Fans await in fervent anticipation, like children on Christmas Eve, for the holiday return to a galaxy far, far away with “Star Wars: Episode VII.” Moviegoers debate the merits of Captain America vs. Iron Man or Batman vs. Superman, and video games are raking in more money than any Hollywood blockbuster, while the worlds of “Game of Thrones,” “Arrow” and “The Walking Dead” are attracting viewers to network and cable television in numbers not seen since the mid-’90s.
Geek, some say, is chic, and the lovers of video games, comic books and other excursions in the world of fantasy are no longer hiding in the shadows.
Their world will be on full display Oct. 17-18 when Lafayette welcomes Louisiana Comic Con to the Cajundome Convention Center, expected to be the largest such convention to grace the city.
Louisiana Comic Con, a new convention that travels from city to city, had its premiere show in the Shreveport-Bossier City area in February.
“We had roughly 5,000 people for our one-day showing in Bossier City, and we had to turn away a couple thousand more because of fire code restrictions,” said Greg Hanks, one of the owners of AVC Conventions, the company responsible for mounting Louisiana Comic Con. “We’re hoping for at least 10,000 this time. With social media activity in the multiple thousands, the early outlook is good.”
One of the biggest draws for any convention is its guests of honor.
The list for Lafayette includes Sean Gunn, from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Gilmore Girls”; Lew Temple, from “The Walking Dead”; Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco, from “Boondock Saints”; and comics professionals Joe Rubinstein, Mike Huddleston, Andy Kuhn, Roland Paris, Rob Guillory and Kody Chamberlain.
“On top of them, we have other guests, fan groups and vendors coming,” Hanks said. “We hope to have something for everyone to enjoy.”
A major attraction of every comic con is cosplay — the act of dressing in handcrafted costumes of attendees’ favorite heroes or villains.
Louisiana Comic Con has invited international cosplay star Nicole Marie Jean and the cosplay groups Orion’s Envy, a “Star Trek”-inspired dance troupe, and The Just Us League.
Orion’s Envy is a group of women who dress as the green aliens in Orion’s harem in the original “Star Trek.” The Just Us League is a comedic group of low-budget superheroes: Blunder Woman, Cat Lady and AquaNet.
“The thing about cosplay is that the best costumes aren’t just superheroes; they’re the unique and original takes on characters we all love,” said Neysha Perry, a member of both Orion’s Envy and The Just Us League and a dedicated cosplayer since 2008. “Cosplay’s not just about sci-fi or superheroes. It’s a venue to be whoever you want to be or whoever inspires you.”
Among the vendors at next month’s event is William Myers, of the Breaux Bridge 3-D printing company Conquer3D. He plans to seal and display geek-related merchandise made through 3-D printing, including an impressive Iron Man helmet that lights up. Myers also plans to have the company’s 3-D printer set up for demonstrations.
“For a lot of families, especially the children, it’s their first time seeing a 3-D printer in action,” he said. “It’s a real crowd pleaser.”
The modern nerd convention can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first is thought to be the now-defunct Comic Art Convention, started in 1968 in New York City. The convention, which lasted until 1983, helped lay the groundwork for conventions to come, including the granddaddy of all conventions, San Diego Comic Con, which now attracts more than 130,000 fans a year.
It has become the place for all things pop culture, not just comic books, to converge and celebrate the fantastical works of fiction that people of all walks of life love.
In recent years, conventions have popped up all over the world, some dedicated to more specific fandoms like Japanese anime, “Power Rangers” and “My Little Pony.”
Hanks said his company already has signed a contract to return to Lafayette next year.
“We also plan on having eight other shows next year throughout the South,” he said.