Free State Comicon to sell rare comics and toys from dealers
- Sep. 8, 2012
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You may have seen the last installment of the Batman trilogy this summer or the latest silver-screen take on one of Marvel’s most famous superheroes, the Amazing Spider-Man. You may have even joined in on the Avengers craze.
However, you may not have been in a room with 500 other people dressed up as their favorite comic book characters.
You most likely haven’t seen a first edition of the Amazing Spider-Man. And you probably haven’t spent an entire day rifling through boxes and boxes of bargain comic books, speaking with comic book creators and receiving a commissioned caricature of yourself as a zombie. Well, now is your chance.
The Free State Comicon is this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Douglas County fairgrounds. For a $5 admission fee, attendees can receive merchandise like posters and t-shirts, meet more than 30 local comic book creators, see rare items and buy toys and books from dealers.
“For a lot of people, going to a comicon is all about finding those rare issues for a cheap price,” said Craig Klotz, organizer of the Free State Comicon. “There has been huge success with all of the Marvel and Batman films. People have taken notice and are now seeking out the source material.”
Klotz started the Free State Comicon seven years ago. At the beginning, an average of 400 to 500 people showed up. Last year, that number almost doubled, and this year Klotz is expecting up to 1,000 comic book fans from all over Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.
One of those 1,000 people will be Joel Pfannenstiel, owner of Astrokitty, Lawrence’s only comic book store. Pfannenstiel has been to the convention for the last seven years; he sells comic books and does commissioned artwork.
“I have a good time, and I expose people to the fact that we exist here in town,” Pfannenstiel said. “I get to see friends I haven’t seen in a while and interact with other creators.”
Pfannenstiel got into comic books as a kid when his father introduced him to “Conan the Barbarian.” He met Klotz in 2003 while he was working part-time at Mass Street Comics. Pfannenstiel said Klotz was originally a “Trekkie” who got into comic books later.
“He loved it so much, and he saw the opportunity to fill a niche here in town,” Pfannenstiel said. “Aside from collecting his own stuff, he created a unique thing here in Lawrence.”
Klotz said he wants to remain separated from today’s image of a comic book convention. Over the years, he said, these mega conventions have become more about Hollywood; the comic books have become secondary.
“Comic books are taking a back seat,” Klotz said. “But I love the art form. It’s a great blending of literature and artwork that tells a visual story in the same way TV or film does, only you have to use your imagination to fill in the gaps.”
— Edited by Sarah McCabe