Tampa Bay Comic-Con Is More About Community

Tampa’s Comic-Con Is More Than Meets The Eye

Harry Potter, Elsa and Star Wars, Oh My!

The 2016 Tampa Comic-Con kicked off with a “nerdtastic” start on day one of the three- day convention. With almost 50,000 people in attendance last year, comic-con staff is expecting closer to 60,000 people to come out this weekend.

Though for many who are not comic and sci-fi lovers, the name “comic-con” can come off as a tad bit misleading. While the convention does feature everyone’s favorite comic book characters, it engages other elements that should capture the eye of any casual fan.


“You really should go check it out, see that it’s not just comics,” Stephanie Holden, an attendee, said. “You’ve got stuff from anime, you got stuff from manga, you got people that dress up from video games.”

Holden is just one of many who dressed up for the event and braved the hordes of fans to take part in the games, merchandise, cosplay and panels. Her outfit, for those wondering, happened to be a variation of Alice from Alice In Wonderland. She wasn’t the only one who decided to go a different route when it came to cosplay. There were plenty of Harley Quinns running around, especially on the eve of Suicide Squad being released, but there were also some fans who decided to bring a little bit of the magic to their costume.


Maggie, dressed as Luna Lovegood, was one such person who steered away from the comic book costumes and branched out in a bit of a different perspective. Maggie took an interesting approach and decided to go as the famed Luna Lovegood.

It was authentic as one can get as Maggie also had Luna’s famous glasses from Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix and she was walking around with her wand and lest anyone forget, a copy of the Quibbler, the magazine ran by Xenophilius Lovegood—Luna’s father. It was definitely a costume that involved a lot of detail to stay true to the character.

“I guess it makes you more interactive, it’s an experience, you’re a part of it,” said Maggie. “Instead of being there as an observer, you get embed into the entire culture and what it means to be a fan of something.”

Marvel characters have been popular for years at the comic-con conventions, with Deadpool being a standout favorite this year. But on day one there were a variety of costumes ranging from Harry Potter all the way to the Adams Family. At one point, there was even a rare and impressive combination of a Deadpool Elvis costume.


“Seeing all the creative stuff, and having fun and meeting new people,” the Deadpool Elvis said. It’s why he comes to Comic Con dressed to impress.

But it isn’t about fans getting together to dress as their favorite character. There is a lot of merchandise that gets brought to these events. The Tampa Convention Center has a whole section strictly dedicated for merchandise. Of course there are the comics, but there is also artwork, toys and video games as well. The huge ballroom is set up with vendors full of rare comic books, to exclusive signings from cartoon writers. The merchandise hall offers some material that is only available at comic-con.


Fans of video games are also drawn to the convention. Dressing up as their favorite video game characters, fans made their way to the lower area where there were separate ballrooms for gaming arenas. For those interested in board games head to this ballroom for others interested in video games there is another. The video game room had plenty of dressed up fans playing games such as Halo.


Of course, it isn’t a convention without the celebrity engagement. As fans begin exploring the huge Tampa Convention Center, they will see that each room is set up for different likings. On the first level of the building celebrity panels are set up for Q&A’s. There’s also the

This year some non-comic character celebrities that are in attendance include: Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones), Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), and more. The convention will run until Sunday, August 7. Each day will hold new celebrity guests and events including zombies and arcade games. It is $60 to attend the whole weekend, but single day tickets are available as well.

There are some who may be intimidated at first about going to the Con, especially if they can’t remember who was in the original Star Trek movies. However, it’s not a group of “nerdy” people who get together and judge those who don’t act nerdy enough. In fact, it’s a great place where people gather and experience a lot of pop culture, interesting costumes and makes new friends.

“I would be like dude, you’ve just got to come out and see it,” Holden said.