MORGANTOWN — Steven Boyce and his wife first attended WVPopCon four years ago. Now the couple, from Rivesville, has a booth at the annual gathering — set for Aug. 25-26 at Mylan Park — selling wood-working art and pens through their small business Dirt Road Endeavors.
“I try to tell people, it’s not a comic convention. It’s an everybody convention,” Boyce said. “There’s something for everybody. There’s a video game tournament. Some of the best kettle corn in the state, from Old Goat Kettle Corn, is sold there. There are a lot of different activities. You can see people in the crowd dressed up, and there are contests for that also.”
Boyce himself is “really into the car side of it.”
Last year, he was sure to check out a replica of the Delorean from “Back to the Future” and this time around he’s excited that a reproduction of “Knight Rider’s” KITT will be on hand.
“You see a lot of unique stuff there,” he said.
That’s by design.
“We really do vary it a lot, so there’s a chance to see things you didn’t know that people could make,” said Julie Hayes, who hosts the convention along with her husband Jonathan. The pair also own Comic Paradise Plus, with stores in Morgantown and Fairmont.
Boyce is one of more than 100 vendors scheduled to be part of WVPopCon.
He makes mostly wall art.
“I do a lot of West Virginia-themed stuff,” he said. “I also have a lot themed toward Marvel and DC characters and Ninja Turtles. I’ve got a Delorean clock and Big Foot clocks.”
He’ll also sell lapel pins and refrigerator magnets, some in the shape of sasquatch.
“I made some earlier to see how they’d do, and people really like them.”
Like Boyce, Julie said the majority of vendors come from the region — West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
“We’ve always wanted to bring talent from around the area,” she said. “We try to make sure we don’t have competing things going on. That way they have a good time and can make their money back and enjoy the Con.”
Among the items offered, she said there will be a variety of prints, plushes, dream catchers, crocheted goods, comic books, clothing, hats, decals and jewelry.
“We have some Legos, where you build your own,” she said, referring to vendor Build It Brickworks. “Everybody tends to love that. I know I do.”
And Pike Street Studios, based in Clarksburg, will be there, offering to tattoos.
“They’ve done tattoos since the first year,” she said. “That’s something a little different.”
There will also be plenty of food available.
In addition to Mylan Park’s concessions, Hayes said Garcia’s Latin Market and refreshments by Dina Colada will be on hand. There will be a few food trucks outside, including Pyles of Pasta.
“I always joke that you don’t need to leave to eat,” Julie said. “You can hang out for awhile and Con it some more.”
There is, after all, plenty to do.
Several panels will be held both days that focus on topics ranging from cosplay armor and prop building, to self publishing, sewing and painting miniatures.
“We have a lot of cosplay panels this year,” Julie said. “My friend has organized a good bit of them under the topic of year zero to kind of give people a knowledge if they’re just getting into it.
“So, I think he’s spanning it so that it covers the beginners to veterans, but allows everybody to jump in and feel like they can learn something.”
Another highlight this year is Pat Oliffe, a veteran comic book illustrator, who has worked with Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Disney.
“He’s mainly known for his work on ‘Spider-Girl’ and ‘Untold Tales of Spider-Man,’ and he just got picked up as the main artist on ‘Scooby Apocalypse,’ ” Julie said. “We’re really excited to have him. We’ve been trying to get him for awhile now.”
There will also be a gaming area set up in the back where attendees can play tabletop and video games.
Julie said she expects a crowd of about 2,500, though her goal is 3,000. And dressing up in costumes or cosplay is encouraged (just remember there will be kids around).
Two costume contests will be held throughout the weekend, a junior contest Aug. 25 for those ages 12 and younger, and the main contest Aug. 26 for those 13 and older.
Participants must sign up by 3:30 p.m. Aug. 25 for the junior contest at the booth of Sheena Bot and the Illustrious Captain Fish. The contest starts at 4 p.m. Those taking part in the main contest must sign up by 2:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at the same booth. The contest starts at 3 p.m.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Julie said. “It’s free to enter.”
In the junior competition the first place winner will receive $20, a winner certificate and a gift certificate to Comic Paradise Plus. Four judges’ choice winners will receive gift certificates to comic paradise plus.
The main competition is set up differently than in past years. Each contestant must enter in either the teen (13-17), adult (18 and older) or master category. The master category is intended for those 13 and older who are experienced cosplayers.
“We wanted to be fair to everybody,” Julie said. “The master means if you’ve gone somewhere and you’ve won first place, we don’t want you to go against a teen and it’s only their third year in.”
Each category will have a first-, second- and third-place winner. All winners receive a winner certificate.
While dressing up is encouraged, and Julie said the contests are one of the most popular aspects of the convention, she’s quick to point out it’s by no means a requirement.
“You can be as geeky as you want. You can be as quiet as you want … It’s one of those things where I just want people to come and see for themselves.” she said. “It sounds like a cliche, but there’s just fun for everyone. And we really promote a family friendly event. I can’t imagine someone would come in and not just be really happy with it.”
- The 7th annual WVPopCon is set for 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 25 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 26 at Mylan Park. Daily admission is $10. Children 10 and under are admitted for free. Free parking. Info: facebook.com/events/ 951322795051019/.