Local News

Sunday, Sep 22 2013 07:06 PM

Bakersfield Comic-Con attracts fantasy legends

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Stay Puft looks for the exit as it walks through the packed sixth annual Comic-Con held at the Bakersfield Marriott Sunday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Haley Baker encourages her son, Micah, to touch a replica of Yoda during the sixth annual Comic-Con held at the Bakersfield Marriott.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Dusty Rose Forty, left, and Anthony Garcia celebrate a good shot as they participate in a game during the annual Comic-Con held at the Bakersfield Marriott.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Samantha Peltez dressed as Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw attends the annual Comic-Con with hundreds of others at the Marriott Hotel in Bakersfield.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Dressing up is part of the event of Comic-Con at the Marriott Hotel in Bakersfield.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Ian Johnson appears happy as his mom, Marla, prepares to buy him a comic book from Stan Harper during the Comic-Con held in Bakersfield Sunday.

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BY STEVE LEVIN Californian staff writer slevin@bakersfield.com

The Minions were making their way toward the entrance to the Bakersfield Marriott on Sunday, having driven from home.

Josh Dick, 11, and his parents, Robert and Jenny, were dressed in longsleeve yellow shirts and blue overalls. For goggles they wore ovals carved from a Pringles can wrapped in duct tape.

They looked somewhat like the yellow, cylindrical creatures from the "Despicable Me" movies known as Minions, which meant they fit in with the estimated other 2,000 people attending the sixth annual Bakersfield Comic-Con, many of whom dressed as their favorite comics, fantasy, game, cartoon or fiction character.

Or not.

The fourth member of the Dick family, Melissa, 81/2, dressed as a banana because she thought the rest of her family looked funny.

Comic-cons, or conventions, are just that: Often centered around the buying, selling and trading of comics, they can also include guest artists, classes, contests and games.

Sunday's gathering at the Marriott Ballroom was visually crowded.

Batman kibitzed with an Imperial Stormtrooper. Spider-Man walked around unmasked. Wonder Woman was there with her two kids. Deadpool, a couple of Eleventh Doctors from "Dr. Who" and an unsettling number of people sporting movie makeup wounds and sores crabbed their way through rooms crowded with more than 40 vendors and a score of comics artists and special guests.

Mystique was there, too. Marvel Comics' "X-Men" character with blue skin, red hair and yellow cat eyes was palling around with a zombie, whose chest wound was festering quite nicely.

"Liquid Flesh," said Mystique, also known as 18-year-old Dusty Rose Forty, a Bakersfield College student. "I made it with Liquid Flesh."

She also spent two hours spray painting herself blue.

"Lots of people thought I was from 'Avatar' because I was blue," she said.

Dale W. Berry worked diligently in a sketchpad behind his vendor's table on a scene for his next "Tales of the Moonlight Cutter" series.

The Taft native and former fencing coach at Cal State Bakersfield now makes his living writing, drawing, inking, publishing and selling his comics, collectively known as Myriad Publications.

Berry, 53, who lives in San Francisco, said it takes up to two years to complete one of his "Moonlight Cutter" series, which feature vivid swordplay, ghosts, murdering spirits and cursed spears amid the architecture and costumes of 12th century China.

He's never been to China but wants to go. On the other hand, he said, "the China I'd like to visit doesn't exist any more."

Steve Wyatt, the organizer of Bakersfield Comic-Con and who's been involved in producing similar shows for 30 years, said the best part of the show was seeing the variety of people attending.

A comic collector himself, he said the show's special guests -- Sergio Aragones, Dan Brereton, Drew Johnson, Scott Shaw and Tone Rodriguez, for example, all of whom are well known comic artists and all of whom were there Sunday -- are friends of his.

Vendors sold comic books from the Silver Age (1960s), Bronze Age (1970s), Copper Age (1980s) and Modern (1990s), and anything else having to do with science fiction, including "Star Wars" dinner plates, an Aug. 14-20, 1982 TV Guide featuring William Shatner and a tempting mint condition boxed "Knight Rider" board game with a young David Hasselhoff leering from a corner.

Wyatt pointed to another special guest.

"Parker Stevenson's here from the 'Hardy Boys'!" Wyatt shouted. "That's cool!"

Next to Stevenson was Kathy Garver, best known as Cissy from the late-1960s show "Family Affair." Now, though, she's the voice of Firestar, the mutant superhero who generates and manipulates microwave radiation in the NBC animated TV series "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends."

"I'm Firestar!" Garver said in her best superhero voice. "Or, I can be her alter ego, Angelica Jones, a nice, sweet, good student who would be home studying, reading or cooking."

Sunday, though she was Kathy Garver, and more than one person came up and said, "You were in that show ... what was it called?"

She turned aside afterward.

"I'm a Firestar inside," she said.

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