Imagine a time before popular culture, like comics and video games, was considered so mainstream. Before Robert Downey Jr. donned his first suit of armor and before San Diego Comic Con was covered by major news organizations. Back before DC and Marvel had a combined 47 live action television shows. David Hasselhoff was Nick Fury in a TV movie. Google it, kids.
This is the time of the primordial nerd. And before there was a place in most malls that celebrated some aspect of pop culture, there was the small localized comicbook* convention. These were small, intimate affairs. I haven’t been to one of these myself in at least 25 years. But all that changed this past Saturday at the 2018 Brandon ComicCon. It was like a portal to the 90’s had opened up and only a small handful of people even knew about it. And it was glorious.
For starters, this Con is located just outside of Tampa. And here in the Tampa Bay area we get the Tampa Bay Comic Con every August. Then we get TampaMegaCon in September. Aside from our other smaller anime and video game cons, our back half of the calendar is pretty loaded. And speaking of the calendar, the biggest commercial holiday of the year is just a week away. That puts BCC in a very tight corner. So yes, this is a small convention. But oh what a punch it packs. This is a Comicbook Convention centered around comics… Brilliant! Cue the head exploding GIF from “Scanners”.
This con is not very ‘sizzle’. Whole lot of ‘steak’. Not much in the way of cosplay. I saw exactly two people dressed up. And not a slew of guests. Just a few local celebs. For starters, Chuck Dixon was here! If you love the art form of comicbooks, you probably know Dixon’s work: Punisher, GIJoe, Green Arrow, and he infamously broke Batman’s back with his creation of Bane. I managed to get him to sign a copy of GIJOE #1 (IDW relaunch) and the aforementioned Batman #497. Needless to say, my day would’ve been fine had it ended right there.
We chatted briefly but he was as cordial as anyone I had ever met at a con. But aside from the other guests whom I didn’t get to spend much time with (artist Javier Lugo, former WWE tag team champions The Nasty Boys, and Billy “The King of Donkey Kong” Mitchell), this con is pretty well known in local circles as a toy lover’s dream.
My search for my own personal Holy Grail, the 1985 G.I. Joe action figure Snake-Eyes (with his wolf, Timber), led me to a gauntlet of vendor tables. I attended JoeCon in Chattanooga this past June but every ’85 Snake Eyes I found was upwards of two grand (only saw three!). I’m pretty sure I would’ve driven back to Florida a newly single man if I had pulled the trigger on that purchase. So why not search around BCC for my favorite Joe Ninja? I found a ton of figures and vehicles from MOTU, MASK, Star Wars, Super Powers, with some still in the box. Personally, I feel a good haul of plastic crack can make or break a con experience. BCC didn’t disappoint in this regard either. No luck on my ’85 Snake Eyes hunt, but I did make some other nice captures on the cheap.
All in all, BCC is a great smaller-sized con and if you’re in the Tampa Bay area this time next year, they are worth the stop. It’ll feel like the nineties. And the nineties kinda rocked. Hasselhoff Nick Fury notwithstanding.