Location: Durham, NC
Dates: November 15-16, 2014
Venue: Durham Convention Center and Carolina Theatre of Durham
Years: This was the fifth annual event
Guests: More than 30 comic industry and media related guests
Overview: NC Comicon is a fun traditional comic convention focused on comic writers and artists with vendors selling back issues and comic related toys. Held at the Durham Convention Center, the event had already outgrown that small venue last year and thankfully this year they had expanded into rooms in two adjacent buildings. Even so, attendance had grown significantly again this year and the halls and vendors’ rooms were still packed. We're happy to see the success of this great little event and hope they find some additional space for next year.
The NC Comicon Creative Director is industry vet Tommy Lee Edwards who now makes North Carolina his home. Because of this, the convention has a decided focus on supporting and developing new comic talent with portfolio reviews and writers’ workshops throughout the weekend.
Comic guests this year included Neal Adams, who had attended previously, as well as Fiona Staples (Saga), Phil Noto (Ghost), Brocton McKinney (Ehmm Theory), Scott Allie of Dark Horse Comics, and many others. Panels included Comics & Diversity, From Pitch to Product, Comedy in Comics, and an Animation Spotlight featuring designers from The Iron Giant and Kung Fu Panda.
A fun panel focused on the radio series Jade City Pharaoh. This series of short five-minute episodes is produced by local NPR station WUNC and features the first African-American super hero for radio. Premiering in 2012, the series has now completed two seasons and a third is planned. The panel featured creator Howard Craft and the cast performing scripts along with volunteers from the audience. Check out the radio series at http://wunc.org/term/jade-city-pharaoh-season-1
In addition to the Jade City Pharaoh panel, WUNC also did a news story about the convention with guests Tommy Lee Edwards, Fiona Staples, and Brockton McKinney. You can listen to that story at http://wunc.org/post/behind-scenes-2014-north-carolina-comicon
This marked the first year the convention featured media related guests with actor John Barrowman of Doctor Who and Arrow along with his sister Carole Barrowman. The two write the successful Hollow Earth books and have worked with Tommy Lee Edwards on a Torchwood comic series. John's panels were packed to capacity and his autograph line stretched outside and around the building during this unseasonably cold weekend.
During one of his panels, John Barrowman was asked what superpower he would like to have and he replied he would choose to be able to breathe underwater because he enjoyed swimming so much. Later during the same panel, he pulled down his pants to prove that he was a true comic book geek by showing that he was wearing Aquaman underwear!
A unique feature of this convention is its association with the historic Carolina Theatre of Durham. Located next to the Convention Center, the theatre was built in 1926 and includes a concert stage and two-screen independent cinema. The Carolina Theatre features many film festivals throughout the year and during NC Comicon, they hold their annual ComiQuest Film Festival. This year included the 1989 Batman film, Flash Gordon, Swamp Thing, and The Iron Giant. Past years have featured the 1966 Batman film and 1979’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as well as the “live action graphic novel” The Intergalactic Nemesis that should be seen by any comic or radio fan (http://theintergalacticnemesis.com).
The find of the weekend for us was the just-released Mera statue from DC that we picked up in the vendors’ room. It is already prominently displayed in our home.
The convention featured great cosplay, but like most smaller cons, the cosplay was generally focused on headliner characters like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Avengers. Sadly we didn't see any Aquaman cosplay during the weekend...unless you count John Barrowman's underwear.
Hopefully all of the news about The Throne of Atlantis animated movie and the upcoming Justice League and Aquaman live action movies will lead to more Aquaman cosplay at these smaller cons, but in the meantime it looks like Aquaman usually only makes appearances at the larger cons. Hopefully that will change soon!
In closing, NC Comicon is a fast growing and fun event with many unique elements that is definitely worth your time if you live in the area. We're already looking forward to next year.