This weekend, while most of America celebrated its independence, a large section of South Florida descended on the eighth annual Florida Supercon. From July 4th through July 7th thousands of comic book, anime, sci-fi, and even wrestling fans gathered for one of South Florida’s largest costume parties; oh, and also to meet some of their favorite creators and actors. Throughout the weekend guests got to meet the stars of the original Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, the voices of Invader Zim and Gir, Kevin Smith and his Comic Book Men co-stars, and the voices of Finn and Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time. Notable comic book artist were also on hand, such as George Perez, Dave Gibbons, Paola Rivera and his father Joe Rivera, Nick Cardy, and Clay Mann. Florida Supercon also allowed many local artists and vendors to showcase their work and reach a considerably wider audience.
I attended FSC on Friday with my wife and 8-year old stepdaughter. We chose Friday because the three of us are avid Invader Zim fans, and on this particular day Richard Horvitz and Rikki Simons—the voices of Zim and Gir, respectfully—were holding a panel discussion. Upon arriving, my stepdaughter (dressed in her Gir knit cap) and I sought out Gir himself, Rikki Simons. After getting an autograph and picture, we were treated to a hilarious panel discussion that felt more like a sketch comedy routine. When Richard Horvitz and Rikki Simons were done with their hour of silliness, it was time for the Power Rangers to take the stage. Jason David Frank, the Green/White Ranger held his own panel discussion where he spoke about his early days with the Power Rangers, his love for his fans, and what it’s like to be the only original Power Ranger still donning the spandex. Outside of the main hall other Power Rangers alumni were greeting fans and swapping stories. FSC brought together Walter Jones (the Black Ranger), David Yost (the Blue Ranger), Barbara Goodson (Rita Repulsa), Robert Axelrod (Lord Zedd), and Richard Horvitz (Alpha 5). As a kid I was always a fan of the Green and Black Rangers, so I was happy to finally have a chance to meet both of them.
The Florida Supercon also gave local artists a chance to shine. The second floor of the Miami Airport Convention Center became Artist Alley, where artists of all kinds got to promote their works to a massive audience. Two of my favorite local artists were Sugar Fueled and Cogs & Creatures, both of whom are Florida-based. Sugar Fueled specializes in paintings featuring gothic figures surrounded by candy, while Cogs & Creatures creates adorable stuffed animals and pillows. Though these two stood out to me, the entire Artist Alley was filled with incredibly talented people.
I also attended a small Q&A with comic book legend Nick Cardy. Cardy was one of the original artists for Aquaman and the Teen Titans. Cardy took questions and talked extensively about his service during World War II and which comics he enjoyed drawing the most. While I met a comic book icon, my wife and stepdaughter were meeting the cast of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time. Jeremy Shada, the voice of Finn, and Hynden Walch, the voice of Princess Bubblegum, held a panel to discuss the show’s popularity and take questions from the legions of fans in attendance. After addressing Jeremy Shada as “the guy in the orange shirt,” my stepdaughter (who is only 8 years younger than Jeremy) was told by the panel’s moderator that she could call him Mr. Shada. My stepdaughter quickly said “no,” and went on with her question while everyone laughed at the short-lived prospect of a 16-year old Mr. Shada.
Before leaving the convention I got to meet Larry Kenney, the voice of Lion-O in the original ThunderCats. He was there with his son, and the two of them were some of the nicest people in the world. ThunderCats, along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was the show that got me into cartoons and comic books. As a child, my whole life revolved around ThunderCats: from action figures, to comic books, to bed sheets, you name it, I had the ThunderCats version. On a day filled with nostalgic exuberance, this encounter stands as one of my favorite moments.
Overall, my day at the Florida Supercon was a blast. Interacting with legends of the industry and fellow fans was delightful. Perhaps the best thing about FSC is the sense of community it fosters. Comic book fans young and old gather to discuss their favorite series, some of whom are even dressed as characters from various shows, comics, and video games. The FSC is also a great place to discover new interests, from indie comic books to new anime shows. Conventions like these are great for librarians, especially collection development librarians. Librarians can see what people are interested in in order to build a collection that better represents today’s comic book fan. Additionally, librarians can make contacts with local artists and performers for future library events.
If you were at this year’s Florida Supercon, please share your experience with us. We’d love to hear what caught your eye, who you met, or what you were dressed as.