of the other conventions. So it’s something that’s more family-oriented and more for experience than most of the other conventions.”