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Monday December 1st, 2014

Posted at 12:00pm

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Photo from last summer’s Comic Con at St. Clair’s main campus

With flying reindeer landing soon, the city is making way for some other gravity-defying visitors.

Continuing an annual tradition, Christmas ComicCon 3 (C3-3) is back and bigger than ever on Sunday, December 7th. Once again at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts located at 201 Riverside Drive West, the popular event is making the most of the facility and expanding to three floors of fun.

“We’ve expanded the vendor floor space to now encompass the full width of the Alumni Skyline Ballroom, with the guest panels now taking place in a separate room on the first floor,” said organizer Mike Michalski. “Our popular cosplay costume contest will remain in the main room, however, as will the big screen with ongoing cartoons. In addition, we’ve added a live deejay to keep the party pumping with superhero themes and opened up the third floor mezzanine to open gaming. We’ve now got three floors of fun for one low price.”

At $8 and free admission for children 10 or under, C3-3 offers a great value. Not only will the event feature several major names from the comic book industry, it’s also branching out into live-action and animation. Chad Rook, who recently played the Weather Wizard on CW’s The Flash will be on hand. Legendary voice of Spider-Man in his 1967 cartoon and Hermey the Elf in Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Paul Soles will make his first convention appearance ever as well.

Michalski is excited for fans and Soles when it comes to this rare opportunity.

“How no one ever thought to book this man before is beyond me,” the organizer said. “He’s an absolute legend who has provided smiles to millions and millions of people for more than six decades. At 84-years-young, it’s high time the fans get to show him how much his work as Spidey, Hermey the Elf and other roles has meant to them. He’s in for a great day, too – as I’ve had people from all over Canada message me to say they are flying in just to meet him. It warms my heart to hear that. We also plan to mark the occasion by presenting him with the very first Christmas Comic Con ‘Northern Star’ award for his contributions to the world of animation. He certainly deserves it.”

While expanding into television, C3-3’s main focus is still comics. Using TV as a jumping-off point, Michalski wants to attract new readers. Beyond his guests from the medium, he’ll have several stars from the industry, past and present.

It’s particularly notable, as local talents are at the helm of some flagship titles. This includes Jason Fabok, who recently took over as artist on Justice League. David Finch and his wife Meredith will be on hand as well — both are handling pencils and writing on Wonder Woman, respectively.

“Any time a convention can present world class talent of this caliber, as a promoter, you have to feel proud,” said Michalski. “Given that much of this is locally-based is purely my good fortune – and that of my attendees. You won’t find talent of this level outside of shows such as the San Diego Comic Con or Toronto’s once-a-year Fan Expo. I’m truly blessed to be able to bring together such an awesome lineup.”

Local-Imprint GlassMonkey Studios’s Tales Of The Incredible Conduit artist Tony Gray will also be returning. Along with these local names, other guests include Superior Spider-Man penciller Ryan Stegman, Deadpool artist Mike McKone, industry legends Keith Pollard, Arvell Jones; and Fantastic Four’s Leonard Kirk.

Those looking to do some Christmas shopping are also in luck. As usual, several vendors will be selling everything from comic books and graphic novels to collectibles of all sorts — this includes vintage toys, movies, manga, anime, posters and original art of varying sizes.

Some unique merchandise will be sold throughout over 100 vendor tables as well.

“This includes several original pieces from Filipino artist Karl Comendador,” said Michalski. “Some beautiful 11 x 17” pieces are being flown in just for the show. There will also be some original pages from classic comics like Blondie and Archie. If you appreciate great comic art, make sure to grab one of these rare pieces.”

C3-3’s most eye-catching feature however is its Cosplay costume contest. An annual tradition, attendees with some creativity and the gumption to see it through are rewarded for their efforts. Getting to strut their costumed stuff, judges Rachel Gray, Jordard Girard and Sean Moss will pick the winners. Multiple prizes are set to be handed out, including one for a new group costume category.

“This year’s Cosplay Costume Contest will be the biggest ever, complete with hosts Mike Poirier (of The Comic Book Syndicate) and Becca Potter,” said Michalski. “…The cosplay fans are essential to my show. They provide so much colour and passion. It’s incredible to see the dedication put in to many of the costumes and I’m only too happy to put together a contest for them each and every time out. It’s a highlight of the show, to be sure.”

With so much going on, not everything can be contained in one day. As a result, C3-3’s V.I.P. party will take place the night before. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at GlassMonkey Studios (1378 Ottawa St.’s upper unit.) For $ 40, guests can mingle with David and Meredith Finch, Paul Soles, Chad Rook, Mike McKone, Tony Gray and Leonard Kirk. Original art by legends Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr., Gene Colan, Jerry Robinson, Curt Swan and others will be on display as well.

V.I.P. perks also include advance C3-3 admission, along with a limited-edition 11 x 17” print. Tickets can be purchased exclusively at Paper Heroes – Comic Book Lounge & Collectibles (2857 Howard Ave.)

Last year’s convention pulled-in 3,000 people and Michalski’s Super Summer ComicCon drew over 3,300. Given this increased interest, the promoter doesn’t rule out lengthening future events. As Windsor conventions now draw per-day numbers that are in-line with those in Detroit, it’s not implausible either.

So with his audience expanding, who would Michalski like to include in the future?

“I am a huge Bernie Wrightson fan and will not rest until I get him to Windsor,” he said. “I would also love to find some other unearthed gems that haven’t yet received their due at cons of this sort – such as Paul Soles.”

Although admission is only $8 and free for those 10 and under, attendees are encouraged to help Sparky’s Toy Drive. People can do so by either bringing a new unwrapped toy or through purchasing tickets in c3-3’s dollar raffles.

The event itself is being held by Michalski, in partnership with St. Clair College and thanks to its official media sponsor, TV Cogeco. Villains Beastro (256 Pelissier St.) is also hosting C3-3’s official post-convention party destination. Those interested in winning tickets to the V.I.P. party the night before can enter here. All the latest C3-3 information, including a guest panel schedule, can be found on its official facebook page and website.

For those still unsure about the event, Michalski offers this final pitch.

“New comic convention attendees can expect an experience like none other,” he said. “It’s like Halloween and Christmas all rolled into one. Come for the costumes and the comics, stay for the fun and excitement. Once there, it’s anything but boring and guaranteed to be an experience you’ll want to tell others about and come back to experience again and again.”

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