Cowabunga, Dude! Comic Con is everything from WWE to Teenage Turtles

Cowabunga, Dude! Comic Con is everything from WWE to Teenage Turtles

“You know, comic con guests are an interesting group,” Joey Mills of VXV Events Media & Community Relations says.

He’s talking specifically about the upcoming NWA Comic Con, returning to the Rogers Convention Center Jan. 13-14, and generally about the comic con’s place in pop culture.

“I mean, ‘comic’ is right there in the name of the event, so of course you want to bring out comic creators like this year’s guests — Michael Golden, Renee Witterstaeter, and Jeremy Clark — who are industry veterans and bring their talents and their insights to the event,” Mills says. “Beyond that, you want to bring in guests from across entertainment and pop culture so that there’s someone here that appeals to people my age who are parents, their kids, and even the grandparents.

“You always want pro wrestling represented, particularly with the wealth of independent wrestling talent in this area,” he goes on. “So this year we’re bringing out a pair of WWE Hall of Famers — Jimmy Hart, who has been in the business since his days wrestling in Memphis with Jerry Lawler … [and] Kurt Angle, who was an Olympic gold medalist before joining the WWE and represents that mid-’90s and 2000s era through ‘WrestleMania 35’ in 2019, which was his last match… or was it?

“You know, the WWE ‘Royal Rumble’ takes place just a few weeks after NWA Comic Con,” Mills muses. “And you never know who’s going to walk through that curtain, do you?”

But that’s just the beginning of the kaleidoscope that is a comic con.

“Beyond those two groups of guests, we strive to find guests that represent a wide range of fandoms,” Mills says. “We have the Red Ranger Steve Cardenas from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. For the anime fans, we have voice actors Dan Green and Eric Stuart, who work together on the ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ series in addition to numerous other roles they’ve both voiced. We have Marty Grabstein, the voice of Courage the Cowardly Dog. We have Kellen Goff, whose work includes the ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ games. We have actor Booboo Stewart, whose range is amazing and has starred in films like the ‘Twilight’ series, ‘X-Men,’ and Disney’s juggernaut ‘Descendants’ franchise. We have Sam J. Jones, best known as the title character in the 1980 cult classic ‘Flash Gordon’ film.

“[And] we’re reuniting the original voice actors from the 1980s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ cartoon series — Rob Paulsen, Cam Clarke, Barry Gordon, and Townsend Coleman. Yes, we’ll be talking Turtles in our group Q&A, and if you swing by their tables for an autograph, you’ll find just a handful of the hundreds of characters these four have voiced over the decades in numerous fan-favorite franchises!”

And then, Mills adds, there’s Alan Tudyk.

“What can you say about Alan that hasn’t already been said? The guy has been a part of so much — from ‘Firefly’ to ‘Star Wars’ to stand-alone films across all genres, be it drama, horror, comedy, sci-fi, fantasy… you name it, he’s done it. I mean, the guy has been in EVERY Disney Animation Studios film since 2012 for a reason. He’s phenomenal!”

But the star power is only one of the reasons fans are drawn to comic cons, Mills explains.

“People come out to meet the guests like we’ve mentioned, but also to check out the exhibits and connect with local fan groups like the Star Wars 501st and local Ghostbusters groups. They come out to buy merchandise and artwork you’re unlikely to in person see anywhere outside of a convention setting. People come out to connect with other folks who are fans of the same things that they are fans of, and that includes the cosplay you see at NWA Comic Con.

“People love to dress up as their favorite characters! You’ll see people in costumes that they picked up whole-cloth online, others who have pieced together their costumes from an array of different sources, to those who took the time to sew every stitch in making their own costume,” Mills explains. “It’s amazing, and it’s why the last event we hold on Saturday evening — the main event, if you will — is the costume contest. That main stage area will be absolutely PACKED as people turn out to see everything from kids’ cosplay (which is cuteness overload) to folks just beginning their costuming and cosplay journey to folks who could walk onto a movie set today wearing their costume and look right at home with the professional costumes.”

But there’s more. At a comic con, there’s always more.

“You’re going to see our guests having a great time signing autographs and interacting with their fans,” Mills enumerates. “You’ll find fan groups and exhibits. You’ll be able to shop our more than 70 vendors. There’s gaming if you want to sit down and beat your friends at video games or get together as a group for some tabletop gaming. You’ll find people walking around in all manner of costumes. You can attend Q&As with celebrity guests on the main stage. You can get professional photos taken with celebs. You can hang out in one of the two panel rooms where local fans are putting on fan panels like the ones that paved the way for me to be here doing what I love to do.

“There’s so much to see and do that you’ll definitely want to plan to make a weekend of it.”



NWA Comic Con

WHEN — 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Jan. 13 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 14

WHERE — Rogers Convention Center, 3303 S. Pinnacle Hills Pkwy.

COST — $30 per day, $50 for the weekend; kids 10 and younger attend free with paid adult admission


Categories: Cover Story