Lexington Comic and Toy Convention made its triumphant return to Lexington for 2018 — nerds and lovers of comics, toys and pop culture descending on the bluegrass dressed in costumes and ready to let their nerd flag fly.
Chances are, if you were a kid in the 80s or 90s, you’ll see the exact toys and comics from your childhood. As you ascend the three levels of Lexington Center, you’re surrounded by vendors selling every collectible and toy imaginable and tempting your inner child to empty the contents of your wallet.
It’s a strange environment for the uninitiated outsider but also a compelling atmosphere that consumes once you enter this world. Where else does a person get a chance to meet actors from their favorite movies and shows while also stumbling across Batman sitting by himself in the food court or Deadpool showing off his combat skills to a Jedi equipped with a lightsaber?
The event attracts thousands of visitors from all over the country eager to experience a marvelous moment. In 2017, over 25,000 fans attended the event and more is expected this year.
When Jarrod Greer brought Lexington Comic Con to town a few years ago after dabbling in a statewide reptile expo, expectations were small, but it has blossomed more than expected. This year alone, some of the notable guests are Ric Flair, Chuck Norris, the Power Rangers, Kevin Sorbo and more.
For those immersed in the culture, it’s a sense of community more than just a gathering of devoted fans. They walk from booth to booth, urging their friends to take a look and stopping to admire and take pictures with those mastering the art of cosplay.
“I love everything about this,” said cosplayer Heather Stephens. “My favorite part is seeing all of the different costumes people have made and representing all of the fandoms that they love.”
Stephens lives in Hebron but travels to multiple conventions every month and proudly calls herself a “professional dork.” She’s dressed as Star Wars icon Princess Leia and sees it as living a fantasy of female empowerment.
“Princess Leia is such an inspiring character to begin with and an empowering female role model,” Stephens said. “Who wouldn’t want to be Princess Leia?”
Many fans have similar stories and fantasies which is why they’re drawn to comic conventions. Terms like “dork” and “nerd” may seem derogatory to some — but, deep down, everyone is a nerd for something.
Tara Lowry represents STL Ocarina, a company that sells themed ocarinas in St. Louis, but travels the country wowing fans with these little musical instruments. The booth she sits at has a wide variety of options from the The Legend of Zelda.
Fans pick her brain about the display and listen to her play. At one point, she takes the Power Rangers Dragon Dagger that the Green Ranger used to summon the Dragonzord and played the same tune heard in the 1993 TV show.
“I’m a huge nerd and it’s a really obscure instrument, which I think is really fun. It’s really easy to pick up, it’s not too expensive and you can sound out songs on it,” Lowry said. “I sounded out the Jurassic Park theme out of boredom but I think with this generation, a lot of us were into Zelda but there’s a bit of it in Pokémon, you can hear it in The Hobbit, they’re just fun. And it’s a way to get back into music.”
What remains clear is that there is an undeniable and deep desire to get the comic convention experience. It’s pop culture coming straight to Lexington’s door and what fan doesn’t want that?
It’s the perfect place to let your nerd flag fly.
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