Suffolk convention draws fans of all kinds

Published 9:13 pm Saturday, April 29, 2017

Unbridled fandom was on full display at the North Suffolk Library on Saturday.

The library partnered with The Tidewater Alliance to hold its second IconiCon, a pop-culture convention with vendors, games, workshops, art and costume contests. There was no admission fee, and everyone was encouraged to engage in a community of like-minded fans.

About 1,200 visitors walked through the library doors on convention day, an increase from the approximate 1,000 that attended the first IconiCon last year, according to marketing and community relations coordinator Angie Sumner.

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“We had a lot of people who came last year come again this year, and the word traveled,” Sumner said. “A lot of people were telling their friends about it.”

Among the cosplayers at IconiCon were Jabren Barcliff, 19, as The Flash, Lelia Bagbey, 17, as Lara Croft of the “Tomb Raider’ video game series, and Norman Warren, 23, as Anti-Venom from Marvel Comics. “It was dynamite,” Barcliff said.

The convention drew fans of all ages. Children enjoyed activities that included playing with Lego bricks and making their own superhero bangles using arts and crafts to represent their favorite characters.

Gamers of all ages enjoyed a “Brawl for All” tournament, in which 24 of them were placed in brackets to compete against each other in “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” video game.

“Everyone was real excited about that,” Sumner said.

Visitors who cosplay — formed from “costume play” — wore elaborate costumes of their favorite anime, video game, comic book, movie and television characters. Portsmouth resident Quinton Nottingham was dressed in a costume inspired by the “Batman Beyond” television series.

Nottingham said his costume took a week’s worth of work, consisting of parts that included motocross gear and an electronic voice amplifier.

“I’ve always used something electronic in some shape or form,” he said.

He has cosplayed since 2015 and owns 21 different costumes, including Aquaman, Green Lantern, and various Iron Man suits. He also designs costumes for his friends and family.

For him, the best part of cosplay is the reaction from fans.

“The excitement I see on the faces of not just kids but adults when I show up as a hero they like,” he said. “It’s like I’ve done what I’ve set out to do in making someone feel elated.”

He came to the convention with Yorktown resident Susan Hamilton, herself dressed as Batgirl. This was Hamilton’s first IconiCon, and she liked the smaller size of the library compared to larger convention settings.

“It’s very intimate in the library, you can see everyone,” Hamilton said. “I don’t have to use my inside library voice either.”

Atlantis Games and Comics was one of the convention vendors and led a workshop about how to properly be a Dungeon Master for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. Magan Nickelson, the Atlantis Games and Comics convention manager, said the convention’s free access helped expose people to new genres.

“It brings this culture to a crowd that might not traditionally see it,” Nickelson said. “People can just come in and there’s this whole thing going on. It’s pretty phenomenal.”

Suffolk resident Stephen Forbes brought three of his kids to the convention. His 9-year-old son Asher, dressed as Kylo Ren from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” was in the lightsaber academy session on the library lawn with his 6-year-old brother Grayson, who was dressed as a Stormtrooper.

Stephen’s 4-year-old daughter Hadley won the costume contest for the ages 0-12 category dressed as R2D2.

“I’m a geek at heart, and all my kids like Star Wars and super heroes,” he said. “We love it.”

Sumner was dressed as Clark Kent with the dress shirt, tie and obligatory Superman logo underneath. She said the event went “super,” and that the plan is to bring it back once again next year.

“I think the plan is to continue it year after year,” she said. “We had a lot of positive feedback this year, so we definitely hope to bring it back for year three.”