1st annual Great Falls Comic Expo draws crowd

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LEWISTON — The First Annual Great Falls Comic Expo drew in a large crowd of comic enthusiasts and cosplayers for their single day event at the Armory on Saturday.

Boston-based writer, director and producer Johnny Cavooto had a table set up for two of his comic series, “Surrounded by Death” and “Sartana.”

He described “Surrounded by Death” as a combo of “The Walking Dead” and “Mallrats.” He also has his own coffee based on the comic available for purchase.

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Cavooto has had stands at conventions all over the country, including San Diego Comic-Con.

He said the Lewiston expo is a like a pinprick to what San Diego’s is like, but at those events, lesser-known artists can get overshadowed by celebrities.

“Here you don’t have that — here the people are comic readers,” he said. “So indie artists like myself can succeed at a show. It’s been fun. People have been buying stuff, and people are inquisitive, even if they don’t buy anything.”

Volunteer Ben Dunfee-Stevens from Hermon described the expo as “a grab bag of different things.”

There was a cosplay contest, a couple panels and plenty of vendors and artists.

He said one of his favorite tables was a stall that made chainmail art.

“I find them a standout for what they are,” he said.

That stall was run by Miranda Stevens, who has been crafting jewelry, art and costume pieces out of chainmail for four years. Her company, The Chain Maiden, has been in business since May, and they are hoping to do more commission work for cosplay pieces.

A retro game seller offered old-fashioned arcade games and hard-to-find Nintendo 64 classics.

There were plenty of stands to buy comics both new and old, as well as memorabilia, original art pieces and a photobooth.

Keith Gleason, like many others at Saturday’s event, is no stranger to comic-cons — he’s been attending them since 2000, and has been tabling since about 2005. He also organizes one in Leominster, Massachusetts, called Plastic City Comic Con. 

Gleason said his comic-con has an even stronger focus on comics, but it’s similar in scope and style to this event.

Displayed on his table Saturday were art and prints made by his wife, geeky buttons with faces like Mulder and Scully from “The X-Files,” various doctors from “Doctor Who” and plenty of niche characters. He also had his own comics available.

“I always wanted to be an artist,” he said. “I always wanted to be like Charles Schultz. That’s how I got started.

“As I grew older, I learned my strength artwise,” Gleason said. “It’s always been in my DNA, in my blood.”

Gleason said he’s currently trying to get a wider audience and make more comics.

“I want to turn this into my day job,” he said. “That’s what everyone here’s trying to do.”

Laurie and Clif Graves of Winthrop had a table for their indie publishing company, Hinterlands Press, which creates and edits fantasy and sci-fi stories about interdimensional and time travel. This was their first comic-con event, but they’ve had tables at other events before.

“Fantasy is a good fit with a comic expo,” Laurie said. 

Several dozen staff, vendors and participants at Saturday’s Great Falls Comic Expo gathered for a group photo at noon on the steps of the Armory on Central Avenue in Lewiston. To watch a video from the expo, visit sunjournal.comAmity Reynolds, of Topsham is reflected in the glasses of her roomate, Leona Monroe, who was dressed up as Cog, a steam punk character as they stroll through the Lewiston Armory Saturday afternoon during the Great Falls Expo

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