Superheroes and More Highlight Ocean City Comic Book Convention
By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
8-year-old Noah Lepore and his 3-year-old sister, Giuliana, swung their lightsabers like fully trained Jedi Knights while following orders from their costumed Star Wars instructors.
“Are you ready?” an instructor shouted with authority. “Lock your left shoulder. Lock your right shoulder. Duck!”
Noah, Giuliana and the rest of the kids on stage at the Ocean City Music Pier during the OC-Con convention crouched down and then quickly got up to attack with their lightsabers.
If George Lucas ever needs a new generation of superheroes for his next Star Wars epic, Noah and Giuliana will be ready, now that they’ve been trained.
Young aspiring Jedi Knights like Noah and Giuliana, movie characters and an array of other superheroes were on display Sunday at OC-Con, Ocean City’s annual comic book and memorabilia convention free to the public.
The family-friendly Neverland of comics, movies, trivia and other fun stuff returned this weekend after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organized by the city and the Ocean City Free Public Library, the event had been reduced to just the sports and memorabilia portion of the show in 2021.
This year, the entire OC-Con event was back on after crowd restrictions were lifted as the pandemic subsided and COVID-19 vaccines became readily available.
Ocean City held its first OC-Con event in 2016. It was so popular that the city and the library decided to make it an annual event. This year’s version took place on Saturday and Sunday.
“OC-Con fans are so exciting, energetic and interesting,” said library manager Karen Mahar. “OC-Con is very family-friendly. We’re not as hardcore as the comics you see in the big cities, but we do offer a bit of everything for comics, comic book lovers.
Choreographed lightsaber training led by costumed Star Wars members of the Saber Guild Zeffo Temple was part of the kid-friendly activities. Tara Lepore, from Bensalem, Pennsylvania, smiled as she watched from the audience as her son, Noah, and daughter, Giuliana, swung their plastic lightsabers on stage.
“It was like a cartoon,” Noah said afterwards.
When her mother asked her if she was ready to appear in the next Star Wars movie, Giuliana simply nodded.
OC-Con featured a lot of star power — both in real life and of the impostor type. The show’s star guest was actor and voice actor Roger Clark, who portrayed Arthur Morgan in the video game Red Dead Redemption 2.
Satya Byers, 15, of Egg Harbor Township, dressed as Edward Scissorhands, the scissor-handed artificial humanoid character in the 1990 film of the same name starring Johnny Depp.
It took Satya about two hours to put on the black costume, plastic scissor-like hands and elaborate makeup reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands’ character.
“I have seen the film a lot, about twenty times. I studied it to nail it,” Satya said of the nuances of her quirky character.
She was strange with Edward Scissorhands’ facial expressions and movements. OC-Con fans enjoyed his impersonation.
“They get really happy. They say it looks really good and it’s really cool,” Satya said.
Over the twenty or so times she has seen the film, she has become attached to the character of Edward Scissorhands.
“I like its complexity and personality,” Satya said. “I like how tough and scary he looks, but he’s really so sweet.”
During its two-day run, OC-Con also featured meet-the-artist tables, panel discussions, a costume contest, a superhero race and obstacle course, trivia and stage games hosted by “Nerdvana”.
The OC Pops, the orchestra of Ocean City, was on hand Saturday to perform comic book-themed music to add to the exciting atmosphere.
Additionally, there were about 15 vendors and 20 artists selling their wares and showing off their talents.
One vendor, John Tudor, was selling comics ranging in price from $1 to $175. One of his most valuable comics was a blank first issue of X-Men Adventures from 1992.
Tudor, 71, of Mays Landing, a private collector of graded comic books, said OC-Con is such a popular event because it packs so many family-friendly activities into one location overlooking the boardwalk.
“I think it’s because it’s right on the promenade, which is a good location. I also like it because they organize so many different activities,” he said.