Even in a crowd strewn with wigs, handmade masks, latex and at least two Sonic the Hedgehog suits, 15-year-old Nicholas Klee and 17-year-old Melissa Rogers still stuck around.
Dressed as Beast Boy, a chaotic, shape-shifting prankster from the comics and TV series “Teen Titans,” Klee was painted a pale shade of green and sported a pair of pointy ears and plastic fangs that he had. molded itself.
His girlfriend, Rogers, was dressed as Raven — a half-human, half-demon who is also the (much darker) Beast Boy’s love interest on the TV show “Teen Titans.”
Frederick Comic Con comes to the Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center three times a year, but Sunday’s event was Klee’s first time attending a comic book convention. His eyes – especially visible behind a pair of white contact lenses – were shining with excitement.
His grandfather, a lover of Marvel comics, was his gateway to the fantastical worlds celebrated at comic book conventions. Now, he and Rogers – who often joke that their relationship is a lot like Beast Boy and Raven’s – are avid players of the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop role-playing game.
He and Rogers paused to talk about their costumes in front of a table covered in comic books. Nearby, collectors chatted with customers behind tables filled with fantasy card games, minifigures and Legos. People smiled at the couple as they walked past. One of them, dressed as Link from The Legend of Zelda video game series, shouted a greeting.
It was good to be around other “weirdos and freaks,” Klee said with a smile.
Nick Shoff, owner of Shoff Promotions — the company that put on Sunday’s comic con — knows well the joy that comes with conventions. He has been hosting shows for over 40 years.
Unlike big city conventions, which draw tens of thousands of people and charge high admission prices, Shoff wants Frederick Comic Con to be an affordable place where the whole family can enjoy themselves.
Tickets are only $8 per person and it doesn’t charge children 12 and under for admission. While attendees can find rare and valuable comics to sell for thousands of dollars, they can also find copies for $1, Shoff said.
“It’s just a day out of your normal life,” said Shoff, who was in charge of a lab at a veterans hospital when he started hosting conventions. “It’s fun. And that’s what I want: a fun family show.
At first, Shoff’s conventions were almost entirely about sports cards. He didn’t venture into comics until the 1990s.
Frank Brevard, owner of Frank’s Cool Stuff comic book and collectibles store in Salem, Virginia, credits himself for helping Shoff make the switch.
He met Shoff at a sports card show in Silver Spring. Although Shoff was hesitant at first, Brevard said, he convinced the collector to let him set up a comic book table at one of his upcoming conventions.
“And the rest is history,” Brevard said.
Brevard and his wife, Lisa Brevard, were selling fantasy and collectible card game sets, TV movie comics and other collectibles on Sunday.
Comic books have been a part of Frank Brevard’s life since he can remember – his mother collected comic books and taught him and his sister to read with them.
Lisa Brevard, a writer, doesn’t like action figures, model kits, or anything her husband’s store sells. Instead, as she likes to joke, she just likes Frank.
But she pointed out that her passion for comics and collectibles might be the reason she has a full head of gray hair and her hair is always solid black.
“It keeps him young,” she said.
Dro Torres and Silva Halo, owners of Silvadro Collectibles, are newer to the business than the Brevards. The couple started selling collectibles about a year ago after losing their jobs during the pandemic.
Although they currently run their business from their one-room apartment in Ellicott City, they hope to one day buy a house. They saved the profits from the shop to help them get there.
Their favorite part of selling collectibles is watching kids smile after buying a stuffed animal, Torres said. Sometimes they give discounts to parents or children to make it easier for them to buy.
Halo pulled out her phone. Above her mask, her eyes narrowed in a smile as she found the photo she was looking for. In the photo, Halo and Torres stand next to a little girl who beams from ear to ear and is holding a huge stuffed animal.
“Seeing those smiles really makes our days better,” Torres said.