There’s a small but colourful number of men, women and children in Sarnia who love to read comic books and get enthused by everything associated with them.
Terry Wardell is one of them.
Incredibly, he owns 40,000 comic books and regularly attends pop culture conventions where collectors can find the most coveted comics, as well as related toys, games and collectibles.
Conventions celebrate everything from Marvel figures to Transformers and from Star Wars to Star Trek. Many attendees really get into it and dress up like their favourite super hero.
Five years ago, Wardell was out of town at a convention with buddy Trent Rogers, who owns a successful comic book and collectibles store in Sarnia called Future Pastimes.
“We thought, why can’t we do one of these in Sarnia?” said Wardell. “We figured there are lots of people who would like to attend a show in their own community.”
They were right.
The first year at the Holiday Inn, the Sarnia Pop Culture Show attracted 400 people. It has grown every year to the point that more space is required. At least 1,000 went in 2016.
So this year, the 5th annual Sarnia Pop Culture Show is moving to the Point Edward Arena where as many as 100 vendor tables can be accommodated, as well as 10 guest authors.
Pop culture shows invite professional and independent comic book artists and authors and some hire people to come as super heroes. The Sarnia show prefers to invite its attendees to wear the costumes.
This year’s biggest author name will be Adam Gorham, an artist from Mississauga who works for Valiant and Marvel comics.
There will also be creator/artist Jason Loo and representatives from Canada’s largest comic book publisher Chapterhouse.
“Most aren’t household names yet but they are getting bigger all the time,” said Wardell. “We’re very proud that some of the artists who attended our early shows are now doing a lot of higher profile stuff.”
Generally, about 100 to 200 attendees dress up for the pop culture show. It’s promoted as a family event and many of the kids like to go in costume. But an astonishing number of adults go as Batman, Superman, Wolverine, Flash or Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn.
Interest in pop culture has grown as the big movie studios favour superhero movies like the Avengers, Captain America and the X Men. Women in particular are increasingly interested and that’s reflected in the female characters in the comics, movies and videos.
“Pop culture is growing because you can watch it, enjoy it and then you can actually own a piece of it,” said Wardell. “It’s like loving hockey and getting a jersey.
“This show is an opportunity for people in our town to dress up and interact with people about what they love.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: 5th annual Sarnia Pop Culture Show
WHEN: Sunday, April 9 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
WHERE: Point Edward Arena
TICKETS: $10. Children 11 and under free. Available at Future Pastimes, 163 Lochiel St. or call 519-383-6967.