The first annual ComiCon Erie took place Sept. 22-24 at the Bayfront Convention Center.
The first Erie ComiCon drew huge crowds from Erie and beyond, featuring seminars, panels, food, merchandise and celebrity guests to interest convention goers. Attractions appealed to people of all ages and subcultures, including fans of sports, TV, comics, movies, anime and more.
Many attendees participated in the festivities by cosplaying, a term that refers to creating and wearing costumes. Individuals then act as a favorite character from a fictional universe.
Amanda Robinson, of Pittsburgh, was invited by ComiCon Erie to host two panels: “Coping Through Cosplay” and “Cosplay 101.” She is the primary photographer and a co-author, along with Spike Brown and Amanda Cline, of “Coping Through Cosplay,” a collection of testimonials by cosplayers.
In her panel “Coping Through Cosplay,” Robinson examined the phenomenon of cosplay, and invited the audience to do the same. For Robinson, her love of cosplay came from her passion for acting.
“I started cosplaying a few years ago. I’ve always loved acting. I may not make the fanciest stuff, but I love getting into character,” Robinson said.
Robinson also emphasized the transcendental nature of cosplay.
“It’s not about age, it’s not about race, it’s not about gender,” she said. “It’s about you having fun, you expressing yourself any way you want. I think that’s why cosplay means so much to everyone.”
The Con was attended by many amateur cosplayers, of all ages and persuasions. Among them was Shane Denial, a native of Erie who came to the Con from Mars, Pa. Denial, 18, came to the convention as Spider Man.
Denial has been cosplaying since eighth grade. His first cosplay was Batman, and he admits to a fondness for superheroes.
“Whenever I dress up as Spiderman, it’s sort of a religious experience,” said Denial. “When you have a little kid who is, for me, right by my calf, and they look at you and say ‘Spiderman,’ it’s just a great feeling, you sort of become more than yourself.”
Another Erie-area superhero emerged at Erie ComiCon: The Fringe Knight.
Created and written by Daniel Doing, of Meadville, and illustrated by Chris Brown of Panama, New York, “The Fringe Knight” is an original comic series. The story, which debuted at ComiCon Erie, takes place in Erie, centered around the character the Fringe Knight.
For Doing, the choice to set the comic in Erie lay in the city’s linguistics, which he felt was a perfect fit for the supernatural series.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the city, because I thought it was very cool that there’s a city called Erie,” Doing said.
After its debut on Friday, the comic quickly received much positive feedback.
“It’s been a little overwhelming. I did not expect this much of a positive turnout for the book,” said Doing. “I’ve had a lot of nice people come out and say they enjoy my silly, funny book.”
Altogether, a good time was had by all. People of all ages, interest groups and other demographics came together to celebrate their common love of fan culture and everyone had fun.