Are you a Judicious Jedi? Manga maniac? Zealous zombie?
It’s an equal opportunity universe when the RetroMega Comic Con takes over the Coastal Georgia Center Saturday, May 7.
Now in its third year, this glorious galaxy of geek casts a wide net: Collectors of all ages and eras can find treasures at over 50 vendors, from the Golden Age of Superman to the latest Fullmetal Alchemist. Gamers can bounce between jousting at the vintage video game museum and tabletop dice rolls, and cosplay enthusiasts show off their diehard devotion to their favorite characters.
Those with a penchant for undead idols will dig the appearances from Walking Dead cast members Justin Kucsulain and Jeremy Palko (they’ll probably leave their costumes on set, however.)
The day coincides with the national Free Comic Book Day, a real score for comic book fans who can browse distributors’ offerings.
Plus, one very lucky person will go home with a six-foot replica of the Millennium Falcon as a door prize.
It’s all in the name of bringing as many aspects of pop/sci-fi/steampunk/game/geek culture together.
“We call this ‘mega’ for a reason,” assures RetroMega Comic Con organizer Tony Privette, who’s expecting up to 1500 people for the all-day convention.
“We’re trying to offer a place where everyone can find what they’re looking for, and we just didn’t have anything like it in Savannah.”
When they’re not wrangling Wookiees and Thundercats, Privette and fiancée Robyn Smith run The Land of Misfit Toys, a comic book and toy shop tucked back in a shopping center off King George Blvd. in Georgetown. Since 2009, they’ve built a solid business—both at the their brick-and-mortar and on Ebay—around selling vintage video games and sci-fi memorabilia, a booming trade that can fetch thousands for a single figurine.
Among the Nintendo cartridges and Transformer comics, the store boasts true retro treasures: A life-size Yoda, the wrinkles around his eyes so real it seems he might spout wisdom at any moment. A G.I. Joe aircraft carrier the size of a dining table. A rare replica of He-Man’s little-known Castle Eternia.
And yes, there is a highly-coveted Boba Fett action figure in the original packaging (by Kenner!), on sale for $2500.
Their retro world originates with Privette’s passion for collecting, which began as a teenager sorting through the tables at Keller’s flea market and digging through people’s garages. His findings grew to take over his living room, thus necessitating the business of selling and trading to make room for more.
“There’s a real fine line between collecting and hoarding, a real fine line,” he says, stroking his handlebar mustache with a grin.
He cites nostalgia as the driving force behind today’s lucrative toy market, though the Savannah native remembers when all this sci-fi stuff wasn’t for the cool kids. Finding those with fellow interests was nearly impossible before the Internet, and though virtual chat rooms abound now, the excitement of communing with like minds in person is the inspiration for RetroMeg Comic Con.
“It used to be that this was a deeply geeky thing,” he says.
“But the big Comic Cons around the country, like San Diego where you have a hundred thousand people show up, have made it so much more acceptable.”
Another trend Privette has seen change is the diversity of the enthusiasts: Women and people of color made up a significant part of the attendance at last year’s Con, and he hopes that comic culture continues to reflect inclusivity and progress. He attributes the latest wave of expansive thinking in part to the characters of the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens, especially Rey, the young, tough (possible) Jedi.
“I think she’s brought a lot of girls to the culture, where the only feminine thing used to be My Little Pony,” he remarks.
“So many female characters are overly-sexualized, and Rey represents a real hero. I expect to see a lot of Rey costumes at the Con.”
During the day, RetroMega Comic Con is one hundred percent family friendly, and the fun continues for the adults with two afterparties: DJ Sam Diamond will keep the retro vibe spinning into the night at Doubles Night Club on the southside. Further north at the Wormhole, rave beats rule with partymeister Chris Cook.
Whether you’re convening for the cosplay or looking to complete your collection, the unified field theory of the event offers a niche for everyone.
Who knows? You might just find the droid you’re looking for.
RetroMega Comic Con
When: 10am-6pm, May 7
Where: Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm St.
Tickets: $10, $5 kids 6-12
It is free and open to the public.
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Photo credits: Terri Morgan Hsu