People tend to underestimate Miami’s geek cred. When Mike Broder, director of Florida Supercon, set up shop in the 305 in 2006, he got plenty of pushback from those who claimed that the real nerd herd was in Central Florida.
“They said there weren’t a lot of comic book stores here and that people wouldn’t come.” Nine Florida Supercons later, the head count of fans of anime, comic books, video games, cosplay and all other manner of geeky entertainment milling around the Miami Beach Convention Center has ballooned from 1,500 to about 40,000.
Supercon attracts fans of all breeds. There are those who obsess over video games. There are the role-playing game fans who get absorbed into fantasy worlds and the characters that inhabit them. Some like to stitch together costumes and dress up like superheroes. Others prefer the quiet refuge of a comic book.
All of them will coexist peacefully at Florida Supercon, which is taking place through Sunday. “Don’t expect nerd wars,” says Broder. The itinerary is huge this year, with hundreds of events going on from screenings, photo ops and celebrity panels. Here are some of this year’s highlights:
1. Costume Contest
Saturday night is when the freak flags will be proudly waving at Supercon’s Costume Contest. About 200 cosplayers enter this pagaent which focuses on originality, craftsmanship and adaptation. No Party City nonsense here, the costumes must be handmade, all entries are prejudged and creativity is key. Hosting the event is Megan Coffey, one of Supercon’s Supergirls, a team of cosplay pros who will be involved in countless cosplay-related panels and fun. “Expect some of the best cosplayers from Florida and around the country,” says the 22 year-old Florida Atlantic University student, who is planning to dress up as Shadowcat from the X-Men. “It’s going to be big and you’re going to see some really incredible things.”
2. Florida Super Championship Wrestling
Have you ever wanted to see Cobra Commander get bodyslammed by Captain America? Or watch The Baroness get pummeled by the Yellow Ranger? Those fantasies become reality at Florida Super Championship Wrestling, an invention of Florida Supercon where local professional wrestlers inhabit iconic characters and give each other beatdowns, which, of course, are accompanied by the ubiquitous trash talking about saving or ending the world. The plot thickens when FSCW hosts its own Dating Game with emcee Supercon Cobra Commander on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, which is likely to provide plenty of fodder for beef during the evening wrestling matches.
3. Q & A’s
How do you know when a character has become a true pop culture phenomenon? If he died off a TV show three seasons ago and audiences are still talking about him, there’s the sign. Such is Khal Drogo from HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” the sexy Dothraki lord played by Jason Mamoa. The actor, who also starred in the 2011 reboot of “Conan the Barbarian,” is on deck to play Aquaman in the upcoming Batman and Superman movie. But for many, he will always be our Moon and Stars. The hunk will be at Supercon Sunday at 11 a.m. along with fellow GoT casualty Esme Bianco, who played Roz, the escort with a heart of gold whom King Joffrey used for target practice.
Fans of the CW show “Arrow” will get to sit in on a session with Manu Bennet, who plays Slade Wilson, mentor to vigilante billionaire Oliver Queen; Celina Jade, who plays Shado, a martial arts expert who teaches Queen a few things about archery plus Katrina Law and David Nykl, who also appear on the show, at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Get ready for reunions as well: The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will morph again Saturday at noon with Austin St. John (The Red Ranger), Walter Jones (The Black Ranger), David Yost (The Blue Ranger), and Karan Ashley (The Yellow Ranger) talking Power Ranger shop with fans old and new.
Also, the hunk-riddled gladiator gorefest “Spartacus” will have its own reunion on Friday at 4:30 with Liam McIntyre (he is Spartacus), Manu Bennett (Crixus), Katrina Law (Mira), Daniel Feuerriegel (Agron), Nick Tarabay (Ashur), Stephen Dunlevy (The Egyptian), Anna Hutchinson (Laeta) and Ellen Hollman (Saxa) coming together to answer questions, most likely about the popular show’s cancellation.
Also on the roster: Dan Harmon, creator of NBC’s “Community”; Caroll Spinney, the voice of Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird on “Sesame Street”; Deep Roy, who appeared in the “Star Trek” reboots, “Star Wars” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and many more.
4. Attack on Titan panel
The anime series based on the bestselling manga by Hajime Isayama is arguably the biggest deal in anime, following the adventures of the hot-blooded Eren Yaeger, his adopted sister Mikasa and their friend Armin as they enlist in an elite squad charged with fighting off the Titans, giant people-eating humanoids that attack their walled city. Friday at 12:45 p.m. the voice over actors from the series including Ashly Burch (Sasha Braus), Trina Nishimura (Mikasa Akerman), and Josh Grelle (Armin Arlert) will take questions about their work on the series. Saturday the three will host their own meet and greets with fans and, for those new to the series, at 3 p.m. Supercon will screen a few episodes of the show. Be warned: No one is safe in this anime series. Isayama is a bit of a George R.R. Martin.
5. Comic Book Men
If ever there was a place to geek out at Florida Supercon, it’s with Ming Chen and Brian Johnson, part of the team of pop culture gurus who star in Kevin Smith’s AMC show “Comic Book Men,” where the crew hangs out at Smith’s New Jersey comic book shop and rant and rave over varied and assorted pop culture artifacts. Chen and Johnson will be recording a podcast on Friday at 2:15 p.m. that will bring many of the big stars of Florida Supercon for an unscripted chat. On the roster is William Katt (“The Greatest American Hero”), Candace Bailey (“Attack of the Show!”), Lloyd Kaufman (director “The Toxic Avenger,” “Tromeo and Juliet”) and legendary comic book artist Neal Adams.