Wildcat Comic Con returning to Penn College

Pennsylvania College of Technology will again host its unique event for lovers of the comic book and gaming industry, after a successful debut last year.

Wildcat Comic Con, named after the college’s mascot, is to be held Sept. 28 at Penn College’s campus. First being held over two days in April 2012, this year, they have made a few changes.

“We’ve reorganized the event to just one, solid-packed, fun-filled day. We have also at least tripled the number of vendors and artists in our Hall of Merchants and Artist Alley,” said Joann Eichenlaub, assistant director of library services at Penn College.

New this year, she said, is the appearance of Batman, Captain America and other superheroes from Heroes 4 Higher, who will be appearing along with the Rebel Legion and the returning 501st Garrison Carida.

The idea for the Wildcat Comic Con came to be a few years ago after a trail of brainstorming by various comic book lovers in the area, starting with John Weaver, an instructor at Williamsport Area High School; Joe Figured, owner of America’s Most Wanted Collectibles; and John Shableski, formerly a comic book distributor.

“[They came] together for a professional development session for WAHS teachers about using graphic novels for instruction. Then, Figured mentioned how great it would be to hold a comic con in the school. Weaver and Shableski talked about comics professionals teaching students all about the comics industry,” Eichenlaub said.

Thus, she said, the seeds of holding a comic con were planted.

The target audience includes students, teachers, librarians, fans and anyone who wants to learn more about and celebrate the creativity behind comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, movies, videogames and more.

The event will host comics industry experts along with local artists, Penn College and WAHS faculty who teach graphic novels, as well as vendors and sponsors who “bring a wealth of knowledge and years of experience in the comic industry from artist to author, voice acting to animation and publishing to gaming.”

“Last year, there were about 600 people who attended; this year, word is spreading and we are anticipate there will be even more attending. It would be exciting to see more than 1,000 at this year’s Comic Con,” Eichenlaub said.

Some of the talented folks scheduled to be at the event include: Tonya Adolfson, a well-known, professional costumer; Michael Bitz, creator of the Comic Book Project; Jerry Craft, author and creator of “Mama’s Boyz”; and Jamar Nicholas, author and creator of “Fist Stick Knife Gun.”

Mark McKenna, who is known for his work on popular comics such as “Batman,” “Wolverine” and “Iron Man,” and creator of “Banana Tail,” will be presenting.

Penn College also will host local talent.

“Local artist Chris Ring is joining us for the first time this year. He is the creator of the Carbon Knight series, which is about Centralia,” Eichenlaub said.

Naturally the event will host a celebrity guest; last year, Walter Koenig, Lt. Chekov of “Star Trek” was present. This year will feature Tim Russ, an actor, author, musician, voice actor and director, who, Eichenlaub said, has had many years of experience in the industry of movies, music, video games and more.

“As an actor, he portrayed Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok in ‘Star Trek Voyager.’ He has appeared in ‘iCarly’ and ‘Samantha Who’ as well. He created a children’s book and music CD called ‘Bugsters.’ Currently, he is directing a pilot show, ‘Star Trek Renegades,’ which is scheduled to air in 2014,” Eichenlaub said.

Eichenlaub emphasized that the event isn’t just for one group, but rather is an event for an entire family. Their goal is to continue to introduce everyone and anyone “to the comic industry’s education and potential career opportunities.”

For those interested in a career, they have the ability to meet and learn from professionals in the industry. For educators, Eichenlaub said, they can explore how graphic novels, comics, gaming and simulation can be used to teach or enhance instruction focusing on literary skills involved in the creative process.

“The Wildcat Comic Con is unique, and we believe that is what has made it successful so far,” Eichenlaub said.

“I would really encourage anyone who has felt compelled to grumble that kids spend too much time playing games to check out the exciting career and educational opportunities that interest could provide and come to this Comic Con.

It is also an opportunity for fans to show off their cosplay creations, meet the creators of their favorite heroes, check out what’s new in the industry and have a great time.”

For information on how to get tickets and to see all event information, visit wildcatcomiccon.pct.edu.