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MonsterCon comes to Cabarrus Arena Oct. 4-5

By S.D. Blackmore
For The Salisbury Post
Halloween comes early this year with the second annual Comics and Toys MonsterCon. The convention, which features science fiction, fantasy, horror, games, anime, and performing arts, will be held Oct. 4-5 in the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord.
Last year’s MonsterCon was held here in Salisbury, but dealers, guests and fans quickly overcrowded the Civic Center.
Ray Franks, owner of The Comic Monstore on Jake Alexander Boulevard., and creator of the convention, says the space filled quickly last year.
” I kept getting dealers calling wanting to set up, and artists wanting to come display their merchandise,” he said. “So we put people out on the sidewalk and had a good time with it.” Even so, he knew MonsterCon needed a larger venue to accommodate the growing interest.
“We’ve got Gold Hall 1 and Gold Hall 2 down there, and that’s the equivalent of a football field in space to work with,” he says.
“Gold Hall 1 is actually going to be our dealer’s room, and so during the day that’ll be filled with all sorts of merchandise from the East Coast: comic books toys, collectibles, T-shirts, DVDs, all sorts of goodies.
“And then the other room, Gold Hall 2, is a little smaller but we’re going to use it for a bunch of our entertainment purposes. That’s where our guests will be talking on stage and people can ask them questions.”
Among the fans, word is spreading fast, and technology has been an advantage.
“We’ve been advertising a lot more,” Franks says, “and we’ve noticed that the buzz is going around the internet really well. If you Google ‘Comics and Toys MonsterCon’ now, it pops up on all kinds of forums that we didn’t have before. We’re making use of Myspace a lot; we’ve got hundreds of friends on Myspace account now and we send bulletins out through it.”
And just who are these attendees?
“A lot of people that don’t read comics have a perception that comics are for kids or for teenagers,” Franks says. “But the interesting thing is that I have two subscription holders that pick up books on a weekly basis that are prominent doctors in North Carolina. So really, there’s a whole realm of people that are interested in this sort of thing.”
This year’s featured guests are sure to attract some attention, just as Peter Mayhew ó better known as Chewbacca ó did last year.
Ken Kirzinger and Brad Loree, who have played the iconic Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers respectively, are two of the big names on the guest list. And though many people come to see the famous celebrity guests, there’s plenty of local talent as well. Vera Von Munster and Cheralyn Lambeth are among the North Carolina actors and models appearing at the convention, and most of the bands expected to play are Carolinas-based as well.
The bands, Franks says, are not to be missed. “There’s a mix of styles, but all of the bands I’ve chosen to perform at the convention do have an element of horror, fantasy or sci-fi.
“One of the new bands I’ve booked is called Blibbering Humdingers, and most of their songs are about Harry Potter. So they’re like folk music but with Harry Potter lyrics, so it’s a lot of fun. Plus we’ve got the punk bands and the rock bands and the rockabilly bands and most of them are South Carolina or North Carolina-based.”
Also on the agenda are stand-up comedians, book panels, trivia contests, and a costume contest.
The event is family friendly, though for those who may be nervous about taking the kids to a sci-fi/horror convention, Franks says the scare factor isn’t much different from going into a Halloween store at the mall.
“You’re not going to see blood splattered on the wall or anything like that,” he says. “It’s just people having fun ó some dressed up in costumes ó enjoying the atmosphere.”
In short, there really is something for everyone.
“I guess I would say think of it as hanging out with a bunch of people who share similar interests and enjoy the fantasy element of comic books and movies and books,” Franks says.
Tickets can be purchased through the MonsterCon web site, at www.comicmonstore.com.

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