‘Pop­comi­ganza’ comic book show set for July in Dunkirk

Artist hopes show grows into an­nual event

Maryland Independent - - Business - By DAR­WIN WEIGEL dweigel@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @somd_bized­i­tor

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY DAR­WIN WEIGEL

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.

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