Cosplayers from all over the state, and Tri-State area, will invade Dover Comic Con on Saturday, Aug. 19
Whether celebrating capes or crooks, more than 10,000 people showed love to their fandom at the Dover Public Library’s Dover Comic Con last year.
Two days long, and free, it launches again Friday evening at Loockerman Street Plaza, with a comic con art show at the Dover Art League, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Saturday is expected to be the most popular day at the fourth annual Dover Con, offering more than 120 exhibitors and vendors, cosplay contests, workshops, panels and more. Many festivities will take place in the library and around The Green.
A highlight this year will be a panel featuring the “Pokemon” Team Rocket voice actors Michele Knotz (Jessie) and James Carter Cathcart (James/Meowth), Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. at the library.
Comic Con co-organizer Kerri Hollyday said landing the duo is huge.
“A lot of our kids play ‘Pokemon Go’ and the ‘Pokemon’ card game,” said Hollyday, referring to the teens involved in programs at the library. “They’ve been vibrating with excitement.”
Other notable attractions Saturday include a theatrical performance where time traveler Dr. Who will arrive in the Capital City with his newest companion, historical figure William Penn. They will be at the Old State House with performances at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.
Fans of the popular web series “RWBY” will explore theories from the hit anime, led by Wolf from Wolf and Saturn Cosplay, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Biggs Museum of American Art.
Another panel discussion will give folks insight into what it’s like being at a premier con like Otakon in DC or Katsucon in Maryland. “So You Want to Attend the Big Shows” will be at the library from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
“A lot of people might be a little nervous to go to the larger conventions,” Hollyday said. “It might be really good for families [new to cosplay] who are thinking they really like this, and want to explore cons more.”
Milford cosplayer Antonio Carranza has been to some of the larger, acclaimed East Coast conventions like Otakon and Katsucon.
But he still keeps coming back to Dover Con, because the first one in 2014 was his introduction to the con world.
“At first I thought this is pretty cool. There’s people doing nerdy things like I do. It was very interesting,” Carranza said.
Over the years, he’s cosplayed many characters, such as EDM artist Marshmellow and a gender-bent version of Zarya from the video game “Overwatch.”
Fellow Milford cosplayer Luis “The Brown Ranger” Andres Valdez led the way on creating his Zarya cosplay.
Carranza will judge the kids cosplay contest Saturday morning.
He’ll cosplay as DC Comics assassin Deathstroke. Marvel’s beloved Deadpool is a spoof of the DC villain.
“He’s probably the very first cosplay I ever took to a big convention,” said the 24-year-old Carranza. “I took him to Otakon in 2015. It felt really good, because he was a pretty big hit. Everyone was stopping me for pictures.”
Carranza will be there with his 15-year-old brother, Manny. It’ll be their first time at the con together. The little brother won’t be in costume, but he said he’s looking forward to all the characters he’ll see.
New fairy tale
Fantasy author Liz DeJesus has been a vendor at Dover each year. She remembers when the inaugural con attracted about 2,500 people.
“I just love the fact that I’ve been there since day one,” the Wilmington resident said.
DeJesus will be selling her books, including her “Frost” series, which is her most popular.
“Frost” follows a girl named Bianca: she’s 17 years old and works at a fairy-tale theme museum with her mom.
“In the museum, it has Snow White’s poison apple, Cinderella’s glass slipper, the magic mirror and other items from different fairy tales,” DeJesus said.
“In the first book, Bianca’s under the assumption that all of these items are fake, fairy tales aren’t real, magic isn’t real and all that kind of stuff. Then she finds out the hard way that she was wrong.”
Hollyday said she’s fortunate to have a relationship with DeJesus, someone who’s sold at bigger events like Baltimore Con and Otakon.
“She’s an amazing author,” Hollyday said. “It goes back to the teens we work with. A lot of them are so amazingly talented and creative when it comes to stories or art.
“I always like them to see people in Delaware who are doing things they’re interested in.”
Organic growth key
It’s taken Dover Comic Con three years to grow from 2,500 guests to 10,000.
Word of mouth has played a large role in helping to up attendance, co-organizers Katy Goff and Hollyday said. The con draws revelers from the Tri-State area. One vendor is coming from Indiana.
The idea behind Dover Con was to give the library’s teens an inexpensive way to attend a major convention without having to leave the state.
“A lot of our kids might not have the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia, Baltimore and places like that,” Hollyday said. “Katy and I go to a lot of conventions and we wanted to give them a little sampling of it. And it just kind of snowballed from there.”
For this year’s con, Hollyday said they’re expecting to have 10,000 guests like last year. She said it’d be nice if they could draw 12,000.
Goff, meanwhile, said it can be overwhelming when she reflects on how big it’s become.
“If we think about it too much, we kind of break out in a sweat,” she said.