It used to take a pilgrimage to some centralized city for comic book, fantasy, anime and live-action role playing enthusiasts to convene and talk shop about their favorite pastimes. Now, Tampa Bay's fans have enough conventions in their backyard to be selective. These conventions are aimed at specific segments of the nerd culture populace, but broaden to include the dabblers who watch The Walking Dead and interlopers who love the Spider-Man movies. Beginning this weekend, a wave of conventions will roll into Tampa through October. Most offer a weekend full of programing for $50 or less and promises to satiate your fandom.
Robbyn Mitchell, Times staff writer
Tampa Bay Comic Con
In its 13th year, Tampa Bay Comic Con is back with interactive elements, including Nerd Trivia and speed dating. While open to cosplaying, Comic Con prides itself on its family-friendly atmosphere while catering to various fan bases. This year's big event is a panel featuring AMC's The Walking Dead stars Lauren Cohan and Emily Kinney. Cohan appears between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday only, and Kinney appears Saturday and Sunday. Also appearing both days is Drake Bellof Drake & Josh, Ultimate Spider-Man and Superhero Movie. Autographs for each are $30. The convention opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, along with a costume contest and more than 100 tables of comics, action figures, anime, Star Wars memorabilia, artwork and trading cards. It's at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel, 4500 W Cypress St., Tampa. Tickets are $15 for one day and $25 for two. Kids 12 and under are free. See tampabaycomiccon.com.
COSTUME SUGGESTION: The obvious choice is your best "walker" or zombie get-up. However, for style points consider the Avengers left out of last summer's blockbuster, like Ms. Marvel or Quiksilver.
Anime, video game and sci-fi fans get together for three days of seemingly nonstop games and partying in this convention celebrating its second year. Most of the panels are pretty anime-focused, so n00bs may not fare well at one of several Hetalia panels. But keenly added to the complex explorations of characters and series are dance parties like a J-Pop karaoke party and a role-playing experience of a host club, where a group of attractive, attentive cosplayers will cater to guests' whims and put together events for their entertainment. This year's guests are voice talents from Fullmetal Alchemist and Ouran High School Host Club. It's May 3-5 at the Sheraton East, 10221 Princess Palm Ave., Tampa. Weekend passes are $40 through April 27, $25 per day at the door, $10 per day for kids. See khaotickon.com for details.
COSTUME SUGGESTION: Mix Victorian haute couture with anime sensibilities as Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler.
The big Kahuna of Tampa's anime conventions returns to the Tampa Convention Center this summer, promising old favorites and new entertainment. Janet Varney, voice of Korra in Nickelodeon's The Legend of Korra, is one of 15 named guests for Metrocon. An anime human chess match, formal masquerade ball, Anime Idol singing contest and Zombie Warz game are in the lineup. It's July 26-28 at the Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. Weekend passes are $50. See metroconventions.com.
COSTUME SUGGESTION: A classic gets new life with rumors of a Sailor Moon reboot hitting Japan's airwaves. Dust off that sailor skirt and jeweled tiara.
New to Tampa Bay, the FanBoy Expo is looking to break out in a big way by bringing TV's Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward, as its headlining guests. It's Aug. 3-4 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa. Weekend passes are $35; day tickets are $30 at the door. Charges for autographs and photos. See fanboyexpo.com/tampa.
COSTUME SUGGESTION: Wow West and Ward with your obscure villain knowledge and show up as Siren or the Clock King.
Coming into its fourth year, ShadoCon, an anime, video game and comic convention, brings familiar voice talents Dante Basco (Prince Zuko of Avatar: The Last Air Bender) and Kyle Hebert (teen Gohan of Dragon Ball Z). It's Oct. 4-6 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa. Weekend passes are $35. See shadocon.com.
COSTUME SUGGESTION: Can't go wrong with a well-executed Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII. White hair can be so hot.
Wizards, kings and dragons will abound in the grandaddy of Tampa fantasy conventions this fall. Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, will join the members of the Stone Hill Science Fiction Association as they host their 32nd annual Necronomicon. It's Oct. 18-20 at the Embassy Suites, University of South Florida, 3705 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Weekend passes are $35. Go to stonehill.org/necro.htm.
COSTUME SUGGESTION: Got a spare blond wig? How about going as Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Also acceptable: Daenerys or Viserys Targaryen. Less acceptable: Peeta Mellark.