Dave Stoner was a geek long before being geek was cool.
A shy and lanky teen, he escaped life's awkward moments by delving into the world of comic books, science fiction novels, Star Wars movies and Star Trek television shows.
Now 46, he's the father of three teens and a mild-mannered library division manager for the Clearwater Public Library System. But he still considers comic books a good read — and knows that others do, too.
Saturday, the Clearwater Main Library will host its inaugural Comic Con, a convention for comic book and sci-fi fans. Emerald City Comics, a Clearwater comic shop, is co-sponsoring the event.
For the uninitiated, the pop culture experience is a chance to meet well-known comic book writers and artists, engage in "cosplay" (costume play), and learn what those old childhood comic books are really worth.
Industry professionals will discuss their career paths and give advice on how to get started in the industry as an artist, writer or collector.
Stoner has attended other comic cons around the state and country. He says this isn't the first in Pinellas, but perhaps it will be the biggest.
"What's really cool is that we're using all five floors of the library including the rooftop," Stoner said. "There will be a little stage up there and people can have their pictures taken in costume overlooking the city of Clearwater."
The family-friendly pop culture event, running from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, is free.
The first floor will be where graphic novel panel guests like Batman and Punisher writer Chuck Dixon, artist Austin Janowsky (Iron Man and the Avengers) and publishers Ben Filipiak and Mike Foss (Fierce Comics) will speak, dole out advice and sell works.
Colorist Justin Ponsor (Ultimate Spiderman, Guardians of the Galaxy) will be showing his artwork as well. Dr. Who enthusiasts will discuss their favorite British time traveler.
Younger fans will want to visit the second floor, where the library's Youth Division will feature "Super Heroics" from 2 to 3 p.m. Elementary-age school children are encouraged to dress as their favorite heroes and do battle for truth and justice with a series of game challenges.
Ascend to the third floor for video games, board games and to see the movies Captain America and The Avengers.
Comic book appraisals take place on the fourth floor.
There will be prize giveaways all afternoon.
Show up as your favorite crime fighter, masked vigilante or super-gal for a 5 p.m. costume contest judged by costumed characters from the Suncoast Ghostbusters, the Tardis Riders in Pinellas, the Heroes Alliance, and the 501st Legion, Tampa Squad.
Stoner, a self-proclaimed packrat, owns about 2,000 comic books. He said comic cons have been around for decades, but are growing in popularity due to the making and remaking of movies about comic book heroes.
"It's all about good versus evil and everyone loves a hero," he said.
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