Tucson Comic-Con's driving force puts the artists front and center

2012-11-01T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T15:21:19Z Tucson Comic-Con's driving force puts the artists front and centerGerald M. Gay Ggay@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
November 01, 2012 12:00 am  • 

When Mike Olivares set out to create Tucson's first major Comic-Con, he had a novel concept in mind: Hold a comic book convention that actually focused on comics.

For Olivares, who has been to his fair share of mega-conventions, this was an important aspect.

"At the bigger shows, a lot of the actual art seems to get squeezed out," he said. "You have the Warner Brothers booth and the big TV and movie ads. The comic book creators are smashed into the corner and forgotten about."

At Tucson Comic-Con, Olivares said of the artists, "These guys are my celebrities."

Now in its fifth year, the convention has gone from a few hundred people at the Four Points Sheraton to what Olivares estimates will be about 5,000 comic book fans when it is held at the Tucson Convention Center's Exhibition Hall A on Saturday and Sunday.

The event has become a solid draw for local and national artists.

Some big names, including writer and letterer John Layman, have attended the convention several years in a row.

"He is a big draw for us," Olivares said. "He is a pretty big person when he attends the San Diego Con, so the fact that he comes down here for every show is really cool."

Olivares said all of the major comic labels, Marvel, Image and DC among others, will be represented.

Artists and scribes due out this year include Zach Howard ("Aliens," "Wild Blue Yonder"), Nick Runge ("G.I. Joe," "Judge Dredd") and Timothy Truman ("Hawken," "Conan," "Jonah Hex").

The event will have panel discussions, artist signings, exhibitors and vendors.

Then there is the free after-party at Club Congress on Saturday with Love Mound, Green Haven, The Rocking Dead and Serene Dominic providing the music.

Olivares said relocating to the Tucson Convention Center this year has given the convention a more central location, making the event easier for people to find and plan around.

He's hoping his focus on the artistic side of comics will continue to be a big draw.

"I am always very optimistic," Olivares said. "So far, every year has been a big success. We've gotten a lot of support from the community."

If you Go

• What: Fifth annual Tucson Comic-Con.

• When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

• Where: Tucson Convention Center Exhibition Hall A, 260 S. Church Ave.

• Tickets: $6 per day or $10 for both days. Free for children 10 and under.

• Info: tucsoncomic-con.com

• After-party: A free after-party featuring music from Love Mound, Green Haven, The Rocking Dead and Serene Dominic will be held at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. at 7 p.m. Saturday. The event is 21-and-older.

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