Updated: Dec 19, 2019
So a few weeks ago I contacted a con I had never heard of to see about them hosting my Cosplay: Secret Origins panel that I do with my cosplay friends. They contacted me back and accepted the panel and it was on. I drove down to Fayetteville, North Carolina not expecting too much. Fayetteville ComicCon was a first year con and typically those are pretty small, usually in a hotel or some type of ballroom. When I got there it was being held in the Crown Complex in Fayetteville. Sam (my daughter) and I walked in and the place was massive. I immediately thought “hmmm they spent some money on this”, and there were a good amount of vendors already getting setup. I went to the panel room where my cosplay team was getting ready. The panel room was pretty large and had a decent sized stage setup in the front. Sam just said “Wow” and I said nothing because she had pretty much said it all. We waited about an hour and a half for the doors to open and our panel started at 10:30. As usual we were just hanging out joking around and then someone mentioned it was already 10:30. I looked at my phone and sure enough our panel was starting, but the room was empty. We sent our moderator out to have the DJ announce that the panel was starting and then waited some more. Finally around 10:45 a few people started trickling in and we were off. The panel went well. It was sparsely populated and I was really starting to think that this first time con was going to be a flop. When we walked out the doors I think all of us were shocked to see the convention center crowded like a madhouse. The reason the panel had been so empty was due to the overwhelming crowd forming at the door and around the building. And it was like that the ENTIRE day. The crowd was amazing. The atmosphere just reeked of fun. People from that area seem to have been dying for this type of event to drop in their backyard and it completely did with great success. Every vendor I talked to was ecstatic by the turnout. Every cosplayer, guest and attendee I spoke with mentioned how no one expected this at all.
Of course one of my favorite elements of conventions are the vendors. There were a great amount and a ton of selection to choose from. Comics, toys, anime, steampunk, art, crafts and cosplay were all represented at the vendors’ tables. As I walked down the artists and guests section I saw a comic I recognized as Swords of Sorrow, the Dynamite Comics huge summer crossover series spearheaded by the legendary Gail Simone. Nancy Collins who has been writing Vampirella and who did the Swords of Sorrow: Vampirella & Jennifer Blood crossover was sitting there and we talked for a bit. She was extremely nice and as a writer I definitely liked getting to know her. I bought the Vampirella trade #1 and she graciously signed it. As I kept moving down the line I saw a sign I was extremely familiar with. Action Lab Danger Zone is an indie label that has gained a ton of notoriety as of late with their smash hit book Zombie Tramp and also the publisher of Ehmm Theory and Puppet Master but they are also the distributor for Red Stylo Media’s 27 Anthology of which I am a contributing writer. At their booth I met Kevin Freeman who is the president of AL:DZ. We had a great discussion about comics, the con and my contributing story to 27 and I bought a copy of the first Zombie Tramp trade. At a vendor table I got a sick deal on some action figures. I went searching at most of the comic vendor tables for a 1977 Ms. Marvel #’s 15-17 but came up empty handed.
As I was wandering around the Crown Center I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Chaud, founder and organizer of FCC and he had this to say:
“We knew early on in the day that our turnout was exceeding expectations, and that was great, but it was the incredible costumes combined with the look of joy and excitement on the faces of the kids that made us realize that we had a winner and that our faith in Fayetteville's fans was more than warranted.”
All in all this was a FANTASTIC convention. I heard rumors of it being a two-day show next year and as such would definitely attend and perform a panel (at a later start time) at future shows. My expectations were low initially with it being a first year event but the level of enthusiasm of the crowd, the great vendors, the cosplayers and guests made this an unexpected gem in the heart of the Fayetteville / Fort Bragg, NC area.