Hundreds of costume-clad comic book super fans found their way to the Cajundome Convention Center to celebrate all things geeky as the Louisiana Comic Con opened its doors Saturday.
The first-year convention has taken Lafayette and the event’s organizers, AVC Conventions, by surprise in terms of drawing larger than expected crowds.
“It’s always hard to tell,” said Greg Hanks, co-owner of AVC Conventions. “Whenever we do a show, we hope for a huge crowd, but we never really know what each city is going to react, to so I’m pleasantly surprised. There’s way more people here than I thought there would be.”
Some of the big-name guests attending the convention included Sean Gunn from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Lew Temple from “The Walking Dead” and local comic creators Rob Guillory, artist for “Chew,” and “Punks” artist Kody Chamberlain.
“It’s really cool. I love Louisiana, so I’m very happy to be here,” Gunn said. “I’m getting some good food, and people are always nice here, so it’s really cool.”
The Louisiana Comic Con started in the Shreveport/Bossier City area on Feb. 21, but the smaller location only allowed them to admit 5,000 attendees and turn away a couple thousand more.
So Lafayette natives Guillory and Chamberlain approached AVC about changing the convention venue to Lafayette. Eight months later, the Cajundome Convention Center had a line wrapped around the building before the doors opened at 10 a.m.
“It’s great, fantastic,” Chamberlain said. “It seems like the city is really behind it. I just talked to a few people here from New Orleans that drove in, so it seems like there’s some pretty good regional awareness as well. You kind of need that for a show in a town of this size.”
One of those attendees coming in from New Orleans was Billy Mitchell.
He said he was surprised by the number of costumed people attending the convention, and the number of vendors.
“I was really surprised at the amount of cosplayers and vendors,” Mitchell said.
Temple, who also hails from New Orleans, is very familiar with Lafayette and Acadiana’s customs and said he believed the city is a good fit for an event like Louisiana Comic Con.
“I think it’s going to be a really great con here in Lafayette,” Temple said. “Y’all have a lot of festivals and this is just another one of your great festivals.”
“Cosplayers,” short for costume players, came out in force to support the new, local convention. Among them was Neysha Perry from “Orion’s Envy,” a group whose members dress as the green women from the original “Star Trek” series and dance to entertain guests at conventions all over the South.
“It feels like every month we’re green in some city somewhere,” Perry said joking. “But this is our home con ’cause we’re from Lafayette, and it’s really exciting to be in our hometown hosting all of our friends we meet all over the U.S. so they can visit here and hang out.”
The success of the convention has not gone unnoticed by the convention center. Louisiana Comic Con has already announced it will return in October 2016 and has announced video game voice actress and Lafayette native Bonnie Gordon as its first celebrity guest.
Comic Con continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with $15 for general admission.