‘Popcomiganza’ comic book show set for July in Dunkirk
Artist hopes show grows into annual event
Dan Nokes and his 21st Century Sandshark Studios is hosting the first “Popcomiganza” comic book fan convention this summer in Dunkirk.
The Lusby-based artist and writer said it was the first such show in Calvert County in 20 years and is playfully promoting it as the “one day comic and fan show with plans of world domination” on a poster he made.
“I’m trying to start something small and intimate,” Nokes said in an interview last week. “I’ve done these big mega-shows and I like them; I like going to them. But it’s like going to a big outdoor festival or going to a huge concert or something like that. It’s fun, but it can be overwhelming — you can’t do ever ything.”
Nokes, who’s been creating and writing under his Sandshark Studios label since 2002, travels to up to 50 shows a year to promote and sell his work and see what others are up to. He currently has five comic book series under his belt and is working on a web series called “Impossible Space Tales of the Last Pit Stop.”
“It’s basically, what if Area 51 were a convenience store for aliens,” he said. “I’m trying wrap that one up this year.” Area 51 is a secretive government facility in Nevada that is often associated with UFOs in folklore.
For Popcomiganza, Nokes expects to have 30 vendor tables with “a good dozen or so” of them occupied by local and regional creators and writers. The rest will be merchandise dealers selling comic books, T-shirts, art and toys.
“Instead of the all-you-can-eat buffet of an Awesome Con or Wizard World or something in San Diego or New York, do a sampler platter, which would be mine, and check it out for half an hour or stay longer for the events,” he said. “It’ll give you an idea of what the bigger shows can give you.”
Nokes is planning a cosplay contest — where people dress up as their favorite comic book characters — with judging for the best costume in solo adult, group adult and child categories. There will also be a “Triviageddon, Wheel of Useless Information” game to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“Our other big event is we’ll have a kids’ art section. We’ll have some drawing supplies and the kids can submit their finished artworks and we’ll judge the best ones,” Nokes said.
A Kickstarter fundraising campaign raised $2,200 in seed money to get the show off the ground but Nokes is hoping there’ll be enough interest to make it an annual event that grows each year. “My big end goal is to make it profitable enough and popular enough, and wanted enough, that we need a larger venue [next year],” he said.
Nokes said there’s a growing presence of comic book and cosplay fans in the area and hopes his show will dovetail with larger shows in Annapolis and St. Mar y’s County. “There’s another show, Southern Maryland Comi-con, which are satellite shows of Awesome Con,” he said. “The guys that own that are very receptive to us, too. They’ll be set up at our show and I’ll be set up at theirs — in Annapolis and St. Mar y’s [in the fall].”
“Mine’s going to be the local, hometown, homespun one,” he said. “I hope it gets some traction and turns into something cool and big, something people anticipate.”
Popcomiganza is scheduled for July 23, the weekend of Comic-Con International in San Diego, which is one of the largest such shows in the country.
“You’re sitting at home and watching all this cool stuff happening in San Diego. You say to yourself, ‘I don’t have the money to go but I’d love to go do something.’ Spend five bucks and come to my show,” Nokes said. “You can still get your inner geek or nerd or fan on — and spend very little money on it.”
Comic book artist and writer Dan Nokes of Lusby is holding the first “Popcomiganza” comic book and cosplay show July 23 at Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department in Dunkirk.