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Seminole’s Comic Con draws thousands
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Savannah Tall, 1, is fascinated by R2-D2, the character from Star Wars, at the first-ever Mid-Pinellas Comic Con at the Seminole Community Library Aug. 9.
SEMINOLE – They are nerds and geeks and they don’t mind telling you.

Thousands of people attended the first annual Mid-Pinellas Comic Con at the Seminole Community Library on Saturday, Aug. 9, and many of them were dressed up like their favorite comic book or sci-fi characters. They say it is all about being yourself.

Rae Johnston, 16, of Largo, dressed as a minstrel, said she intended to spend the entire day at the event because she felt at home.

“I’m surrounded by my geek brethren,” she said. “This is Cosplay, where you dress up as a character that you love. Nobody judges you here; it is more about the love than the content.”

Johnston seemed to be in a constant state of motion with a smile on her face, yet she had a couple of complaints.

“It could be bigger and there is not enough food here,” she said. “There aren’t enough things to buy.”

When told there were several food trucks outside with plenty to eat, she replied: “It is too hot out there.”

Indeed with blazing sunshine and the temperature in the mid-90s all day, the place to be was inside in the air conditioning. That’s where Nicole Jacobs-Roberts spent her time dressed in a unique dress that she made herself. It was a dress made entirely of trading cards, Pokémon cards, U-GI-O cards and others.

“There are at least 400 cards in the dress. I attached or sewed every one on myself,” she said.

Jacobs-Roberts drove from Palmetto to attend the convention. To her it was a drive well worth it.

“I used to work the road,” she said. “I love any comic con no matter where it is, so no, this wasn’t a long drive at all.”

Jacobs-Roberts, 26, admits hers is an unusual hobby, but she loves it.

“It is fun, I love the costumes, I love the creations,” she said. “This is a welcoming environment. These costumes are an art form. My mom says it is time I grow out of this, but I don’t think so.”

Just a week before the Seminole gathering the largest Comic Con in the Bay area was held in Tampa. Jacobs-Roberts went to that one, too.

“It is all about meeting friends and running all over the hotels at night looking for other friends. We get into all sorts of shenanigans at these things,” she said.

St. Petersburg College and the Seminole Community Library staged the Mid-Pinellas Comic Con jointly. The idea was to bring such an event closer to home.

“The event is for Pinellas residents who may not attend other fan conventions because of the distance or cost,” said Chad Mairn, the librarian at the SPC Seminole campus.

In addition to the vendors and displays there was some serious business available at the convention. College representatives were on hand to talk to prospective students about the college and some of its offerings, specifically video game development and animation digital imaging.

In addition there were discussion panels relating to costuming and horror entertainment. Busch Gardens’ representatives also were on hand to reveal how they make their annual howl-a-scream event so terrifying.

A check through the crowd verified that Comic Con was for all ages. Confronting, face to face, was Savannah Tall, 1, and the Star wars Robot R2-D2. The robot was fully animated and operated from afar so no one, not just little Savannah, had any idea why the Robot kept moving about. She loved it, according to her mom Dena Klinger of Largo.

“She likes it, there is so much for her to see here,” she said. “It depends on the individual who comes here whether it is about the comics or the dressing up. I know I come to enjoy it all.”

Mairn, the organizer of the event, said there will be another one next year.

“For sure we’ll be doing this in 2015,” he said. “This year it exceeded our wildest expectations. By the end of the day we estimated there were more than 3,500 people who came to the event. This was very successful.”
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