Tonawanda News — So, Batman, the Incredible Hulk, Catwoman, Darth Vader and Boba Fett visit Niagara Falls. ...
It sounds like the setup for a bad joke or a really interesting movie, but in reality, it’s all taking place June 8 and 9 at Niagara Falls ComicCon in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Chris Dabrowski, the show manager, said 2013 marks the third year of the event, which got its start as a small, free convention at Dave & Buster’s on Clifton Hill.
“We thought, why not give it a try?” he said. “The response was phenomenal; more than 1,000 people came out.”
In 2012, the one-day convention moved to the Scotiabank Convention Centre, and attendance topped 5,000.
“Everyone had a great time; the celebrities had a good time,” Dabrowski said, adding that the list included Burt Ward (Robin of the 1960’s “Batman”), Robert Picardo (of “Star Trek: Voyager”) and wrestler Bret Hart. “It was a very well-attended event.”
This year, Niagara Falls ComicCon will be a two-day event, growing from 27,000 to more than 100,000 square feet of convention center space and hosting dozens of guests. James Ponce, assistant show manager, said that they’re estimating an attendance of 10,000 to 12,000 people this year.
“We have everyone from 1960s Batman Adam West to Lou Ferrigno ... to sci-fi icons like David Prowse and Jeremey Bulloch and Tim Russ. We have something for everyone,” Ponce said. “We have a wide range of celebrities to hit every demographic, kids, adults, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, everything through now.”
The list includes West of the 1960s “Batman” show; ‘80s icon Corey Feldman; original Incredible Hulk Ferrigno; Sam J. Jones, who played Flash Gordon in the 1980 film; Lee Meriwether, who played Catwoman in the 1966 Batman film; Prowse, who portrayed Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy; Bulloch, Boba Fett in the original Star Wars trilogy; and Russ, Commander Tuvok in “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Others include wrestling legends Mick Foley, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase; Kane Hodder, who played Jason Voorhees in some of the Friday the 13th film franchise; “Power Ranger” Jason David Frank; “The Walking Dead’s” Madison Lintz (Sophia) and Kylie Szymanski (Penny); and more.
Artist guests include Marc Silvestri, Colleen Doran, George Perez, Marc Wolfe, Kurt Lehner, Leonard Kirk and Ken Lashley.
The event will also include first Falls Horror Fest presented by Fangoria, movie showing, a board game tournament, video game arena and 200 exhibitors, Dabrowski said.
“There’s a lot going on. There’s something for everyone,” he said. “It’s not just comic books, although it’s called ComicCon.”
Dabrowski estimates that at least half of last year’s guests were from the United States side of the border. The venue is also a plus for the celebrity guests, some of whom are making their first Canadian appearances, or visiting Niagara Falls for the first time.
“There’s a lot of firsts. What’s interesting is the amount of celebrities who have not been to Niagara Falls,” he said. “It’s exciting for the fans who get to come see some of their favorite celebrities ... but it’s also exciting for the celebrities because it’s somewhere they haven’t been before.”
Ferrigno, who played The Incredible Hulk on television from 1978 to 1982, as well as in several TV movies, will be returning to the area for the convention. During a telephone interview, Ferrigno said that he loves doing comic cons, trying to visit areas — and fans — throughout the world
“I’m pretty excited that they have a venue there that’s becoming very successful,” he said of Niagara Falls, added that he’s been there before, although just passing through.
“I was really amazed,” he added. “My whole life I’ve wanted to see Niagara Falls ... and the people are very nice.
“I’m really looking forward to coming to the show.”
In addition, there was an unexpected welcome from an old “friend” — a huge rendition of the comic book icon that Ferrigno played, advertising the old Marvel Super Heroes Adventure City on Clifton Hill.
It’s just another measure of how iconic the character is, something Ferrigno says he still hears. He remains connected to the Hulk, both through his convention appearances and beyond: With several others, he was responsible for voicing the Hulk in the 2012 hit movie “The Avengers.”
“Everyone still says they love the Hulk ... It’s 40 years old, but the Hulk is the biggest franchise out there anyway,” he said.IF YOU GO • WHAT: Niagara Falls ComicCon • WHEN: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 8 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 9 • WHERE: Scotiabank Convention Centre, 6815 Stanley Ave., Niagara Falls, Ontario • COST: Saturday admission only is $20; Sunday admission only is $20. Weekend admission is $30. Children 10 and younger are free. • FOR MORE INFORMATION: For more information, visit www.niagarafallscomiccon.com.