Entertainment

Thousands of self-proclaimed comic-book nerds gather in Miami, and no one gets killed

Paradise City Comic Con visits Miami

A cosplayer, an artist, and an author all gathered at Comic Con, each bringing a unique perspective on the fantasy-based convention.
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A cosplayer, an artist, and an author all gathered at Comic Con, each bringing a unique perspective on the fantasy-based convention.

Alissa Morris and Michael Scalise had thousands and thousands and thousands of comic books on sale at their booth at the Paradise City Comic Con Sunday, but still, it was only a small fraction of the 250,000 they’ve got in stock at the shop they’re opening next month in Lauderhill, Holy Grail Comics. And, yeah, they left their top sale item — Amazing Fantasy No. 15, the 1962 comic featuring the very first appearance by Spider-Man — back at the store.

“But for $150,000, I’ll drive over there and get it right now,” said Scalise, who — sadly unaware of the prevailing economic condition of journalism — was trying to coax a sale from the newspaper reporter he was talking to. “In fact, I’ll do it for $145,000.”

Seeing that Scalise needed help sealing the deal, Morris launched another line of attack. That Amazing Fantasy No. 15 is so incredibly rare, she noted, that the reporter would likely never get another chance to buy one.

“Basically, they’re all owned by elderly collectors,” she said. “The only way they ever get onto the market is either the guy dies, or he has a really terrible fight with his wife.”

No sale to the reporter, but with 12,500 self-proclaimed dorks prowling the halls of the Miami Airport Convention Center and the Doubletree Hilton hotel next door on Sunday, waving their wallets like magic amulets, Morris and Scalise still had a good chance to score.

“What’s unique about our events is that they aren’t just about comic books,” said Sandy Martin, vice president of Supercon, the Fort Lauderdale-based company that operates Paradise City and three similar events around the country.

“We’re really passionate about putting all the geek interests under one roof. Comics, cartoons, anime, cosplay, fantasy, science fiction, wrestling. You don’t always think of all those things getting along.”

They almost didn’t on Sunday, the last day of the three-day event. The not-quite-trouble started as 28-year-old Mishelle Barrios of West Palm Beach flounced through the convention center in her slinky green-and-yellow Spandex costume as Rogue, that super-power-stealing vixen from the X-men comic books. (Of course it was the 1995 comic book costume, you idiot! Only common trash would wear the steam-punk 2000 TV show outfit!)

As she turned a corner, Barrio was confronted with — omg! — another 1995 green-and-yellow Rogue! There was only one thing to do: They quickly dropped into mutual butt-kicking positions … at least until about a thousand cellphone cameras finished clicking. Then they walked away, smiling.

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Courtesy of Misehlle Barrios

“I definitely could have kicked her butt,” said Barrios as the other Rogue slunk away into anonymity. “Costume-wise, I mean. Hers was store-bought, and I made mine by hand.”

At Paradise City Comic Con, ominously costumed characters bearing chainsaws, scythes and machine guns paraded into the convention center all day long, though only after being checked to make sure that their weapons were made of plastic or rubber.

A few years back, a convention-goer snuck in a one-eyed cat disguised as a costume prop, but no smuggling was detected this week. “The only thing that kind of creeped me out was a bloody ax that the guy had fixed up to look like it had human meat on it,” said Jewel Fields, who ran the costume-checking desk. “But the ax was made of plastic, and the yucky stuff, I don’t know what it was, but not human meat, so that was OK.”

Anyway, there was grosser stuff for sale inside the convention, including a realistic-looking (but entirely plastic) replica of Lucille from the zombies-are-loose TV show “The Walking Dead.”

Lucille is not a person but a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that’s used with inauspicious results on the heads of enemies of one of the show’s bad guys. The scenes with Lucille are so gorily stomach-turning that at one point, a substantial portion of “The Walking Dead” audience stopped watching.

But the sales clerks at the table selling the plastic Lucille replicas said they didn’t think there was anything disturbing about their, uh, toy. “The only time I started getting worried,” said one, “is when people come up to look at it and then say, ‘Why should I buy this when I can just make my own.’”

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