Four State Comic-Con offers celebrities, games and vendor fun for fandoms
People from the four-state area will soon have the opportunity to walk into a Hagerstown establishment, and have a chat with Pearl Krabs from “SpongeBob SquarePants” and cross paths with a highway walker from “The Walking Dead.”
While the scenario might seem like a quirky dream, the opportunity to meet the actors who portray these characters is a reality for those who will attend Four State Comic-Con at Hager Hall Conference and Event Center.
The Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 event will feature Lori Alan, who voiced Pearl the Whale, and Jeremy Ambler, who is best known for his roles on the AMC zombie apocalypse series. In addition to celebrity guests, Comic-Con will offer cosplay, panels, contests, artists, vendors and more.
Andrew Melius, who co-owns Four State Comic-Con along with John Mizzer and Brian Waltersdorff, said the purpose of the convention is “to celebrate all things comics, anime, games, sci-fi, movies and pop culture.”
“We are trying to appeal to families. It really is a safe show for everyone,” he said. “Everybody loves this kind of stuff. It appeals to a very large base. If there is something you like, usually we have it there. We want this to be a fun time, a good way to get everybody out.”
Celebrities at Comic-Con, which started in 2016, often interact with attendees.
“They don’t just sign autographs and send you on your way,” Melius said. “They talk with and get to know some of the people one on one. It’s part of their career. They are out doing movies and TV and they like getting out to meet and talk to their fans. It’s a big part of what they do.”
In addition to her work with “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Lori Alan, a Washington, D.C.-area native, has voiced characters in “Wall-e,” “Monsters University,” “Toy Story 3,” “Despicable Me,” “Minions,” “Inside Out” and “Toy Story 4.”
Jeremy Ambler was born and raised in West Virginia and appeared in the Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House” as well as in films including “The Road,” James Franco’s “Child of God,” “The Crazies,” HBO’s “John Adams,” “Evan Almighty” and more.
Other celebrities at Four State Comic-Con will include World Wrestling Entertainment personality Gene Snitsky; actress, wrestler and model Monique Dupree; actress and cult film star Genoveva Rossi; as well as other cosplayers and artists.
New to the event this year will be the addition of an onsite escape room and a board game room.
“There will be different collectible games, board games there that people can play, and we’ll have them there to purchase,” Melius said. “We’ll have lesser games like checkers, Chutes and Ladders, up to games that require more time to play – Monopoly, King of Tokyo, Warhammer. There will be tons of games. You could come and sit down and play board games all day if you want to.”
Roughly 1,500 people usually attend Four State Comic-Con. Many participate in “cosplay,” a kind of performance art using costumes and fashion accessories to portray film, cartoon, super hero or anime characters.
During panels, celebrities “talk shop” with attendees, Melius said, and throughout the event, vendors sell comics, movies, toys, “pretty much any type of collectibles.”
“Fandoms,” subcultures of film and comic fans who bond over common interests, come out to support Comic-Con.
“I think this genre just appeals to a lot of people,” Melius said. “People come here to be themselves and to share their passions with their children. They show them, ‘When I was younger, this is what I watched.’ Then their children get into it.”
There are bigger comic conventions in larger cities, but Four State Comic-Con seems to appeal to people from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, Melius said.
“There is a convention in Baltimore that brings in 50,000 people. But it’s $60 to get in the door. There is tons of stuff to do, but some people can’t afford that or don’t want to fight the crowds,” he said. “We are happy to provide a piece of that here. People seem to enjoy it. The community support we receive is great.”
Top photo: Four State Comic-Con is a family event to celebrate all things comics, anime, games, sci-fi, movies and pop culture. (Submitted photo)