Comic-Con brings out Fargo-Moorhead’s
Heroes and Villains
BY ROBYN ROHDE AND LEVI LASS
Whether it’s about playing out your fantasy as the Merc With A Mouth or vanquishing your enemies with +4 Holy Avenger, fans of comics, video games, movies and TV found a place to play during the Fargo-Moorhead Comic-Con in downtown Fargo.
In its seventh year, Comic-Con is part of Valley-Con, which has run for 43 years this fall. The two-day convention was started as a way to fill the frigid days of winter but has grown every year to surpass 1,500 people on the first day alone during this year’s get together.
“(Previously) being a geek was a bad thing, but not anymore, especially when they realize the engineers and all the rich people in the world are geeks,” said Tony Tilton, event chairman for F-M Comic-Con.
It takes 40-50 volunteers to run the event, which includes a kids’ costume contest during the day, then the adult version in the evening. The day’s not all about the art of dressing up as your favorite character, otherwise known as cosplay, because there are several panels and workshops with professional artists and authors in the comic book industry. Unique to the Fargo-Moorhead convention is a spin on the cultural game, “Cards Against Humanity,” in which artists illustrate the cards that win each round and the audience votes on the best ones.
“There’s a comic-con in every town in the United States but they’ve all become more of a pop culture event because there is a comic book for everything,” Tilton said.
Following the party on Saturday night, vendors from five states and Canada filled the ballroom at the Baymont Inn and Suites with wares ranging from comic books and toys to memorabilia and jewelry. A dozen artists from around the area also displayed their work.
Popular TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory have helped draw fans into the experience Tilton describes as “Halloween and Mardi Gras for a weekend.”
“(Comic-Con) has grown out of people just wanting to celebrate pop culture,” Tilton said. “Our attitude is just to welcome people to have fun and hopefully get a few people to dip their toes in a little bit and enjoy it. You can have fun with it. You don’t have to live it as your lifestyle.”
It’s hard for lifelong fans to pick a favorite but for Tilton, his true hero is Batman.
“He’s not actually a superhero, he’s made himself that way,” Tilton said. “Batman was just cool. He doesn’t have any powers but if you’re rich that helps a lot.”
Costume creation can range from intricate piece to store-bought designs. Eunice Hejtmanek used a combination of what she found in her closet and some fake greenery to embody Poison Ivy, the misunderstood villain who temped men with a deadly kiss.
“I’ve always loved the story behind Poison Ivy, as opposed to Harley Quinn or Catwoman,” Heijtmanek said, referencing other femme fatales of Gotham City. “Even though it’s an accident that she becomes Poison Ivy, she is stronger and better. Plus, I love plants and flowers.”
Gaige Jevne attended his first Comic-Con, dressed as Grunkle Stan from the cartoon “Gravity Falls.”
“I’ve always loved dressing up and being in character so I figured this would be a good start,” Jevne said.
Joe Isaacson, another major cosplayer, is a big fan of Spiderman after experiencing a similar origin story as the famed science student turned friendly neighborhood hero.
“Peter Parker and I are very much alike,” Isaacson said. “I, too, was bitten by a spider and that got me going.”
Isaacson accumulates action figures and video games to complete his collection of Spidey. However, his true talent comes from his cosplay since he has designed more than 30 different costumes, ranging from Marvel Universe characters to Star Wars icons.
“My advice is never give up on your dreams,” Isaacson said. “Just go for it.”
Putting effort into becoming a character is only half the battle as Alynn Fridgen pulled out all the stops to embody Death, the abstract entity predominantly depicted as a skeleton cloaked in dark robes. The cosmetology student at Josef’s School of Hair Design wore complete body makeup with intricate designs to pair the Marvel character with her boyfriend, Zach Kallneyner’s, depiction of Deadpool.