Local News

Sunday, May 04 2014 09:31 PM

'Mini' Comic-Con pulls maximum crowd

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Jenna Mayer, right, gets a solid whack to the helmet at the Medieval Combat area at the Bakersfield Mini Comic Con held at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Her mom, Julianne Jones, left, makes sure to get a picture of her daughter's escapades.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Jerry Scott, left, from Clovis, and Jesse Nejera check out Scott's photos at the Naked Zombie Girl booth during the Bakersfield "Mini" Comic-Con held at the Bakersfield Museum of Art Sunday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The Naked Zombie Girl booth draws the spectators at the Bakersfield "Mini" Comic-Con held Sunday at the Bakersfield Museum of Art.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A replica of the "Back to the Future" DeLorean is displayed at the Bakersfield Mini Comic Con held at the Bakersfield Museum of Art Sunday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Hanford resident Joel Peden says he was 4 years old when the original "Back to the Future" movie came out but it's one of his favorites. He got to sit in a replica of the DeLorean used in the movie during Bakersfield "Mini" Comic-Con held at the Bakersfield Museum of Art Sunday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Luis Vasquez says Darth Vader is his all time favorite as he has his picture taken at the Bakersfield "Mini" Comic-Con held Sunday at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. He says while many like the "Star Wars" heroes he always liked the dark side.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Iron Goblin Studios display some of its creations at the Bakersfield "Mini" Comic-Con held at the Bakersfield Museum of Art Sunday.

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  8. 8 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Guests attending the Bakersfield "Mini" Comic-Con held at the Bakersfield Museum of Art view the artwork on display Sunday.

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  9. 9 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Nikki Burquez takes pictures of some of the artwork during the Bakersfield "Mini" Comic-Con held at the Bakersfield Museum of Art Sunday.

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  10. 10 of 10

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Elio Benavides holds his daughter, Aida, as Jesse Nejera poses for a photo op at the Naked Zombie Girl booth during the Bakersfield Mini Comic Con held at the Bakersfield Museum of Art Sunday. The event featured original comic art, artists, vendors and an evening screening of "Back To the Future."

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BY STEVEN MAYER Californian staff writer smayer@bakersfield.com

If you've wondered whether the Bakersfield Museum of Art has been trying to reinvent itself, the crowd that packed the museum's "Mini" Comic-Con on Sunday may provide all the evidence you need.

"I'd say at least 50 percent of the people here today have never set foot in this building," said Bakersfield resident Valiant Koa, who when reading about the event in The Californian decided missing it was not an option.

"I had to be here," he said.

So, apparently, did R2-D2, at least one imperial stormtrooper, Princess Leia and a Tusken raider who goes by the name of Chad Grady of most weekdays.

Even the weather cooperated as a slight cooling trend kept those wearing heavy costumes from keeling over.

"It's not too bad," Brady said of his costume, a robe made from multiple layers of coarse-twilled fabrics.

"There's a pretty nice breeze today that goes right up this skirt," he added, chuckling through his mask.

So why host a celebration of warriors and princesses, freaks and geeks, comic book heroes and illustrators at Bakersfield's citadel of high art?

"We want to do more community outreach," said museum Marketing Director Matt Munoz. "We want this to be a community center, not just a museum."

Besides, art simply doesn't fit into narrowly defined categories. Indeed, the rows of comic and fantasy art that lined the museum's corridor had visitors' attention.

"It's nice to see they're opening the doors to different levels of art," said Portia Kincaid, who stood in the museum's beautiful garden wearing an English lady's costume, circa 1536.

The local group she was with is part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. The character she has developed is named Colette Olivier La Fourniere.

There are no wizards or dragons in this group. But, swords? Yes. Medieval cooking? Yes. Ancient craftsmanship? Yes.

Even the centuries-old art of ale brewing is studied and practiced.

"We strive for period accuracy," said Allysa Jones, another member of the group who goes by the Romanesque alias, Euphemia Nerva.

All the vendors and much of the art were local, said Steve Wyatt, the creator of Bakersfield Comic-Con, which is scheduled to return this year on Oct. 26.

Munoz and Wyatt decided there was potential to create a "Mini" Comic-Con at the museum, so they started planning weeks ago. There was no charge for entry Sunday, though organizers asked for a $1 per person donation. Many gave more.

It was impossible to count the number of people who attended, but Wyatt said it easily topped 500. Others estimated the number was higher.

Joel Peden, 32, drove down from Hanford to attend. After all, the event featured a replica of the DeLorean time machine from his favorite movie, "Back to the Future."

After getting a chance to be photographed at the wheel of a DeLorean, complete with gull-winged doors and flux capacitor, Peden said it was great to be able to attend an event like Sunday's without leaving the valley.

"It's nice that it's not in L.A.," he said.

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