vermont comiccon

BURLINGTON — Based on just his clothes, even a die-hard comic book fan would not have guessed the character Jaden Rogers wore to Vermont Comic Con Sunday.

The most remarkable part of the 17-year-old from Williston’s wardrobe was a leather jacket, but it was an accessory that made him instantly recognizable — the baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that serves as the signature weapon of Negan, villain of “The Walking Dead” in both the original comic book and television versions.
“I went and bought this,” he said of the plastic replica he carried. “Originally I had made one, but I found it too dangerous to walk around with around other people. I didn’t want to ruin someone else’s costume getting it caught on barbed wire.”

Walking alongside him through the Burlington Sheraton on the final day of the convention was Corin Sprout, 16, of Underhill, whose costume also turned on an accessory. Her red riding hood marked her as Red Riding Hood, of course, but her take on the fairy tale character was embodied by the (fake) severed wolf’s head she carried atop a stick.
“I saw a picture and kind of liked it,” she said. “It put a B.A. spin on Red Riding Hood.”

Asked what B.A. stood for, Sprout offered a common but somewhat colorful term meaning tough and fearless.
Sprout and Rogers said it was their second year at the event.

“We didn’t go all-out like I did this year,” Sprout said. “I’m finding it better because I dressed up. It adds a little more depth to your experience because you’re more in tune with everyone around you.”

It also, she said, got her odd looks when they stopped on the way for a sandwich.

“The environment here is one of my favorite places ever,” Rogers said. “It’s so passionate — everything is so passionate.”

While not everyone was in costume, the breadth of costumes on display could keep a comic book, television or movie buff spotting references all day long, as Ghostbusters, Starfleet officers, Predators, Jedi and X-Men all milled about. Batman villain Harley Quinn appeared to be the most popular costume among female visitors, with Rey from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” a distant second.

A Batman in the style of the Christopher Nolan movies scurried about the hotel in a crouch, holding a cell phone to the side of his face as he narrated his wanderings into the camera in a low growl. Meanwhile, an Adam West-style Batman stood with a man dressed as Burgess Meredith’s version of the Penguin next to a replica of the television Batmobile.

The event featured vendors selling comics, toys, art, clothes and all manner of superhero-branded knickknacks, as well as panel discussions, children’s activities and a costuming competition.
One room was given over entirely to games, and a board game about circus folk fighting off Martian invaders was interrupted by an announcement that somebody was about to be duct taped to a wall.

Several well-known writers and artists within the comics world attended, from “GI Joe” creator Larry Hama to Vermont’s own Blair Shedd. Shedd, who lives in Fairlee, made a name for himself drawing the official “Doctor Who” comic book. He said he is still doing covers for that and related series while preparing to launch his own webcomic.

“At least one good chunk of it’s going to take place in Vermont,” he said of the forthcoming series. “I like to think of it as the perfects mash-up of ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Supernatural.’”
The series, tentatively titled “The Worlds Between Us,” will feature an otherworldly visitor and his emotionally damaged human companion.

“I’m going to be making up some creatures and characters, but I’m also starting to read about the local ghost stories and folklore,” Shedd said.

One trio of friends arrived as characters from “The Defenders.” The television series premiered on Netflix earlier this month, but the characters have a history in comic books that goes back well before any of teenagers dressed as them Sunday were born.

Sophia Currier, 16, of Montpelier and Gabe Pashe, 16, of Worcester, were dressed as Elektra and Daredevil.
“We were going through a list of couple costume ideas we had,” Pashe said.

Daredevil and Elektra beat out Spider Man and Mary Jane as well as the Joker and Harley Quinn.
“Stereotypical, I know,” Currier said of the latter pairing.

Currier made her Elektra costume herself. Like Rogers, Pashe’s costume was mostly street clothes with one key accessory — Currier made him an eye-covering mask.
“Usually, there’s no other time to dress up or express a comic book character other than Halloween, so this gives us a second option.

While the duo looked roughly like the TV versions of their characters, Pashe’s older brother, 18-year-old Cecil Pashe, eschewed the comparatively plain outfit warn by the television version of the Immortal Iron Fist, instead wearing the gaudy green bodysuit and yellow mask of the 1970s comic book version of the character.

“It wasn’t about the series — I wasn’t a huge fan of that either,” he said — the character’s solo TV series came out earlier this year and was met with widespread scorn. “I’ve been a huge fan of the comic books.”

Hollee Kennison sported yet another costume that hinged on a key accessory. It would not be too hard to guess that she was Samara, this killer ghost girl from “The Ring” movies, but instead of stopping at the clothes, she made one of the more memorable costumes on display by constructing herself a cardboard well to rise out from.

“Less than a year ago they came out with a third installment of the movies,” the 34-year-old from Essex said. “I thought, what better time to make it relevant again because she’s one of the creepiest characters out there.”

Kennison said she loves how the event has grown over the last few years, but that she was not pleased to learn this was the last year it was in Burlington. Next year’s Vermont Comic Con is slated to be in Barre. Founder J. Moulton said the event had outgrown the Sheraton, and that the new location will have greater capacity while allowing them to slash ticket prices 25 percent.
“In Burlington, you’re going to pay Burlington prices,” he said.

At midday Sunday, Moulton said he did not have exact numbers, but he knew ticket sales had surpassed the previous year — which they had for each year of the convention’s existence.


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