This weekend’s Kansas City Comic Con isn’t just for old comic nerds — it’s hoping to appeal to all fans of pop culture.
The inaugural convention, which starts Friday at the Kansas City Convention Center, is the second comic convention hosted downtown this year — Planet Comicon was held less than six months ago. It’s not surprising, considering the explosive growth of comic conventions in the last five years, from about 30 nationwide to more than 300.
When he was a kid, Elite Comics owner William Binderup said he lied about reading comic books because at the time it was considered nerdy. Now comic culture is so prevalent, some superhero fans are “lying when they say they are reading comic books.”
“I think it’s awesome,” Binderup said. “The more the merrier.”
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Organizers planned the event with the mindset of creating the ultimate Kansas City fan experience. They also hope to shine a spotlight on the plethora of artists in the Kansas City area, from Jason Aaron, who writes “Thor” and “Star Wars” for Marvel Comics, to various independent artists, writers and creators.
The three-day event also will include a series of diversity panels, a costume contest, a 3-D action-figure printer and a licensed Lucasfilm tattoo artist.
Kansas City’s large and diverse comic fan base spurred the idea for the convention, said owner Matt Driscoll. He expects about 15,000 to 20,000 people to attend this weekend.
“This is much more geared toward the fans,” Driscoll said.
“The Lord of the Rings” and “The Goonies” actor Sean Astin and “Foxy Brown” actress Pam Grier are among the actors who will be available for photos and autographs. The convention also will feature video games and a live art stage for comic book artists to show off their craft.
Rav Powell, the con’s public relations director, said the vendors will have a local flavor, which is important because many in the creative community often go unnoticed.
“The idea behind this was really about creating an opportunity for fandom of all types,” Powell said. “It’s really a pop culture celebration.”
Kansas City Comic Con runs Friday through Sunday at the Kansas City Convention Center. A three-day pass is $60; single-day admission is $25 for Friday, $35 for Saturday, $30 for Sunday. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster.com. For a schedule of events, go to KansasCity-ComicCon.com.