On Saturday, May 20, the Artesia Arts Council hosted its Second Annual Comic Con in the downtown area.
Main Street was closed from Fourth Street to Roselawn Avenue to allow attendees to stroll amongst vendor booths and the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center, where featured activities were held. The event boasted over 500 attendants, eight vendors, and participation from more than eight downtown businesses.
One vendor, Tall Tales Gaming, travelled from its home store in Hobbs, NM to attend the event. The store told the Arts Council “The good news is we did really well in sales. The bad news is we’ll be back again next year.”
Tall Tales felt Artesia’s Comic Con could rival other Comic Cons from larger surrounding areas in terms of attendee excitement and turnout. Local Magic the Gathering card trader Gerardo Campa had similar comments to share with the Artesia Daily Press. Campa travels to the Las Vegas convention annually to play and purchase cards which he then distributes in larger cities closer to home.
When asked to comment regarding Artesia’s event, Campa expressed surprise at the size of the crowd, and enthusiasm at the growth of this niche community. Campa stated, “it was really nice to not have to travel to another state to play, sell, or converse with someone.”
Artesia’s Comic Con featured panels from Edgar Allen Poe award winning author Mindy McGinnis and two local authors, Lindsay Waugh and Elizabeth Webb, as well as a special effects makeup artist and cosplayer, Miranda Chapman.
Attendees had the opportunity to play popular games with one another, paint mini canvasses and suncatchers, build foam armor, win goody bags and graphic novels, and more. The day was filled with camaraderie and community building, even during the two competitions included in the packed itinerary, which provided an avenue for local creators to put their work on display.
For the first contest, artists submitted drawings related to the theme Shadows and Silhouettes. The winners were determined by the public, who voted throughout the day. In the adult division, “Ominous Foreshadow” by Joseph Martinez’s won first place, “Enterprise Silhouette” by Lindell Smith earned second place, and “She Had A Sword” by Kirsten Mauritsen took third. Adeline Swarengin’s “Learning to Land” secured first place in the teens division, with Shylynn Treadway’s “Table for Two” coming in second.
The cosplay contest attracted fourteen competitors, ranging in age from 3 to 38 years old.
Kandese Green of the Artesia Arts Council shared that this level of community engagement was unprecedented. She said,” People were really creative, a lot of thought and time went into their cosplays. We were really impressed.”
According to Green, cosplay differs from regular costume wearing in several ways. Firstly, cosplay costumes are highly detail oriented and for this reason are usually handmade. This does not only mean hand sewn, as many costumes involve elements made of metal, leather, and other materials. Second, Green explained that the created character does not have to exist in film or literature but can be a unique creation of the artist. Some even give characters names and personas and see cosplay as acting more so than costume wearing.
The City of Champions Second Annual Comic Con is one of many free community events put on each year by the Artesia Arts Council, a nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to developing the arts and cultural community of Artesia since 1975. Green stated that the Arts Council “is excited to continue organizing free community events and hopes that Artesians would continue to support the Arts council through membership and attendance so they can continue to bring free events to Artesia.”